March 30, 2021

2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose, March 14

We all have our favorite age, today was our host Nancy Klepsch’s 29th birthday, so she said. A gathering of mostly regulars for this monthly open mic, now on Zoom.

I was first on the sign-up sheet, did 2 related poems for St. Paddy’s Day, “Brigid,” & “The Sheila-na-gig.”

Julie Lomoe referenced a book edited by Lisa Russ Spaar, More Truly and More Strange: 100 Contemporary Self-Portrait Poems, which inspired her to write “Self-Portrait thru The Eyes of my Cat Lunestra,” which was actually a persona poem in the cat’s voice, so technically not a self-portrait, unless it was of Lunestra. 

Tara Kistler read a Haiku in Spanish, & then a a love poem sonnet. 

Bob Sharkey read a memoir piece about buying a copy of Ferlinghetti’s A  Coney Island of the Mind, in 1970, then, from 2002 at the NYC St Patrick’s Day parade in front of the Met with Earl, “Parade 241.” 

John Teevan from his new book, The Spy’s White Dress, the short story “Crumbling the Constitution & Bending the Rules,” a thriller.


Mary Anne Murray read a couple of seasonal pieces, “Late Winter Snow” & “Vanishing Landscape.”  

Nancy Klepsch's piece titled “Home is the Place that Flies” described her home, the space, her place in it, & the importance of the old buildings in the city. 

Sydney Allen said that her untitled piece was “between a draft & ramblings,” about conversations on the phone with her mother.

& that was it for this month. But find us again on the 2nd Sunday @ 2 Facebook page for the link to join us on Zoom. Always free & open.


March 27, 2021

Writers Mic, March 10

Once upon a time, I would drive up early to Schenectady to have dinner, somewhere, before the open mic, now I cook my own meal, but at least I don’t have to drive. Jackie Craven is still our host.

I was first on the list & started with a couple of “seasonal” i.e., St. Patrick’s Day themed poems, “Brigit” from my 1975 chapbook Ireland, then an unpublished piece, "Sheela-na-gig," & ended with a COVID-themed “Vaccine Haiku,” me & Dolly Parton.

Alan Catlin read a poem for his son & wife, “Epithalalium,” a tender piece about true love, then the working class tale in 2 parts “Storm Story.” 

David Graham dialed-in to read 2 new ones, unpublished & maybe unfinished, he said, the first about a clerk at the Post Office who greats everyone as “Honey,” then the elegy/tribute to a recently gone great American poet “Ferlinghetti’s Dead.” 

Susan Kress used her poem, “What I Cannot Tell You,” to call back the memory of a friend dying in Covent Gardens. 

Daniel Sennis read a couple of new poems, “Go Hawk Eyes” about a trip to Iowa to visit family, & “From Oy to Joy” on the anger of his parents & growing up.  

Scott Morehouse gave a funny theatrical reading of a piece titled “So You Want to Be a Star” about a character named Tony hiring a “clapper” for a store.

Our host Jackie Craven read a surrealistic, political piece, responding to the killings of George Floyd & others, “Surveillance Video Shows Suitcases Resisting Arrest.” 

Kate Gillespie read “Notes from a Book Fair” about people reading poetry to others, much as we were doing, hopeful of moving on.

Susan Jewell, having trouble with her eyes, & unable to share the image she had intended, just reads the poem, which was inspired by a picture of a bucket. 

You can find the link for this open mic held on the 2nd Wednesday of the month on the Facebook page Writers Mic — people reading their poems & short prose works to others.

March 18, 2021

Bennington Open Mic, March 9

Traffic is light. It will take 59 min. to arrive, the GPS lady tells me, with an Irish accent, but I didn’t even put shoes on, since this gathering was on Zoom, as it has been for the last year. Our host, Charlie Rossiter, opened the festivities with his introductory chant that he created while hosting poetry events in Chicago. We did 2 rounds, 1 poem in each.

