October 22, 2018
This is was actually a noon-time reading by poet Frank X. Gaspar but because it was at Hudson Valley Community College, an academic institution, they had to give it a fancy title rather than “poetry reading” — as some poet once said, “a rose by any name…” I had read a few poems by Frank Gaspar over the years in various print & online poetry venues & this reading was a good chance to hear a bigger chunk & to buy an autographed copy of one of his books.
Bonnie Cook of HVCC introduced Frank to an audience of mostly students, but a fair number of older folks (like me, & younger), both faculty & literary & poetic community folks (like me). The poet began by singing the praises of his black pocket notebook, & read “Black Notebook #1, Gideon Bible, Los Angeles,” & “Black Notebook, Day Six, Canadian Rockies” both from his collection Late Rapturous (Autumn House Press, 2012); other poems from the same book that he read were “Sometimes God Saves a Fire” & the book’s title poem, that mixes memories, descriptions of Los Angeles & New York City & the paintings of deKooning. He also read the night-time/whisky musing “One Thousand Blossoms” & even a poem about a cat.
He ended with a long “spoken piece,” as he described it, set during the Viet Nam war, titled “Microphone.” Ironically, during the first part of his reading there had been some annoying feedback from his mic so he was moved to another at a podium just before reading this. The piece took the form of a long letter from a Portuguese kid from Provincetown, Cape Cod now living in New York City, to his girlfriend, written on a typewriter with a period key, leading to Kerouacian stream-of-consciousness mixing memories of his time with the girlfriend, longing & scenes of music in the Village — an energetic way to end a good reading.
The following Q&A began with probing questions by students, & other questions from the broader audience. As is often said, Frank said he has been influenced by everyone he has ever read, but did single out Emily Dickinson, Hart Crane, Walt Whitman & Edna St. Vincent Millay; he said he writes at night (as evidenced by some of the poems he had read), & to a question about “creativity” & the rest of the world, said he tries to “live in creativity,” which is another world.
Hudson Valley Community College does have a regular program of lectures, performances & art exhibits that are open to the public, visit their website for more information.
October 21, 2018
at The Low Beat on Central Ave. once again, tonight Mary Panza filling in for Thom Francis as the host. & tonight was the first time this open mic series has included a featured poet, visiting poet Mugabi Byenkya — more on that later.
The open mic began with D. Alexander Holiday who read from his latest book Kith & Kin written as G. Douglas Davis IV a piece on bullying titled “The Involuntary Leave of Absence as Punishment Routine.” I was up next & since we were in the midst of the baseball playoffs read 2 baseball poems “Baseball in Palestine” & “Waiting for Jacqueline Robinson.” Mr. Azarrah Moses was back again from last time with some strange pieces I find difficult to categorize, I think the first one (of 3) was titled “5137” & my notes say “mystical bs”. Not so with Christa DeMarco who read took the motivational speaker cliché of fearing your demons on its head, her poem saying demons were once gods, fear your angels instead.
Poets in the Park this past summer & which includes one of my poems. What a marvelous inter-connected world of poetry we live in.
Luciano Ferraro was back, this time announcing he has a new book out Romancing the Art of Being Honest & read 2 poems from it, “Spinning Records,” & “24/7 Diner Service” using a dysfunctional diner service as a metaphor for the USA. Avery read a piece he wrote just this morning about the unforeseen, “Interruptive Existence.” Alyssa Michelle read a revised version of one of her relationship complaints “Solitude Thoughts.” Aron (Algorhythm) just back from Japan read a rant about casting out 7 demons, not into the game, not lying anymore. Mac also read a complaint, this against his hustler father. Koi-yola’s rap was about to necessity to keep growing, keep moving.
Getting Down to Brass Tacks happens each 1st & 3rd Tuesday, usually just an open mic, but look for changes in the format. You can find out all about it at AlbanyPoets.com.
