November 29, 2018

Poets Speak Loud!, November 26

The old folks commandeered the center cluster of tables (I guess so they didn’t have to walk too far to the mic) while others, including some new faces, & audience/just-to-listeners were spread about the rest of the room, & others came in as the reading went on. Our host was Mary Panza, who at one point shared her experience in the rural hinterlands of Gloversville, NY when she performed recently at “Dorn’s Space;” hey, you can send a girl from South Troy to Gloversville, but you can’t make her move there either.

First to the open mic was Sylvia Barnard who read an older poem from her 2012 collection of poems Trees “Easter 1988,” then a new piece about the legendary British folk-lore figure “Green Man.” Joe Krausman’s first poem was about being alone, while his next poem pondered the end of Summer in the “garden of Good & Evil.”

A new face & voice tonight, who was in fact a poetry-virgin, was Sally Delesandro who read 3 love poems, “The Wait” (on longing), “Naked,” & “Home,” & she made it through all 3 just fine. I didn’t have any problems reading my poems either, both new, “Are Ewe a Frank Robinson?” & the commentary on MFA programs “To the consternation…”

Tonight’s featured poet was Luciano Ferarra, whom I’d first seen back in August at the Low Beat (& subsequently only there). He read 9 of the 13 poems in his recently self-published chapbook Romanticizing the Art of Being Honest: An Experience of Meeting People, in a frantic rush that ran all the words together, the poems a string of automatic writings, self-indulgent jottings out of a late-night, post-party spiral notebook that used to have notes from a history class. The book contains not only his poems but a portfolio of photographs he’s taken, including 2 of pet dogs, & a couple of performance shots (he plays guitar) taken by others. It was printed by one of those ubiquitous publishing services that have cropped up online in recent years. Buy his books so he can buy beers & not hold up a convenience store.

Don Levy was up to continue the open mic with a seasonal poem “Up Your Chimney, Santa” responding to the character of Santa in that gay-classic TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Bob Sharkey’s poem “One Day this Kid Will” was inspired by a photo exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York & a photo by David Wojnarowicz, & then a cento from entries from last year’s Stephan A. DiBiase Poetry Contest titled “We Are Delivered by Wonders.”

Christa DeMarco, who will be the featured poet here in February, began with a poem, like a letter to her mom about their conflicts, her next poem styled as a computer message about a system shutdown, titled “Destruction Imminent,” made some of us wish her voice was used as the voice of the computer. We were pleased to see Julie Lomoe back from subdural hematoma less than a month ago, & she has a new writing project titled “Subdural” that seemed to be composed of a string of short poems she called Haiku, then on to a prose narrative about Thanksgiving Day at the U.U. with her family — Julie is back. Samuel Weinstein came in with his father, as he often does, then dismissed him before reading from his long poem “In a Pinch” (“about schizophrenia” he said, & sex), then one titled “A Bit Brighter.”

Another Poets Speak Loud! in the books, so to speak, usually on the last Monday of the month, but not in December when it falls between the craziness of family & the craziness of drunken amateur night, but otherwise (i.e., the last Monday of January) join this odd community of poets at McGeary’s Irish Pub on Sheridan Square on the last Monday of the other months at 7:30PM — check out the schedule at

November 27, 2018

Getting Down to Brass Tacks, November 20

This was certainly the shortest open mic I’ve been at, perhaps ever, but, as a former girlfriend once said to me, “shortest doesn’t mean it’s not fun…”

We were at The Low Beat for the 3rd Tuesday open mic & in addition to the poets on the very short list there were folks hanging out at the bar to listen to poetry, & that's not bad. Our host was AlbanyPoets el presidente Thom Francis.

& I was first on the list, which was easy to do tonight. I have been going through my files & found a poem written in response to a call for entries in 1997 from the guys running Chronicles of Disorder to celebrate the birthday of James Joyce by writing on February 2, 1997 a piece that responded to the topic “The Literal Soundtrack of a Day on Earth.” My records don’t show if there was any eventual publication but my copy of the flyer indicates I did extensive research in my private diaries & I wrote “The Track of a Sound of a Day: Today & Over the Years” which I read tonight; I also read 2 new pieces “Are Ewe a Frank Robinson?” & the MFA-bashing “To the consternation…”

Thom Francis jumped in to read the “holiday poem” that began “I don’t have a family tree…” playing on the expected images of trees, wood, & dysfunctional family relationships, etc.

