June 30, 2022

2nd Tuesday All-Genre Open Mic out of Bennington, June 14

Our host, Charlie Rossiter, who had started this open mic in Bennington at a brew pub pre-pandemic, never got 13 poets showing up to read, but tonight, on Zoom, that’s the number he got. As much as some people see Zoom as limiting “human contact,” or whatever, tonight he drew in poets from 4 states to share their creative work. I love the in-person open mics & readings, I love the hugs, but I also love hearing the work from poets too far away for me to get to their town, or for them to get to mine.

Charlie likes to do 2 rounds, generally 1 poem each round but you know how unruly some performers can be. I raised my hand first so I was first on the list with a new poem about my friend the Albany poet Joe Krausman & a piece about him (not an obituary) in the Albany Times Union. Bridget Elder, from Vermont, was right behind me with a poem about her cat from a new series she is writing “Out of the Corner of My Eye.” Sheryll Bedinfield was “here” from Connecticut with a piece about walking along a pond path, about her father, orchids & other plants.

Representing Western Pennsylvania (but not really representative of that area from my understanding), Bill Thwing sang a song, a hymn written 40 years ago “My Rest is in You Oh Lord.” New Yorker, Mark O’Brien, but just as rural as Bill, read a piece based on a piece in the Altamont Enterprise from 1882 about a horse startled by a steam engine (I guess there were no mass shootings to write about, thankfully). Linda Eagleton was here for the first time & her 1st round piece was a prayer titled “The Song for Everyone.” Kenn Ash is a regular here, lives close by, read a long  string of Haiku, about walking in the woods. 

Charlie Rossiter (not in Bennington)
Our Bennington, Vermont host, Charlie Rossiter read an old piece titled “Performance Art” with a woman in a cage giving art a bad name. Tom Nicotera, like Sherry Bedinfield, was in Connecticut, he read “A Fragmented Life” from a prompt at a workshop to write something with with a train in it, & worked that into nightmare poem about just making the train to work. Naomi Bindman is nearby in Vermont, read her essay accepted for the Friends (Quakers) Journal “Journeys End,” a chapter from her memoir, about where she went as a child every Summer, later as a counselor.

Laura Ellzey is also in Vermont, she read a memoir of her father, “The Swing." Elaina Barrett just moved yesterday to a place not far from Bennington, but still in New York State, & read the colorful “Green Defined in Websters.” Julie Lomoe frequently talks, & writes, about a sub dural hematoma she had a couple years ago, read an anaphoric piece about an X-ray of “My Mother’s Head.”

Back around for the 2nd time, I recited my original “Joe Krausman” poem dating from about 1990. Bridget Elder did a similar cat poem to the one she did in the 1st round. Bill Thwing sang a song he wrote from the lyrics written by Kenn Ash, “Getting too Old to be Young.” Mark O’Brien returned to an old newspaper article with the headline “The PostOffice Cat Was Dead” with sonnet he wrote based on it.

Linda Eagleton read about her work as a therapist in a piece title “Attention.” Kenn Ash added some variety by improvising on his muted pocket trumpet. Charlie Rossiter dug into the archives to read a revised older piece about going to the bird sanctuary in Grafton, New York “A Day at the Bird Farm.” Tom Nicotera was back with a quieter piece, a bird poem titled “Heron Mind.” 

Naomi Bindman in her 2nd round read a new poem on aging titled “Senescence” that I heard her read Sunday in Troy, good to hear good work again. Laura’s 2nd round poem was a quick drive by titled “Annihilation.” Julie Lomoe closed out the night with another sub-dural hematoma piece a linked series of “Thanksgiving Haiku.” 

If you want to join this multi-state, eclectic group on the 2nd Tuesday of each month you don’t have to drive, put on shoes, or pants, just get the Zoom link from Charlie by asking for it in an email to  charliemrossiter@gmail.com — hope to see you “there”

June 29, 2022

2nd Sunday @ 2: Poetry + Prose, June 12

The poets at the 2nd Sunday open mic are proliferating like, well, mushrooms, here at Collar City Mushrooms in Troy NY, literally on the banks of the Hudson River. The tag-team hosts are Nancy Klepsch & myself (Dan Wilcox).

Darcy Smith came up from the mid-Hudson region to join us for her first time here; she read from her recent collection of poems, River Skin (), first a river poem of childhood memories “Set the Clock Back,” then “Loose Gravel” filled with musical repetitions. Tim Verhaegen was here again, said he was “raised by female vocalists,” read a poem about when he was 7 years old “Listening to the Mamas & Papas, 1967.” Also looking back, Bob Sharkey read 2 related poems about Portland, Maine where he grew up, “Libbytown 1952” (about a local character), & the changes 20 years later “Last Hold Out.”