… or as my auto-correct would have it “A Night of Creatures,” oh well. Havey Havel was the host for this reading by 4 poets at the Hudson River Coffee House, part of an on-going quarterly series.
This series is held approximately quarterly at the Hudson River Coffee House, 227 Quail St., Albany, NY. Watch for notices about the next one on the AlbanyPoets.com calendar & the Poetry Motel Foundation email list.
October 11, 2018
This series run by Charlie Rossiter at the Tap House in Bennington, VT started one year ago today, & it was sadly poignant that on this particular night our host could not be be here to celebrate (he was recuperating from recent hip surgery). So I drove over to take over the duties — I had been here a year ago, & came over last month as well.
Jason Everett had with him his thick manuscript “Ligthstreet” & read a few from it, quirky poems with surrealistic images of the everyday, often with some sexy woman in it, one set in Montreal “Expo 10” & another he read in honor of a friend, only a few years younger than he, who died recently, becoming emotional as he read. Speaking of deceased friends I read “Reading Dead Poets Listening to Live Jazz” for the recently gone poets Harry Staley & Paul Pines.
A nice surprise was a brief visit from Charlie’s wife Mary Ellen Munley to wish us a happy first anniversary & to say Charlie was doing well — it’s wonderful how a poet's presence can be felt at a reading even when they are sitting at home with pain pills & poetry.
Since there were just a few of us, we went around again reading short poems, Laura doing more dog poems, one in Spanish about a one-eyed dog, then we convinced her to translate for us, another for her dog Ruby, & a prose poem for her 4 pets. Kenn read us his private “Decalogue,” some good advice for anyone. Jason’s second round were poems, like his first round, with seemingly random images thrown together, one piece like a dystopic John Ashbery. & I ended with a poem for the season my own “killer cocktail” a la Alan Catlin “Zombie Gourd.”
Poetry/Spoken Word Open Mic is on the 2nd Tuesday of each month in the back room of the Tap House at Catamount Glass, 309 County St., Bennington, VT — sign up at 7:00PM, reading starts at 7:15. It’s about an hour from Albany, less from Troy & points East. Bring poems.
October 8, 2018
I had missed the last few months here, so I was glad to be back with the Saratoga open mic crowd, & even some other Albany poets who made the trip. Our constant host Carol Graser began with a poem by the sadly recently gone poet Donald Lev “How It Feels to Be Mortal” — we miss you already, Donald.
Rodney Parrott read a long, lecturing piece with the prop of a double-chewed log, from an apparent series “Universal Laws of the Universe.” Doug Holiday, signed up as G. Douglas Davis IV, recommended books on Donald Trump, also the eco-justice anthology Ghost Fishing, & read from an anthology of poems by native American authors Songs From this Earth on Turtle’s Back; then his own poem “Why We Should Not Re-cycle” the bad-taste characters & TV shows of the past (or present). Glenn Whitecki read in rhyme a piece about a masted sailing ship, then a take on Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” Nicola Allain read about being on the island of Cyprus, feeling the connection with her native Tahiti (but seemed insensitive to the political issues of the divided island).
There were still a lot of poets signed-up so after a break the open mic continued. Leslie Sittner began with an exercise in alliteration titled “At Issue,” then read 3 pairs of 6-word stories, cleverly concise.
Brian Krauth’s poem “Poetic Sketches Cloud Lines” was a series of natural images stained by abstractions; he also read “Who in this Room?” Judith Prest read from her forth-coming chapbook from Finishing Line Press After the #MeToo poem “To Be A Woman” then from Elemental Connections the seasonal “Tree.” Jeff Stubits has been reading out a lot lately & tonight did a poem about finding umbrella parts in the rain “Mending Love,” then a piece on being distracted while meditating, in his throw-back style of reading like Ken Nordine from the classic Word Jazz LP way back in the 1950s. My poem was the tribute to the gone poets Harry Staley & Paul Pines “Reading Dead Poets Listening to Live Jazz.”
