We didn’t have to wait long for a poetry open mic once 2019 started what with the Caffè Lena Poetry Open Mic on the first Wednesday of the month (& of the year). Making it even more stupendous were the featured artists, poet Mary Kathryn Jablonski & filmmaker Laura Frare. And how did I end up as #1 on the sign up sheet? When I arrived just before 7:00PM there was a line to get in, which I dutifully went to the back of, but when I got up to the front to pay my $5 the #1 spot was open while 12 or 13 poets had already signed up ???
Our host Carol Graser got us started with a poem titled “New Year’s Eve” (not by her). Then on to the first part of the open mic. I read a new piece “To the consternation…” commenting on an MFA graduate’s book of poems, then one of my old Buddhist haiku. D. Alexander Holiday had a poem whose ink was still wet, ripped from the day’s headlines “Death at Walmart.” Carol Shippstar read a poem about seeing armed soldiers in New York City after returning from Israel, then “Poem About Kate” a homeless person. Todd Fabozzi read 2 poems from his recent self-published book Poems & Antipoems, “Oh Amsterdam” (which he dedicated to Mary Kathryn Jablonski), then one set in a grade school in Amsterdam, NY “Music Lessons.” Alan Catlin read a poem titled “The Graveyard of the Beach Chairs” from his forthcoming book Frightening Toys, then another from Studio Portrait with Bullet Wounds. BK Tuon’s poem was about his daughter “The Kind of Father.”
The first video was titled “These Past Few Days of Freezing Rains,” published here at Tupelo Quarterly. This was followed by 2 poems, “Mare Vaporum” from Mary’s 2008 collection To the Husband I Have Not Yet Met (A.P.D., Albany, NY), then “On a Mission” from Trailer Park Quarterly. The next video was “Mare Frigoris” published in Quarterly West, then 2 ekphrastic poems, “Have Ye Been Healed” based on a Van Morrison song, & “The Woodland Path” based on a painting by Asher B. Durand. The final video, “Mare Nubium” published in Atticus Review featured music by Mark Tolstrup, was followed by 2 poems “Heartsease” published in Poetry Ireland Review, & “Octopus Bride.” After which a brief break was welcome, to absorb the feelings from this moving performance.
Speaking of “philosophy,” Rodney Parrott read 2 pieces from his first, self-published chapbook, about grad school & religion, &, well, more philosophy. Sean Iacopelli got us back to poetry on the political bent with “Roseanne’s House-Warming Party,” & “What Am I, 2nd Class Citizen?” Julie Lomoe read a prose memoir written yesterday “Garden on New Years Morning.” Our host, Carol Graser, brought it on home with a spirited rant against the Patriarch “Now Is the Time.”
As special as nights at Caffè Lena usually are, tonight’s was extra-special due not only to the rich range of local poets reading in the open mic, but more so because of the featured artists Mary Kathryn Jablonski & Laura Frare. Come back on the 1st Wednesday of each month at 7:30PM to be entertained & surprised — 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, NY.