August 9, 2018

Brass Tacks: Poetry & Spoken Word, August 7

Bar flies at The Low Beat
Otherwise known as getting down to the low beat. Thom Francis, el presidente of AlbanyPoets was is host for a most eclectic mix of poets, in styles, age, sobriety, appropriateness, physical appeal, etc., etc.

The first of the new voices, Emily Litwin, read 2 poems about an ex-boyfriend (emphasis clearly on the “ex-“), the first titled “Melonballer” summed up in the last line “you were just a tool,” then another attack titled “Field Corn.” Luciano Ferrara must be a musician because he said he’d been on this stage before but never to read his poetry, did 4 poems, “Overreaching Reactor” in sort of half hip-hop rhymes, others playing off music of the words, another from a series, like pressured writing, sometimes rhymed, bouncing from image to sound to image.

I had more mercy on the audience, just read one poem, “A Traney’s Story.” Julie Lomoe took the opposite tack (not brass) with a long, rambling intro, then read parts 1 & 2 of a prose memoir/journal entry “Rocky Mountain High” about buying pot cookies in Leadville, CO. Caroline Bardwell brought back rhymes with another ex- poem “Liar,” then one titled “Indecision” about her worries about the future with her new-found freedom.

Sarah Fountain said she had never read her poems out in public before tonight but did a fine job with 2 thoughtful poems, “Drivers” about bus riders (like her) versus people in cars with the running refrain “clang, clang…” then “The Past” pondering what people mean when they suggest “just let it go.” Algorhythm started with a positive, intense love story for his wife, then a short work-in-progress, & ended a piece on horror drug memories, mostly from memory.

Algorhythm can't believe he took his shirt off!
Joshua RA Dundas has already established a reputation for taking his shirt off at readings & did it again tonight for his 2nd poem, but first read a poem from his “light side” then one from his dark side called Sin Byron, reading from his book which he hypes as a life-changer. Yusuf followed, he more of a musician than a poet, read 2 parts of a piece wondering if there is a purpose anymore. Amanda was also a nervous, first-time reader like her friend Sarah, but gave a unique performance singing from a journal-like piece titled “Just Some Thoughts” talking about herself, her hesitation, her hiding inside.

It was mostly fine up to this point, then Vincente Maurice took the stage thinking it was a Tuesday comedy night, with some purposefully outrageous ramblings that make people laugh more from nervousness than from any humor, & I left. Besides, I’d finished my beer.

So you too can get down to Brass Tacks: poetry, spoken word, each 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month at The Low Beat, 335 Central Ave., Albany, NY — but not so-called comedy, that’s the other Tuesdays, please!

Poets Speak Loud!, July 30

As always here at McGeary’s it was a special night on the last Monday of the month. There was a variety of open mic poets, even a first-timer, & a featured poet, D. Alexander Holiday, who might be called the “Jiminy Cricket" on race issues for the poetry scene. &, of course, the host, Mary Panza.

I was the first on the sign-up list (even though others had signed the list before me) & I read the brand new “What Makes America Great #17” based on signs from the #MarchForOurLives rallies, & the bar-jotting poem “My Lucky Hat.” Being on Summer vacation Samuel Weinstein read a couple Summer poems “A Sunny Day” &, from a prompt from a friend, “Smokey Summer Emerald Eyes.”

Mary Panza takes Joe Krauman's picture
Joe Krausman passed around a picture of his father taken in Lebanon (the country, not the rural town in New York) in 1924 & read his poem about it “Is the Guy on the Left [his father] Charlie Chaplin?” then a poem titled “Gratitude.” Linda Boulette read the related poems “The Angel of Death Speaks” & “The Spirit of Life Speaks.”  

Marianna Boncek made a rare appearance here with a poem titled “Iftar” (the daily meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan) about a well built as a tribute to the dead, the a forward-looking poem “The End of Patriarchy.”

Our featured poet, D. Alexander Holiday, has been on the scene since the early 1990s, & is the author of a number of books of poetry & prose, the most recent Kith & Kin: A Klannish, Klownish, Tragic Komedy, written as G. Douglas Davis, IV. Often a serious poet on topical/political themes, tonight’s performance had more than the usual share of humor, but it’s point just as sharp, perhaps sharper. He began with “The Tee Shirt” that he bought at an Irish Festival that said “Irish Livers Matter," then on to a couple poems about Roseanne Barr, one in the voice of the ghosts Confederate soldiers “that made her” send her tweets. After discussing Philip Roth’s novel The Plot Against America, he said he was dedicating the rest of his reading to the children in detention centers, & read from his 2011 book E-mails from Satan’s Daughter, then to “13 Years a Slave, Me” from Kith & Kin. He concluded with the political commentary “Invisible Music” complete with dancing to what he was hearing on his earphones & a fancy Church-lady fan.

Then on to the rest of the open mic, with Dave Kime, also making a welcome, rare appearance, reading (no mic needed) “Nightfall” & the anti-corporate TV screed “Blue Light.” Don Levy’s poem “Home Movies 1947” was a look at the history of gays in America before it was safe(r) to come out. Frank Robinson’s poem “The Wanderers” took us into his & Therese’s home as boxes of files of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild moved from their basement, to the kitchen, to the dining room, etc., then a political parable based on the story in Genesis “Original Sin, the 2nd Bite.” Therese Broderick read about burning her face from sunglasses left in the sun on the dashboard of her car “Sunglasses Gone the Way of the Dodo.”

Bob Sharkey’s poem “Malone” was about a road-trip when he was working for NY State, then the travel-guide “Things to Do in East Latham” (who knew?!). Jeff Stubits made a return appearance with a poem entitled “Poetry” which he likened to berries, then wondered “When Will the Moon Be Renovated?” (in order to be closer to God).

Our last reader was Joan Geitz who had showed up to listen & hadn’t planned to read but Mary convinced her & she read the political rant/curse “For the War Mongers,” fitting right in with the readers tonight.

You are never sure who (or what) will show up in McGeary’s backroom for Poets Speak Loud! most last Mondays of the year, 7:30PM, a featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us. McGeary’s is on Sheridan Square in Albany, NY, across the street from the Palace Theater.

August 8, 2018


A traney walks into a bar
orders a burger, “medium rare.”

The waiter asks, what kind
of cheese: cheddar, Swiss
provolone, or vegan cheese?”
“Vegan, please,” she says.

The waiter looks at her funny
“On a burger?” he asks.

She says, “Yes, I’m transitioning.”

August 6, 2018

Poets in the Park 2018

July 14 - Ghost Fishing: an Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology Reading
Back in Albany’s Washington Park, at the foot of the statue of Robert Burns for another edition of Poets in the Park, the 29th year of this series started by Tom Nattell. Tonight’s reading was by poets in the recently published anthology of eco-justice poetry Ghost Fishing, published by the University of Georgia Press & edited by Melissa Tuckey, who was our first reader.

Melissa described the book as containing “poetry at the intersection of social justice & the environment,” with diverse work with roots in many cultural traditions. The first poem she read, the first in the book positioned like a dedication, was by Ross Gay, “A Small Needful Fact,” about Eric Garner; then her own poem in the voice of the chemical company “Monsanto Drunk in the Garden.” She ended with Chen Chen’s poem “Set the Garden on Fire”.