Unfortunately, as seems to happen here frequently enough, the featured poet & his entourage left after the break & didn’t stay to hear the poets in the 2nd half share their poems. I had spoken to Lance briefly before the reading, then intended to read my poem to him about seeing one of his poems in a NYC subway ad “I Meet An Old Friend On the Subway” — he didn't stay, why bother? I read something else. All of the poets in the open mic had heard the feature (& the others who left with him) read in the first half of the night, but those who read in the second half went unheard by those who came to just read to themselves -- their loss.
Well, no matter whether the puffed up featured poets hear the open mic poets, or not, the open mic poets will be back to read their poems to whomever is left in the audience, the 1st Wednesday of the month at Caffè Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, 7:30PM.
October 6, 2018
I like hanging out at The Low Beat & listening to poetry being shared — & of course washing it down with a beer. Thom Francis, our host, got us going pretty much on time.
I was first up with 2 poems, as I said, “from my very rich fantasy life,” “Lilly White” & “Sleeping in Patchouli.” Algorhythm did a “drive-by” on his way to Japan with a wistful poem about the words & babies he never had “Still Born.” Rhonda Rosenheck had been at the last Poets Speak Loud! at McGeary’s, tonight read “Good at Math” from her book Looking (Elephant Tree House, 2018), then on to a sestina “The Woman” from her series of “crime poetry.”
Kendall Hoeft has been making the rounds of the open mics of late, read a poem based on the film of Anna Karenina “Of Sea & Sky,” then a love poem “Request for Body Modification,” & the descriptive “A Dream in Morning.” When Mr. Azanah D. Moses came up to read with a copy of AlbanyPoets' new print publication Offline in hand I thought he was reading from the text, but it turns out he had been using it to write in; he said he is usually here for the song-writer night, read something called “Super Hero #7” & a very short piece on stolen identity.
Brass Tacks continues the 1st & 3rd Tuesday poetry tradition at The Low Beat, 7:30PM, mostly an open mic, but featured readers lurking in the wings.
The New York State Author & New York State Poet are named every other year at a grand gathering on the University at Albany campus, this year at the Campus Center Ballroom. Officially, The Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction Writers was given to Colson Whitehead, The Walt Whitman Citation of Merit for Poets to Alicia Suskin Ostriker. I was not familiar with Colson Whitehead’s work, although I’d read a review of his latest novel The Underground Railroad. However, I have followed Alicia Ostriker’s work since seeing her read in Hastings-on-the-Hudson back in the early 1980s, & more recently at Split This Rock Poetry Festival.
It was full program, with speeches by Albany President Havidan Rodriguez, members of the NYS Assembly Patricia Fahey & John McDonald, a PBS film about the Writers Institute & then the presentation of the awards by H. Carl McCall, chairman of the State University of New York Board of Trustees.
Alicia Ostriker began with reading part of Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus,” then went on to claim Walt Whitman as her “grandmother,” & then talk about Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry; she read her “Requendo” & said Millay was one of our great forgotten & ignored poets. She also read from Waiting for the Light (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017) some very New York City poems — upper Broadway in the morning, 2 women talking, the homeless, & learning to sing in 1st grade. An engaging, charming & very real poet, another great pick to join such past recipients as Stanley Kunitz, Audre Lord, Sharon Olds & Yusef Komunyakaa, among others.
Of course, there was a book-signing afterwards with a chance to talk informally with both writers. I had the opportunity prior to the ceremony to talk to Alicia Ostriker & she asked me about the Millay Colony in Austerlitz New York.
For more information about the NYS Author & Poet & about upcoming programs at the NYS Writers Institute check out their website, https://www.nyswritersinstitute.org/
October 5, 2018
Two nights in a row to Troy, for poetry! Matthew Klane has over the last few years made Russell Sage College in Troy a center of poetry & other new writing with a series of readings by visiting writers as well as open mics for students & readings by contributors to The Russell Sage Review. The series takes its name from the student literary zine. The program tonight presented, not quite by design, 2 writers from Chicago to a packed house of mostly students, with a few faculty & staff, & a couple of us community poets.