Christa DeMarco, who can often be found here for the open mics, began with a piece inspired by Mary Panza’s recent reading at Dorn’s Space in Gloversville “You’re Damn Right I’m Angry,” then a screed addressed to men who are either “Silent or Violent,” then a very short comment on relationships.

& then it was over — but the open mic is back each 1st & 3rd Tuesday at The Low Beat, on Central Ave., 7:30PM, bring poems & join us.

November 26, 2018

Community of Writers, November 18

Perhaps the longest running series sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild is the “Community of Writers” readings, this one held each year in November at the Schenectady County Public Library. The host today was Schenectady-poet-about-town, Alan Catlin, & there were 6 writers in a variety of genres.

The afternoon began with Mary Cuffe Perez who read from her collection of stories of her neighbors in rural Galway, NY, Barn Stories: Reflections from a Saratoga County Horse Farm (North Country Books, 2017). What she read was an hysterical tale of 2 brothers, combative, inept & ultimately lazy, titled “Butch & Wally’s Used Ladder World.” It was a light -hearted way to start the event.

Sarah Giragosian, I must admit, is one of my favorite “new” poets; she has been the featured reader at my Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center in Albany. Her 2017 book from Dream Horse Press, Queer Fish, won the American Poetry Journal Book Prize & she began with a selection of poems from it, including “The Decorator Crab,” “The Anglerfish Finds Her Muse,” “All at Sea,” “When the Horseshoe Crab Grieves,” & “King of Saxony Bird of Paradise.” She also has a new book pending from Black Lawrence Press, The Death Spiral, from which she read the title poem & “The Second Moon Colony Won’t Fail.” Her poems deal with love & relationships, often in the context of the environmental crises of climate change.

Some folks may recognize the name Wanda Fischer as the host of the WAMC folk music program “The Hudson River Sampler,” but she is also the author of a novel, Empty Seats (Spring Training Media, 2017). An avid baseball fan since a child, she once announced a full baseball game at Fenway Park between the Red Sox & the Twins in 2012. Her novel follows a couple of young minor league players through a season, & she read from the opening chapter, “Two Jimmys” & another brief section she called “Cookies.”

Back to poetry, next was another of my long-time favorite local poets Jill Crammond, who read a selection of poems that she says she writes in the voice of Mary (the mother of Jesus), Barbie or from the voices in her head. From a series she calls “The Queen of Resurrection” she read a piece titled “Gone Missing.” Inspired by Joyce Carol Oates’ book Black Water about the Edward Kennedy/Mary Jo Kopechne tragedy in July 1969, Jill also read a poem in the voice of Ms. Kopechne.

The only male reader followed, Rich Holt, a former teacher at Niskayuna High School & Schenectady County Community College. He read from his memoir in poetry & prose, As After Sunset Fadeth in the West published by The Troy Book Makers just this year. He got emotional reading a section about the boarding house his mother ran when he was still in school, describing his relationship, or shall we say crush, with a young woman tenant/guest; & he continued with a few poems also on the theme of memoir.

We began with humor & we ended with humor. Although I’ve read many pieces by Jo Page in the Albany Times Union & the former Metroland I believe this is the first time I’ve actually heard her read. And although she lives in Schenectady, & is a pastor of a Lutheran congregation here, she said this was the first time she has read in Schenectady from her book Preaching in My Yes Dress: Confessions of a Reluctant Pastor (State University of New York Press, 2016). She read from the chapter “Happy Christians” about an encounter with a woman while waiting for a school concert to begin in which the woman, unaware that the person she was speaking to was a pastor, babels on about the early Christian Church, while the author comments in funny, ironic & self-critical asides.

& did I mention that in addition to the varied & refreshing readings there were some luscious sweets & other refreshments to make the afternoon even more enjoyable? The combination of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, & the Schenectady County Public Library & the Friends made for a pleasant literary afternoon. For more information on either or both check out &

November 20, 2018

Arthur’s Market Poetry Open Mic, November 14

One of my favorite “new,” young poets, Caroline Bardwell, was the featured poet this night, & of course, there is always a wonderfully varied open mic, so how could I stay home & watch TV? Our host, Catherine Norr got us on our way with a song, “A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening” -- how true indeed.

Alan Catlin was the first up with another addition to his “Hollyweird” series written today “The Lord of the Flies” about a street person in Albany, then “an office poem” with a scorecard of characters titled “Secret Santa.” I followed with 2 new poems “To the consternation of …” for the MFA poets out there, & a mortality poem “Last Weekend In Gloucester.” Noah Kucij was here to support this friend Caroline read a poem with a great title “At the Missing Sock Laundromat” & one with password advice “Please Sign In.”