Karen Skolfield, who had read here last year with the late Jay Wenk, read her poem “Mid-Western Zoo” from the anthology with a conversation with her son about a polar bear. Then on to
a coupl poems from her book Frost in the Low Areas (Zone 3 Press, 2013) “Art Project: Earth” a school project with her son, & then “Lost Mountain.” Another poem also starting with a moment with her family & expanding to the larger issues was “Mining a Bath is Not the Same as a Bath.”

Gretchen Primack’s poem from Ghost Fishing was a grim true story of finding the bodies of coyotes that had been shot, “The Dogs & I Walk the Woods.” She talked about being a vegan, & on to related poems, including one from her next book about an imaginary prison like where she has taught, “Knowledge,” a prisoner’s hard task to be a vegan while confined, then the list poem “The Caged” & “Restriction” on the pleasure of food.

I also have a poem in Ghost Fishing, “Water” conflating Hurricane Katrina & a lake in Saratoga. I’m sure that if Tom Nattell, who created this event back in 1989 was still alive that he would have a poem or too in Ghost Fishing, so performed his chant “Save It” — thanks, Tom.

July 21 - Coast to Coast: The Route 20 Anthology Reading
The following week we were back at the Robert Burns statue for a reading by some poets from the just published FootHills Publishing anthology, Coast to Coast edited by Charles Rossiter & Michael Czarnecki. As folks gathered with their folding chairs for the reading, Dave Seely a musician from Louisville, KY, whose parents had poems in the anthology, entertained us with his songs & guitar.

Standing barely a tenth of a mile from Route 20, aka Madison Ave., Michael talked about his love affair with America’s longest highway, running 3,365 miles from Kenmore Square in Boston to Newport, OR on the Pacific coast. Her served as host to introduce poets local & from as far away as Buffalo who read in the order their poems appear in the collection. These were Tom Seely “Thanks, Route 20,” Alan Casline “The Bear’s Song,” Me (Dan Wilcox) “County Fair Poem,” Martha Deed “Housatonic Sam,” Tom Corrado “Eating a Footlong in the Car on the Way to Ballet,” Peggy Seely “Ghost Hunting” & “Coming Home Late One Night on Route 20,” Mark W. O’Brien “Shunpiker,” Michael Czarnecki “Seeking ’the West’” & “Soaking in the Hot Springs,” Charles Rossiter “At the Idaho/Montana Border” & “Somewhere East of Bend,” & Alan Casline again “Carla, Jewel of the Ocean.”

Michael ended with a reading of just the titles of a number of the poems, making another poem of sorts in homage of Route 20.

July 28 - poetik & Bob Sharkey
The final reading in this year’s series took us back to the traditional format of 2 poets, tonight both local, poetik & Bob Sharkey. Unfortunately when I arrived there was a loud revival meeting of sorts going on in the parade ground just beyond the statue with music loud enough to fill the Park & Willett St. & beyond. It’s hard to compete with Jesus, but then we are poets who have had to compete with punk rockers at Valentines & we did it.

I’d been impressed by poetik’s poems & performance the times I’ve seen her at open mics at Nitty Gritty Slam in Albany & at Poetic Vibe in Troy. Tonight she was up against Jesus & she held her own. She read mostly from her 2017 book Labyrinth of a Melaninated Being, her poems are unabashedly 1st person, strong, assertive, even humorous & sexy when need be. She began with the title poem, then on to “confessions of a fat black girl,” saying she writes a lot about bodies, & continued to prove it with “i dream about brunch.” Then on to a couple poems about people she hadn’t met yet, “to a child named kadyn” & “to the next person who will be the love of my life,” both letters to the future. One more from the book was #26 from the series “following the steps…” & she finished with a new, untitled, poem about being a poet, with the refrain, “i’m trying to be a different kind of poet…” characteristically in your face & personal.

Bob Sharkey has been on the open mic scene for a number of years, frequently reads at area open mics, &, with his family, runs the annual Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest, getting submissions from all over the globe. His first poem was the boyhood adventure tale “Cave,” then to a rhapsodic family history/memoir/fantasy “Bridget [Connelly] Visits East Latham” taking his ancestor from Galway on tour; next one of his series of re-written fortune cookies poems “Washington Park Fortunes.” Inspired by a poem by Barbara Ungar, Bob's poem “Their Own People” is a series of answers to questions that he had, relating to Syria & the Syrian civil war, & contrasting other world facts about the US, East Latham & the world. “Questioning” was about his longings, identity, with one of his granddaughters making an appearance; another granddaughter is the subject of “Johanna in the Maze” at the Clark art museum & their delight together. He ended with a Cento he wrote from lines from poems submitted to the most recent
Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest, many of the lines from local poets.

This year’s Poets in the Park, as other years in the past, was co-sponsored by a grant from the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. We hope to be here next year for our 30th year of bringing poetry to the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park, Albany, NY on Saturdays in July. Thank you to the poets & poetry fans in Albany for your support.

(Additional photos from Poets in the Park can be found here at my Flickr site.)

July 30, 2018

The Tin Angel by Paul Pines

This is my book!

“Big deal,” you say. Yeah, a big synchronicity deal.  

Joe Krausman found it today (July 30) in the Albany Public Library give-away bin. It had a sticker inside the back cover with my name & address & an inscription on the title page, “To Dan — Who was on the scene - all best, Paul Pines 9/11/88”.

I had given this copy to someone, perhaps around 2010, who had also hung out at the NYC jazz club the Tin Palace, the setting of the fictional Tin Angel, on Bowery & 2nd St., as I had, back when Paul was the proprietor. I had planned, after giving the older copy away, to buy the new edition of The Tin Angel, but never did.

Over the years I got to know Paul more; he read at the Third Thursday Poetry Night in April 2010, at Poets in the Park in July 2015, & I have many more signed books since when he signed The Tin Angel.

That book had been on my mind since Paul died in late June, & I had forgotten he had signed my copy. Now, in a Jungian gesture that Paul would appreciate, I had it back, thanks to my old friend, Joe Krausman, who says, “It’s just a coincidence.”

Thanks Joe -- & thanks Paul Pines.

July 27, 2018

Third Thursday Poetry Night: James Duncan, July 19

James Duncan, featured poet
A Summertime Third Thursday at the Social Justice Center. We had a short sign-up sheet, then some last minute add-ons, so our featured poet, James Duncan, went last. But first we had to invoke the Muse, tonight the recently-gone beloved poet & jazz impresario, Paul Pines.

I had first encountered Paul at the bar he owned in NYC on the corner of 2nd St. & Bowery, The Tin Palace, back int the mid-1970s. I lived 2 blocks away on 2nd St. & 1st Ave. & it became my neighborhood bar even after Paul sold it & moved on. It was a jazz joint with the occasional poetry event on Saturday afternoons. By the time I moved back up here in the mid-1980s Paul was already here, still writing poetry & organizing the Lake George Jazz Festival. In the years up to now, I was pleased to get to know him, his fine poetry, & to work with him when he directed the theater event Ajax in America in 2016 at Skidmore College. Paul cared deeply about art but more importantly about people. I honored him tonight by reading his poem “The Death of Eddie Jefferson” from Paul’s book Message from the Memoirist (Dos Madres Press, 2015), a poem that harkened back to the days of the Tin Palace. Paul had read here at the Third Thursday in 2010 & later at Poets in the Park in 2015.