In between tonight’s readers, Matthew read a poem “From the Book of Dust” by Cynthia Hogue, who had originally been scheduled for this reading.
Although the room was filled mostly with students, most of the questions seemed to come from faculty or community members — &, as is so characteristic of poetry readings in academic settings, no one applauds between poems, unlike the readings out in the community.
The series will continue throughout the semester; you can check their Facebook page for more information.
October 2, 2018
First up on the list was me (don’t blame me, it was open) & I read my new poem “Reading Dead Poets Listening to Live Jazz” pretty much written at the Lake George Jazz Festival this year, then the slightly older “Buttons Not Bombs” (to match my shirt). I haven’t seen Tim Lake at a poetry event in years but here he was, perhaps because it was Troy; he a read a couple of older anti-war poems “Contemplation of an Impending War” (2015) & “Homecoming” (2011). James Duncan, who is the co-host of the series, read a poem for Autumn “Life Cycle.”
After a break, we returned to the open mic with Kendall Hoeft who read a poem with images of waiting for Spring “Migration of a Hollow Swan,” & the memoir “Poem I Didn’t Write to My Mom.”
Kennedy Eldon was another voice new to me & read selections from a longer poem in short parts with sex & political undertones, then on to equally brief & sexy selections from a book titled Alphabetarium Penile, which was described in a 2016 notice for Troy Night Out as a “beautiful piece of wok which contains abstract paintings/depictions of penis[es] and the like [?] for each letter of the alphabet” — for everyone who loves a dick (their own or others) & "the like."
The management at Elixir 16 seems more enthusiastic about having poetry in the house than the feeling I got at O’Brien’s so I expect the Troy Poetry Mission to continue here for a while — but then “One never knows, do one?” For now, last Wednesday of the month, at Elixir 16, 45 Second St., Troy, hosted by R.M. Engelhardt & James Duncan — no time listed on their FaceBook page, but I wouldn’t get there before 7:30PM.
September 30, 2018
Another busy night in McGeary’s back room for this AlbanyPoets event, hosted by Mary Panza, & the featured poet Margot Malia Lynch-Steiner. But first on to the open mic.
Julie Lomoe once again (I’ve heard her a few times at recent open mics) read from her “Colorado Chronicles” the pieces “Hope Dawns Eternal” (the actual title of her earlier novel), & “Age & Altitude.” Sally Rhoades read 2 contrasting pieces, the ecstatic native images of “I Heard the Drumming” & a poem about her past “Sorrow So Deep.” Rich Tomasulo also made a rare appearance to read “a persona poem” titled “In the Antique Store: the Customer’s Dilemma.” Tom Riley showed up tonight with 2 short poems, “My 32-year Old Dryer” (confronting his own mortality), & “Still Life.” Mary Baker was a stranger to the poetry scene but held her own well with a poem & a song about rebellion from age 15.
There is no “typical night” at Poets Speak Loud! so this was a typically atypical night here at McGeary’s, Sheridan Square, Albany, NY, the last Monday of the month, with food & drink & poetry & whatever else happens. Check out the website at AlbanyPoets for details.
September 27, 2018
We were back at the Social Justice Center on a third Thursday with a solid list of open mic poets & the featured poet Charles Straney. Tonight’s Muse was the gone American activist poet Sam Hamill (1943 - 2018), editor of the important poet anthology Poets Against the War published by Copper Canyon Press in 2003; I read his poem “True Peace.”
Bob Sharkey was first up on the list to read “Living in the Light Blue” a sociological summary of his neighborhood in "East Latham." Marilyn Zembo Day hadn’t been here in a while & was fresh off her reading this month at Arthur’s Market, read an anaphoric political rant inspired by a prompt “Goddess Bless America” (with apologies to the other countries in the Americas), then read from the dedication in Joy Harjo’s 2015 book Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.
