Chronogram Open Mic, October 1

I finally made it down to this series at Beahive on Wall St. in Kingston, with Phillip Levine as our host. I was glad to see some of the poets I’ve seen before but also heard poets who were new to me, in addition to excellent readings by the 2 featured poets, Cheryl A. Rice & Samuel Claiborne.

I admit to being a big fan of the poetry of Cheryl Rice (& of Cheryl herself) & liked her mixed bag of poems tonight, some love poems, some Poughkeepsie (!) poems, a poem new to me (“Iowa”) written on the job at the bookstore, & a couple of personal favorites: “Taking Off Billy Collins’ Clothes” & the wise & tender “Imperfections.”

I’ve also enjoyed Samuel Claiborne‘s poetry over the years, but have not heard him read in a long time. He has a relaxed, direct reading style that perfectly matches his philosophical/meditative poems. Many of his poems start with a hike or a scene in the woods, but his Nature poems are vigorous, grim, unsentimental, such “The Armature” where he imagines the engine of Nature. “Ramsey New Jersey Railroad” was a response to W.S. Merwin’s “Lackawanna.”

I was glad to hear again Leslie Gerber, David Kime, Donald Lev, Ron Whiteurs (“Bessie & the Bull” in his funny rhymes on fucking), & of course, Phillip Levine. I hadn’t heard Haigan Smith read in years & was glad to hear he was still writing powerful, engaging political attacks, & Sparrow made a rare appearance with some of his aphoristic jokes. Elizag also made the trip down from the Capital Region, trying out her work in front of a new audience.

And the voices I hadn’t heard before were Tim Dwyer (who has a poem in the New York issue of the Irish lit zine The Stinging Fly), Jackie Dooley (with a cycling poem), & Wilda Gallagher (“Message to the Deconstructionists”).

The Beahive is an artist collective at 314 Wall St. in uptown Kingston, & this open mic is on on the 1st Saturday of the month. Members of the collective get in free, the rest of us pay $5 but get wine with it.