December 11, 2018
We were kicked upstairs due to a performance in our usual space, the black box theater (named after yet another crooked politician), but it was brighter, sunnier up there & not just because of the sunlight, but also because of the luminous poets & listeners. The hosts were Nancy Klepsch & myself, DWx.
First up was Bob Sharkey who read a magical poem about a visitation from his great-grandmother Brigid Connolly “Brigid Visits East Latham.” Joel Best followed with a poem perhaps titled “Nighting” that was perhaps a ghost story, then a poem about family “We Are 9 Old Chairs.” Dave DeVries began with a memoir of a ’58 Chevy “Car Fever,” then on to one titled “Questions” which was just that.
So if you write alone but want to share some of it there is this monthly gathering 2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River St., Troy, NY — Free!
December 7, 2018
According to Thom Francis (el presidente), who should know, this was the 10th gathering of this open mic series at The Low Beat. It was also the public start of a week-long celebration of Thom’s birthday.
Always one to have cake for any celebration, Mary Panza passed around mini-cupcakes to kick off the celebration of Thom’s birthday (actually on Sunday, December 9) which strangely went well with the beer I was drinking & of course we all sang the Happy Birthday song.
Brett Petersen, wiping cake from his beard, read a couple poems from his Blog, like exercises in automatic writing, or a punk version of John Ashbery, “The Bottom of the Pool is Hungry for your Brain Damage” & “Have a Drink, Literally, On Me.” Alyssa Michelle has established herself as a regular here, with her first person poems, the first “Introvert” in which she tries to explain herself to extroverts, & the next about driving & watching the lights in the rain “Pause.” Kendall Hoeft read a poem titled “When the Body Breaks” then one starting with a quote from Anna Karenina & was about fear & desire & oysters & pearls “Of Sea & Sky.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Poetyc Visionz out & about & he read a new piece “I Met God on Lark St.” which was a sort of re-make of his Number 7 poem, then another in his signature wordplay (& an example of why he has been dubbed “the Pastor of Positivity”) “Be Grateful.” The Birthday Boy, Thom Francis, shared a poem about water flowing down 4th Street “Jesus Walks on the Water.”
Getting Down to Brass Tacks is a open mic (primarily) held on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays of the month at The Low Beat on Central Ave., starts about 7:30PM. Another fine poetry event brought to you by the folks at AlbanyPoets.
December 5, 2018
On a late Saturday afternoon I went to the Hudson River Coffee House in Albany for a reading by 3 women poets. After a late start Doug Rothschild did a lengthy, & somewhat repetitive run through of the upcoming readings in this series (more on this later), then on to the poets, Kenning JP Garcia doing the intros, such as they were.
BOOG City 10.5 Festival.
This series, like the Sage’s The Rev, often brings in poets from outside this area to introduce their work to the local scene. Interestingly enough, during Doug Rothschild's opening peroration, he mentioned that he was also interested in featuring local poets in this series, & has put that information out to the community. But, he said, he often hears from local poets whom he doesn’t know, meaning, he said, that they have not been to the readings. I think he meant to his readings. I attend between 8 & 10 or so reading each month in the region (you can verify this by checking my Blog), but I rarely — dare I say “never”? — see Doug at any of them. I can only conclude that the only readings he goes to are the ones he is involved in organizing — which means, of course, that he doesn’t know who any of the other poets are in this community since he doesn’t get out of his comfort zone. It’s a dilemma.
Saint Rocco was born about 1340 in France; he is venerated as the protector against the plague & other contagious diseases; other sources say he is the patron saint of bachelors & of (in the 20th century) laundromats. Be that as it may, you can find notices about this series at their Facebook page.
December 2, 2018
This reading series out of Sage Colleges is usually held in Troy, but tonight was in the colorful, bright Opalka Gallery at the Albany Sage campus on New Scotland Ave. The series is coordinated & hosted by poet Matthew Klane, formerly of the Yes! reading series. There were 2 readers.
The reading was followed by a mercifully brief Q&A, that somehow got into the topic of the apocalypse, which seems to be in the air, hopefully only for discussion.
The Rev reading series is taking the traditional academic break until next semester. I for one look forward to next semester’s program. Kudos to the Sage Colleges & to Matthew for making this happen.