After a break, I read my new poem incorporating lines from the late Paul Pines & Harry Staley “Reading Dead Poets Listening to Live Jazz.”
We are at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY each third Thursday of the month, starting at 7:30PM for an open mic with a featured reader, a local, regional or national poet, for a large or small donation that helps support poetry programming & the work of the Social Justice Center. Please join us.
September 24, 2018
Albany Poets website, "to allow lovers of poetry ... to unplug from time to time." Check out the website for more information.
I was the first on the sign-up list & read my new poem “Reading Dead Poets Listening to Live Jazz” incorporating lines from gone poets Paul Pines & Harry Staley, then one for the season “Yom Kippur 2004.” L-Majesty showed up & read a couple poems, “How to Become a Famous Poet” & from his book Bitter Boy Love Poems (a 10-year review of all his old relations, he said) “On Why I Bleed So Good for Them.”
Julie Lomoe (once referred to as “a national treasure” by someone at an open mic) read “Hope Springs Eternal” which she said was the title of her novel, about heading to Colorado for a Romance writers conference, then the poem/personal essay “Age & Altitude.” Christa DeMarco keeps coming back here, & read a piece dedicated to her therapist about learning to learn & not criticize herself “Tools, Skills & Life Lessons,” then a piece in which she sees herself in a new country as a refugee of hate.
Then Randee, because she has a baby-sitter tonight, returned with a piece titled “Peace” (or perhaps “Piece”).
This relatively new open mic has begun to attract regular readers here at The Low Beat, 335 Central Ave., Albany, NY, held on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month, 7:30PM — check out the AlbanyPoets website for more information.
September 19, 2018
Back down to Kingston to the ArtBar Gallery for the Word Of Mouth Poetry Series, hosted by Teresa Costa. There were 2 featured poets before a spirited open mic, the scheduled poets had been postponed from last year (I’d come down for that one too).
After a break, Don Haynic began the open mic by reading Donald Lev’s poem “Brokeback Mountain” from his chapbook of movie poems (Donald is in a nursing home). T.G. Vanini performed from memory 2 poems from his new book Dear Cloudface (Post Traumatic Press). Judy Smith read poems of self-affirmation & advice for suicide-prevention month. I read my poem on the 9/11s “Another Tuesday.”
Rich Barley said his poem “America’s Choice” (on the AR-15 assault rifle) was his only political poem, but then read a poem about the US/USSR space program, & another poem entitled “Strong.” Don Haynic returned to read one of his own poems, “Pigeons,” from his phone, a descriptive, philosophical essay. Roberta Gould read from a new book, Women Lightening, “What to Do What to Say,” then a persona poem (not in the book) “Talk When You Can Tell the Truth.” Suze Bottigliero read a just written, rambling piece about Trump & being sleepless at midnight. Teresa Costa read a poem by one of my favorite poets, Bob Kaufman (“you wear my eyes…”), then one of her own on the absent gods & goddesses. Gary Siegel was a late arrival on his birthday (but he brought cake) & finished out the night with the philosophical “Clocks” & the descriptive/romantic “A Dinner by the Sea.”
W.O.M.P.S. takes place on the 2nd Thursday at the Kingston, NY hangout the ARTBar Gallery, 674 Broadway, about 6:30, features & an open mic, all for a donation — give what you can: Support Your Local Poets!
September 18, 2018
There was long sign-up sheet (19) & lots of fans to see Marilyn & Kristen Day which made for a stupendous night of poetry. Our host, Catherine Norr, started us off with an a cappella rendition of the Shaker Hymn “Simple Gifts” then on to the open mic.
David Walsh was first on the sign-up sheet & read from his book Touchstones (Troy Book Makers) the timely “New York Noon September 11” & “Doctors.” I read a couple of older pieces “The L-Word” & “Hidden Cafe Table Poem.” Susan Jewell read her most recent ekphrastic poems, on architectural subjects, “Burnham” on the NYC Flatiron Building (the architect Daniel Hudson Burnham), the second, “Root,” on Burnham’s partner in Chicago, John Wellborn Root.
