September 24, 2020

Amesbury Poetry Reading, September 22

Albany poet, Therese Broderick, invited me on Facebook to this Zoom event from Amesbury, Massachusetts, hosted by the current Amesbury Poet Laureate, Ellie O’Leary. Who knew that this little town would have/need a Poet Laureate — a couple past Laureates were also in attendance at this event.

Lewis Turco, NYS Writers Institute, 10/20/93
Therese Broderick, appearing as “Frank Robinson” in the accompanying screen print, read from a chapbook-in-progress, “Terzanelle - Poems Inspired by Tai Chi." She explained that this poetic form reminds her of movements in her Tai Chi practice & even demonstrated a series of such. She said that the form was invented by American poet & scholar of poetic forms Lewis Turco, that the Terzanelle is a 19-line form that is a combination of the Villanelle (5 3-line stanzas, 6th stanza 4 lines) with the Terza Rima invented by Dante Alighieri for the creation of the Divine Comedy (here is a glossary that contains information on poetic forms; this will give you information on the Terzanelle

Therese began by reading Turco’s poem “Passing the Time” about why he writes, then on to Terzanelles from her chapbook, on a variety of topics, “The Thorn Shrub,” “Drifters” (boats), a spinning  girl at a party next door “Dizzy,” a squashed caterpillar “Casual Kill.” Also her variation she called a “flash Terzanelle” in 4 small parts about a wind turbine. Others included “Lady Bug” (about her Bell’s Palsy), “400 Centuries Ago” that ponders the hairdressers of the past, “Relics” (about saving things from giving birth, her memories), “Taking My Fill of August,” & her most recent “Elegy for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” She said that she doesn’t always stick to the strict 19-line limitation, creating her own expanding, flowing form with more emphasis on the Terza Rima rather than the Villanelle, much like the movements in Tai Chi.

Her reading was followed by a Q&A session in which she talked more about the form & her open-ended variation. (As Turco created a unique form from 2 traditional forms & baptized it “Terzanelle” I would like to propose that Therese Broderick’s variation on Turco’s creation be re-named the “Theresezanelle,” it seems only right.

Then on to a brief open mic. The first poet, identified only as Harris, read an imaginative fantasy “The Day After My Death” based on a Billy Collins poem.
Peter Bryant read his own Terzanelle a poem about the tides, then another about hydroelectric dams, a political piece.

Lainie Senechal, a former Amesbury Poet Laureate, read a love poem to Autumn titled “The Nature of the Situation,” then another about Autumn, the light getting less outside, but the spirit finding more light.

There is an ongoing monthly open mic on the 4th Tuesday of the month originating from Amesbury on Zoom. Look for more information on the Facebook page

September 22, 2020

3rd Saturday Coffeehouse, September 19

I was invited by Charlie Rossiter & the 3rd Saturday Ambiance Committee to a reading by Paul Seline with an open mic. This is a group that Charlie was in when he lived in Oak Park, IL, outside Chicago, & ran a regular monthly open mic. It was a re-union of sorts & a celebration of Paul Seline’s book.

But first a round of the open mic. Jim Madigan was first up with an Autumn poem inspired by biking through the park “Red Tree.”  

Diane Scott’s poem was a for Labor Day & the work of women, based on the famous quote from the early 20th Century labor organizer by Rose Schneiderman about having both bread & roses.

Marilyn Myles’ tender poem “My Father’s Hands” was both a memory & portrait & about where he is now & what he’d done.

To honor Rosh Hashanah I read my poem from 2004, written in Gloucester, MA, “Tashlich."

Mary Ellen Munley read a tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with quotes from her from her years of wisdom & activism.  

Charlie Rossiter called son Jack down to accompany him on the guitar for a poem for Emily Dickinson with the great chorus “…put your white dress on… & we gonna write poems tonight.”

Mary Rose Lambke read a poem from a trip to Ireland for her 80th birthday about & treasuring elders.

Jack Rossiter-Munley returned to his room to perform solo performing a song that I probably hadn’t heard in 50 years (or more!) about a motorcyclist & “Highway 101” (not the '80s country group).

The featured poet was Paul Seline who read selections from his recently published first book, A Writer's Life: Essays and Poems. Paul taught English and writing to high school students for 32 years. He is now retired and lives in Oak Park, IL where he enjoys focusing on his own writing. His work has been described as “Poignant and funny, this collection of essays and poems shows how, given the right perspective, ordinary life can be extraordinary." He alternated reading the poems with his wife Sue Piha to save his voice & to honor her role in helping to produce the book. The poems they read were a couple of gardening pieces, “Big Max” a memoir of trying to grow giant pumpkins with his son, & one about battling a rabbit “Gardening Points of View.” “Karl & That’s with a K” was a hilarious take on the “kn” sound/not sound, while “A Basic Christmas” was a memoir of sharing cookies sent from home when Paul was in basic training.

