January 6, 2019

Third Thursday Poetry Night, December 20

Mary Ann Murray with Sanity Clause
(photo by "Screamer")
My last open mic of 2018 & the annual visit from Sanity Clause, with a featured reading by Mary Ann Murray (shown here on the lap of Sanity Clause). It’s been a bad year for poets with the world & us losing many, so much so I have a long backlog list of muses to get to.  Each year at this time I like to read the late Enid Dame’s “Holiday Poem” but this past year her husband Donald Lev joined her at that Open Mic in the Sky, so I also read one of his poems, making this a night of 2 spectacular Muses to lead us into a new (& better) year.

Alan Catlin began the open mic with the scary tale of a holiday party, not without a touch of humorous satire,“The Conga Line from Hell;” after he read his poem Alan sat on the lap of Sanity Clause & was given a gift of poetry, as did each of the readers this night — but not before Alan himself presented me with a copy of Eileen Myles’ new book of poems, Evolution.

BK made a rare & welcome appearance to read a new poem written just today “Happy Christmas 2018” about the deportation of Cambodian American refugees "boat people" many of whom have never been in Cambodia or even speak the language, the poem was subsequently published in Tuck Magazine onlineTom Bonville (who will be featured here in March 2019) was up next with a poem titled “Christmas Morning,” a tender, descriptive piece about his aged mother. Tom Corrado read “Snow Cone Joe” a memoir of 1961 & Roger Maris, & whiffle ball, & teen-age sex, & rubbers.

Tonight’s featured poet, Mary Ann Murray, was one of the co-editors of the 1994 Open Mic: the Albany Anthology, & was involved in the early days of the Albany poetry scene, wandered away for a while, & now is back in the area.

Her poems are generally short, concise, enigmatic, often seasoned with humor. She began with the poem I had shared on the email reminder of her reading, “A compendium of time,” all of about 30 words. Some of the titles & subjects were “The Generalist” (crows), “Wanted” (a lost dog poster), & Weathered (sea sick on a boat ride). From the 26 years she spent in the San Francisco Bay Area she read a selection of what she had written there, including a screed on the fog “God Help Us,” some grim snapshots of the crowds going to work, in one poem workers like chickens, even a guy in a clown suit dispensing hugs “What It’s Come Down To.” To balance that she read her most recent poem “Beginning at the Beginning” written after moving back East, then on to a couple political pieces, the anti-Trump “State of the Union,” & “I Believe Christine Blasey Ford.” From the political to metapoems (poems about poetry) from a writing group she has been engaged with for 10 years, about poems that are hard to write (“Stuck”), Creaky (“a sad, little poem”) & “Therapy” on rejection letters. She ended with some “sideways poems” that she said don’t always make sense, then brought us back to the night’s “theme” of sharing our light with a poem titled “Candle Power.” I, for one, am so glad this fine poem is back in this community where she started from.

After the break I read a new poem incorporating lines from other poets “Last Weekend in Gloucester.” Jeff Stubits showed up with “a darker poem” titled “Can I Bury You?” inspired by Robert Frost & Charles Bukowski, in his signature breath-less style. Peter Boudreaux came down from the hills to comment & to read his latest creation, also a dark one, on stalking, “Not in Saskatchewan.” Joe Krausman is a frequent participant here & has been regularly on the lap of Sanity Clause, read about sending holiday cards “Season’s Greetings.”

Screamer's Selfie with Sanity Clause
I was so pleased that the poet known as Screamer showed up tonight, not only to read a work-in-progress for her sister, about cancer & spousal abuse, “This Is Not a Christmas Poem,” but also because she was one of the few female readers to sit on the lap of Sanity Clause — & she was also the one who took pictures of Sanity Clause. Also back from brain issues, Julie Lomoe sang for us “The Most Over-Hyped Time of the Year” — indeed. The final reader, Bob Elmendorf, hadn’t been here in ages, & read his poem “After the Harvest” another dark piece for the end of the year.

On into the New Year of 2019, &  I expect the Third Thursday Poetry Night will continue here at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, 7:30PM, your donation helps support poetry events & the work of the SJC. Happy New Year!

1 comment:

Tim said...

Alan Catlin and Dan Wilcox I hope you both enjoy your Eileen Myles poetry. Here's a quote from Eileen Myles in an interview.

"I think it would be a great time for ben, basically to go on vacation. There isn't enough work for everybody. Certainly in the arts, in all genres. I think that men should step away. I think men should stop writing books, I think men should stop making movies or television. Say for 50 to 100 years."

- Eileen Myles