September 26, 2021

2nd Sunday @ 2, September 12

We (Nancy Klepsch, the open mic poets & I) were back at Collar City Mushrooms, in Troy, for this Sunday open mic that had started out at the Arts Center further downtown.

1st on the open mic list was Kelly who was here for the 1st time last month, I guess we didn’t scare her off, with an untitled confrontational piece complete with a musical soundtrack, then to a lighter piece with funny rhymes titled “Back to School.” Avery Stempel, who as the proprietor of Collar City Mushrooms is our host here, read a couple pieces written, he said last year, “Drifting,” & one from his experience as a landlord, “What Do You Leave Behind?”

Only 1 day off the 20th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, I read a commissioned poem titled “Another Tuesday” that recalled another September 11 — that of 1973 — when the democratically elected government of Chile was violently overthrown by a USA-supported coup, then read a brief piece titled “At EMPAC.”  My co-host, Nancy Klepsch, brought her guitar today & began with a piece about words colliding that channeled the protest songs of Patti Smith, then the lighter piece “Why Is The World So Beautiful?”

John Teevan read for the 1st time in public from what he described as a sequel to his previously published spy thriller Deception, Love and Espionage, a dialogue between the 2 main characters Valentina & Diego, a sequence titled “Revenge.” He was followed by Brenda whose 1st piece began “Just think how…” then a play on words beginning “Cut on the dotted lines…”

Julie Lomoe also debuted a piece reading “Ghazal for the Earth” for the 1st time, then the provocative (& frightening imagined) “Dance Nude in the Backyard.” Our last reader, Rhonda Rosenheck, read for the 1st time at the 2nd Sunday @ 2, the list poem “Things I Used to Have,” another for the New Year, & from a series of “crime poems” a sestina titled “The Woman.”

Our 2nd Sunday @ 2 Open Mic has a pleasant, hospitable new home at Collar City Mushrooms, 333 2nd Ave., Troy, NY, with even some new readers joining us — there’s always room for more.

September 24, 2021

Writers’ Mic, September 8

This is another of those open mics whose origins are pre-pandemic & has survived on Zoom, poet Jackie Craven is the host.

With the proximity of the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, I read my poem noting another September 11 — 1973 & the US-backed coup that toppled the elected government of Chile -- “Another Tuesday, then read “Writing Crows” which had been in the recent art/poetry exhibit, Poetic License, in Kingston, NY.

David Graham said that he has not been finishing poems lately but has been writing everyday; he read “Next Time Time You See Her” about a friend’s death & read at the funeral.

Susan Jewell read her latest rejection by Rattle magazine, “There Will Be Birds” with birds as messengers, then a poem just accepted to an anthology by Ironhorse Press (& a $50 prize), “A Herd by the Side of the Road Listen to Yeats.” 

You can always count on Scott Morehouse to inject a healthy bit of humor into an open mic, tonight he read “A Xmas Letter” putting a happy face on a dysfunctional family, with a break up & a new basset hound.

Marty McGuire said this was the 1st time she had done any thing like this, said she was a school counselor but wanted to be a stewardess, her poem “Tears on My Window” about being on a plane,” then the brief “Dust Bunnies.”

Jackie Craven read 2 sci-fi poems from a recently accepted chapbook, both inspired by her memories of her father’s garden, “Frankenstein’s Garden,” the other about his roses.

Tim Verhaegen showed up a little late, read again his tender poem about his Mom, “I Love Her,” & shared his screen with a photo of himself with his Mom, then read “Sex” a memory of his gay sex now that he is growing older.

This Zoom event takes place on the 2nd Wednesday of each month & you can find the Zoom link on the Facebook site Writers Mic

September 22, 2021

Poetic License, Part 2, August 28

This was an In-Person Reading at The Poetry Barn, in West Hurley, NY, as part of the Poetic License exhibit at the Arts Society of Kingston. See my previous Blog posted August 7 for a report on the earlier Zoom reading.  This reading, held on the eve of the closing of the exhibit, included a number of poets — & a few of the artists who created visual art based on the poems — in the exhibit this year (& one from last year’s exhibit). I was pleased & honored to be one of the readers as one of of the poets who had inspired a painting in the exhibit.

Co-founder/coordinator of Poetic License, Lissa Kiernan, served as host & M/C; Lissa is also the founder of the Poetry Barn. She described the project, pointing out that about 100 poems had been submitted & about 36 were selected to be submitted to the ASK gallery for selection & inspiration by their members, then introduced her co-conspirator in the project, poet Tina Barry, as the first reader who read her moving poem on the death of her mother, “Come Back.” Another poet who read later, Will Nixon, contributed the multi-media art, a photograph & a hospital gown on which he had written lines of poetry, about which he spoke later when other artists commented on their process in responding to the poems.

Norma Ketzis Bernstock read her poem “Cemetery” to which Barbara Esmack contributed “Cemetery.”

Margaret Cliggett read “Invisible Needlework” to which Kirsten Doyle had contributed an untitled painting.

