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 AlbanyPoets.com 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 AlbanyPoets.com. 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.