Tommy Holecek had been on the poetry scene many, many, many years ago but has been hiding out, but apparently been guilty of writing while driving, evidence is 3 poems, “One Fine Day,” “Infinite Pick Up,” & Invocation of Oaks.” Scott Morehouse, as always, left us laughing with the family saga of Henrietta & her collection of plastic L’Eggs brand panty-hose containers “The Legacy.”

I’ve been hearing & seeing Caroline Bardwell at open mics for some months now & like her boldness in trying out forms as well as expressing herself through free verse, so this was a great chance to hear a big chunk of her work at once. I wasn’t disappointed. She began with a poem about her love for the natural world “It Beckons Me,” then “If Guilt Were a Painting” from a chapbook manuscript. She then moved on to what she termed “classical verses,” poems in forms, “Curbing the Excess” (which I found too abstract), “Porch Swing,” “A Life Well-Lived” (a religious themed rondeau, perhaps), “Insomnia,” & a pantoum for her therapist “Paul.” One of her frequent themes is religious faith & she read an excerpt from a longer piece “My Faith’s Legacy” in short-line rhymes, & “The Fire Within.” “At Dusk, Wolves” was about the hunting of the weak, & “Indecision” was a worry about the future as her life changes. She ended with a seasonal poem “Winter” from a series on the seasons in obsessive alliteration. A nice mix of poems that she obviously planned carefully for her first featured reading to introduce us to the poet who is Caroline Bardwell.

Our host Catherine Norr got us back to the open mic with a poem about a farmer “Cousins” & one titled “Memory Bank.” I usually don’t like cat (or dog) poems because of their sentimentality, but Sarah Girgosian read the more grounded “When the Outdoor Cat Comes In,” then what she introduced as a new poem that was like a dystopic fantasy of the commercial world appropriating names. The night ended with Sahra Ali reading 2 poems, both just written today, the first like a journal entry by a robot who is herself, then the very short “Lucrative.”

The poetry open mic at Arthur’s Market, 35 North Ferry St., Schenectady, NY continues each 2nd Wednesday of the month, 7:30PM, usually with a featured poet surrounded by the open mic.

November 15, 2018

2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose, November 11

We had missed last month (your hosts, both Nancy Klepsch & I were out of town) but here we were back with a full list of readers at the black box theater of the Arts Center in Troy.

First on the list was Steve Rieger who began with a long rhyme on “the beast of war” then a memoir in free verse about his Grandma “Childhood.” I noted that today was the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice at the end of WWI & read 2 anti-war poems “What Really Happened” & “Chatham Peace Vigil.” Bob Sharkey read a piece describing an exhibit at the Whitney Museum of photos from the AIDS crises, then read this year’s Cento based on Best American Poetry 2018 “We Wept to be Reminded of Such Colors” the title taken from Tracy K. Smith’s poem in that anthology. Dave DeVries read “Loss” a richly descriptive, colorful poem, then the grim “Age of Innocent” the point being that it is not safe anymore to be “innocent.”

I was pleased to see Mimi Moriarty back here after an absence & she read poems on the theme of today’s anniversary, the first about the military funeral of her father with a contrapuntal funeral of a young soldier nearby, then a piece centered around her nephew regretting his enlistment in the military “2 Incidents Involving Skype Plus a Prayer.” Joel Best read 2 enigmatic pieces, the first titled “Epiphany on Page 237,” the 2nd, titled “Beneath Gender’s Gaze” he said it would be OK if it doesn’t make sense.

Then began a string of poets with the letter “K” in their names. Kendall Hoeft is becoming a regular here, & this afternoon read “Coyote Chorus” a poem about what she heard while reading, then what she called “a celebration of polarizing light” a poem titled “Father Kaleidoscope.” Karen Fabiane’s poem “When She Spoke of Love She Meant Theft” was about a former lover who even stole poems, her second poem was a mélange of past lovers both from her life as a man & as a woman. Kate Laity read from the introduction to a talk she will be giving this week in Japan on the work of the author Tove Jansson (1914 - 2001), what she read lamenting the current political conditions in the U.S.