Will Nixon’s poem “4am Friend” was enhanced by Kristin Reimer’s “Enchanged Managerie.”

Matthew J. Spireng read his poem “Driftwood” to which Marcia Sank contributed one of the few 3-dimensional pieces in the exhibit, “Driftwood Reflections.”

I read my poem “Writing Crows,” & the artist known as SL Rika responded with a painting titled “The Crow Flies” — how often do we (living, breathing) poets find out we inspire a new work of art by another (living, breathing) artist? It’s the first time for me in my many, many odd years, so of course I had to buy the painting, that now looks quite at home on the wall of my dining room.

Mary Ann Murray, who had been a student in Albany during the earliest years of the Albany poetry scene & now lives in Athens, NY read her poem “color theory” artist & artist Camille (Cami) Fischer responded appropriately with the colorful “Little New Paltz Village.” 

One of last year’s poets was also here, Phyllis Capello, to read her poem “Mythology News.”

Lissa Kiernan read her poem “Keeper of the Robes” which had inspired Renee Zhang to paint “Ephemeral Layers.” Lissa also had art work in the exhibit inspired by the poem “Agnes” by Maureen Alsop.  

Some of the artists were also in the room. Sharon Ascher talked about working in paisley designs & her painting which was a response to Laura Whalen’s poem “Elegy for E” (as in Emily Dickinson), & Lissa read Laura’s poem. 

Lissa also read Juan Mobili’s poem “Victoria” about which the artist, Victoria Perry, spoke about being drawn to the poem by the coincidence of her name. &, as mentioned above, the poet/artist Will Nixon talked about his visual artistic response to Tina Barry’s poem.

I have always liked having poetry readings in art galleries & this project took that a step further, in addition to turning the more traditional "ekphrastic" poetry on its head, by encouraging visual artists to respond to the written word. I am looking forward to next year's edition of Poetic License as well as perhaps seeing this concept expanded to other venues, other cities. In any event, to the poets & artists: Keep at it!

Update: here is a link to the poets & poems that were read --

September 4, 2021

Poets at the Arboretum, August 13

Just when you thought Zoom was everywhere, another new/old IPR (In-Person Reading) popped up, this a re-birth/re-vamp of the pre-pandemic series the poet Alan Casline ran at the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands. In fact, things have changed at Pine Hollow, with the reading today held in the new Visitors Center on Pine Hollow Road. It was originally scheduled to be outside among the trees but it was over 90 degrees so was moved inside to a most-pleasant, spacious room facing windows looking out at the trees. 

Gabby Sant’Angelo, the Executive Director of the Arboretum, welcomed us to the space then read a poem by the late Dr. John Abbuhl, the creator of this space, who was a regular reader for many years at this open mic’s earlier incarnation; the poem was titled “Natures Speaks to Us to See If We Have the Nature to Be.”

Tom Corrado has been writing & publishing his “Screen Dumps” for years, announced that he is closing in on #600, read a long one, then a short one dedicated to his wife Didi.

Some of the poets here tonight I hadn’t seen since prior to the pandemic shutdown. Philomena Moriarty is one of them. She read 3 poems, “Weightless,” “Baggage” with a quote from James Baldwin, on the past, & a peaceful meditation “The Hudson” with a visit from eagles.

Julie Lomoe read a rambling memoir written at a workshop presented by the International Women Writers Guild about the blackout in NYC in 1965 & hearing the Beatles’ song “Yesterday” (I once organized a panty raid at an IWWG retreat, but the women were all asleep).

I read from my series of poem cards (printed on 3x5 cards) that I give out free to random citizens & workers, including my most “popular” poem “A Prayer for Super Heroes.” At this point a loud rain through the trees started, but we had sound.

I hadn’t seen Paul Amidon either since before the pandemic & he read 3 poems, apologizing that “some poems we may have heard before” but then 1) who would remember, & 2) if we did remember it would mean we liked it & would enjoy hearing them again. “A Death in the Family” was a memoir of an old tree, “Ding-a-Ling” was about that Summer assault of ice cream trucks, & the humorous “I Want to be a Leftover.”

Tom Bonville got through 1/3 of his poems before the lights, & the sound equipment, went off. He was able to get through a memoir, “My Old Man,” then part-way through “Getting a Shot,” & read “Silence” as Didi Corrado held her cellphone light on his pages.

I actually hadn’t seen Edie Abrams since way before the pandemic hit, & here she was for this grand reunion of in-person poets. Her first poem responded to a poem by Tom Bonville about a lover, then she read “Regret” about young people struggling with gum at a solemn memorial service. Meanwhile Didi’s battery continued to do its job illuminating the poems.

Our M/C, Alan Casline, was the last reader as the storm still raged, with 3 poems, “Want the Warrior Not the Wound,” “Fungus Will Take Over,” ending appropriately enough with a meditation in a storm “Across the Churchyard.”

One can hope that this is just the beginning of the re-birth of the series that Alan previously ran at the Arboretum. We will just have to stay tuned.