After a break, much needed after such a 1 - 2 punch of poems, Catherine Norr was back with a poem about the loneliness of house-sitting. Alan Catlin read an Autumn poem which was a take on sports “Mascots,” then “Banks” a sci-fi poem imagining a clone store. Jackie Craven read a memoir piece “Cocktail Party on the Patio 1974,” then a poem about an imagined opening a pink box of famous painters. Betty Zerbst’s poems have the feel of “feel-good” greeting cards, with their rhyme & home-spun wisdom, as in tonight’s “Autumn Wind” & “A Little Too Late.” Carol Graser’s poem “The Ironing Board” was about a woman escaping.
Judith Prest read a new poem “The Secret Names” (that protect us), then “Unsafe” from her new Finishing Line chapbook After. Malcolm Willison’s poem “I Win” was an impressionistic take on Shakespeare’s Richard III, then recited (thankfully not sung) one of his song lyrics “Oldies.” Kendall Hoeft read a couple of children’s poems she had written in high school, one about Mini Bubbles & Mrs. Air, another about on old fish frier. Helen Farnham read a 3rd person portrait of a rebellious art teacher “Pinned to the Wall.” Pat Ward’s long piece “My Brother John” tracked the things he lost as his mind deteriorated.
This open mic on the 2nd Wednesday of each month takes place at Arthur’s Market in the historic stockade section of Schenectady at 7:30PM, & usually includes a featured poet.
September 16, 2018
Good ole Charlie was hanging out with Jerry (who didn’t read) when I arrived but we quickly moved into the open mic, with Laura (Ellsby) first up with her newest poem “The Tragedy of Co-Dependency” then on to the nature/descriptive “White Egrets.” I followed with a poem written for other September 11’s “Another Tuesday” & the much smaller “Hidden Cafe Table Poem.” Kenn Ash read about a universal issue, “Other People’s Children” (in rhyme), then a piece titled “Let Us Pray.”
KGB Bar Lit Magazine “Noma Plus” then the one-sentence effort “Bone Folder.” Charlie read a nostalgic memory piece “Fredericks Maryland I-70 Truck Stop Torn Down," then a poem built on someone else’s line “Confessional Poem” about the poem itself.
Charlie offered us a 2nd round & Laura took the bait to read “Other People’s Children” written at a recent workshop from a prompt (as was Kenn's earlier poem), then an early poem “The Swing.” I did 2 baseball poems, “Waiting for Jacqueline Robinson” & the ditty about the Valley Cats’ players the 2 Pinedas. & Kenn finished up the night with another rhyme “Ephemerality.”
This open mic is on the 2nd Tuesday of each month in the back room of the Tap House at Catamount Glass, 309 County St., Bennington, VT — sign up at 7:00PM, reading starts at 7:15. It’s about an hour from Albany, less from Troy & points East.
September 14, 2018
After our Summer break, we (Nancy Klepsch & I) were back for our 9th year (!) of poetry + prose at the Arts Center in Troy - & a dozen on the sign-up sheet.
Just because it was there, I was signed up #1 & Nancy #2. I began with an old poem for the season “Tashlich” & my new ditty about the Valley Cats’ Pineadas. Nancy Klepsch read a new poem about Serena Williams, then a love poem for the everyday.
An excellent start for this season of 2nd Sunday @ 2 open mics at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River St., Troy, NY — Free! Bring 2 poems or 5 minutes (max.) of prose.
September 10, 2018
Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl introduced one of my favorite local poets, D. Colin, to introduce Acevedo, with an emotional & personal take on Acevedo’s novel — Danielle’s family is from Haiti, while Acevedo’s are from the Dominican Republic. Acevedo then dedicated her opening piece to Danielle, “…for us writers, us readers, us girls …” She went on to talk about an early professor of hers who perpetuated the stereotypical poetic subjects, so that she responded with a poem “The Rat” (that the professor did not think “noble enough” for poetry).