Back around again, as Charlie is wont to do, for those who could stay & had another poem, Jim Madigan read a memoir of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the Moon “From Above.”

Diane Scott read an imagined memoir based on an old photo of her mother with some unidentified guy.

Marilyn Myles read a piece titled “Evolution” on the unfairness of it all, on slavery, war, sexual violence, drugs, & all that.

I haven’t written many poems inspired by COVID-19 but read a recent piece titled “Words in the Time of COVID-19: Saxophone” inspired by a friend’s Blog post on the pandemic.

Mary Ellen Munley used her time to remember fondly when these poets used to meet in person in Oak Park at the coffeehouse.

Charlie Rossiter’s 2nd round poem was also a memoir, this of a road trip with Jack & staying at a friend’s cottage in Minnesota.

Mary Rose Lambke had a COVID-19 confession (not at her best best living alone during the pandemic) about eating a pint of ice cream.

Jack Rossiter-Munley had another guitar tune, “You’re Not Alone,” the title song of an album by Mavis Staple.

Our featured reader(s) brought us home with Paul reading about favorite things besides gardening “My Journal is Built like a Canoe” & Sue reading a series of writing tips “How to Catch a Poem.”

This was once a regular in-person event on the 3rd Saturday of the month, but, alas, is no more, but I was pleased to be invited in to this group of poet friends for their reunion & to celebrate Paul Seline’s book A Writer's Life: Essays and Poems, which can be found on

September 16, 2020

2nd Wednesday, September 9

Jackie Craven has kept this open mic alive since the closing of Arthur’s Market & now since the closing of everything. & since we all are creatures of habit, many of the poets showing up “here” on Zoom are the same ones who used to show up at C.R.E.A.T.E. space on State St. in Schenectady, only now we don’t have to drive, or take the bus, or even wear pants.

First on the sign-up list was Alan Catlin with 3 short poems from the recently published The Blue Hotel (, the first from the book’s section "Mahler in New York," a grim Summer night, then from the section "Crane Dreams" the noir-ish title poem “The Blue Hotel,” & the last poem in book “Wallace Stevens in Albany” — I think you can find the book on Amazon.

David Graham said he had 2 poems to read, one old, one new, the old one “Self Portrait as Lucky Man” liking the way he looked, then a “Swirl” of images of good signs.

I also had an old poem, “Support the Bottom,” a social justice theme, then a new piece “Words in the Time of COVID-19: Saxophone” which had started out as a comment on a Blog post by Carolee Bennett.

One can expect some laughter when Scott Morehouse reads & tonight it took the form of hysterical free association & word play in a memoir piece titled “Disassembling September.”  

Bob Sharkey’s first poem, “Our Neighbors Return,” was a fable of a herd of elephants walking around his neighborhood leaving piles of dung, then, staying in the silly mood, a piece he read last night “Fortunes for Tim’s Zoom Reading” in his continuing series of poems built on re-writes of fortunes from Chinese cookies.

Susan Jewell read her latest rejection in the ongoing Rattle ekphrastic contest & was able to put up images of the paintings the was writing about, the first of 2 circles, her poem descriptive of the holes staying together; her 2nd poem received an honorable mention from Iron Horse Literary Magazine, the image of a woman looking into a clothes washer seeing a boat on the water, the poem titled  “Odysseus Arrives from the Land of the Phoenicians.”

Susan Kress said her 2-part poem, “Groundhog & Groundhog Redux,” was about watching the “wild beasts,” the first part pondering what it is doing, then the 2nd part on the act of writing about it.

Our host Jackie Craven didn’t read tonight, said her poems are so dark & she was having too much fun so she decided to skip reading, but we hope to hear some of her fine poetry at future 2nd Tuesdays.

This reading continues on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, currently on Zoom. You can find out more by checking in to the Facebook page Writer’s Mic

September 15, 2020

2nd Tuesday Bennington Open Mic, September 8

An easy virtual ride to Bennington to Charlie Rossiter’s monthly open mic "for anything" — but haven’t seen any nude fire-eaters yet.  Charlie does the one poem round followed by a second round, which has its own technical problems in Zoom with the mics unmuted & everyone talking at once. As I liked to say when I ran an open mic, “I’m the host — you’re not!”

