February 22, 2018
There was a houseful of poets & listeners this night for the open mic & for our featured poet, Bunkong Tuon. The muse we invoked for the reading was the gone Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko as I read his poem “Loss.”
First up to the mic was faithful Bob Sharkey with “Siege” based on a poem he read that had been submitted in the Stephen A. DiBiase contest, on the conflicts in other parts of the world we sometimes don’t hear about here.
After a break I read this year’s iteration of “Birthday Poem.” A new poet here was Sarah who said she is a fiction writer but every once in a while a poem bubbles up, read “Cassandra .999” a political piece. Joe Krausman was here again with a poem written this morning based on a dream, a fable based on Yiddish saying that “shrouds don’t have pockets.” Alan Catlin read a hand-written poem also written today “Valentines Day 2018” the latest in this year’s string of school shootings. Frank S. Robinson read “Something There Is That Loves a Wall” adding a ladder to lift us up.
The Third Thursday Poetry Night is at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY each month, at 7:30PM, with a featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us — your generous donation helps to pay the featured poet, & supports poetry & the work of the Social Justice Center. Please join us.
February 18, 2018
This being Valentines Day I had a date with my longest-lasting honey, Poetry, at the monthly open mic at Arthur’s Market in Schenectady. There was even a featured poet, Sarah Giragosian. But first some of the open mic.
Our host, Catherine Norr, started us off with a romantic ditty sung a cappella “Would You Walk Down the Valley Beside a Friend.” Once again (see the last Blog) I signed up in the open #1 slot to read 2 love poems, “Said Again” about re-cycling the words of old love poems, & one from Poeming the Prompt (A.P.D., 2011) "November 23." Phil Williamston also had a poem on the day’s theme, his was titled “Love’s Labyrinth,” then he recited a blues tune about a character “Cash Daddy.”
Rich did pieces from memory, including singing “My Favorite Things” & poems he said were from when he “was in a leper colony in North Carolina.” Taz Pannell read 3 parts of a long poem “The War Rages On” that seemed to be about relationships & the nature of love. Scott Morehouse had us laughing along with his “absurdist” social commentary composed of a series of vignettes titled, ironically, “Modern Miracles.”
The featured poet was Sarah Giragosian who read 3 poems from her book Queer Fish (Dream Horse Press, 2017), which was the winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize, & read some newer poems as well. The poems from the book were “To the Meerkat,” “Classifieds: Missed Connections” & “The Queer Creatures that Rise at Dusk,” which were tantalizing teasers to buy the book, poems of lush language, all with animals, insects, birds, etc. used as images of love, desire & sex — I bought the book. The newer poems also involved other creatures (& love) “The Crocodile Sleeps,” “Notes Toward an Apology” & “Devils Heads” (an invasive “Asian chestnut”). I think I’m going to be hanging out with Queer Fish for a while.
After a break to buy books, Catherine Norr brought us back to the open mic with 2 poems about her mother, “Mom” & “Stroke” from her 2014 book from Finishing Line Press Return to Ground. Bill Poppino read a New York Times article headlined “California: the Nation State.” Jackie Craven began with a punning mash-up of food & the evening news “She Serves the News for Dinner,” then a tongue-twister of a love poem “Vole Poem.” Susan Jewell read what she called a Valentine for the folks here “Gods & Angels” with references to the movie Paterson & local poets.
The evening concluded with 2 poets who were both here for the first time. Caroline Bardwell, who has begun to make the rounds of open mic venues, read a piece titled “Appealing to Wisdom” which seemed like a love poem & a plan to do better so perhaps a love poem to herself, then a love sonnet “Unrequited.”
The open mic at Arthur’s Market in the Stockade Section of Schenectady is held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, starting at 7:30PM, with a featured poet & an open mic for the rest of us, & it’s free.
February 17, 2018
Even with the icy streets outside we had 12 writers signed up for the open mic this month, but, as has been true for years, no one likes to sign up 1st (or even 2nd). So, as I often do, I signed up in one of those open spots, this time #2.