I was first on the open mic list with a new poem, “Chocolate Croissant,” which you can find on the NYS Writers Institute website.  In the 2nd go-around I read about me & Dolly Parton,  my “Vaccine Haiku.”

Mark O’Brien said he was reading his “annual birthday baseball poem” “Sonnet #60.1” which can be found on his Blog spontaneous/sonnets in which at Mass, celebrated by Father Joe DiMaggio, the host turns into a baseball. His second round poem, “Spontaneous Sonnet # 55,” about what position you want to be placed in your casket (unless you plan on being cremated) is also on his Blog.

Laura Ellzey read what she said was her 1st rhyming poem, “I’m Going to Knit Now,” about how it makes her feel peaceful, written in both Spanish & English. In the 2nd round she read her “only Spring poem” about being a small creature under the leaves “A Bit Off the Beaten Path” with references to the film Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

Tom Nicotera, dialing in from Connecticut, read the sequel to the poem he read last month, this one titled “Confessional: The Sequel, Alone or With Others” about his anxiety about his confirmation. His 2nd round was out of order due to losing his internet connection but when he did he read from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind poem #9, a morning-after poem.

Jack Rossiter-Munley was upstairs for his first round, played the traditional Appalachian folk tune “Shady Grove” on his guitar, & later (see below) came downstairs.

Our host, Charlie Rossiter, read a loving memoir, “Along the Oregon Coast,” about having oysters with his wife Mary Ellen on a spur-of-the-moment trip. Then in the 2nd round the afore-said Jack backed up Charlie on guitar on as Charlie did his stirring old poem I’d heard in our 3 Guys from Albany performances, “Sweet Home Chicago.”

Elaine Frankonis was around in the early days of before the Albany poetry scene was getting going, read “The Gravity of Gardens” and the lushness of flowers. On the 2nd time around she read a sexy story of a former love “Legacies” — good to see her out reading again.

Anthony Bernini’s first round poem was about the constellations, “When the World Turns Upside Down,” then when he read the 2nd time one about a snapping turtle on his lawn, “Turtle Eggs.” 

Barbara Sarvis looked back to younger years in her 1st round poem “Twice Seduced.”  Then, later, a piece titled “Just Be” describing this message as orbs bouncing around in her brain — good advice, I think.

Julie Lomoe was the last poet in both rounds, grossing us out with a just written piece, “Barfing Zoloft,” her history with psycho-tropic pills. & she ended the night with a dark piece from her “subdural project” about getting stung by “Garden Yellow Jackets.” 

It was another night of varied pieces, in prose, poetry & music in Bennington, or wherever the poets were, apparently just throughout the Northeast this night. Every 2nd Tuesday on Zoom, at 7PM, contact Charlie Rossiter,, for the link.


March 7, 2021

Poetic Vibe, March 1

“Traffic is light. It will take 19 min. to arrive,” so said the GPS lady, but it was even faster on Zoom.

D.Colin, our host, warmed us up for the open mic with a poem from a recent workshop intensive, a descriptive piece about her grandmother’s house being cleared out by robbers.

I read 2 related pieces, 1 by me “Believe, Believe” a tribute to Bob Kaufman’s (1925 - 1986) poem, “Believe, Believe,” using his lines & phrases, then read Kaufman’s poem. 

Luis Pabon read 2 poems, the good advice of “How to Let Yourself Be Happy,” & “Struggle Love.”  (Note: Luis has a new book out titled Earth’s Bad Mouth, which you can find on Amazon.)

Adam also read 2 poems, “I Wish” a break-up piece about their last meeting, & “Walls” which he described as a song in progress, for everyone with hurts.

Jessica Rae read 2 from How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton (BOA Editions Ltd., 2020). (I have marvelous photos of Lucille Clifton (1936 - 2010) when she read at Sage College in Troy in 2004, you can find them on my Flickr site)

Samuel Maurice’s poem “You Could be Someone Else” was about a stranger he saw through a store window.

