After a year & a half of Zoom gatherings on the 2nd Sunday, it/we were back with an In Person Reading, but no longer at the Arts Center of the Capital Region where we started out 11 years ago. Instead, we gathered at Collar City Mushrooms up in North Troy, which is run by local poet Avery Stempel. The location is a renovated used car dealership, & includes a gallery of paintings by local artists on the walls throughout the building. Nancy Klepsch & I were the tag-team co-hosts for the readings, the audience including not only the readers but partners/friends, traveling from as far away as Kingston, NY & Bennington, VT.Appropriately enough, the 1st reader was the proprietor, Avery Stempel with a couple of mushroom poems, including one on the healing powers of the wonderful fungi. Later in a “coda” he returned with one of his kirtan-like pieces, this one about opening up.
Today was between the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6 & the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, I performed Tom Nattell’s poem “Hiroshima” which he had written for the 40th anniversary of the bombings, then, staying on the nuke topic read the much lighter (& lascivious) "Nukes for Piece."
Cheryl Rice had driven up from Kingston, NY & read just one poem, titled simply “Paradise.”
Laura Ellzey, here from Vermont, read an older piece titled “What River is That?” (while we gathered literally on the bank of the Hudson River), then later in the coda a poem titled “Laura’s Walls” about her work as a painter (of rooms).
Maria Diotte talked briefly about not having written much this past year & a half, read a new poem composed recently outside one night, beginning “The buzz is of the night…” then a meditative chant “Everything is No Thing.” Later, an inspirational quote.
Nancy Klepsch paid homage to our host here among the mushrooms with a poem titled “Kvetsch,” a pastiche of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” about shoppers at the Troy Farmer’s Market picking over the mushrooms. Her coda piece was a chant “The Woman Speaks of the River.”
Kelly Wescott said this was her first time reading in public (i.e., a “virgin”) & began with an inspirational quote (that she got from a book of quotes) then her own, brave, poem “Prison Set Me Free.” Later, in the coda, read a collection of quotes she liked.
At this point we had come to the last of the sign-up sheet & Nancy asked if there was anyone else who wanted to read who hadn’t & lo & behold! there were.
John responded to Kelly’s poem with his own poem written in prison, & shared the companion drawing in stark black & white, the poem a meditation in rhyme about war, hate & peace. Later, in the coda read the famous poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley (1849 - 1903).
Tina Mazula also stepped up (& was also a 1st timer) with poem about kneeling & working in her garden.
Then yet another 1st timer, inspired by the other readers & 1st timers, Avery’s aunt, Sandra Stempel, read a very brief poem — but the important thing was she got up to read it!
The 2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose has found a new home among the mushrooms (there’s something symbolic in that!) & we will be back every 2nd Sunday, at Collar City Mushrooms, 333 Second Ave., Troy, NY — on the banks of the mighty Hudson that flows both ways.