This was Kate Gillespie’s 2nd time here (the first in September), said she is a professor of Biotechnology at SUNY Cobleskill & interested in the intersection of science & poetry thus read her poem “Misconceptions of Molecules,” then recited from memory the famous poem by John McCrae from WWI “In Flanders Fields.” My co-host here, Nancy Klepsch, was the last of the “Ks” & began with a poem about having the conflicted role of signing a student’s military enlistment papers, then a poem on a theft (again) the anaphoric “Somebody took my voice…”

Another regular reader here is Peggy LeGee who sang a humorously bragging piece “I’ve got something for everyone…” she said. Christa DeMarco began with a meditation by a human in a forest “Do you think a tree imagined being a chair …” then a description of watching a person dying. Christian Ortega read 2 love poems from his Red Poems, “My Name In Yours” & “Amor Fou.”

2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose takes place at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on River St. in Troy each, well, you get it — bring something to read.

November 13, 2018

W.O.M.P.S., November 8

I just had to head down to the ArtBar Gallery in Kingston this night for the readings by 2 poets I really like, both as poets & as people, Annie Christain & Richard Levine, with the customary open mic, of course. Our host was Teresa Costa, who set the tone with a short poem by the recently gone Donald Lev.

Annie Christain read first & alternated poems from her collection Tall As You Are Tall Between Them (C&R Press, 2016) with newer poem, some never read out before. Her titles are characteristically long, more than a simple phrase, sometimes more than a sentence, & from the book she read, ”LAPD Blue Child, and Low Day Daily Rates; No One Was Killed in the Square,” “I Took to Walking Down the Middle of Highways to Avoid Getting Shot,” "Pretending to Go and Come from Heaven by Fire,” “Puteum Abyssi: Till I Get to the Bottom and I See You Again,” & “A Maple Gets Red.” Her new poems were “We Never Really Touch Anyone Because of Molecules,” “The Vanguards of Holography,” “I’m From the Earth Where Only 3 Have Walked on the Moon,” & “Japanese Video Game with a Man Whose Arm Grows When He Sleeps With Women.” Her poems, often persona monologues, come from the news, from pop culture (e.g., the Beatles), science fiction & a seemingly widely eclectic reading.

In contrast Richard Levine read entirely from his recently published book Contiguous States (Finishing Line Press, 2018), explaining that the title phrase was a way to look at how things are connected in life. He mixed in poems about veterans & his experience in Viet Nam with some of his stunning love poems. He read “Just Sleeping,” “Reaching to the Horizon,” “Brothers in Arms,” “Girls Dream of Toads Too,” “At Our Door” (on the dangers of climate change), “I Am a Witness,” "Chanukah Lights,” & “Joined in the Kind” which is tender & intense love poem that I wish I had written.

Following these 2 stellar readings, a break was badly needed to re-set our heads for the open mic.

Gary Siegel was first up with a poem he said was “untitled’ but the recurrence of “the world is soft” seemed to give it a title, “Clocks” (about how Time is printed on our face), & “Crack.” I read a couple of brand new poems, “To the consternation of…” (on MFA program produced poetry collections), & “Last Weekend in Gloucester” (“sampling” the lines of Gloucester poets to consider where the body goes).

Fred Poole’s first poem was a philosophical piece on the nature of politics & stupidity, his next was a remembrance from his childhood when “the men wore tops to their swimsuits.” Teresa read in the #4 slot that was habitually reserved for Donald Lev & read from Donald’s Enemies of Time (Warthog Press, 2000) including “Red Emma.” Norm Kamerling read from his poems in plastic page-protectors, “The Bust” a true story of being arrested, “Modern Time” on the proliferation of screens & numbers, in funny rhyme, & another amusing piece on parking limitations “Driver Man Blues.”

Davida began with a poem to a native vet “Born Between the Worlds,” then “Whoever Wins” written for the last Presidential election, & ended with a poem on ecstasy by her Sufi Master. Bruce Weber read a couple of “older poems,” the first on Impressionist painters “It Was Just Another Weekend in 1885,” & a poem that had been published by Donald Lev in Home Planet News “I Was Delivered by William Carlos Williams.”

W.O.M.P.S. (Word Of Mouth Poetry Series) is on the 2nd Thursday of each month at the ArtBar Gallery, 674 Broadway, Kingston, NY, 7:00PM, often with featured poets & an open mic, sometimes a different format, but worth the trip for the poetry & for the poets.

November 11, 2018

Caffè Lena Open Mic, November 7

Phew! 26 on the sign-up sheet! & the much-postponed featured poet April Bernard, with our host Carol Graser who got us going with a poem by Chase Twitchell.