Douglas Holiday started off the open mic in pure Holiday fashion with a brand-new piece inspired by the current President “A Montenegro Matter,” full of often humorous but mostly upsetting satire. Samuel Weinstein was back again to read tonight a piece written for his grandparents, a dialogue, “I’ll Miss You I’ll Be Seeing You I Love You.” Alan Catlin has a new chapbook out from Presa Press, Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance, poems responding to the work of August Sander the early 20th Century photographer & read the brief “A Student of Philosophy” about a photo from 1926.

Joe Krausman discussed the work of Paul Pines in the context of the Jungian concept of synchronicity then read a short poem by Pines “After a Mayan Folksong by Antonio Medez Bolio” from Reflections in a Smoking Mirror (Dos Madres Press, 2011). Bob Sharkey read “June 16, 114 Years Later” imagining walking through Troy with Leopold Bloom. The poet known as Screamer returned to read the humorous list poem “Reasons I Burned My Toast” many due to her dog (but then she is someone who rescues such critters).

The poet known as Algorhythm also made a rare appearance here (after just seeing him at the Low Beat earlier this week), read from his phone, about a trip to Spain in 2012, “The Hill of Pardon,” grieving his mother, & finding happiness climbing a mountain. Jeff Stubits read his piece combining personal essay & stand-up comedy about his roommate, “Feeding My Guru.” I brought the open mic to a close with another nod to our Muse tonight by reading “A Small Bouquet for Paul” composed of 2 short parts each responding to poems by Paul Pines.

James Duncan, tonight’s featured poet, has quietly become more involved in the local poetry scene, co-hosting The Troy Poetry Mission at the (now closed) O’Brien’s Pub, with an occasional appearance at area local mics. He began his reading tonight with a poem from the recent Up the River “Spiders at Night” then on to another poem of nighttime & grim urban images about a “sidewalk town.” Trying to think about something happier he read “After the Long Nights” about a visit to his father in Texas. “Soft White Infinity” was a Winter poem referencing Jack Kerouac. He ended with a selection of poems from We Are All Terminal But This Exit is Mine (2017), “There’s This Dream I Have” about chemotherapy as an 11 year old child, another childhood memory “That Gum You Like” about zebra-stripe gum, then one about looking for the painting he lost in 3rd grade along I-90, on to “Virginia Slims” (the favorite smoke of trailer park kids), & “Hudson” about the trailer park again.

The Third Thursday Poetry Night happens on, well, the third Thursday of each month, at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM with a featured poet & an open mic for community poets — your donations support poetry programing, including paying the featured poet, & supports the work of the Social Justice Center. Bring a poem & join us.

July 19, 2018

Brass Tacks: Poetry & Spoken Word, July 17

As Mr. Natural once said, What goes around, comes around. Once upon a time sponsored a monthly open mic & Slam at Valentines on New Scotland Ave. When Valentines was eaten up by Albany Medical Center Nitty Gritty Slam moved to The Low Beat on Central Ave. in early 2014. In the evolution of such events, the Nitty Gritty Slam moved to the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays, other folks took over, then went on to other venues. Tonight, Thom Francis, el presidente of AlbanyPoets, was the host of a new poetry/spoken word series at The Low Beat on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays, what’s old is new again.

As I walked in what was particularly interesting was that I noticed a couple of local poets who were new to The Low Beat or hadn't been here in a while, as well as about a half dozen younger folk who I hadn’t seen before here, who were shy/reluctant to sign up for the open mic. & so there it was once again, #1 on the sign up sheet, & here I was with a couple poems in my pocket (so to speak), “Waiting for Jacqueline Robinson” & “Buttons Not Bombs” to be precise, to read first.

Then, it was good to see Caroline Bardwell as one of the familiar faces who found their way to this new open mic, & she read the moving poem “If Anger Were a Sculpture” then her obsessively alliterative piece on the 4 seasons. Todd Fabozzi hasn’t been to a poetry open mic in Albany for some time; he talked about his 2 new books, Poems & Antipoems (shades of Nicanor Parra), volumes 1 & 2 which selected poems from his first two books, then a smaller collection of new poems Poems & Antipoems Vol. III, & read us a couple.

Algorhythm also showed up tonight & performed some intense pieces, “Conflict, What Is It?” (in dialect), “Midnight Haunting” & the last untitled piece “one of the last real poets…” even more intense. Tim Verhaegen is always a welcome sight but he picks his venues carefully for those that he feels most comfortable in, consequently hadn’t been here when it was Nitty Gritty Slam, tonight he read a memoir piece “13 Years Old 1974” about watching the “cool guys,” riding his bike with his shirt off, before he realized he was gay. Our host Thom Francis joined in with a poem about his sad/hurt relationship with his father, then another about Monday at work.

The night ended with a couple of new, young poets who, perhaps, were inspired by the open, supportive spirit of the open mic. First was Shannon Spollen, who admitted to being a poetry “virgin,” her 1st time time reading out, her first poem a fantasy in rhyme, then one about praying to the Sea.

Savannah Goodman also braved the stage (it’s not so bad, right?) with a poem written when she was 15, as if she were a sweater.

It was quite a night for this inaugural event, in a string of open mics sponsored by Brass Tacks at The Low Beat, 335 Central Ave., Albany, NY — on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays at 7:30PM, an open mic for poets, perhaps featured poets in the future, but a relaxed event to just come & read from your spiral notebooks, your cellphones, that napkin you just wrote on at the bar. See you there.

July 18, 2018

Word Thursdays: Charlie Rossiter, July 12

It’s been some time since I made it over the mountains to the Bright Hill Literary Center in Treadwell, NY (look that up on your Google Maps), but tonight the featured poet was my fellow member of 3 Guys from Albany Charlie Rossiter & I had to make the trip.

Our host was the new Executive Director of the Bright Hill Literary Center, Beatrice Georgalidis, who introduced the founder & now-retired Director, Bertha Rogers, as the first reader in the open mic; Bertha read 3 sonnets, the first 2 one-sentence sonnets, “Stellar’s Jay” & “In New York,” then a sonnet written in more than one sentence ”Highway in Winter.”

Nancy Smith-Watson was up next to talk about a collaborative of project between Bright Hill Literary Center, & Feast of Crispian (out of Milwaukee, WI) & the Lake Arts Project, that includes a series of workshops with veterans writing their stories & performance of contemporary ballet & dance at the Walton Theater on August 18, War, Words, Dance; check out the website for details.