November 29, 2018
The old folks commandeered the center cluster of tables (I guess so they didn’t have to walk too far to the mic) while others, including some new faces, & audience/just-to-listeners were spread about the rest of the room, & others came in as the reading went on. Our host was Mary Panza, who at one point shared her experience in the rural hinterlands of Gloversville, NY when she performed recently at “Dorn’s Space;” hey, you can send a girl from South Troy to Gloversville, but you can’t make her move there either.
First to the open mic was Sylvia Barnard who read an older poem from her 2012 collection of poems Trees “Easter 1988,” then a new piece about the legendary British folk-lore figure “Green Man.” Joe Krausman’s first poem was about being alone, while his next poem pondered the end of Summer in the “garden of Good & Evil.”
Don Levy was up to continue the open mic with a seasonal poem “Up Your Chimney, Santa” responding to the character of Santa in that gay-classic TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Bob Sharkey’s poem “One Day this Kid Will” was inspired by a photo exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York & a photo by David Wojnarowicz, & then a cento from entries from last year’s Stephan A. DiBiase Poetry Contest titled “We Are Delivered by Wonders.”
Christa DeMarco, who will be the featured poet here in February, began with a poem, like a letter to her mom about their conflicts, her next poem styled as a computer message about a system shutdown, titled “Destruction Imminent,” made some of us wish her voice was used as the voice of the computer. We were pleased to see Julie Lomoe back from subdural hematoma less than a month ago, & she has a new writing project titled “Subdural” that seemed to be composed of a string of short poems she called Haiku, then on to a prose narrative about Thanksgiving Day at the U.U. with her family — Julie is back. Samuel Weinstein came in with his father, as he often does, then dismissed him before reading from his long poem “In a Pinch” (“about schizophrenia” he said, & sex), then one titled “A Bit Brighter.”
Another Poets Speak Loud! in the books, so to speak, usually on the last Monday of the month, but not in December when it falls between the craziness of family & the craziness of drunken amateur night, but otherwise (i.e., the last Monday of January) join this odd community of poets at McGeary’s Irish Pub on Sheridan Square on the last Monday of the other months at 7:30PM — check out the schedule at AlbanyPoets.com
November 27, 2018
This was certainly the shortest open mic I’ve been at, perhaps ever, but, as a former girlfriend once said to me, “shortest doesn’t mean it’s not fun…”
We were at The Low Beat for the 3rd Tuesday open mic & in addition to the poets on the very short list there were folks hanging out at the bar to listen to poetry, & that's not bad. Our host was AlbanyPoets el presidente Thom Francis.
& I was first on the list, which was easy to do tonight. I have been going through my files & found a poem written in response to a call for entries in 1997 from the guys running Chronicles of Disorder to celebrate the birthday of James Joyce by writing on February 2, 1997 a piece that responded to the topic “The Literal Soundtrack of a Day on Earth.” My records don’t show if there was any eventual publication but my copy of the flyer indicates I did extensive research in my private diaries & I wrote “The Track of a Sound of a Day: Today & Over the Years” which I read tonight; I also read 2 new pieces “Are Ewe a Frank Robinson?” & the MFA-bashing “To the consternation…”
Thom Francis jumped in to read the “holiday poem” that began “I don’t have a family tree…” playing on the expected images of trees, wood, & dysfunctional family relationships, etc.
& then it was over — but the open mic is back each 1st & 3rd Tuesday at The Low Beat, on Central Ave., 7:30PM, bring poems & join us.
November 26, 2018
& did I mention that in addition to the varied & refreshing readings there were some luscious sweets & other refreshments to make the afternoon even more enjoyable? The combination of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, & the Schenectady County Public Library & the Friends made for a pleasant literary afternoon. For more information on either or both check out www.hvwg.org & www.scpl.org.
November 20, 2018
One of my favorite “new,” young poets, Caroline Bardwell, was the featured poet this night, & of course, there is always a wonderfully varied open mic, so how could I stay home & watch TV? Our host, Catherine Norr got us on our way with a song, “A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening” -- how true indeed.
Alan Catlin was the first up with another addition to his “Hollyweird” series written today “The Lord of the Flies” about a street person in Albany, then “an office poem” with a scorecard of characters titled “Secret Santa.” I followed with 2 new poems “To the consternation of …” for the MFA poets out there, & a mortality poem “Last Weekend In Gloucester.” Noah Kucij was here to support this friend Caroline read a poem with a great title “At the Missing Sock Laundromat” & one with password advice “Please Sign In.”