Laura Ellzey began with a Rube Goldberg description of smiling titled “Snarling Lips,” then a piece titled “The Message” about a drawing class where you drew what you saw when you squinted. Naomi Bindman’s poem “Kintsugi” (about repairing pottery with gold) was inspired by reading a poem by Danusha Laméris, then a poem on aging titled “Senescence.” I read 2 recent poem, one about Allen Ginsberg’s birthday, “June 3, 2022,” the other the 2nd poem I’ve ever written about poet Joe Krausman, “Joe Krausman (II)." 

Cheryl Rice wrote about the fun of “Gardening Again” with a friend’s daughters, then a childhood memory of her sister & her father prompted by a mug. My co-host, Nancy Klepsch, read one of my favorites, “A Queer Horse” from her 2017 book God Must Be A Boogie Man, then a piece playing on the language of pedagogy in the time of school massacres, “Learning Targets.” Avery, who provides us with this space each 2nd Sunday @ 2, read (Surprise!) a mushroom poem, the effusive “The Mycelium Spreads,” then the song-like description “A Single Crow.”

Kate Gillespie also read a bird poem “Pigeons Getting Busy by the Seashore” on Martha’s Vineyard, then one titled “I Have No More Menses to Give.” Guitar players are rare here (i.e. “Poetry + Prose”), but songs have words, some poetry & some prose, so when Desmond opened his guitar case it was all part of the process, he did 2 songs, 1 about a recent separation “13 Boxes.” Carrie read a villanelle titled “All the Things I Have Left Behind,” then a cento composed of lines from the work of Kurt Vonnegut.

Our last performer/reader was Annie, known as a “story-teller” (aren’t we all?) with a ramble about her college honors English program, then she read the charming children’s book Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton. & that was it for this month.

We are here at the Collar City Mushrooms at 333 2nd Ave., Troy, NY, on the 2nd Sunday at 2 with Poetry + Prose — join us with your poems, spoken word, prose — you can even buy mushrooms! (the legal kind you cook with).


June 17, 2022

Invocation of the Muse, June 6

This reading series hosted by the venerable R.M. Engelhardt has seemed to have settled in to the new entertainment venue Lark Hall, despite persistent issues with lighting & sound, strange for a venue that regularly hosts music groups. This night’s start was delayed by some diddling with the sound by a cluster of guys in black with caps, who eventually got it loud. But I do have to say that since I was a kid I’ve never enjoyed sitting on church pews.

Anyways, once we got going, Rob invoked the Muse by reading “In the Beginning” by Dylan Thomas, then on to the open mic. First up was “NY Rehd” whom I recognized as a veteran of the early days of the poetry open mics at the QE2 on Central Ave., Marlon Anderson, who asked me to video his reading on his phone, which I did. Which means I was not able to take any photos of him reading, nor was I able to take any notes about his poem. This situation was repeated with the next reader, Maurice, who also asked me to use his phone to video his reading, which means that I also was not able to photograph his performance nor have any idea what he read. Worse yet the settings on his phone were such that the image was over-exposed & I was not familiar enough with his brand of phone to even attempt to adjust the settings. The lesson I learned that night was to stop being a nice guy, & stick to what I usually do at readings, take notes & take pictures.

The next reader Patrick Williams had no such delusions of grandeur & simply read his poems, one titled “Gift from God,” the other “Perseverance” was a villanelle, & I could enjoy his reading without being distracted. 

The featured poet tonight was Dmitry Wild, singer/songwriter at Dmitry Wild & the Spells, as well as other groups. Rob has been finding his featured readers from among the ranks of rockers from the region & beyond. Wild had planned to present his poems with a group of musicians Houses in Motion, but there were issues with the sound setup & so he just read, mostly from his book Rebel Eyes, starting with “Everyone is Working for the Man” with the Mona Lisa somehow slipped in there. Other pieces were titled “This Kind of Love,” & the NYC piece “Dinosaur ATM.” Then on to “Fear Mantra” with the provocative line, “… God is in the air we breathe …” (which as a matter of fact, so are my farts!). He ended with “Venus,” which he tried to sing, & repeated the lines he liked, most of which were sampled from songs by the Velvet Underground — I like them too!

Photographers Lief Zurmuhlen (left), & Thom Francis
Joshua Wald (aka Josh the Poet) was back here again, & he began with a piece about how the world is at war every day for our souls, then the wonderfully self-affirming “Me Just Being Me,” then “Dream Chaser.” Colin Lacy’s pieces were chunks of heavy pondering & all untitled. Travis Hance read a strangely nostalgic piece “Lazarus’ Chamber” about returning to his parent’s living room where he claims he had “laid 5 women.” 