Not all on the sign-up sheet actually read in the open mic, but 23 did & the first of those, who was also still here at the end, was Marilyn McCabe who read a sample from her new collection Fractured Psalms “Father Psalm” & “Waiting Psalm.” Glenn Witecki read a piece in rhyme about a campfire “Nigth Fire Intensity” (& actually used the work “portend” in the poem!). Lin Murphy’s poems were both political, “Asylum Seekers” & “Disrupt by Uplifting.” Leslie Sittner likes alliteration & work play, as in her sexy poem “Growing Good Roots” & in the ekphrastic “Portrait of Barry.” James Schlett made a rare appearance with a string of haiku, including one for his young daughter & another about a harvest festival.

April Bernard began her featured reading with a political poem on how the world has split, then on to a tribute to the gone poem Lucie Brock-Broido on the aging of poets. “Lord Crack their Teeth” was another political piece with its title drawn from the Psalms. She said that she teaches at Skidmore College & has recently moved here from North Bennington, VT, “Swishing Tails of Horses in October” & “Cold Morning” again with a horse, an elegy to a friend. A poem titled “The Legacy of Nicholas Ray” (the American filmmaker) was about her youth, followed by one about hunters “The Spell.” An Italian sonnet “The Dove” led to a series of poems linked to English Renaissance poetry, with titles drawn from Elizabeth I (“The Root of Weird Shall Be” & “My Care is Like My Shadow”) & Sir Thomas Wyatt. The 3 poems with titles from Wyatt were “Wreathed with Error” in a rush of words, “Who Falters” which was in the style of the Tang poets, & “Use Me Quiet” about how some scientific studies have shown that the DNA of a child lingers inside the mother.  A nicely varied reading of mostly short poems.

Due to the length of the sign-up sheet Carol dispensed with the customary break & dove right back into the open mic with a couple of young students. August Rosenberg read “Jack Shit” & a short piece with pizza “Worth It.” Katelyn R. read a letter-like poem “California Love,” then the grimly titled “Lung Cancer.”

I’ve seen Randee Renzi at some of the open mics in Albany but this was her first time here, she read from her phone an angry letter “Tell a Lie,” then from memory a poem celebrating a friend who is a glass blower “Air Bender.” Brian Crouth introduced his “A Wistful Poem” with another short poem. Amanda Blodgett proclaimed “I Do Not Need a Man” (“… I want one”), & prayed “Lord May I Forgive.” One of my favorite poets, Mary Kathryn Jablonski, started with a poem about the cutting down of trees “Second Death,” then a memoir poem “Diamond Sutra.” Jeff Stubits' long Halloween poem “Pestiliferous Flotillia” about an infestation of moths was read imitating the voice of the 1950s era radio personality Ken Nordine.

Doug Holiday began with his poem to Nancy Pelosi “It is a Wonder,” then paid homage to Ntozake Shange by reading her piece “My Father is a Retired Magician.” Effie Redman’s poem “Tell Me” sounded like an oblique self-portrait. Inspired by April Bernard’s poem to Lucie Brock-Broido I read one written after hearing Brock-Boido read at Skidmore back in 2002 “Vowels.” Karen Villesrik read a poem written after the 2016 election “Just Before Dawn,” then one about an encounter while driving “Vulture.”

Susan Kress, who reads here regularly, tonight read a poem titled “Relapse” about Fall & the falling out of hair. Rodney Parrott read a piece about falling asleep outside in a gazebo from his series “Universal Laws of the Universe.” Mary Ann Rockwell read 2 poems that have recently been published “Consider Your Options,” & “Alice Neel Self-Portrait” about the famous nude painting of the artist as an old woman.

Rebecca Sadlon’s long piece, “Welcoming the Day at Hunt Lake,” was a remembrance of the Summers spent by generations at this place on the lake. Will Keever read about a mermaid “Drifting Meridian.” Nancy White read 2 poems from a series in which the poems despise their titles, “Trust Me” in a string of single words & short phrases, then the poem-in-progress “She Thinks She’s All That.” Kerrea was the last reader of the night with a love poem in automatic writing “Communion of the Mind.”

There is always a great turn-out of local writers on the 1st Wednesday of the month for the Caffè Lena Poetry Open Mic, usually with a feature (or 2), at the renovated Caffè Lena on Phila St. in Saratoga Springs, 7:30PM, $5.00.