She then talked of her Dominican family, & hair, & performed her piece about “how do you fix this hair?” From the novel she read a section from the beginning where the main character describes herself; & the author talked about her own experience coming up with her poems through the NYC hip-hop scene, then performed her poem about the bravado that characterizes rap performers, no matter what the quality of their work.
The Q&A session began with a question in Spanish (answered in English) about her beginnings as a writer, & more discussion of proving herself in the competitive hip-hop community. She also talked about the huge influence & support she received in her youth from The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (Bro/Sis).
If you don’t have the Writers Institute schedule for the Fall, visit their website for a complete listing.
September 9, 2018
Getting back down to the brass tacks of an open mic at The Low Beat on the first Tuesday, with the host Thom Francis, el presidente of AlbanyPoets.
Algorhythm was first up with a poem he described as coping with anger, about his mother & a man-hating environment, “Escalation of Emasculation.” I followed, trying to lighten it up a bit, with “A Traney Story,” “Blue” a poem I’ve worked on for years, & my baseball ditty about the Valley Cats’ players Juan & Andy Pineda. el presidente read a new poem “Family Tree” with the interesting trope that it is not a tree but a pile of sticks. Roof-Topper Danger Jenkins spent some time flipping pages before reading “Unassimalated” then, for his daughter’s step-sister, “Bloody Footprints.”
This relatively new series, Brass Tacks, is at The Low Beat, 335 Central Ave., Albany, NY on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month, just an open mic for now — more information at AlbanyPoets.
September 3, 2018
It was the last Monday of the month so I wandered in to McGeary’s for dinner & drinks at the bar & then to poetry in the back room, with Mary Panza in charge, definitely in charge.
Someone signed me up in the #1 slot so I started off the open mic with a couple of fantasy poems (aren’t they all?), “Lilly White” & “Sleeping in Patchouli.” D. Alexander Holiday read a poem by the late West Coast poet/activist Pat Parker (1944 - 1989) “One Thanksgiving Day,” a poet about whom you should know.
A poet quite still with us (thankfully), Carrie Czwakiel, read poems from her journal kept at age 14, “Castle Mute My Anger,” “Rain Drops” & “Turning Back Again” (about her parents). Bob Sharkey began with an “Ode to Our Laundry Basket” then one of his signature fortune cookie poems “Feckless Fortune.” Julie Lomoe read the memoir pieces from a trip to Colorado that she had read recently at The Low Beat about buying legal (!) pot “Rocky Mountain High.”
Harvey Havel talked about his latest project ghost-writing a book & helping with the fund-raising through social media. Don Levy read his humorous poem considering the possibilities of “Bus Hottie 201.”
Christa DeMarco read 2 poem, like letters, in which she confronted on “other,” “Exercise Your Demons” & “In the Darkness.” Joe Krausman was awash in synchronicity with his poems “How to Have Sex at the Age of 90,” & “Brain Surgery.” Avery concluded the night with the harrowing 2-part narrative “How To Install a Fan.”
The last Monday of most months is a good time to find poetry at McGeary’s on Sheridan Square (across the street from the Palace Theater) in Albany, NY, 7:30PM, with a featured poet surrounded by an open mic. Bring poems & a donation.
August 27, 2018
The second poetry event of a very eventful poetry day & a warm, steamy night at the Social Justice Center for the open mic & the featured poet, Sarah Giragosian, but lots of cool poets in the house, a couple I’d seen just a few hours before at the Altamont Fair. The night's Muse was the recently gone poet, professor, activist Harry Staley, in whose honor I read his poem “Chalk It” trying to channel his past, energetic performances. Then on to the start of the open mic.