Our host Catherine Norr got us back to the open mic with a poem about a farmer “Cousins” & one titled “Memory Bank.” I usually don’t like cat (or dog) poems because of their sentimentality, but Sarah Girgosian read the more grounded “When the Outdoor Cat Comes In,” then what she introduced as a new poem that was like a dystopic fantasy of the commercial world appropriating names. The night ended with Sahra Ali reading 2 poems, both just written today, the first like a journal entry by a robot who is herself, then the very short “Lucrative.”
The poetry open mic at Arthur’s Market, 35 North Ferry St., Schenectady, NY continues each 2nd Wednesday of the month, 7:30PM, usually with a featured poet surrounded by the open mic.
November 15, 2018
We had missed last month (your hosts, both Nancy Klepsch & I were out of town) but here we were back with a full list of readers at the black box theater of the Arts Center in Troy.
Then began a string of poets with the letter “K” in their names. Kendall Hoeft is becoming a regular here, & this afternoon read “Coyote Chorus” a poem about what she heard while reading, then what she called “a celebration of polarizing light” a poem titled “Father Kaleidoscope.” Karen Fabiane’s poem “When She Spoke of Love She Meant Theft” was about a former lover who even stole poems, her second poem was a mélange of past lovers both from her life as a man & as a woman. Kate Laity read from the introduction to a talk she will be giving this week in Japan on the work of the author Tove Jansson (1914 - 2001), what she read lamenting the current political conditions in the U.S.
Another regular reader here is Peggy LeGee who sang a humorously bragging piece “I’ve got something for everyone…” she said. Christa DeMarco began with a meditation by a human in a forest “Do you think a tree imagined being a chair …” then a description of watching a person dying. Christian Ortega read 2 love poems from his Red Poems, “My Name In Yours” & “Amor Fou.”
2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose takes place at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on River St. in Troy each, well, you get it — bring something to read.
November 13, 2018
I just had to head down to the ArtBar Gallery in Kingston this night for the readings by 2 poets I really like, both as poets & as people, Annie Christain & Richard Levine, with the customary open mic, of course. Our host was Teresa Costa, who set the tone with a short poem by the recently gone Donald Lev.
Following these 2 stellar readings, a break was badly needed to re-set our heads for the open mic.
Gary Siegel was first up with a poem he said was “untitled’ but the recurrence of “the world is soft” seemed to give it a title, “Clocks” (about how Time is printed on our face), & “Crack.” I read a couple of brand new poems, “To the consternation of…” (on MFA program produced poetry collections), & “Last Weekend in Gloucester” (“sampling” the lines of Gloucester poets to consider where the body goes).
Fred Poole’s first poem was a philosophical piece on the nature of politics & stupidity, his next was a remembrance from his childhood when “the men wore tops to their swimsuits.” Teresa read in the #4 slot that was habitually reserved for Donald Lev & read from Donald’s Enemies of Time (Warthog Press, 2000) including “Red Emma.” Norm Kamerling read from his poems in plastic page-protectors, “The Bust” a true story of being arrested, “Modern Time” on the proliferation of screens & numbers, in funny rhyme, & another amusing piece on parking limitations “Driver Man Blues.”
W.O.M.P.S. (Word Of Mouth Poetry Series) is on the 2nd Thursday of each month at the ArtBar Gallery, 674 Broadway, Kingston, NY, 7:00PM, often with featured poets & an open mic, sometimes a different format, but worth the trip for the poetry & for the poets.
November 11, 2018
Phew! 26 on the sign-up sheet! & the much-postponed featured poet April Bernard, with our host Carol Graser who got us going with a poem by Chase Twitchell.
Not all on the sign-up sheet actually read in the open mic, but 23 did & the first of those, who was also still here at the end, was Marilyn McCabe who read a sample from her new collection Fractured Psalms “Father Psalm” & “Waiting Psalm.” Glenn Witecki read a piece in rhyme about a campfire “Nigth Fire Intensity” (& actually used the work “portend” in the poem!). Lin Murphy’s poems were both political, “Asylum Seekers” & “Disrupt by Uplifting.” Leslie Sittner likes alliteration & work play, as in her sexy poem “Growing Good Roots” & in the ekphrastic “Portrait of Barry.” James Schlett made a rare appearance with a string of haiku, including one for his young daughter & another about a harvest festival.