Cicada was in from Denver, read “How to Know the True Bugs,” “Desert Ode” (inspired by, who else?, Edward Abbey), & an energetic piece titled “#Make Big Art” from a Colorado anthology. I followed with “Kerouac” inspired by George Wallace’s video piece about Guenther’s Tavern in Northport, NY, then the rant “Buttons Not Bombs,” & a tiny piece inspired by Buddhist monks at the Grafton Peace Pagoda “Leaves.” Michael Czarnecki, publisher of FootHills Publishing, read 3 untitled pieces from his recent collection You: Spontaneous Poet #3. His traveling companion, Gwen Zimmerman, who also selected the poems for You, read a poem about a quiet moment after a “Ritual Bath,” then 3 short pieces written recently at night, “Manifestation,” “Emanation,” & Ascension.”

Ginnah began with a poem titled “Now” then read about going from Queens, NY to Florida in Winter “Paradise,” & ended with “Full Disclosure” about her son & getting a puppy. Jennifer read from the prologue to her memoir about teaching in the Middle East, this segment about consulting a psychiatrist. Jesse, who writes for The Daily Star, read “Thanksgiving Mirage,” & “Within the Song;” he also mixed business with pleasure by interviewing some of us for the Street Talk columnMarie Cummings was the last of the open mic readers & read from a chapter of frothier book "The Doll House" a conversation with the manager of a strip-club.

Charlie Rossiter knows how to give a poetry reading. He started as he usually does with “Reading Snake-Back Solos Listening to Haydn” from his 1999 Evening Stones (Ye Olde Font Shoppe), a performance piece with claves, then to his take on Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago,” this time the city as a dog. He went on to selections of poems from a his books, all published by FootHills Publishing, The Night We Danced with the Raelettes (2007), All Over America: Road Poems (2009), Coast to Coast: the Route 20 Anthology (2018), & the forthcoming Green Mountain Meditations. In between he included some recent poems, for a varied & engaging reading.

Word Thursday is a regular series at the Bright Hill Literary Center in beautiful downtown Treadwell, NY, as well as a rich selection of other literary, & arts events as well as programs for children & others in the community. Check out their website.

July 10, 2018

Book Talk Series: Therese L. Broderick, July 3

This is a regular series of book reviews & other literary discussions at the Albany Public Library Main Branch, sponsored by the Friends of the Albany Public Library. This day, local poet Therese Broderick, gave a talk about her poetic technique & a reading from her new book of poems Breath Debt (Page Publishing, 2018).

Therese Broderick has been an active member of the local literary scene for many years, serving on the board of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild in the past, & a frequent reader at area open mic & other poetry events. She recently served as judge of the Tom Nattell Peace Poetry Prize contest. It is with joy & anticipation that we greet her book Breath Debt. She began with a talk about her inspirations & her techniques, & began that with advice for new writers to “engage & persist” — engage with the community & persist in writing — as she paid tribute to the community here & to institutions such as the Hudson Valley Writers Guild & Albany Poets. She is also meets regularly with other local poets to go over each other’s work, to provide & receive comments & feedback.

She described how she studied the book of poems Mayweed by Frannie Lindsay, analyzing the poems & even memorizing some of them. In addition, the poet April Ossman has edited Therese’s poems. She demonstrated some Tai Chi moves & talked of “words dancing with numbers,” all to add to the rhythm & sense & play of words in her poems. She even passed around copies of her poetry workbooks that showed the dynamic energy of her notes, or, more accurately, sketches.  Talking about her book, she praised her publisher Page Publishing for giving her the “certitudes” she needed to produce it as she envisioned it.
One of Therese Broderick's notebooks

Then on to a reading of the poems from Breath Debt, some of which I recognized from past open mics, although in different versions, beginning with the first poem in the book, “Reverdie.” The poems she read dealt with the perils of aging, “Consulting the Shovel,” “Bringing Up the Rear,” “With Ease” (about her personal coach), & “Routine Mammogram.” She also read poems about her parents, “OT & PT” & “At Mother’s Cremation” about her mother, & “His Funeral Mass” & “Heeding the Call to the Colors” about her father. She concluded with the multi-voice “Motet Set to War Poetry” in which she was joined in reading by her husband Frank Robinson & myself.

The usual Q&A extended the exploration of her themes & talk of her technique of exploring the etymology of key words in poems even in other languages such as Spanish & German, which led her to read still one more poem, the tender “Errand with Stranger.”  I look forward to reading the rest of the book & to hearing Therese's new work at area poetry open mics.

The Book Talk Series takes place every Tuesday at 12:15 in the auditorium of the Washington Ave. branch of the Albany Public Library, often a review of a book by a member of the Albany community, sometimes an author discussing her or his book. Come a little early for coffee & home baked sweets & conversations.

July 7, 2018

Ed Sanders, July 1

Beyond creating The Fugs with Tuli Kupferberg & Ken Weaver, the quintessential 1960s satirical/political/avant-garde rock band, beyond being a founding member of the Yippies, & taking part in actions at the 1967 March on the Pentagon & the 1968 confrontation of the Democratic Party’s Convention in Chicago, or even his books, Tales of Beatnik Glory, or The Family, or multiple volumes of his poems, Ed Sanders' best contribution to world culture & to others in the “po-biz” is perhaps the concept & practice of Investigative Poetry or “history-poesy,” from in such works as 1968 (Black Sparrow Press, 1997), & Chekhov (Black Sparrow Press, 1995), & the biography The Poetry and Life of Allen Ginsberg: A Narrative Poem (The Overlook Press, 2000), & the multi-volume/genre America a History in Verse the 20th Century.

Now he has come out with Broken Glory: The Final Years of Robert F. Kennedy, A Graphic History (Arcade Publishing, 2018) with illustrations by Rick Veitch. Since the time he was writing 1968, perhaps before, he has been obsessed with the mysteries, confabulations, flim-flams, obfuscations, lies, etc. surrounding the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968. I mean, just who is this Sirhan Sirhan & where did he come from? Over the years Sanders has accumulated 23 banker boxes of material — interviews with people who were there, eye-witnesses, cops, other researchers, government records, whatever. But he acknowledges that Broken Glory is not the final story, as he & others follow leads & evidence as the “true story” slips into the dark closets of history.

This day he was at the Kingston Artists Collective & Cafe, on Broadway in Kingston down by the Rondout before a packed house.  Sanders talked about his decades of research, which is still ongoing & read from the final section of the book, about the assassination in the Ambassador Hotel & the confusion as RFK is led away from his handlers & body-guards, & murdered by agents not yet identified. Then he turned to his lute to sing the dirge, “Robert Kennedy fell down by the ice machine with rosary in his hand.”

Sanders clearly admires what RFK was trying to do to end the war in Viet Nam, to correct inequalities in American society, to establish equal justice for all, the same struggles we are faced with today. He called RFK an amazing American, & continues to have faith in the American democratic process, acknowledging that while we may be only in the first 2 years of the Trump administration, at some point he too will be gone & the American people will carry on.

July 6, 2018

Poets Tribute to Jay Wenk, June 25

Jay Wenk was a poet, writer, peace activist, an engaged community member. He was a World War II veteran & an active member of Veterans For Peace, & the current Poet Laureate of Veterans For Peace; he said he went to Germany to fight fascism & “I’m still fighting fascism here at home.” I may have first encountered Jay at the February 2003 massive demonstration against the impending invasion of Iraq, when I first met Dayl Wise. My earliest photo of Jay is from an October 2006 reading at the Colony Cafe in Woodstock. In 2017 I was pleased to pair him up with a more recent veteran, Karen Skolfield, as readers at Poets in the Park. It was always an honor to be in his presence. He died at the end of May at the age of 91.