So I ended up first once again, with a couple of old poems for the workers of the world, in the first round “Joe the Bartender” published in Misfit magazine; in the 2nd round a memoir of my 1969 cross-country trip “Summer in California” at strip club in Riverside, CA.

Bill was here from “Trump country” in Western PA, with 6 haiku written in a notebook his grandson scribbles in; for his 2nd round he played a song on guitar from 1977 about God looking down on his creation (& the Zoom-Inspired interjection “can you hear my guitar?”).

Barbara Sarvis is a regular here, tonight just did the first round reading a piece written last year about listening to “The Sounds of the Night” with her grandma.

Mark O’Brien joined this open mic for the first time tonight, in the 1st round read the first of a series of  “spontaneous sonnets” this about accepting what is; in the 2nd round a piece borrowed from Bob Dylan, but the flag is the Trump flag.

What followed was a confusion of Kens, Kenn Ash signed in after Charlie had set the list with another Ken (with 1 “n”) so when Charlie said “Ken” Kenn didn’t hear it was only 1 “n” & jumped in to read a piece titled “Missing Link”; then for 2nd go-around, a piece in funny rhyme “The Journey of a Leaf.”

Ken Holland was the 1 “n” Ken who had gotten there/here first, read a piece full of lasagna that smelled like women in “Uncle John’s Car” on Memorial Day; later, read “Take a Knee” with references to old black & white movies, the black taken away.

Charlie Rossiter’s poem titled “The End of the World” was about a spot on the campus of Bennington College that reminded him of his college days; for the second round, as he frequently does, he commandeered his son, Jack Rossiter-Munley to accompany him on guitar, tonight for “Euro-trash,” a piece that was performed by 3 Guys from Albany a few times.

The aforementioned Jack Rossiter-Munley performed on his own in the first round playing Woody Guthrie’s “Union Burying Ground” one of the lesser known pieces by Woody.

Tom Nicotera from out in Connecticut read in the first round a dream poem “The Library in Heaven” where everyone is always happy; then on the 2nd time around a short one inspired by being at the edge of a wildlife refuge.

Naomi Bindman from nearby North Bennington read an old poem “In Praise of my Daughter’s Navel” (while pregnant) that I first heard her read back in 2012 at the 2nd Sunday @ 2 Open Mic at the Arts Center in Troy; then 2nd time around she read an angry “Rebuttal” defiant of the misogyny of rap, using their internal rhymes.   

Julie Lomoe was only able to read in the first round & shared her piece “I’d Like a New Sofa,” inspired by Rachel Zucker’s “I’d like a New Flashlight.”

This open mic, formerly at the Tap House in Bennington, VT, is now accessible to folks world-wide on Zoom each 2nd Tuesday. Contact Charlie via email if you’d like to get the link.

September 13, 2020

R.I.P. The Low Beat

That is, “Rest in Punk.” It was sad to read in the Albany Times Union of the closing of The Low Beat, another victim of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. The Low Beat, & its owner Howard Glassman, has been a supporter of the local poetry scene since the days when Howard owned Valentines on New Scotland Avenue, another victim of corporate developers over local artists.

Thom Francis, el presidente of, et al. had been coordinating Nitty Gritty Slam at Valentines for a number of years & moved over to Central Ave. when Howard had to close & then opened The Low Beat at 335 Central Ave.  The first event at the new venue was Nitty Gritty Slam #64 on February 18, 2014.

It continued as an open mic & Slam venue on the first & third Tuesdays, then when the Slammers found another venue AlbanyPoets resurrected the series as (Getting Down to) Brass Tacks, which students of slang will appreciate the synonym. The first Brass Tacks was on March 29, 2018, which featured members of the first team from Albany ever to compete at the National Poetry Slam. 

Brass Tacks was primarily an open mic venue that drew a mix of local poets, young explorers reading their angst-ridden notebooks, old fart poets getting drunk & obnoxious, even obsessive stand-up comics & commentators on pop media. The Low Beat also served as one of the venues in the annual Albany WordFest for a number of years. Brass Tacks succumbed to COVID-19, like everything else, on February 18, 2020, the last event was hosted by musician Nick Bisanz, who had been in rock bands such as The Last Conspirators playing on the very stage.

I have missed/will continue to miss Kim the bartender, the old beer smell perfume, the colored lights & sounds, & the array of poets & bar characters who continued to draw me to this inimitable venue, something that online & Zoom events cannot replicate.