Due to the length of the sign-up sheet Carol dispensed with the customary break & dove right back into the open mic with a couple of young students. August Rosenberg read “Jack Shit” & a short piece with pizza “Worth It.” Katelyn R. read a letter-like poem “California Love,” then the grimly titled “Lung Cancer.”
Doug Holiday began with his poem to Nancy Pelosi “It is a Wonder,” then paid homage to Ntozake Shange by reading her piece “My Father is a Retired Magician.” Effie Redman’s poem “Tell Me” sounded like an oblique self-portrait. Inspired by April Bernard’s poem to Lucie Brock-Broido I read one written after hearing Brock-Boido read at Skidmore back in 2002 “Vowels.” Karen Villesrik read a poem written after the 2016 election “Just Before Dawn,” then one about an encounter while driving “Vulture.”
Susan Kress, who reads here regularly, tonight read a poem titled “Relapse” about Fall & the falling out of hair. Rodney Parrott read a piece about falling asleep outside in a gazebo from his series “Universal Laws of the Universe.” Mary Ann Rockwell read 2 poems that have recently been published “Consider Your Options,” & “Alice Neel Self-Portrait” about the famous nude painting of the artist as an old woman.
There is always a great turn-out of local writers on the 1st Wednesday of the month for the Caffè Lena Poetry Open Mic, usually with a feature (or 2), at the renovated Caffè Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, 7:30PM, $5.00.
November 6, 2018
A rare last Tuesday, rather than last Monday, here at McGeary’s Irish Pub for an open mic with Dave Kime as the featured poet, & our host Mary Panza on board to keep disorder at bay.
Sylvia Barnard was the first up for the open mic with a couple poems written this past Spring, the first looking back to the Psalms, the 2nd, titled “Family,” about Thanksgiving with her daughter & son-in-law. Christa DeMarco was next with a poem on hate, feeling overwhelmed if all we have is thoughts & prayers. Tom Bonville’s poem, “Trading Places,” was on aging with buying a new car on an urge as metaphor. I read 2 poems for the holiday, “This Is Not Trick or Treat” & “Zombie Gourd.” Carrie Czawhiel began with a poem from a couple years ago “My Message to Women Abused,” then a newer one about healing emotional scars with the image of kintsugi, the Japanese technique for mending pottery with gold.
As the pitcher for donations was passed around, Cheryl Rice started, appropriately enough after Dave Kime, with “I Hear America,” then to another political piece “The Caskets of Mara Lago.” Joe Krausman was down & out of the poetry scene for weeks & weeks, but was back tonight with a couple poems, “Waiting for That Call” (from Death), & the classic “What’s In a Name.” Doug Holiday continued to pay respect to the late Ntozake Shange by reading her poems “I Live in Music” & “My Father is a Retired Magician.”
his blog, “An Animal You’ll Never Understand,” & “A Gallon of Anti-Freeze to Wash Down the Guilt” which sounded like a quieter, then intense version of Dave Kime’s poems — a good way to bring it all home.
Poets Speak Loud! is usually on the last Monday of the month & continue to look for it on that day at McGeary’s Irish Pub on Sheridan Square in Albany, NY, 7:30PM, an open mic with a stellar featured poet, more info at AlbanyPoets.com.
November 4, 2018
Unfortunately, the air was sucked, briefly, out of the room by the the first 2 performers who took the stage together, Snow & P.O.E.T. Snow rapped way too fast to be understood, which is fortunate because what I would figure out was filled with violence & debasing slang, while P.O.E.T. (not sure what that all stood for) did his rap slower & was more easily heard it did not make much sense other than posing. Danielle, retrieving the mic to announce the next poet, urged us to fill the room with good energy & that we did, nowhere to go but up. Erika did that with a piece title “Perspective” for a friend.
Ian Mack has returned to the area & read a couple of pondering love poems. My poems were based on the month of October, the first for Thelonious Monk’s birthday October 10, 1917 “Acrostic Jazz,” then a Halloween-themed one “Zombie Gourd,” complete with a drink recipe. Douglas Davis, IV read 2 grim pieces by Ntozake Shange, the first about the black children missing in Atlanta years ago, & “Crack Annie” who pimped out her daughter. L-Majesty got us back to love with “Love Lottery” & “Existential Climax” how we all got our beginnings in sex & orgasm. Poetik returned us to Ntozake Shange with a memorized monologue from For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, then her own recently written love letter to herself.