November 6, 2018

Poets Speak Loud!, October 30

A rare last Tuesday, rather than last Monday, here at McGeary’s Irish Pub for an open mic with Dave Kime as the featured poet, & our host Mary Panza on board to keep disorder at bay.

Sylvia Barnard was the first up for the open mic with a couple poems written this past Spring, the first looking back to the Psalms, the 2nd, titled “Family,” about Thanksgiving with her daughter & son-in-law. Christa DeMarco was next with a poem on hate, feeling overwhelmed if all we have is thoughts & prayers. Tom Bonville’s poem, “Trading Places,” was on aging with buying a new car on an urge as metaphor. I read 2 poems for the holiday, “This Is Not Trick or Treat” & “Zombie Gourd.” Carrie Czawhiel began with a poem from a couple years ago “My Message to Women Abused,” then a newer one about healing emotional scars with the image of kintsugi, the Japanese technique for mending pottery with gold.

Dave Kime, the featured poet, has a powerful presence & voice, & began with screed against McDonalds a piece formerly titled “McDonner Party” now titled “Neon Drive Thru.” His attacks on corporate America & its manipulation of pop culture continued with other pieces, such as “Stay Loyal” (to your corporation for a bad future), “Sound Bites,” “Operation Mind Trip” (TV), others on the corporate war machine. Others with titles like “Nightfall,” “Trigger Man,” & “Marionette,” most in rhymes & half-rhymes & playing on the sounds. His last poem was “Squirrel” in which he tries to save the small animal after it has been hit by a car. It was great to hear Dave up here (he lives in the Woodstock area) with a big chunk of his engaged, energetic poetry.

As the pitcher for donations was passed around, Cheryl Rice started, appropriately enough after Dave Kime, with “I Hear America,” then to another political piece “The Caskets of Mara Lago.” Joe Krausman was down & out of the poetry scene for weeks & weeks, but was back tonight with a couple poems, “Waiting for That Call” (from Death), & the classic “What’s In a Name.” Doug Holiday continued to pay respect to the late Ntozake Shange by reading her poems “I Live in Music” & “My Father is a Retired Magician.”

Brett Petersen made a rare open mic appearance with 2 poems from his blog,  “An Animal You’ll Never Understand,” & “A Gallon of Anti-Freeze to Wash Down the Guilt” which sounded like a quieter, then intense version of Dave Kime’s poems — a good way to bring it all home.

Poets Speak Loud! is usually on the last Monday of the month & continue to look for it on that day at McGeary’s Irish Pub on Sheridan Square in Albany, NY, 7:30PM, an open mic with a stellar featured poet, more info at

November 4, 2018

Poetic Vibe, October 29

No featured poet as there often is one at this weekly event, but there was an energetic open mic hosted as always by the equally energetic D. Colin, who started us off with a poem about not being sorry by the recently gone Ntozake Shange, whose work would become a theme of the night.

Unfortunately, the air was sucked, briefly, out of the room by the the first 2 performers who took the stage together, Snow & P.O.E.T. Snow rapped way too fast to be understood, which is fortunate because what I would figure out was filled with violence & debasing slang, while P.O.E.T. (not sure what that all stood for) did his rap slower & was more easily heard it did not make much sense other than posing. Danielle, retrieving the mic to announce the next poet, urged us to fill the room with good energy & that we did, nowhere to go but up. Erika did that with a piece title “Perspective” for a friend.

Ian Mack has returned to the area & read a couple of pondering love poems. My poems were based on the month of October, the first for Thelonious Monk’s birthday October 10, 1917 “Acrostic Jazz,” then a Halloween-themed one “Zombie Gourd,” complete with a drink recipe. Douglas Davis, IV read 2 grim pieces by Ntozake Shange, the first about the black children missing in Atlanta years ago, & “Crack Annie” who pimped out her daughter. L-Majesty got us back to love with “Love Lottery” & “Existential Climax” how we all got our beginnings in sex & orgasm. Poetik returned us to Ntozake Shange with a memorized monologue from For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, then her own recently written love letter to herself.

Noro said that this was her first time here & read a piece titled #34 a critical piece parsing the use of “nigga this, nigga that…” in songs. Rooftopper Jenkins read his poem “I Stole a Dream” about colonizing, written when he was in a mental ward on Martin Luther King Day, then a similar themed memorized rant based on the writings of Franz Fanon. Kilijah returned us to the love theme with a poem beginning “I fell in love with love today…” then another love poem written today “Can’t Let Go.”

