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.

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