Jay Wenk at the Colony Cafe, September 17, 2007

This poetic tribute was organized & hosted by Dayl Wise & Pamela Twining & there was long line of veterans & poets tonight to pay tribute; Dayl reported later there were 25 readers.

Leslie Gerber read the obituary that Jay had written for himself, then his own poem “Memorial Day” (Jay had organized in the past his own Memorial Day remembrance when the Town of Woodstock would not let the Veterans For Peace march in the parade).
Tarak Kauf, is the Managing Editor of Peace In Our Times, a quarterly newspaper put out by Veterans For Peace; he read a poem for Jay written by Doug Rawlings, who is a founding member of Veterans For Peace, & former Poet Laureate of VFP; then “A Poem for Jay Wenk a Dragonfly” written by Jill Anderson who is working on a film title 48 Stars, in which Jay is interviewed; the trailer, including Jay's voice & a snippet from his interview, is available at the 48 Stars Facebook page.
Barry Samuels, a former owner of the Golden Notebook recalled his conversations with Jay at the bookstore.
I read Jay’s poem “Cost of War” from the anthology Poems for Peace Poems for Justice (Post Traumatic Press, 2015), & my own tribute poem to my Elders (Jay among them) “A.J. Muste.”
Chris Collins, a member of the Town Board, read “To Jay.”
Larry Winters, another VFP writer, read a poem for Jay.
Everett Cox, a member of the Warrior Writers collective read “Open Letter to the Commander in Chief on Veterans Day.”
Donald Lev read “Remembering Jay Wenk.”
Fred Nagler, also with Veterans For Peace, read a tribute & remembrances of Jay.
Dave Kime, another veteran, read, or rather proclaimed, the anti-war poems “America is a War Machine” & “Feast.”
Lenny Brown read a remembrance poem he had just written.
Pamela Twining’s poem was titled “Hit & Run.” Then she took over as the host from Dayl.
Judith Kerman read from her chair in the audience a couple of her poetic “definitions” for the nouns “Home” & “Resistance.”
Andy Clausen read “Soldiers of Christ” & “Start the Sun” from his book.
Susan Hoover read a poem that she said Jay loved, “First Morning After Last Night.”
Lisa Mullenneaux read 2 poems “2 Hot 2 Hot” & “Deep Inside.”
Sue Willens read her ironic plea “Let There Be Democracy.”
Ron Whiteurs (who is also a veteran) read “Testament 2018 (to Jay Wenk)”, then a performance piece with recorded music inspired by visual artists, "Dawn in D Major Silent Poem #2."
Phillip Levine read a piece titled “Rivers & Gardens.”
Teresa Costa’s poem was “Jay’s Wounded Knee.”

At this point I had to leave for the drive back to Albany, regrettably missing the last few readers. It was a fitting tribute to a man, a poet, who has left his mark on his Town of Woodstock & the people there & elsewhere.

Jay’s writings are scattered in a myriad of publication, some already mentioned. Post Traumatic Press published in 2017 a collection of Jay’s poems Thank You For Your Service. His World War II memoir Study War No More: A Jewish Kid from Brooklyn Fights the Nazis was published in 2010, with a new edition to be released in the Winter of 2018. I think it would be fair to say that if you want to thank Jay for his service, then work for peace.

Third Thursday Poetry Night, June 21

It was an exhilarating night of new voices, the beloved regulars & the return of poets of long ago, & a generous audience. My muse for the night was, sadly, local writer & activist Anne K. Marfey who passed away on June 2; I read from her book of mini-essays Shake Hands Touch Hearts (Author House, 2009) her piece on William Kennedy. But before the featured poet, Nancy Klepsch, took over the mic, we started our way through the open mic list.

First up to the mic, signed up as “Douglas,” which could stand for either D. Alexander Holiday or G. Douglas Davis IV, who gave an introduction about the publishing history of the poem he read, “Take Off Your Skin,” on racism & hatred. I can thank my friend Charlie Rossiter for sending the next poet our way from Bennington, VT, Laura Ellzey who read about a bi-lingual cat, “The Blue Shapiro,” in both English & Spanish. Dan Vollweiler, who reads at the open mic at Caffe Lena, was also here for the first time; he read a bit of satiric humor “The North American Unemployed Teacher,” happily, he said, not his current condition.

Paul Austin was here from Norman OK (by way of Boston, New York City & Woodstock) & read the powerful political rant “God Damn the Preachers of Destruction.” Sally Rhoades, who is no stranger to Oklahoma, followed with a poem about her mother & the stories others told vis-a-vis what Sally saw.

Our featured poet Nancy Klepsch & I co-host the 2nd Sunday @ 2 open mic at the Arts Center in Troy. She began with some new work, rants, then moved on to poems from her book, god must be a boogie man. “Children Too” invoked children all over the world, while “Learning Targets,” a Haibun, brought it back home to a shooter drill at her school, while another Haibun was about a visit from a friend “Driving in Cars While Black.” Then on to a couple of poems using food as images of death, including the recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain, & “29 Questions” on climate change & death, again. She finished up with a basket full of poems from god must be a boogie man (Recto y Verso Editions, 2017), the title poem, then a series of poems on food, & death, “The Topography of a Meal,” “’shroom,” “Kvetch” (Howl & the farmers market, & mushrooms again), then ended with “We All Pray for Different Reasons.”

After a break I read a new piece about an imagined bedroom “Lily White.” Joe Krausman read a poem, what he called perhaps "a work in regress,” “Musing,” philosophical, but not abstract about people, things. Brian Dorn talked about his new arts & entertainment center in Gloversville, NY, then gave me the option of choosing between 2 poems & I chose the 2nd prize winner in the Dolgeville Poetry Festival “Still Blooming” because it was in Brian's characteristic meter & rhyme.

Another surprise tonight was the return of Mary Ann Murray, who had been around in the early days of the Albany poetry scene & gone for many years, & tonight was here to read the unabashedly political “State of the Union.” Jil Hanifan showed up tonight to read what she called “a really stupid poem” another political poem on the Constitutional phrase “Free Exercise Clause” playing on the words & concept, with humor, not so stupid after all. Betty Zerbst, always number 10 on the list, read a poem for her high school reunion “50 Years Already.” Bob Sharkey was tonight’s “ultimate” (i.e., last) poet & read a deeply personal musing about suicide, mental illness & the violence in our country, again referencing Anthony Bourdain, & richly descriptive segment about his visit to Ireland.

What a night of friends, poets & moving writing, such as it frequently is here at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, on the Third Thursday of each month, 7:30, with a featured poet & an open mic — your donation helps support poetry programing & the work of the Social Justice Center.

June 26, 2018

”What is Poetry?”, June 20

Less than a question, this is the title of a monthly open mic at the Psychedelicatessan in Troy. Tonight there was a gathering of 7 poets/singers & we did a round-robin in 2 rounds, with Avery, our host, reading a poem by musician David Gilmore.