D. Colin read her “Happy Poem” written just yesterday, filled with childhood memories.

Marie Kathleen, after re-arranging her desk & walking about her apartment with her tablet, all of which we could see because she left her video on, read 2 short poems “After Dance” (in NYC) & “Study Bliss.” 

D. put the cap on the open mic with her Cento, as she does each week, composed of lines from tonight’s open mic, but minus lines from her own poem.

Elizag, aka Elizabeth K. Gordon, wore her tee shirt from National Poetry Slam in 2012 in which she was a member of the Nitty Gritty Slam Team representing Albany, NY. Her poems often mix humor & politics, which were elements present in what she read tonight. She began with a piece on the “stereotype thread,” a way of thinking that that can be best countered by being yourself, then she too read a poem Lucille Clifton, “Blessing the Boats at St. Mary’s.” In a different vein she read her piece about old folks giving away their stuff, “Lightening the Load,” then a poem written after the “Unite the Right” riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 “To the Mothers of the Neo-Nazi White Supremacists.” Taking on a equally grim topic, but this time with a seasoning of humor was the parody “An Assembly on Gun Violence Grade 4 thru 6,” then on to a few Haiku, & her piece “On Receiving My 1st Social Security Check.” She ended with a poem by Danusha Leméris (a poet whose work I recently stumbled across in American Poetry Review), “Small Kindnesses.” 

Then on to a brief Q&A with D. Colin in which Elizag was asked about her teaching a literature course at Northampton Community College, in Pennsylvania, & her Slam experience. You can get Elizag’s book, Love Cohoes (2014) at Market Block Books in Troy.

It’s not hard to know when Poetic Vibe takes place: it’s every Monday, 7:30PM, find the link on the Poetic Vibe Facebook page.

March 5, 2021

6th Annual Peoples’ Poetry Fest, February 25 — February 27

America is the land of poetry festivals — among the ones that I’ve attended are Split This Rock Poetry Festival, Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Albany Word Fest, The Day of the Poet, & festivals in Rensselaerville, Voorheesville, Woodstock, & Brooklyn. One that did come under my radar was the People’s Poetry Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas, at Texas A&M University. This year one of my poetry buddies out that way sent me an email about it, & I happily joined in without having the bother of a hotel reservation or plane ticket. Like everything else these days, it was on Zoom. The Festival was held from the evening of Thursday, February 25 through Saturday, February 27.

Thursday, February 25

The opening night included the induction of the poet Tom Murphy as the 3rd Official Poet Laureate of Corpus Christi. He was introduced by the out-going Poet Laureate, Juan Perez, & Corpus Christi Mayor, Paulette Guajardo, read the Official Proclamation.

I had met Tom a few years back when he was one of the readers at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, most recently in 2019. Tom is also one of the originators of the People’s Poetry Festival back in 2016. After all the official stuff was done Tom read 3 poems, “Telling the Bees” with lots plays on word sounds, “Terry Martin” a long memoir of childhood friend, & a villanelle, “Living Teaching Near the Water” a COVID poem.

Friday, February 26

There were 3 panels on Friday afternoon & evening, each lasting about an hour with breaks in between, & a late night open mic (late night for me, since I’m here in the Eastern Time Zone). “Panels” is the term they used, but each event was essentially readings by 4 poets & a moderator. 

Word-Image/Image-Word Panel

This was chaired by Joshua Hamilton & included work that used visual images that engaged with text to a greater or lesser degree, including Natalia Treviño’s ekphrastic poems responding to images of the Virgin, complex drawings by Octavio Quintanilla & related poems, & 3-D posters of art & text by Andrea Hempstead.

Rising Poets Panel

Poet & senior at TAMUCC, Dylan Lopez, was the chair of this reading by student poets, Crystal Garcia, Raven Reese, a stunning found text/cut-up by Zoe Ramos, & quarantine poems by Nicole Bren.