Christian Ortega had signed up in the very last spot on the sign-up sheet, ensuring himself the rock-star slot & read from his Red Poems (Hispanic Paradox Press, 2014) “Everything,” “Poem for Pope,” & the long, closing untitled post-script.

But the night was not quite done with Danielle back with her “take aways,” quotes from poems from the open mic noting that “Ntozake Shange is in the room.” Then on to her title poem from Dreaming in Kreyol (Empress Bohemia Press, 2015) introduced by a song in Kreyol. & to really bring it on home read the group poem/exquisite corpse that had been making the rounds during the reading, another random masterpiece.

We really did bring the good, positive, loving energy back into the room, certainly helped by Ntozake Shange in the room. Come get your dose of such energy each Monday at Poetic Vibe at the Troy Kitchen, Congress St. in Troy, NY, 7:00PM — bring something to read.

November 1, 2018

Annual Charles Olson Lecture: Ed Sanders, October 27

It’s not like I need an excuse to go to Gloucester, where I’d been to this year at the end of September & before that at the end of August, but an event sponsored by the Gloucester Writers Center is always an added benefit. So here I was at the Cape Ann Museum to hear Ed Sanders deliver this year's lecture on the life of Charles Olson with Sander’s own hand drawn glyphs as illustrations.

Sanders was introduced by scholar Ammiel Alcalay who is no stranger to Gloucester himself, see his 2013 book a little history (republic/UpSet Press), & he filled his introduction with big chunks of quote from Olson’s poems & essays, & he has been a part of past panels & presentations on Gloucester’s biggest poet.

Ed Sanders’ 2-hour romp along the Charles Olson time-track was based on his just-published piece of investigative poetry, A Life of Olson & a Sequence of Glyphs on Points of his life, work, & times, self-published at Meads Mountain Press, Woodstock, NY (more on this later). His talk used the glyphs — had lettered & drawn pages — that in the book are interspersed with more traditionally printed text. Ed had a personal/poetic association with Olson, dating from 1962, so he interweaved anecdotes, quotes, postcards, even a pint Cutty Sark bottle of Olson's that he still has, with the facts of Olson’s life. Sanders is a scholar of ancient Greek & of Egyptian hieroglyphics which he used as integral parts of of the glyph pages. Of course, being at the Cape Ann Museum, most of Olson’s work cited was from his Maximus Poems. & at the end Ed also paid tribute to the late Gerrit Lansing, another Gloucester figure who was also an inspired poet of note.

I have read 2 biographies of Charles Olson, as well as shorter works that talk about his life & his Maximus poems, so his life story is familiar to me, but it was refreshing to hit the high points, &  to hear Ed's own anecdotes; & for those unfamiliar with Olson’s life & work this talk would serve as a excellent introduction.

[Addendum:  There is a recording of the lecture on youtube.]

The following day, Sunday, October 28, Ed Sanders did a reading & talk about his other new book, Broken Glory: The Final Years of Robert F. Kennedy, A Graphic History (Arcade Publishing, 2018) with illustrations by Rich Veitch at the Gloucester Writers Center. As he did when I saw him read from this work in July (see my Blog), he read sections from the climactic moment when RFK is assassinated, & talked about his years of research on the topic before finally writing the book, & performed a sad poem about RFK's murder on his lyre.

At the end of the reading I was able to purchase a copy of A Life of Olson, which is a manuscript box of 160+ pages, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, printed on one side each. Much of it is in traditional book type-face but a substantial number of pages are the hand-written & drawn glyphs. I’ve had great fun going through the box, not so much reading the text as studying the glyph-pages with it’s mix of drawings, pictures, text in ancient Greek, & Egyptian based designs -- a unique piece of investigative poetry/book-art.

Broken Glory is available at the usual online bookstores & I expect can be ordered through your local independent bookstore. Getting a copy of A Life of Olson is another story.

Poetry Memorial for Donald Lev, October 22

ArtBar Gallery, Kingston, NY, September 2017
Yet another Blog about an event for yet another gone poet, this shit has got to stop, but I guess that will only happen when it’s me. Although there have been a couple of other “memorials” recently for Donald, this one was billed as the “real” one. Whatever. This was held at the Harmony Cafe at Wok’n’Roll in Woodstock where Donald read almost every week when this venue hosted an open mic each Monday of the month. The host of those event was Michael Platsky, who was the host tonight as well. Donald liked to read in the 4th slot, often just before the featured poet.