Clarese was in her usual spot in the corner & read from her laptop a piece on chasing love “Emotional Silence.” Brian Dorn read a poem he had entered — & won 2nd prize — in the Dolgeville poetry contest (who would’ve thought that the little town of 2200 had a poetry contest!) “Still Blooming” in his characteristic rhyme. Joe Krausman read a poem he’d written today while at Whole Foods on a topic about which he knows a lot, “Old.” Avery read “Setting the Scene” written after ingesting a gel tab of LSD.

Since we were doing 2 poems I decided that my first would be “Garrison Keilor” from the 2016 2: An Anthology of Poets & Writers from The 2nd Sunday @ 2 Open Mic for Poetry & Prose. Dale sang & recited the Irish song “Will You Go Lassie Go?” Tim read a piece composed mostly of a list of single words, titled “Empathy.”

For the second round Clarese read an essay from her laptop titled “Online Behavior.” Brian Dorn read a prose piece “Why I Write Poetry” in which he worked in his experience lifting weights competitively. Joe Krausman’s poem “You Can’t Take It With You” began with a Yiddish proverb which was translated as “shrouds don’t have pockets.” Avery’s piece “Dance” is not usually read sitting down. I completed the 2-poem connection from 2 with “Trailer Park.”

Dale read “Laughing on the Way Home” inspired by a place overlooking a waterfall, then slipped in a poem & a song sung almost too softly to be heard. Anthony, who had been sitting listening while his cellphone charged, said he was from West Africa & was talked in to recite a poem, by someone else not him, abut inspiration. Tim also read a poem written by someone else, this by a friend, a portrait in rhyme of a brother.

The comfy chairs & sofas, the tables & chairs, with a defined performance area, lend themselves to a casual, informal sharing of poems. Find out “What Is Poetry?” at the Psychedelicatessan on River St. on the 3rd Wednesday of a each month.

June 23, 2018

Arthur’s Market Open Mic, June 13

It was the Poetry Taxi to Schenectady tonight with Joe Krausman & Don Levy keeping the ride to Arthur’s Market lively. Our host, Catherine Norr, began the night with an Blues she wrote, just the first verse & chorus, then an open mic for a while, the featured reader Alan Casline, then the rest of the open mic.

Alan Catlin, just to clarify things, read “I Am Not Alan Casline.” Paul Amidon read a poem for our patriotic holidays “2 Day Heroes” (Memorial Day & July 4th), then a family memoir of the couple “Ida & Len.” BK Tuon claimed that his portrait of a successful, academic poet titled “The Great Poet” was “the worst poem” he had written — maybe, but still better than lots of other poems out there. Ginny Folger’s poem “Night Fall” was descriptive & meditative. Scott Morehouse had us in stitches from laughing at his “Aunt Helen’s Letter from Home” full of small obituaries & hypochondriacal advice. Judith Prest began with “Lust Language” from a new series she is writing, then “Crow Stories” composed of found language.

A new voice was Amber who read a poem titled “Sparks” about inspiration. Jackie Craven’s poem “Sailors Take Warning” was set in the Florida sun but that didn’t help at all the despairing mood of the piece.

Alan Casline — now that it has been made clear that he is not Alan Catlin — was the featured poet, & was once was described as a “persistent poet.” He began by talking about his latest project, his attempt to have his neologism “summergreen” entered in the Oxford English Dictionary, & to that end about his forth-coming publication of a collection of his summergreen poems from Foot Hills Publishing. He began with some poems from 64 Changes (Foot Hills Publishing, 2015), poems based on the hexagrams in the I Ching, “The Power of the Great” (#34), & “Full of It & Happy to Be Here” (#55, Abundance).

Then on to a selection of pieces from the Summergreen manuscript, a variety of moods & settings, including inserting a poem into a conversation, findings squatters in the woods, ghost photos, the broadside “By Summergreen’s Dispersion” (which also appears in64 Changes for #43 Break-through), & “Summergreen Variations About What is Summergreen.” Then he ended with excerpts from a long poem “Michigan Moon” starting at (the now-defunct) Smitty’s Tavern. (I need to correct a remark I made at the reading that my counter to “summergreen” is “Wintergrey” — let’s see who will get in the OED first.

After the break Catherine Norr was back by request to finish the other verses to her Blues, then read a memoir in-progress “Grandma’s Writing Desk.” Betty Zerbst did a rhyming celebration “June is the Month…” then a non-rhyming memoir/family list “Cemetery.” Glenn Witecki read the very short piece, some words left behind for his son. Susan Jewell said she has been writing to the Rattle magazine ekphrastic challenge, read “The Open Shutter” responding to a photograph. Don Levy read 2 recent pieces, “Do Not Feed the Trolls!” a Facebook commentary, & “Freestylein’ It.” I followed with my latest political rant, not without a touch of humor,” Buttons Not Bombs.”

Joe Krausman’s “My Son the Mechanic” was a bit of poetic fiction, but “Pandering to Pandas at the National Zoo” was straight out of the news. Edie Abrams made it here for the first time & reprised her poem she read at the Arts Center, about getting rid of stuff, or not, & giving thanks.

This wonderful, casual open mic takes place each 2nd Wednesday at Arthur’s Market at the monument in the Stockade Section of Schenectady, starting at 7:30PM, with a featured poet & time for the rest of us. Free!

June 19, 2018

Poetic Vibe, June 11

I hadn’t been to this weekly open mic in some time, have missed the great mix of poets, & made a concentrated effort to get there tonight — & glad I did. The host is poet D. Colin & how she gets the energy to do this each week — must be youth — I don’t know. She got us started with “Artibonite Woman” from her book Dreaming in Kreyol (Empress Bohemia Press, 2015), which I never get tired of hearing, & an untitled work-in-progress on wanting to be loved.

I was first on the sign-up sheet & read my “Golden Shovel for Split This Rock.” Sydney Clifford followed with a poem about losing her dream job “Enough.”

This was V.’s first time here, read a couple pieces on love & hurt & rivals, effectively using hip-hop rhyme to carry the story along. Julie Fresenius began with a poem about a medical procedure “Florescence,” then one titled “Conversations with My Father.” Alijah Pompey’s poem “The Pain I Can Feel” was autobiographical, about drugs & violence in his past (but doing better now), then a poem about personal loss from violence “Lost One.”

Kevin Francis Xavier Callahan started with a rambling introduction to his 5-year mission plan “Easy in My Own Skin.” Star’s pieces were on the theme of Black Lives Matter, the first “Colors” contrasting the colors of social justice with police shootings, the second on black as the new super-power. This was the first time for Ivy D. who began with “Music,” then the sexy “Coconut Colored,” & “Brothers.” I enjoy Liv’s work, writing real poems in a Slam style, tonight a new poem honoring the ancient women in her family “A Poem to the Grandmothers…”.