But the night was not quite done with Danielle back with her “take aways,” quotes from poems from the open mic noting that “Ntozake Shange is in the room.” Then on to her title poem from Dreaming in Kreyol (Empress Bohemia Press, 2015) introduced by a song in Kreyol. & to really bring it on home read the group poem/exquisite corpse that had been making the rounds during the reading, another random masterpiece.
We really did bring the good, positive, loving energy back into the room, certainly helped by Ntozake Shange in the room. Come get your dose of such energy each Monday at Poetic Vibe at the Troy Kitchen, Congress St. in Troy, NY, 7:00PM — bring something to read.
November 1, 2018
Sanders was introduced by scholar Ammiel Alcalay who is no stranger to Gloucester himself, see his 2013 book a little history (republic/UpSet Press), & he filled his introduction with big chunks of quote from Olson’s poems & essays, & he has been a part of past panels & presentations on Gloucester’s biggest poet.
I have read 2 biographies of Charles Olson, as well as shorter works that talk about his life & his Maximus poems, so his life story is familiar to me, but it was refreshing to hit the high points, & to hear Ed's own anecdotes; & for those unfamiliar with Olson’s life & work this talk would serve as a excellent introduction.
[Addendum: There is a recording of the lecture on youtube.]
see my Blog), he read sections from the climactic moment when RFK is assassinated, & talked about his years of research on the topic before finally writing the book, & performed a sad poem about RFK's murder on his lyre.
At the end of the reading I was able to purchase a copy of A Life of Olson, which is a manuscript box of 160+ pages, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, printed on one side each. Much of it is in traditional book type-face but a substantial number of pages are the hand-written & drawn glyphs. I’ve had great fun going through the box, not so much reading the text as studying the glyph-pages with it’s mix of drawings, pictures, text in ancient Greek, & Egyptian based designs -- a unique piece of investigative poetry/book-art.
Broken Glory is available at the usual online bookstores & I expect can be ordered through your local independent bookstore. Getting a copy of A Life of Olson is another story.
|ArtBar Gallery, Kingston, NY, September 2017|
There was an extensive sign-up sheet when I arrived with Mary Panza, & on stage was Harvey Kaiser on clarinet & Allen Murphy on bass were playing. Michael Platsky read his poem “Publish This!” for Donald, then from Donald's last book Focus.
Ed Sanders read a poem for Donald & for his late wife Enid Dame. Mikhail Horowitz said that the 1st poetry reading he attended in 1967 Donald Lev was the featured reader at St. John’s in the Village In NYC. Philip Levine, in Donald’s final year, built him a downstairs bathroom, with the help of community funds.
Ron Whiteurs drove Donald to countless readings & open mics. Marylin Stablein read poems by Enid, Donald & her own. Andy Clausen read Donald’s bio from the back of the 2012 A Very Funny Fellow. Frank Murphy is carrying on Donald & Enid’s long-running Home Planet News by publishing it online.
Judith Kerman, via a long mic cable, read from her table a poem to Donald. Teresa Costa was another poet who drove Donald to many readings & featured him at her poetry venues. Leslie Gerber read one of his poems that was like Donald’s. Pamela Twining read from Enid’s Lilith poems.
Shiv Mirabito read Donald’s poem written for Shiv’s annual bonfire. Lenny Brown read his “Memory of Donald.” Cheryl A. Rice who is another long-time poet friend of Donald (& Enid’s) also read.
At this point, although there were others on the list, Mary & I left for the drive back to Albany, marveling at the range & diversity & interconnectedness of all of our poetry communities. Donald Lev, & with Enid before she left us, had a large role in helping to built that community by his presence & by publishing so many of us in his Home Planet News. May that kind of spirit carry on & continue to inspire others.
The following is the list of books by Donald Lev that I have in my Library:
Strains, Pamphilus Press, High Falls, NY, 1991
Enemies of the Time, Warthog Press, West Orange, NJ, 2000
Yesterday’s News: Poems 1998 - 2001, Red Hill Outloudbooks, Claryville, NY, 2002
Grief, A Bardpress Chapbook, Staten Island, NY, 2006
Adventures at the Upstate: Poems on Films, Pamphilus Press, High Falls, NY, 2007
A Very Funny Fellow, NYQ Books, New York, NY, 2012
Where I Sit, Presa Press, Rockford, MI, 2015
|Gerrit Lansing reading in Albany, October 1999|
The readers today were Tamas Panitz, Tomas Urayoán Noel, Nicole Peyrafitte, George Quasha, Pierre, Don Byrd, Chuck Stein, & Robert Kelly.
|Photo by Peter Monaco|
Tomas Urayoán Noel read Gerrit’s “Amazing Grace And A Salad Bowl,” written for the poet Stephen Jonas, then Tomas’ own improv in Spanish & English on the poem. Among the 4 poems of Gerrit's that Nicole Peyrafitte read was the compact “Song: the Autumn Festival” (that Willie Alexander has set to music) with the magic line “All things go underground with glee.”
