January 22, 2019

Third Thursday Poetry Night, January 17

For the first third Thursday of 2019 we gathered as we always do on the third Thursday of any month at the Albany Social Justice Center for an ope mic & a featured reading, tonight, by NYC poet/cab driver Cliff Fyman. Even on such a cold January night we had a unique gathering of poets representing a cross-section of the quality poets living & writing in the area. Unfortunately, 2018 was, literally, a killer for poets with this area being hit particularly hard, & I am backed up on my tributes. Tonight’s Muse of a gone-poet who could not be here was Jim Flosdorf who died in October at the age of 84. Jim was a naturalist, environmentalist, poet, artist, photographer; I read his poem “Renovation” from the 1986 collection Gates to the City: The Albany Tricentennial Anthology. Then on to the open mic.

Douglas Holiday was signed up first & he read, not his own poem, but “Inundated, after watching Hurricane Katrina coverage on CNN” by Hayes Davis from Ghost Fishing: an Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (University of Georgia Press, 2018). Next up was Joe Krausman whose poem “Marilyn Monroe’s Dress” was about the worth of things, & life & death. Phil Good read selections from a longer piece titled “Slow Capture” on the digital universe, perhaps. Bernadette Mayer was here tonight & she read a spicy poem, like a soup, called “Parsley.”

Cliff Fyman wrote a series of poems that he called Yellow Cab written about driving a cab at night in NYC. Tonight he read from a section of a work in progress also about that experience. He said he would shape into poems the words the passengers would say to their companion or into their cellphones. Some were extended conversations, others snippets & phrases, that shows the brilliance of random remarks thrown together forming their own connections, from the mundane to the ridiculous. To be expected, many exchanges were about relationships, often gay men, some were arguments, & in the last segment he read, the passenger addresses him, the driver, trying to pick him up. In the recording of the reading there are frequent laughter & giggles from the audience who were obviously enjoying it. Cliff’s other books include Nylon Sunlight (2004), & Fever (2006) (with Bernadette’s footprint in red ink as the cover).

After a break & a donation — less than the cost of a cab ride — we returned to the open mic. I read an old poem from the days of the QE2 open mic titled “Yellow Cab.” Adam Tedesco returned to the Social Justice after an absence to read a poem titled “Backlit” descriptive of a camping trip & being born & family. Screamer (it’s only her handle, she doesn’t really scream) read “My Attempt at a Don Levy Poem” about a crush on the “fish boy” at a part-time job, just like one of Don’s gay-fantasy poems -- her attempt succeeded. The final poet was also a here after an absence, John Allen, who read a poem titled “Dialator” inspired Jeff Clark’s poems Music & Suicide; John had a hard time reading it from the small piece of paper he had written it on.

Join us any third Thursday of the month at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY 7:30PM for an open mic for poets, with a featured reading by a local, regional or national poet. Your donation supports poetry events in Albany & the work of the Social Justice Center.

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