There was an extensive sign-up sheet when I arrived with Mary Panza, & on stage was Harvey Kaiser on clarinet & Allen Murphy on bass were playing. Michael Platsky read his poem “Publish This!” for Donald, then from Donald's last book Focus.

Ed Sanders read a poem for Donald & for his late wife Enid Dame. Mikhail Horowitz said that the 1st poetry reading he attended in 1967 Donald Lev was the featured reader at St. John’s in the Village In NYC. Philip Levine, in Donald’s final year, built him a downstairs bathroom, with the help of community funds.

Ron Whiteurs drove Donald to countless readings & open mics. Marylin Stablein read poems by Enid, Donald & her own. Andy Clausen read Donald’s bio from the back of the 2012 A Very Funny Fellow. Frank Murphy is carrying on Donald & Enid’s long-running Home Planet News by publishing it online.

Judith Kerman, via a long mic cable, read from her table a poem to Donald. Teresa Costa was another poet who drove Donald to many readings & featured him at her poetry venues. Leslie Gerber read one of his poems that was like Donald’s. Pamela Twining read from Enid’s Lilith poems.

Shiv Mirabito read Donald’s poem written for Shiv’s annual bonfire. Lenny Brown read his “Memory of Donald.” Cheryl A. Rice who is another long-time poet friend of Donald (& Enid’s) also read.

At this point, although there were others on the list, Mary & I left for the drive back to Albany, marveling at the range & diversity & interconnectedness of all of our poetry communities. Donald Lev, & with Enid before she left us, had a large role in helping to built that community by his presence & by publishing so many of us in his Home Planet News. May that kind of spirit carry on & continue to inspire others.

The following is the list of books by Donald Lev that I have in my Library:

Strains, Pamphilus Press, High Falls, NY, 1991
Enemies of the Time, Warthog Press, West Orange, NJ, 2000
Yesterday’s News: Poems 1998 - 2001, Red Hill Outloudbooks, Claryville, NY, 2002
Grief, A Bardpress Chapbook, Staten Island, NY, 2006
Adventures at the Upstate: Poems on Films, Pamphilus Press, High Falls, NY, 2007
A Very Funny Fellow, NYQ Books, New York, NY, 2012
Where I Sit, Presa Press, Rockford, MI, 2015

The Lace Mill Presents: A Celebration of Gerrit Lansing, October 20

Gerrit Lansing reading in Albany, October 1999
This was a revised-replay of the Birthday/Memorial celebration held for poet Gerrit Lansing on February 25 in Gloucester, MA, held this day at the Lace Mill Gallery in Kingston, NY with many of the same players as the Gloucester event. You can read about the February events for Gerrit on my Blog. Pierre Joris served as MC, with bassist Mike Bisio providing musical accompaniment for many of the readers.

The readers today were Tamas Panitz, Tomas Urayoán Noel, Nicole Peyrafitte, George Quasha, Pierre, Don Byrd, Chuck Stein, & Robert Kelly.

Photo by Peter Monaco
Nearly all the readers read a poem(s) by Gerrit, many reflected on the Gerrit they knew, & read poems they wrote in tribute. Gerrit’s poems were published in various editions that were variations on “Heavenly Tree …” “… Grows Downward,” … Soluble Forest,” with many of the same poems in each edition, with newer, different poems, much like Whitman’s changing editions of Leaves of Grass, the most recent & most complete being the 2009 North Atlantic Books Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth.

Tomas Urayoán Noel read Gerrit’s “Amazing Grace And A Salad Bowl,” written for the poet Stephen Jonas, then Tomas’ own improv in Spanish & English on the poem. Among the 4 poems of Gerrit's that Nicole Peyrafitte read was the compact “Song: the Autumn Festival” (that Willie Alexander has set to music) with the magic line “All things go underground with glee.”

Don Byrd did a mash up from “The Burden of Set” with his own tribute/meditation to Gerrit. Robert Kelly described the 2 kinds of teacher that was Gerrit & Gerrit’s theory on the Gateways of 7 in each of lives, that each 7 years a door opens to change, the next phase of our life. Chuck Stein was by far the longest with a rambling mix of his own & Gerrit’s poems.

Pierre & Nicole recorded each of the readers to you can experience it for yourself at Pierre’s Blog. & I have posted some of my photos from the event at my Flickr site.

It was a grand gathering of poets, both readers & in the audience, to pay tribute to the grand Gerrit Lansing whose work was magic on many levels.