You can find more of my reports about poetry at The Low Beat by exploring this Blog.

September 7, 2020

Tim’s Zoom Open Mic, September 3

Reveling in his recent retirement from New York State service, Tim Verhaegen continues his well-attended Zoom poetry open mic, with folks attending from as far away as Northern Massachusetts (Howard Kogan) & Florida (Jan Tramontano).  He likes to do 2 rounds, which has become a popular format in  cyberspace.

Tim asked me to to go first & I began with a tribute to the workers of the beleaguered US Postal Service, “Going Postal.” For my 2nd poem I read “At the Silarian Cafe” which got me 3rd place in the New York State Fair Poetry Contest some years ago.

Howard Kogan
’s “Poetry Contest,” about being a judge for the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, was a list of what’s in (etymology, piercings, Zombies, etc. ) & what’s out (sports, lust, falling in love, among others).  He read for his 2nd piece a poem on love & hate & old movies “I’m Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

Jan Tramontano dealt with the lack of poetry venues down in Florida by Zooming in tonight, & read a poem titled “Hibiscus” (is that her husband Ron as the gardener?), then for the 2nd round “November Blues” responding to a study of the life habits of the longest living, & a reflection on her own life.    

Bob Sharkey’s 1st poem was written just for this event “Fortunes for Tim’s Zoom Readings” one of his fascinating re-writes of Chinese fortune-cookie fortunes (how much Chinese food does he eat anyways?).  His second poem was one of that growing genre of “COVID-19” poems, & inspired by a drawing by Kristen Day, “Aching for a Walk to the Far Side of the Brooklyn Bridge.”

In the 1st round Cheryl Rice read a poem titled “Amelia Earhart” then later “Peaches” with nostalgic  images from a trip to Georgia.

Our host, Tim Verhaegen, who has written a lot about his family read a descriptive piece about the red neck population in East Hampton & about his mother, while his second piece was also a memoir, this based on his experiences as a 20 year old gay man some time ago.   

Therese Broderick received her inspiration for her poem “Taking My fill of August” by looking out her window at her back yard.  She opted not to read a 2nd piece in the next round but did remind us of her Facebook event every Tuesday in which she guides folks through the intricacies of writing a terzanelle (don’t ask me, follow her on Facebook & Twitter to find out).

Sharing the screen with Therese was her husband Frank Robinson who began with a fable about wanting nothing “Negative Capability,” then in the 2nd round returned to the same theme with a poem based on the Book of Ecclesiastes, which famously begins “Sheer futility: everything is futile.”

Jill Crammond’s poem in the 1st round, titled “Obituary for All That Scares Me” was set off by a hair in her mole.  Her 2nd poem was in that aforementioned COVID-19 genre, remembering the the lake & the woods, written when she couldn’t see he mother.  

Karen Fabiane struggled with technical difficulties, including a text that was messed up, a light behind her that shown directly into the camera, but mostly with bad sound making her readings garbled & nearly inaudible, but then sometimes that happened too at the in-person poetry open mics in the old days.

Follow Tim on Facebook to find out when he will have his next Thursday open mic & Zoom in from anywhere on the planet.

September 3, 2020

Nick Bisanz Music, Thursdays

 Nick Bisanz has become my Thursday fix in these days (or rather nights) of COVID-19. Each Thursday night at 7:45 the local musician & onetime poetry critic shows up on Facebook (Nick Bisanz Music) to play rock/pop etc. covers in his living room, usually with fellow local musician Geo Doody. Of late the electronic music rapper poet etc. Algorythm has been a guest, also poet/masseuse Mary Panza was a guest with a set of favorite poems, & even me — DWx — recently with my rock’n’roll themed poems. Most recently the guest was a newly bearded Steve Nover, on bongos, shakers & assorted percussion, even joining in on vocals. Of late techy Thom Francis has been working the sound & camera, which has improved their ratings over Thursday night TV, such as The Wall

Sometimes I get there a tad late, since Tim Verhaegen has a popular Zoom open mic on some random Thursdays that starts at 7:00 but is usually over before 8:00PM. I don’t always know what Nick & Geo are playing, whose songs they’re covering — I’m still stuck in the punk hell of CBGBs, the QE2, cassettes, etc. — &, to be honest, sometimes even when it’s a song I know sometimes can’t recognize it in Nick/Geo’s version. Though they do a good version of “Maggie’s Farm.” 

It’s permanently on my calendar. It’s informal, alcoholic, profane & mostly in tune. & you don’t have to wear pants, you can get drunk on your own, cheap booze & not have to drive home.