October 26, 2020

2nd Tuesday Bennington, October 13

 Back to Bennington without even leaving home, our host in his own home Charlie Rossiter. As is the custom here we did 2 rounds, 1 piece in each.

Charlie put me on 1st, & I read a new piece in the first round the political, bragging poem “Radical-Left Maniac.” Barbara Sarvis took advantage of the Zoom technology & used the screen-sharing feature to display Edward Hopper’s painting “Office in a Small City” while she read her ekphrastic poem that was actually about 2 paintings.

Charlie Rossiter
read “The Night I Slept in the Leaves” a study of "doing something out of the ordinary" from his book from FootHills Publishing The Night we Danced with the Raelettes. Mark Ó Brien read one of his “spontaneous sonnets” about believing in Satan & belief in general, if you can believe that.

Julie Lomoe’s first round piece was written as a possible op-ed for the Albany Times Union, a personal memoir about the local company Regeneron, recently in the news as the source of an experimental drug used to treat President Trump’s bout of COVID-19.  Jack Rossiter-Munley on guitar, did some nice picking as he covered a Bruce Springsteen piece.

In the second round, I read for the season a pastiche of the opening section of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Lane” my tribute to baseball “October Land” from my chapbook Baseball Poems (A.P.D., 2019). Barbara Sarvis followed with the family memoir of her Italian aunts titled “Sunday at Aunt Rose’s.”

In his 2nd round Charlie was accompanied by Jack on guitar & they did Charlie’s version/re-write of a song by Willie Dixon (that Bo Diddly covered) “You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover” but in Charlie’s version the tag line is “you can’t judge a neighbor by looking at his color.” Mark’s second piece was pulled from his Blog Telluricvoices & was about his older brother’s tree-fort, & on death.

Julie Lomoe read a poem written last weekend, yet another memoir piece about her sub-dural hematoma, “Halloween Lights” that she recently read at the 2nd Sunday open mic in Troy.

There was a brief discussion about writing, about painting & the art/work of selling paintings. & then we all drove home, or at least left Zoom until the next event.


October 15, 2020

2nd Sunday @ 2 - Zoom, October 11

I got in in late & Tim Verhaegen was reading another of his engaging family memoirs.  Julie Lomoe was up next (with her serious dog in the room) with her a poem about putting up “Halloween Lights” in her garden.

Kate Gillespie was able to share her screen to show an erasure-poem in various colors on a text from a scientific journal & you can find it with a further link at https://thepoetryinscience.com/  Sally Rhoades’ family-memoir piece “Sally Ann” was really about her Aunt Polly, the title what Aunt Polly calls her.

One of the great things about Zoom is that someone such as Howard Kogan who would have to drive for hours to be here can join us from his living room, today he read a poem about NBC’s Lester Holt & “The Evening News.” Joel Best also had a poem about watching the evening news his titled “The Last Thing to Write.”  Daniel Sennis began with a poem about his 6-year old “Grasping Einstein,” then started to read “Catchers on the Fly” but the screen froze up; he was able to get that taken care of & returned at the end of the open mic to finish the poem, about a family effort to free the kid’s balloon caught in a tree.

Bob Sharkey’s poem “Gamma Delta” was composed of phrases with words beginning with G & D, then, as he does each year Bob reads the year’s Best American Poems Anthology, then writes a cento using lines from poems he likes, this year’s result was “Cento: Forming an Idea of my Mother at the Ocean.” I followed next with a recent piece using a phrase from President Trump “Radical-Left Maniac,” that’s me, & a version of a Han Shan poem from my series "Cold Flat" a piece titled "Topless Dancer. Our host, Nancy Klepsch, celebrated her garden with a piece titled “I’m a Garden at this Table,” then from a new anthology of writing about music What But the Music her memoir of growing up with rock’n’roll “Musical Prayers.”

So this open mic, formerly at the Arts Center of the Capital District  in Troy, continues on Zoom each 2nd Sunday @ 2PM — you can find the link on the 2nd Sunday Facebook page. Join us on the next 2nd Sunday.

October 12, 2020

Caffè Lena Poetry Night, October 7

On this first Wednesday night there was no Carol Graser, the usual host, & the woman who did the introductions did not introduce herself so I can’t tell you who she is. Tonight’s card was 3 different Regional poets, all of whom who have read here at Caffè Lena previously & at other venues in the area.

Andy Clausen, Social Justice Center, Albany, NY
October 17, 2013

If you didn’t know what the poetry of Andy Clausen is like his 1st poem would be a good place to start: long, rolling lines in rambling rants, incessant dropping of names of writers of the Beat Generation he has rubbed shoulders with, as well as other writers he has come across, including his girl-friend, with a litany of social issues as a substitute for ideas & images, in a grand, sonorous voice, ending with the inexplicable proclamation “I Am Jean Valjean.” That was pretty much it, as the half-dozen other poems he read were generally shorter & of the same ilk, including one by Pamela Twining (“In the Blood”?) which was indistinguishable from Clausen’s work.

Sarah Giragosian, Poets in the Park
July 25, 2020

Sarah Giragosian was featured this year at Albany’s Poets in the Park,  & I've heard her read elsewhere in the poetry community, but I’m always willing to hear her work again. She read primarily from her latest book The Death Spiral (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), including the stunning title poem, & a cluster of others, then from her 2017 book Queer Fish (Dream Horse Press), winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize, what she endearingly calls a “queer bestiary,” 3 poems of the sea & its creatures.