Poetry in Translation Panel

The chair of this session was poet & president of the Latin American Foundation for the Arts Rossy Lima de Padilla, & the panel paired poets with their translators for readings in Spanish & English, including Juan Armando Rojas Joo with translator Jeniffer Rathbun, Christopher Carmona with translator Gerald Padilla, & Carolina Sanchez with translator Ariel Francisco

Open Mic at Revolve One

The final panel in the late evening was an open mic hosted by Crystal Garcia with her brother Rudy, who run a local Corpus Christi multi-genre podcast Revolve One (I found it on Spotify). While the PPF website encouraged poets to sign up prior to the event, poets kept popping up & jumping in; I think the total may have been about 21 readers. & as to be expected there was a refreshing variety in the themes & styles of the of the poems read, & the list even included a poet reading at her first open mic, Danielle Johnson. I had picked out a variety of poems to read, wanting to get a feel for what folks were reading, but the political poems read by Michelle Excellente Steveran inspired me to read “When Donald Trump Farts.” Other political/social justice pieces included Charity McCoy’s “Adoration” on black history, Robin Carstensen’s #White House Rodeo, & a piece by Alan Berecka on the January 6 attack on the Capitol. I was pleased to be in the poetic company of the poets of Corpus Christi & beyond.

Saturday, February 27

Hope Panel

I had been especially drawn to the Festival by this reading that included 3 poets I had met at Scissortail Festivals, 2 of whom I was able to get for readings here in Albany. The theme of the session was “Hope.”

The Chair of the panel was Alan Berecka, who grew up in the Utica area & in July 2011, when he was back East visiting family, I was able to book him for Poets in the Park. He began with a brand new piece about the Winter storms ravishing Texas “To Build a Fire” using books to start the fire to keep warm, then “Home for the Holidays” & a poem responding to Emily Dickinson’s famous line, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers —” (#254).

Alex Salinas, who now lives in San Antonio, Texas, was the one poet in this session with whom I was not familiar; he read selections from his 2 books, Warbles, & Dreamt, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox (both from Hekate Publishing), including “Connect Four” a childhood memory of growing up in Corpus playing the game with his Spanish-speaking grandma, “Salt” about his family name (which he said was his 1st published poem), & a moving list poem “The Great Thing about Sometimes Being Hispanic” with the repeating refrain “the part about …but not the part…” There were others, & he included some new poems, notably a couple in a form of his invention what he is calling an “Hispanic sonnet” in 15 lines. So glad to have been introduced to the work of Alex Salinas by this panel.

Ken Hada, who runs the annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, is the other poet on this panel who has read in the Capital Region, in Albany, in Saratoga Springs, & in Woodstock; he has a weekly podcast, The Sunday Poems with Ken Hada, that I listen to while making my Sunday breakfast each week. He began with a brand new poem “Morning,” then read from 2 of his books that I don't have in my collection, Not Quite Pilgrims (Strawberry Hedgehog, 2019) & Sunlight & Cedar (Strawberry Hedgehog, 2020). Check out his website at

Dorothy Alexander is another of the fabulous poets I enjoy seeing again each time I can get to Scissortail Creative Writing Festival. She & her life partner, Devey Napier, run Village Books Press, which has won 5 grand prizes from Oklahoma Books Awards. She read a selection of poems from her poetry collections, including a story that brings tears to my eyes (I've heard her read it before), “Hope from the Heart of a Horse,” a true story of her taking in a 9-year old girl, Rhonda, & the horse that helped her grow, & a tender love poem to Devey,  “Celebrating Resurrection.”

Switchgrass Review Panel

The last reading I was able to attend was by contributors to Switchgrass Review: Literary Journal of Health & Transformation, chaired by Robin Carstensen. The readers included Cindy Huyser, Regina Jamison, Roxana Cazan, & Odilia Galván Rodriguez. You can find out more about Switchgrass Review at their website

You can see the full schedule of the Festival, including a list of all the poets with links for their books & their websites at 

I am seriously considering of actually going to Corpus Christi next February to attend the People’s Poetry Festival in person, providing we all get vaccinated & rid us all of COVID-19.