December 29, 2017

Third Thursday Poetry Night, December 21

Photo by Mary Panza
This was the 20th Anniversary of this monthly event that began on December 18, 1997 at Cafe Web on Madison Ave., continued through Changing Spaces Gallery on Hudson Ave., then the Lark St. Bookstore, & to the Social Justice Center where we have been since July 2006. Tonight also included the annual holiday tradition of the visit from “Sanity Clause” with a gift of poetry for all the readers — of which there were 19! Another tradition is the invoking of the Muse, & tonight, as each December third Thursday, with the reading of “Holiday Poem” by Enid Dame (1943 - 2003).

Unfortunately, our scheduled reader for tonight, Nancy Dunlop, was unable to make it so it was just one grand open mic.

& it began with Sylvia Barnard, who had just celebrated her 80th birthday, & who read a nostalgic Thanksgiving poem, “Family.” Alan Catlin read a New Years Eve poem “Too Drunk to Walk Sober Enough to Drive” from his bartending days. Then after sitting on Sanity Clause’s lap he turned the tables & gave Sanity Clause a printed broadside signed by Salman Rushdie.

Kristen Day
There were lots of readers tonight who haven’t been here in a while, the first of whom was Kristen Day who read a poem about her grandmother “4 Fucking Dollars.” Tim Verhaegen returned to also read a family piece, this about his family’s commentary on the appearance of others. Sometimes someone just wanders in from the street, as was the case with Walter Letsinger, who performed an untitled piece from memory about Death.

Howard Kogan finally made it here on a third Thursday with his poem “Heaven” (“which is like casino security…”). Mary Panza’s poem was a memory piece, a portrait like an old black & white photo from our younger days. Charlie Rossiter read his satirical take on the holiday letters we frequently get this time of year.

Another poet returning, perhaps just to sit on Sanity Clause’s lap, was "Screamer" (Amy Fortin), to read a 10-year old poem/letter, on the disappearance & death of her friend Josh.  Don Levy has sat on Sanity Clause’s lap previously, & tonight, before sitting again, read his wistful poem about his neighbors, “The Bro Dudes Across the Street.” Joe Krausman read a timely piece, “Molesters Beware.” The next poet, BK, will be a featured poet here in February, & read about an auto accident from the Summer, & our concerns as a parent to protect our children. Another poet making a rare appearance here to sit on Sanity Clause’s lap, Kim Henry, was able to dig out an older poem for her mother, about her plants. I read a new poem for my granddaughter Jane about her name for me, “Call Me P.”

Howard Kogan & Sanity Clause (photo by Sally Rhoades)
Julie Lomoe was up next, with books for sale for last-minute Xmas shopping, to sing “It’s the Most Over-Hyped Time of the Year” available on her website.   Karen Fabiane didn’t read an Xmas poem but another piece about a visit with a friend “Night She Drink.” Sally Rhoades is a regular on Sanity Clause’s lap & tonight brought the cookies, & she read a political poem “What Children’s Voices are Hearing” about a friend’s conversation with her son. Barbara Kaiser was another returnee to this open mic, tonight to read a poem about a mouse “House Guest” & going to sleep. Dick Melita was here for the first time for his first open mic, doesn’t write poetry but remembered a short poem he wrote in the manner of Ogden Nash “69” — then told us later that “the first hands to ever touch me were those of William Carlos Williams,” to the great delight of all the fans of that great American poet. Bob Sharkey was the night’s ultimate (last) poet to read Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “To Jesus on His Birthday,” appropriately enough.

You will have to wait a year for the next visit from Sanity Clause, but we are always at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, on the third Thursday of each month, 7:30PM, for an open mic & featured reader. Your donations support the SJC, other poetry events in the city & helps pay the featured poet.

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