Our noir/goth host, R.M. Engelhardt, read from his new book from Dead Man’s Press Ink Of Spirit, Ash & Bone Poems Parables (or, Echoes of a Dead World: Poems, Parables for Another Lost Century); he read “Mythical” which was familiar Engelhardt territory with name-dropping poets getting drunk in America, telling stories of the gods, & also read “Too Many Cigarettes Can Cause a Revolution;” you can find it on Amazon Books where it is classified as “Mysticism” & “Inspirational & Religious Poetry.”

I followed with a recent piece of prose poetry “Last Night’s Dream” then from my series of true stories of the Trump era, What Makes America Great, #17 about the March 2018 “March for Our Lives” rally in Albany. Last up was one of the great photographers of Albany, Lief Zurmuhlen, who recited a series of sexy, humorous Limericks. & that was that.

Invocation of the Muse takes place (usually, unless it falls on a holiday) on the 1st Monday of the month, 7:30PM sign-up, 8:00PM start, $5.00 admission, at Lark Hall, on the corner of Lark St. & Hudson Ave., (enter on Hudson Ave.), Albany, NY, open mic for poets.



June 11, 2022

Third Thursday Poetry Night, May 19

In spite of the Corporate Run around Washington Park, an annual event, there was plenty of parking on Central Ave., & some of the folks on the way to the open mic at the Social Justice Center had a pre-reading dinner at Lazeez with tonight’s featured poet Tim Verhaegen. Tonight’s muse was the recently gone Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal (1925 - 2020), & I read his poem “The Price of Bras" from the City Lights book From Nicaragua with Love (1986). Then on to the open mic.

Avery Stempel was the first poet up with a piece titled “Layers” a dream poem of hidden doors & keys. Chris Z., who is one of Tim’s past workshop buddies, read a poem titled “Dixon Ave.” about the diversity of her former students, mostly immigrants, on Long Island. ZaZa said she has been “rhyming again, unintentionally,” & read  an untitled break-up poem. Kathy O. is also a former workshop buddy of Tim’s & joined us to read “Once More” about still yet another murder by guns.

The featured poet, Tim Verhaegen, brought with him copies to give out of his just-published chapbook, Visiting the Art Gallery When You’re Seven (swimming in happenstance press, 2022), then dove into  poems with mostly childhood poems (most not in the book), the first from when he was 9 years-old, “Third Grader’s Rhyme” that introduces his mother, then to “Old People” as a 7 year-old. Then another about being a child listening to an adult conversation “Thelma Talking to Harry in East Hampton About Mildred Fawn,” in 2 voices, full of humor & vivid characters. “Steven” was actually about the death of a cat, a love poem (from when he was 12). Many of us who have heard Tim read his poems over the years have heard “The Fuck Family” before, & we all would gladly hear it again, & laugh again which is perhaps his “signature poem,” a stunning portrait/elegy of his mother, & his Dad. He ended with a poem from the book, the simply titled, but tender & complex, “Letters.”

After a short break & the passing-of-the-hat, we returned to the open mic, with me, your host, with a May-themed poem “44,000” about the killing of students during anti-war protests in Kent State University in Ohio & of students at Jackson State University in Mississippi in May 1970.

Naomi Bindman, from Vermont, was here for the 1st time to read about a gift of tulips from a friend, “No Small Thing” each change to them like another gift. Joe Krausman is one of the regulars here, read an old poem about a bumper sticker “How Would Jesus Drive?” which he was reminded of by last month’s featured poet who read about a similar sign. Julie Lomoe is also a poet-about-town, but was here for the first time since we opened again here at the SJC, she read a poem about her recently dead cat told as the persona of “Sirius the Alpha Dog.”

Joan Goodman popped up tonight to read an older poem she pulled out of her files, a sestina about an earlier war, but one that could just as well be the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Sally Rhoades has a new book out, Greeted by Wildflowers from A.P.D., but didn’t read a poem from it, instead read one titled “Sitting with Joy Harjo” after reading Harjo's book Crazy Brave. Last poet up for the night was Sylvia Barnard, she walked over from Willett St. because no Uber could get over her street because of the Corporate Run, & she read an animal poem (“not a cat poem” she said), about a polar bear, about those driven out from where they live, by age or circumstances.

Poets of Albany, as well as listeners/fans, convene at the Social Justice Center, 333 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM each third Thursday of the month for an open mic for poets with a featured poet — your $5.00 donation (more or less) helps pay the featured poet, supports other poetry events & supports the work of the Social Justice Center. Join us.