First up, to honor another recently gone artist, Aretha Franklin, was D. Alexander Holiday who read Nikki Giovanni’s “Poem for Aretha.” Joe Krausman read from his poems about surgery, this about needing a specialist, not a writer. Jan Tranmontano was back in town, all too briefly, from Southern Florida, read a work-in-progress, “Solar Eclipse Totality” about her mother in a nursing home. Cicada read her “first city poem” read 1st in Denver with a punk band, an energetic celebration of urban life. Alan Catlin read a horror-movie styled poem, containing a prompt somewhere, beginning “We are planting the baby-heads by moonlight…”
After a break, we continued with the open mic — I record the audio of each of these sessions at the SJC, rather than take notes as I do at most other readings, but when I sat down to write this Blog I discovered that I for some reason the rest of the open mic was not recorded. I have the sign-up sheet so I do know who read, but other than a fragmented, vague memory I do not have the kind of information about who read what (including myself) that I had for the first half. I will give each poet equal treatment & just list who read. My apologies, not only to the poets, but to the grad students of the future who are writing their dissertations on the poets & poems of the Albany poetry scene for this incomplete rendering.
The poets who read, marvelously I might add (!), were:
Mary Ann Murray
Slay! the Dragon (who had read at Poetic Vibe on Monday as “formerly known as Kid Flash”)
Frank S. Robinson
Take my word for it, it was Greaaaat!
Recorded or not, the Third Thursday Poetry Night takes place each (that’s right) third Thursday of the month, not affected by any national holidays, at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY at 7:30PM — your donation helps pay the featured poet, supports poetry events in the area, & supports the work of the Social Justice Center. & bring a poem for the open mic.
August 24, 2018
As far as I can tell from my records, the first time I attended the Poetry readings (called “Poetry Appreciation”) at the Altamont Fair it was in 1992 in the Hayes House where the art is exhibited. I note another attendance the following year where Charlie Rossiter & I are conflated to “Dan Rossiter.” In those early days each person who signed up got a small plaque, no name, just a metal design tacked to a piece of polished wood.
A few years ago Alan Casline took over the event, perhaps after the death of William Robert Foltin, & the reading is now held at the Carriage Museum, a larger more open space, on the Altamont Fairgrounds. He includes not only an open mic but also a “round-robin” where folks read the words of gone poets -- but no commemorative plaque (I'd thrown my out years ago).
|D. Alexander Holiday trying to cool off|
Mark W. O’Brien took us for a stroll down his Memory Lane including his poem “Shunpiker” from Coast to Coast. His wife, Gale Allen, sang a church-lady song “Even Song in Oxford on St. Cecilia’s Day” (whose feast day is November 22 - what event in American history occurred on that day?). Tom Corrado read #353 from his epic compilation of his “screen dumps” A Dump a Day.
After a break for beer, & cool breezes (did I say it was hot in there?), a few of us staggered back for tributes to gone poets such as Harry Staley, John Abbuhl, Paul Pines & others.
Getting in my car I noticed that I certainly had some mud on my sandals, but, fortunately, no horseshit.
August 22, 2018
No matter where I go, to what open mics, no one wants to sign up in the #1 spot, so I am compelled to take mercy on the #2 person signed up who would be #1 if I signed up for a later slot — I read the anti-war rant “Buttons Not Bombs,” then, because I saw Peggy LeGee in the audience, I read my poem/joke “A Traney Story.” I was followed by Elizag whseo poem “At the End of the Movie 5 Pieces” was a string of advice. The next reader was introduced as “formerly known as Kid Flash” (& I suspect I’ve seen him under various names elsewhere) who read Gregory Corso’s long poem “Marriage.” The always colorful Peggy LeGee read pieces from her phone rather than her frequent notebook, “You’re Addicted to Distraction” & a piece from childhood “Revise the Echos.”
Jordan finished up with a reading of the group poem, as the Surrealist would say, “an exquisite corpse,” written by the audience as is the tradition here.
This weekly venue takes place each & every Monday in Troy at the Troy Kitchen on Congress St. where you can get food, drink, & poetry all in one place — 7:30 — bring poems for the open mic.