Elena Fiya Love began with what she described as the 1st Slam poem she wrote “My Vocabulary Stands from a Blooming Flower” then another in similar rhymes “Dark Knight” (not about Batman she said).  Ray had been sitting at the bar, unprepared to read, so free-styled about going to the gym in the early hours & somehow working jerk chicken into the piece. Michael Chambers’ piece was prepared, a long letter he had written as tribute to a woman after they had broken up. Kay L was a performer promoting his music business & did a couple of songs to prepared back-up tapes. Poetik read a new poem on horror movies “Sub-genres,” then read from her new book Labyrinth of a Melaninated Being by asking the audience to call out page numbers, picked page 23, a poem on video games (she will be reading on July 28 in Poets in the Park.

While we had been reading & listening D. Colin was listening & writing, picking out lines, & created a Cento, what she called “take-aways,” lines from what folks had read.

The feature was drummer, rapper, poet Jordan Taylor Hill with drummer Kojo Kofi. It was a musical performance with the words as music & rhythm, some free-style, some philosophical rap, some prison chants that Leadbelly had performed too, & lots of drumming. At one point Kojo tried to teach the audience a song from Ghana about Janey, call & response & enough repetition to learn the sounds/words. Did I mention lots of drumming? A good way to get us boppin’ out the door. But before we did, D. Colin read the group poem (otherwise known as an “exquisite corpse”) from the clip-board passed around all night — I won’t say which was my line. A great night of poetry & drumming, glad I finally got back there.

Poetic Vibe happens every (most) Mondays at the Troy Kitchen on Congress St. in Troy, NY, 7:30, contribution to pay the feature. There is a full bar & a food kitchen & lots of comfy seats. Pick a Monday & go.

June 14, 2018

2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose, June 10

This was an odd day at the Arts Center, starting off in the Black Box theater where we are most 2nd Sundays, but then in the middle they moved us upstairs to the Dance Studio. In the past we have occasionally been re-located to a studio on the 2nd floor, but this was the first time we were moved in the middle of our event. Whatever.

There was a long (16 writers) sign-up sheet, with a number of poets who have not been here in a while, to pay tribute to Howard Kogan who will be moving with his wife Libby to Worcester, MA. Howard has been an integral part of our community of poets & his poetry is much admired & enjoyed.  First up was Tom Bonville with a memoir of what many of us experienced “Hide & Seek.”

Edie Abrams hasn’t been here in quite some time & we’ve missed her; she read a piece that I’m sure Howard could appreciate, about acquiring too much stuff, "except…” Dianne Sefcik began with a descriptive piece titled “Thunder,” then a poem for Howard about the gifts from his garden. Tim Verhaegen read a long, lush, Whitmanesque memoir prose poem “I Am the Sea.”

One of the day’s new voices to show up today  was Kendall Hoeft who is new to the area, but jumped right in seeking out the poetry open mic, her first poem was a portrait of a street guy on a bench “God Who Bloodies Knuckles,” then “Poem I Didn’t Write” in response to her mother’s “don’t write a poem about me.” Joe Krausman read a poem by his uncle, originally written in Yiddish, on hating, & paid tribute to help with his translation by Barnett Zumoff, MD, endocrinologist & poet. I followed Joe with 2 new poems, a description of an imagined room from a photograph “Lily White,” & a political rant “Buttons Not Bombs.” Tom Corrado’s poem “Becoming Ocean” mentioning the suicides of Virgina Woolf & Anthony Bourdain was inspired by the music of the American composer John Luther Adams.

Our honoree, Howard Kogan, began with a poem celebrating unions “Blue Collar,” then one written for a workshop with Bernadette Mayer the assignment to write on Syria, it began “Seriously…”. Bob Sharkey read a childhood memoir “Cave” then another of his humorous, quirky re-writes of Chinese fortune cookies that he knows Howard likes, this one titled “Feckless Fortunes.” Alan Casline writes poems about being in the woods & read such a piece with birds, then a poem for Howard “Road Salt from a Previous Journey.”

Sometimes I can’t always understand Karen Fabiane so I think the title of her stream-of-conciousness piece that began with dogs & ended up in Brooklyn was “Me Fingers,” then a piece read previously but now re-written “Ain’t Like That.” Co-host Nancy Klepsch read a just-written poem “Cook” composed of the language of food & cooking ending with the name “Bourdain,” then the untitled poem “Untitled” from her 2017 book god must be a boogie man that begins “I am shaped by dreams…”

Sally Rhoades rushed in for Howard, read a poem about the night sky in Oklahoma “Missing the Starlight,” then one about a World War II memorial in Europe for American soldiers “White Crosses.” The last poet was also a new voice & face, John Teevan who read a short prose story titled “A Melancholy Euphoria” set in 1917, lovers parting, with a consideration of the possibilities, from a book titled Afternoons and Evenings in Vienna.

From there, many of us, Howard & Libby’s friends, adjourned to Brown’s for food, libations, conversations & a toast to one of the poets who added so much to our local poetry scene, so much to our community, a good poet & a fine gentleman. It ain’t over until it’s over, as another Brooklynite once said, we’ll see Howard again.

But you won’t see 2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose again until September, we’re off for July & August, just like school. Otherwise, we’ll be at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River St., Troy, NY the rest of the year on, you know, 2nd Sunday @ 2. It’s free & open to all writers.

June 12, 2018

Third Thursday Poetry Night, May 17

I like to say, “if your friends & relatives don’t come to your readings, who will?” & tonight’s featured poet, Katrinka Moore, certainly followed that axiom packing the house with acquaintances, including one whom signed up to read for the first time here, in addition to some of the regular open mic-ers. But first I invoked our Muse, the gone poet Joanne Kyger (1934 - 2017), & read her poem “It’s Been a Long Time.” Then on to the open mic.

First up was Alan Catlin with a grim litany of war wounds, “Walt Whitman’s Bitter Angel,” culled from his Civil War poems. Tom Bonville was here for the 1st time with a descriptive poem titled “Mother’s Day,” his mother at 74. Self-styled "country-girl" Dianne Sefcik read from her recent book Red Ochre, “Pipe,” also her first time here, a poem of social justice.

Joshua RA Dundas said his mission was “to bring light to people’s minds” & did his poem “Dark Glimpses,” as dark as its title. Don Levy is certainly not here for the first time, read a new poem, a FaceBook warning, “Do Not Feed the Trolls!” Carol H. Jewell’s pantoum is titled “Pre-Occupied or, How the Princess of Pantoums Passes Her Time.” I messed up the next poet’s name while announcing him, then G. Douglas Davis IV struggled with an Arabic word in his new poem for Palestine, delving into history.

Katrinka Moore had many fans in the audience & perhaps made more. She read from her new book Wayfarers (Pelekinesis, 2018). She explained that each of the poems in the book is a different tale by a different speaker. She began, appropriately enough, with the Big Bang, “Cosmogony,” then on to “Remnants,” “The Rolling World,” & a poem apparently not in the book “Visiting the Hermit Finding No One Home.” The poem titled “Parting” is actually the first poem in the book, & “Luna Lura,” a short poem, she described as a postcard from a butterfly visiting the Moon (& perhaps my favorite in the book).  The second section of her book, “A Crossing,” is about her grandparents migration in a model T from Texas to California, from which she read “Crow,” "The isle is full of noises” (which comes from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”), the lushly descriptive “Sea Road,” & “Wind Road.” She ended with 2 poems about her mother’s death, “Falling Sometimes” & “Scatter.” Wayfarers not only contains these & other fine poems, but also a number of nearly abstract black & white photos.

