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.


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