Even so, I was the 1st reader as the bottom list filled up. Even though I had read it here last month, I repeated myself reading “Walking Rome,” for Dan Curley who was in attendance, then I read this year’s “Birthday Poem.” Joe Krausman & I have been teasing each other about Jung’s theory of synchronicity for years (I’ll tell you the story sometime) & today he read 2 poems about synchronicity, with his usual wry humor of course. Mike Conner read a poem about writing, “Word Painting” then a grim seasonal poem written today “Snow Birds.” Dave DeVries read 2 long rhyming poems, on “Boxing Day” & a Valentines Day piece for the mail carrier “Postal Placebo.”
Kate Laity’s essay on being the only Medievalist on campus struck a personal note with me since at one point in my college career I thought that that might be path I would take (one not taken). Bob Sharkey is coordinating the Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest & asks poets submitting work to cite a poet who has influenced them; one of the poets cited was Kofi Awoonor (1935 - 2013) from Ghana so Bob read selections from Awoonor’s “Songs of Sorrow,” then his own poem on temptation “Taken.” Dan Curley read 2 poems about family members, the first set in his mother’s nursing home “At the Lighthouse Halloween Contest,” then “My Wife Jay-Walking.” My co-host, Nancy Klepsch, read “One” from her recently published collection God Must Be a Boogie Man (Recto y Verso Editions), then a new Haibun “Driving While Black.”
Michael Lopez stepped up with a poem titled “The Intimacies of Fruit,” his first confessional poem he said. Karen Fabiane read 2 older “sort of love poems” “If at Dawn,” then the raucous “I Fucked St. Joan.” Don Yorty returned with 2 rhyming sonnets, the 2nd about a butterfly titled “A Fragile Thing.”
First time reader here Steve Rieger was our last reader with a poem in 3 parts, “Whisper,” about reading cemetery tombstones of his in-laws.
Each 2nd Sunday at 2PM Nancy Klepsch & I are the co-hosts of this open mic for poetry & prose at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on River St. in Troy, NY — bring 2 poems or 5 minutes of prose & join us. It’s free.
February 7, 2018
Once again in January we gathered on the last Monday at the Robert Burns statue in Albany’s Washington Park for the annual beret toss to remember Albany poet & activist Tom Nattell — Mary, Nick, Don, Tess, Sally & me. We lit a candle & some sage, placed flowers at the statue & it was Mary’s expert toss (“You’ve got to crumple it”) that landed the beret on the statue. [2 days later the beret had blown down & I retrieved it for next year.]
Then on to McGeary’s for the open mic, Poet’s Speak Loud!, with me as the guest host, & just an open mic, no featured poet — Tom was the feature. But Mary Panza went first paying tribute to Tom. I played Tom reading “South End” from the 3 Guys from Albany CD, then read my opening poem “Theology 101.”
I gave Tom (& 3 Guys from Albany) the last word by playing from the CD the “Frank Zappa Memorial Barbecue.”
Poets Speak Loud! continues each last Monday of most months at McGeary’s on Sheridan Square, 7:30PM, with an open mic & a featured poet — great food, great drinks & equally great poetry. Check AlbanyPoets.com for details.
February 4, 2018
Another in the occasionally occurring readings at the Hudson River Coffee House, coordinated by Brian Dorn & Harvey Havel. There were 4 readers tonight, including me who was a last-minute replacement for Mike Jurkovic. Our host was Harvey Havel.
Dan Wilcox (that’s me) was the last reader, by which time the room had filled with guys with guitars & girls in Goth makeup for the music open mic which is held here each Thursday. Because of the timing (on the eve of my birthday) I did a reading entirely of “Birthday Poems,” short pieces all written on my birthdays in 2009 through 2017, with a lacuna for 2010. But I began with one written in 2006 by former Albany poet Pierre Joris, but written as if by me, then crumpled & tossed away.
Watch for notices about A Night of Features which take place every so often on Thursdays just before the weekly (mostly music) open mic at the Hudson River Coffee House, 227 Quail St., Albany, NY — free, but Anton really appreciates it if you buy something to drink &/or eat.