October 21, 2018

A Night of Features, October 11

… or as my auto-correct would have it “A Night of Creatures,” oh well. Havey Havel was the host for this reading by 4 poets at the Hudson River Coffee House, part of an on-going quarterly series.

First out of the blocks was Jame Duncan, who co-hosts the Troy Poetry Mission with another poet reading tonight, R.M. Engelhardt. James began with poems from his 2017 book We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine, about growing up in a trailer park in upstate New York, poems about biking & Halloween, mostly short pieces that in the book are set up in prose blocks. From a new book of flash fiction titled Nights Without Rain he read “Much Less” the musings of a woman tired of men, & one set in Texas “Jazz Annex.”

In this age of instant, on-line book production Carol Durant is one of a string of poets lately who burst on the scene with a book of their poems already in their hands, hers is titled Whole Phat and Gluten Free Poetry. Her poems are short ditties, less than a page, one only 4 lines. She read “My End,” “Empire Motto,” “Poof,” “Fake Sentiment,” “PJ Promenade,” & “Lobed Out.” In between she threw in some new ones, “Click Done,” & “Obvious & Oblivious.”

R.M. Engelhardt, on the other hand, has been on the scene since he was in high school, organizing open mics in uncountable venues, & publishing poems. Unfortunately, he was unable to pull up his new book, Coffee Ass Blues, on his phone so read a string of other poems instead, beginning with a characteristic piece “Death Is Open For Business” a dramatic monologue by the Grim Reaper in the modern era — he has lots of poems like that. In fact, death, or rather Death, figured in most of what he read, including “Jim Morrison Lives in my Basement,” & the similar “Jazz Maverick” (Bob suffering dementia). “Hipster Lycanthrope” was just plain silly, while the long 2-part piece “Under Sea” name-dropped 19th Century poets. His last 2 poems were also very serious, the short “Rapture” & another monologue, this time of a killer “The Dark Road.”

Nancy Dunlop was the last of the 4 to read, she also read the longest & was the most intense, beginning with a long “subtle performance piece” (as she called it) written out on index cards, about being sexually assaulted by a man weilding a knife 35 years ago right here on Quail St., an incident she said cut her life in 2, Nancy before & Nancy after; she managed to fight off her assailant & the piece ends with her giving encouraging advice to the “Nancy before.” After a short palate-cleanser poem she read a poem from her manuscript “In the Keep,” about sailing with her father, a descriptive piece "Frida Kahlo in Bed," then finished with nature poems written last month “The Wind” on change, “Kingfisher Country” with “hope” & “light” repeated, & a baby deer in the morning in “Thru the Trees I See.”

This series is held approximately quarterly at the Hudson River Coffee House, 227 Quail St., Albany, NY. Watch for notices about the next one on the AlbanyPoets.com calendar & the Poetry Motel Foundation email list.

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