November 24, 2019

Community of Writers, November 17

It was a busy weekend for readings, one yesterday at the Albany Public Library, one today at the Schenectady County Public Library.  Community of Writers series began as recurring programs sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild in various locations, usually libraries, in the Capital District. This one in Schenectady is currently the only annual event, & is coordinated by poet Alan Catlin who was also the host. There were 7 readers in a variety of genres.

First up were Jim & Carol McCord reading from their book Two Lenses — Four Europes (Shanti Arts LLC, 2019), an exquisite book of poems & photographs of England, France, Greece & Spain. As Jim & Carol alternated reading poems written by Jim, they also projected the related photos which in the book are on facing pages to the poems, then added a couple poems not in the book.  While many of the poems commented on or directly related to the photos, many were on themes barely suggested by the photo, but that the photo, or the poem, suggested.  The book can easily be read/looked at as armchair tours of each of the 4 countries, or dipped into at random.

Sylvie Briber is a 4th generation Schenectadian who currently lives in an historical home in the Stockade section of the city. She has researched the history of the house & its residents & written about it in her book The Inscription in the Window, a fat, spiral-bound, self-published book of tales. She read 3 pieces from the book, “Thru the Window,” “Train Whistles” about a drawing from 1831 of the first train connecting Albany & Schenectady that ran right behind her house, & “The Portrait in the Parlor” about the woman who wrote with a diamond on a window in the house.

Caroline Bardwell has been active in the local poetry scene & recently opened The Schenectady Trading Company on Union Street. She also published this year On and Off the Trail: A Collection of Poetry and Photography (Troy Book Makers), a lovely collection of black & white photos & Nature poetry. She read a mix of poems today, some from the book, including “At Dusk: Wolves” & “First Snow Day.” She also read a variety of other poems, including one of her seasonal exercises in alliteration, & another exercise in sound, “Electric City Pride” (rhyming on “Schenectady”).

Faith Green rarely reads out so it was good to hear a chunk of her work here today. She is the president of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. She said there was no theme to her reading, just random poems, the first a genealogy of sorts “I’m From,” then others with titles like “Shadows & Dreams,” “Blind Love,” “The Art of Disappearing,” “Named” (for Vincent Van Gogh), & “Ageless.” Faith had worked as a teacher in a prison & read from that experience the poem “Incarcerated Teens.” She ended with “Astral Proportions” & one that explained why “I Hate Mushrooms.”

Shena McAuliffe was, for me, the big surprise of the event. She read from her debut novel titled The Good Echo (Black Lawrence Press, 2018) which won the Big Moose Prize & the Balcones Fiction Prize. She read from the opening section of the novel which begins in the voice of a 12-year old boy who has died from an infection from a root canal done by his father, a dentist. The novel eventually goes on in the voice of the boy’s mother & notes kept by the father. She said it was inspired by a true story. The section, Prologue, that she read from, is a story told in rich, realistic detail, musical, & poetic. I don’t usually buy novels, hoping to find the book at the library, knowing chances are I will only read it once. But, as I said to her after the reading, I heard more poetry in her short reading of prose than I sometimes hear in some poetry open mics, & so I bought the book.

Mary Kathryn Jablonski had read yesterday at the HVWG reading at the Albany Public Library. Today’s reading she said was of “snow poems,” most from her latest book, Sugar Maker Moon (Dos Madres Press, 2019), but not all. She began with a collaboration with Philip X. Levine, an exquisite corpse titled “When I Think.” The poems from her book were “First Snow,” “Star Bride Triolet,” “Fever 2,” & “Snow Globe.” She ended with a couple poems not in the book, “These Past Few Days of Freezing Rain” one Mary Kathryn’s video poems, a collaboration with film-maker Laura Frare, & ended with a piece about the Russian space dog “Laika.” It’s always good to hear Mary Kathryn read, even when it is 2 days in a row.

For more information about the Hudson Valley Writers Guild visit their website.

1 comment:

Clipping Path said...

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