After a break we returned to the open mic, with me reading my new poem, “Buttons Not Bombs.”

A special treat was a reading of a poem for 2 voices, “Fusion Approach to Gathering,” by Dawn & Hani Marar from Dawn’s new book Efflorescence (Finishing Line Press, 2018). Howard Kogan announced that he had sold his house & would be moving to Massachusetts, but said the poem he read was not about him, titled “Over.” Betty Zerbst’s poem is titled “Looking Back” memories about her family in rhyme. Tom Corrado moved out of his comfort zone to read the grim “Notes from the Belly of the Beast” — he has published his “Screen Dumps” in a collection of 365 A Dump a Day. Philomena Moriarty read the first in a series of poems, written from notes of what comes up from sitting in a present moment, “Snapshot.”

Joe Krausman read a humorous, social commentary “The Magic of the Answering Machine,” a message that someone left behind before he died. Clarese Portofino read a poem, like a series of notes, describing a shameless party & its aftermath “The Last Brazier.” Brianna Kehrer’s poem, “Peter Paul & Amy,” describes a sad cook in a restaurant in Schenectady & finding a moment of compassion.

The final reader was also a first timer here, Jeannette Rice, has read other people’s poetry, read her own poem from 1956, from elementary school bomb drills, imaging the bombs had exploded & the Earth is dead.

But with any luck the Earth will not be dead on future Third Thursdays so we can gather at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM, for a featured reader & an open mic for the rest of us to read a poem too.

June 5, 2018

2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose, May 13

This week we got bounced upstairs but it doesn’t matter, the words still flow up. Nancy Klepsch & I play tag-team hosts here at the Arts Center each month.

& I ended up first on the open mic sign-up, & read 2 new pieces, “Buttons Not Bombs,” & a poem-joke dedicated to Peggy LeGee “A Traney Story.” Rena Ehrlich adds an international flavor, like vodka, to the readings here with her translations of Russian poets, today it was Evgeny Yevtushenko’s poem “Here is What’s Happening” (translated by Andrey Kneller), & her own translation of “April” by Bulat Okudzhava. Mike Conner likes to read his seasonal poems, & appropriately enough his first was “May First,” then the descriptive “Summer Calls.”

Harvey Havel is often in the audience at open mics, but rarely reads; today he read the first 4 pages of a new novel of a love story for a crack addict told by an upper-class hockey player. Karen Fabiane’s first piece was titled “Navigating the Space Bar” then another portrait of a woman at a bar “Corner Spot.” Peggy LeGee read her newest chapbook Enter the Shopping Kart Man (Transgirl Press 2018) in the continuing graphics art saga of Moochie the Dumpster Kat (art & lettering by Raymond Lowell).

Co-host Nancy Klepsch wrote a poem this morning celebrating the color “Green” & tried it out.  Jil Hanifan started with the short “Poem in the Overcast” then a piece on urban sounds “Presences.” Bob Sharkey read 2 poems inspired by entries in the recent Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest, “Siege” about the Battle of Malawi in the Philippines in May 2017, then a Cento titled “We Are Delivered by Wonder” composed of lines of poems from entries in the contest. Christian Ortega has just moved to Troy from the mid-Hudson area & read from his book Red Poems (Hispanic Paradox Press, 2014) the poems “My Name & Yours” & “Miami.”

Each 2nd Sunday @ 2 at the Arts Center of the Capital Region we gather for a wide-open literary open mic of poetry & prose — bring your pages to read, free & open to the public.

June 1, 2018

Poets of Earth, Water, Tree & Sky, May 11

This was the beginning of what will be a truncated season at the Pine Hollow Arboretum which is going through some changes affecting the visitors center after the death of its founder John Abbuhl. For tonight the featured performer was poet & musician Mộng-Lan. Alan Casline was our host.

First on the open mic sign-up was Mark O’Brien who read “The Vocabulary Kiln” from The Rootdrinker Anthology, then a memoir poem about his mother. Paul Amidon’s poems are richly descriptive, he read “Old Dog” & “Roadside Memorial.” Mike Conner read the post-breakup “It May,” & a piece about a thunder storm “Storm Stranger.”

Tom Bonville’s poem “Why Jake Went” was about a school valedictorian who was killed in Viet Nam. Tim Verhaegen’s piece was humorous & nostalgic, about the first time in 1986 he heard the name of the-love-of-his-life. Mimi Moriarty read 2 political pieces, “Where is the Portrait of Peace Hanging, Which Wall?” & one written last year before he re-surfaced, “I Love You John Bolton.” Frank Robinson read what he said was the 1st poem he ever wrote, “We,” about the ocean & our brains & the start of civilization. Therese Broderick said they were just back from Ireland & read a persona poem “The Daughter on Sunday Display.” Joan Gran has not read out in a while so it was good to hear her again with a nostalgic poem about the Albany bar Mike’s Log Cabin, & a piece titled “Independence at 70.”

Mộng-Lan began her reading with a poem “Field” from her first book about seeing her ancestor’s graveyard in Viet Nam, then from her 2014 book One Thousand Minds Brimming: Poems & Art (Valiant Press) a poem titled “Saigon,” & “Love” in fish sauce. Then a section from Tango, Tangoing: Poems & Art (Valiant Press, 2008), & on to poems from her latest book, Dusk Aflame: Poems & Art (Valiant Press, 2018), excerpts from the long title poem, then “Love Poem to Curry,” & excerpts from a long poem “Tone of Water in a Half-Filled Glass,” & “New Orleans Pillow Book.” She concluded with the playing on the guitar 2 Tangos, for a lush & varied performance.

After a break, Bob Sharkey led off the open mic poets with a cento composed of lines from entries to the Stephen A. DiBiase contest, titled “We Are Delivered of Wonders.”

Caroline Bardwell has been playing with forms & started off with a rondo, “Death of a Dream” including a quote from Ezekiel, then a free verse poem for the Arboretum “The Deep Forest.” Alifair Skebe read 2 poems from Thin Matter (FootHills Publishing, 2017) “Desire” & “Persevere.” Joe Krausman read about insomnia “Four” & a poem titled “No Day without a Line.” Peter Boudreaux’s poem “At Odds with the World” was recently written. Tom Corrado read the 18-part (some only a few words, others longer) “Notes from the Belly of the Beast” a grim portrait of dysfunctions, binging, purging, cutting, Walmart, group therapy.

Michale Czarnecki read from his newest book You (FootHills Publishing, 2018) a untitled piece on the ocean, then from another collection, “I’m a 46er!” Ron Pavoldi read a new poem for the 1st time, “When All is Right with the World.” Our host, Alan Casline, ended the night with the strangely titled poem “Give to Vitamin,” then one of his poems based on the I Ching “Breakthrough” (Hexagram 43).

We’ll just have to see what the future brings for this reading series at the Pine Hollow Arboretum. Meanwhile, the Arboretum is still there & they trees are still growing — stop by sometime & visit.