Jordan Smith, at Caffe Lena, June 3, 2015
Jordan Smith
, who like both Sarah & Andy, has read from the stage of Caffè Lena in the past, read from his new book, Little Black Train (3 Mile Harbor Press, 2020), winner of the Three Mile Harbor Poetry Prize. The title of the book is from an American bluegrass fiddle tune & you can find versions by Woody Guthrie & the Carter Family on YouTube, & the poem of that title is from a poem about impatiently waiting at a traffic light in Waterford. His reading included the poems from the “Eight Hats” sequence in the book which is based on paintings by Walter Hatke, one of whose paintings is used as the cover art of the book. There is lots of beguiling nostalgia & memoir & story-telling, as in much of Jordan Smith’s poetry in general.

Something I noticed by the end of the hour was that while the guys, Andy Clausen & Jordan Smith, sat while they read, Sarah Giragosian stood to read. I don’t know what it means, other than that she is much younger than the guys. Also, since all 3 poets have read at other local venues, I decided to use photos from other times/other places rather than taking a screen-print from the broadcast.

Known for its well-attended monthly open mic with Carol Graser as the host, this series is surviving as a live performance from the stage of Caffè Lena with just performers & staff in attendance each 1st Wednesday of the month, just like the open mic, but with just 3 featured local & regional poets. You can find the performances available, along with the Caffè Lena folk music performances, on Caffe Lena on YourTube; you can also make a contribution to support Caffè Lena & their performers. Some day I hope to return to Caffè Lena to hear the fine, unknown (& occasionally famous) poets who read their 1 or 2 poems in the open mic each 1st Wednesday of the month. 


October 8, 2020

Calling All Poets Reading, October 2

CAPS does this regular first Friday reading/open mic & a cluster of others, formerly in various locations in the mid-Hudson area now everywhere on Zoom. I was pleased to join them this night as a pinch-hit featured poet, along with poet Susan Chute, & a panoply of open mic poets. Greg Correll served as the technical guy while Mike Jurkovic was the host. I got there around 7:00, as the invitation has said, but it was a slow entry of open mic readers until about 7:30.

The featured poets went before the open mic, with Susan Chute the first feature, “poet, librarian, book-binder…” She is also the coordinator of a poetry series called “Words” for which I signed up for information & will pass it on to those of you on my list when I get notices. She described her reading as being “poems from the outside, then some from the inside, then poems of solace…” Her poems included one on the death of George Floyd, another on racism titled “If We Shadows Have Offended.” There were also a couple on COVID-19, “Wild Creatures Seen in Habitat,” & “Inquiry in 12 Unanswered Lines” written a while ago but with last lines like today’s news, a poem about recovering from a broken elbow incorporating song lyrics, & one titled “While” about waiting. The final section, the “solace” poems, included the gratitude poem “Not a Lover,” “Thread Like Elements” (referencing Mid-Summer’s Night Dream) & her goodnight poem “Compline.”

The program I prepared began with poems written in Gloucester pre-pandemic, then a couple of more recent poems written in the time of COVID-19. Most of the poems I read were from my ongoing project of poems inspired by Chinese poets, ancient & contemporary, that I call “Peeing in the Yellow River.” These include poems written during my trip to China in 2004, a selection of poems based on translations of the poems of Han-Shan, “Cold Flat, & some recent imitations. I ended with a new political piece inspired by a Trump insult “Radical-Left Maniac.”

On to the open mic with John Martucci up first reading a selection of Haiku. Then Don Krieger reading poems of a different culture, a COVID-19 poem from the Jewish text “Legend of the Golden Calf” as well as “In the Beginning” on Lot’s wife, in between one titled “Sunday Morning Surgery.” Gary Siegel had some compelling titles for his poems, “Soft & Dark Sublime,” “Life is Such a Bohr” invoking Neils Bohr, & a conversation with a spider “Predator’s Dream.” Ken Holland liked the reference to Neils Bohr read the very short “MC Squared,” then a longer piece on Death “When Sleeping Dogs Lie.”

Addison Goodson
had some good advice, “Laugh ’til It Kills You,” then another poem titled “A Wave.” Dan Brown read “Just After” a COVID poem on the gifts of living in Upstate NY, then a piece inspired by the  anniversary of the 16th Street church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 “Passage.” Tim Brennan said he was reading a poem inspired by the work of poet Lyn Hejinian, & perhaps there was another run together or it was the same poem continuing, then another discursive piece was titled “A Palace for the Poor.” Penny Brodie read a piece that had been published in High Rock Review #4 & that was dedicated to poet William Stafford, followed by a Stafford poem “A Conversation.”

Roger Aplon, editor & publisher of the poetry zine Waymark: Voices of the Valley read a grim piece in 3 voices dedicated to the spirit of Senator John McCain “They Came,” then one titled “See No Evil Hear No Evil the Monkeys” another political piece, on the lack of vision. Jim Eve who is one of the originators of CAPS read some Haiku. Thomas Festa had 3 poems for us, “Lines for a Shredding Editor Written On a Stolen Letterhead,” “Field Trip” about a hiking trip with his son who hates poetry, & a love poem “You of All.” Guy Reed began with Ada Limon’s prose poem “The Quiet Machine,” then his own “Head in the Stars,” & his take on these readings “Zoom Existence.”

Joann Deiudicibus also read a poem by someone else, this “The Gift” by Ocean Vuong,” then one titled “Book of Hours.” Our host, Mike Jurkovic, read about an encounter with a psychic “Where The Light Sneaks In,” then “Longhand” about re-writing his poems during an MFA graduation ceremony. Ron Bremner read what he called “a nonce sonnet” on the seasons, then from Nightmares, his book of horror poems “Nightmare #44” & #55 (with apologies to Robert Frost). Greg Correll, who is also vitally instrumental in bringing us this event read a poem from 2012 “The Best Gifts to Give Your Child” written as his youngest daughter went off to college.

This particular reading & open mic from CAPS takes place on the first Friday of each month, but there are other poetry events each month that you can find out about from the Calling All Poets website, or on Facebook.