Don Byrd did a mash up from “The Burden of Set” with his own tribute/meditation to Gerrit. Robert Kelly described the 2 kinds of teacher that was Gerrit & Gerrit’s theory on the Gateways of 7 in each of lives, that each 7 years a door opens to change, the next phase of our life. Chuck Stein was by far the longest with a rambling mix of his own & Gerrit’s poems.
Pierre & Nicole recorded each of the readers to you can experience it for yourself at Pierre’s Blog. & I have posted some of my photos from the event at my Flickr site.
It was a grand gathering of poets, both readers & in the audience, to pay tribute to the grand Gerrit Lansing whose work was magic on many levels.
October 30, 2018
A community night as well as a poetry night — as always. I was suffering with a pulled muscle in my back & Doug Holiday took over the heavy lifting to set the chairs up — & put them back at the end. Our featured poet was Dineen Carta, & our muse tonight tonight was Jackie Sheeler, who had read here in February 2011 & who died in March; I read her poem “Alien Periscopes” from Earthquake Came to Harlem (NYQ Books, 2010).
The first on what was a short open mic list (& thus the limit expanded to 2 poems) was the afore mentioned D. Alexander Holiday, who began with an early post 9/11 piece “How’s Your Invasion Going?” then read from an Academy of American Poets annual a poem by Patricia Smith “Ethel’s Sestina” about Ethel Freeman an elderly black woman who died outside the New Orleans Convention Center waiting for help. Tom Bonville returned to read “Reading” instead of watching football & what he felt like the next morning, then “Out for a Drive” a couple together among the wild flowers, a poem of love & loss.
Bob Sharkey had just announced the 4th Annual Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest, deadline January 15, 2019; Bob likes to read each year’s Best American Poetry & write a cento including lines from his favorite poems & read this year’s cento “We Wept to be Reminded of Such Colors,” & then an “Ode to Krausman” that he wrote in a Bernadette Mayer poetry workshop. Interestingly enough the next poet up was Joe Krausman, recently returned to the scene from a medical sojourn, read “The Game of Life” (snake house vs. mouse house), then one about the changes in life until Death “Things Passing.”
Karen Fabiane didn’t bring her new poems she said, so read 2 older relationship poems, “These Chocolates” from the ‘90s, then “a combination barbecue jazz session” titled “Your Are The Verithin On the Wood Paneling of My Life.” Then me, a poem for my older daughter “For Madeleine” set in NYC’s Village, & one for my younger daughter Anna from a Valley Cats game this Summer, a ditty titled “Vamos Gatos.”
& we will be back at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY on the third Thursday of each month with an open mic & a featured reader, starting about 7:30PM, bring a poem & make a donation to help pay the featured poet & support the work of the Social Justice Center.
October 25, 2018
While this was the 2nd poetry event I went to this particular Wednesday, this was also the last in what had been an ongoing series of readings/interviews/discussions with individual local writers of note, with the final subject being el presidente himself, Thom Francis. Local poets gathered tonight at an ever-expanding cluster of tables in the back room of the Navona Restaurant. Thom has been the host/interviewer at all the events in the past, but since he was the subject, Mary Panza took on the hosting duties.
The poems that Thom read were a sample of the best of his work that we have been hearing, often gritty, personal, but with some surprises about newer poetic projects. He started with “Al” written in 1999, a portrait of a character who came daily to the beer distributor where Thom worked, then the classic “love letter” to his insulin pump “Machine.” “Bar” was a picture of a place where no one cares. A pair of poems about his parents were sad & tender, about their vulnerabilities, but one taking us on into the next generation with his daughter Molly. He also read some poems from a 30/30 project, including a couple inspired by random photographs he had seen, “Wanted for the Weekend” & “Running Away.”
|Thom at Border's in 1994|
As Mother Mary (Panza) says, “for all your poetry needs, go to www.AlbanyPoets.com” — see you out & about.
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 Ferarra 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.