Third Thursday Poetry Night, November 17

at the Social Justice Center in Albany, NY. This month’s gathering was blessed by the Muse, Langston Hughes. I read his poem “Let America Be America Again,” which could’ve been written this morning down at the Occupy Albany site; it was first published in 1936.

Then on to the open mic with Alan Catlin up first, responding to a prompt (“Fucked by the Muse”) with an urban landscape poem (bet he didn’t find that prompt on Poetic Asides). Bob Sharkey read from his 52-page poem “Sustenance” with his character Sonny, this segment referencing Lewis Mumford. Edward Rinaldi dedicated his poem “In Extremis Love” to the Muse that is Lyn Lifshin’s Madonna.
D. Alexander Holiday read the title poem from his memoir of growing up in foster care, “In the Care of Strangers.” Pearse Murray read a meditative poem on Freedom & Joy, invoking the poet Schiller & novelist Nabokov.

The featured poet was Tuesday’s Slam champion, ILLiptical (the Wizard of Mars) with an interesting mix of his performance pieces, poems still in his notebook & even haiku, sometime on the mic, sometimes off. The surprise for me was that this was his first featured reading. He began with a poem dedicated to the NYS Liquor Authority, “At Least I Wrote a Poem,” followed by the poem he wrote before he was fired, “The Prayer to Morpheus the God of Dreams,” one of the pieces that he did on Tuesday at the Slam. My choice of Langston Hughes as the Muse was prescient as ILLiptical did a short series of poems inspired by Langston Hughes, “Listen to a Song,” (to his mother-in-law), “the Winter Night on Lark St.” (an urban landscape), & the short “Uncertain Times.” “The Jubilee of Cortes” was a spoken word dramatic monologue that he had written a few years ago in college. The haiku (& some tonka) were based on movies such as “Batman,” “The Godfather,” “The Crucible,” & the boxing documentary “The Thriller in Manila.” He ended with another spoken work performance (also done on Tuesday), his wife’s favorite poem, the triumphant & shouted “Love.” A stellar performance greeted with snaps as well as applause.

After the break I jumped in with a poem for Veterans’ Day, the older poem “John Lees.” Former-feature Avery read 2 really short poems, over before you knew it. Poetic Visionz, who placed 2nd in the Slam on Tuesday, also read a piece inspired by Langston Hughes, his signature poem “Upside Down, Inside Out.” Also from UGT, Leslie Michelle was up with a poem written on the bus “The Power of the Poet.”

Jessica Layton reprised her poem read in Tuesday’s open mic, the sexy mind-fuck “Come Inside Me.” Screamer‘s poem, “A Fall Night in Park South” was another sparkling urban landscape, like Alan’s earlier piece. Bless ended the night most appropriately with “Closing Time.”

We do this every third Thursday at the SJC at 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:30PM, $3.00 donation which helps pay the featured poet, supports the SJC & other poetry events in this marvelous, poetic city. Bring a poem.