Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Kingston, November 12

This is an ongoing series at the UU Congregation on Sawkill Road in Kingston, an open mic with featured poets. Tonight it was a clutch of Albany poets, Mary Panza, Murrow & Me. But first a bit of the open mic.

In recognition of Veterans’ Day, the first reader Annie La Barge read a couple of pieces dealing with same main character, “The Siege”, at a VA facility playing basketball & dancing.

Micky Shorr, our host, began with a memoir, funny & chilling too, “Sex Education,” then “Wars” (on child brutalities). Rachel Sanborn‘s first, short piece, “McJob” combined humor & a punch, as did the slightly longer “Mr. Moore I Had a Few Too Many.”

I started off the featured poets with an old piece, for Veterans’ Day, “John Lees,” then on to poems written this past year or so, “What Happens in Autumn, “Letter to a Friend,” & “Letter to Take on a Plane.” Then on to a couple poems from my chapbook Poeming the Prompt (“Looking for Cougars” & “The Birds’ Poem of Thanks”), then “Taking Down the Trees,” “Imagining the Mews,” “One Day Longer,” & “The End,” of course.

Mary Panza followed with a garland of favorites, new & old: “Two Men Discuss Victor Hugo…,” “Because of You I Believe in Housewife Tuesday,” “Roofing & the Art of the Kiss,” “I Am Dreaming of London…” (in black & white), the poem for her daughter “Fuck the Giving Tree,” “Assumption” & the tough-girl conversation of “And You Missed It.” I finally found out the origin of the title “Divorcing Albert” (since none of ex-s are named Albert): it’s a mis-read sign that actually said, “driving alert.” She ended with a poem about a hot waiter, “The Treacherous End,” & the breath-taking “Cock-Kicker Manifesto.”

After a short break we were back with “Murrow” — Thom Francis on word & Keith Spencer on guitar, performing some of their all-time hits, such as the portrait of someone by whom you could “tell time by the wrinkles on his face…” & then a couple pieces about the challenge of writing, a new day, a fresh sheet of paper. “Space” was just that, about making your space, & they ended with the sad story of a woman cleaning her body but not her soul (“Shower”). A good, concise performance even if “we don’t practice a lot,” as Thom confessed.

Marianna Boncek continued the open mic with a poem about a beech tree, “Remembering in Winter” then a poem for her students, “The Purpose of Poetry.” Dave Kime blasted the house (not one to need a mic) with the bitterly ironic letter, “Stay Loyal” (about corporate power), then a piece about finding what’s in between “Black & White.” Teresa Costa read a series of seasonal poems, including one from 1980, & “True Indian Summer.”

Guy Reed has a new book out from Finishing Line Press, The Effort to Hold Light, but chose instead to read from James Wright’s The Branch Will Not Break (one would hope that at the big poetry reading in the stars James Wright is reading Guy Reed). Cheryl A. Rice started with a poem about her grandmother, “Thanksgiving Too,” then read “Baghdad/Kingston” inspired by a poem by an Albany poet.

Leslie Gerber read a bunch of short poems from the series “poems from sleep,” from another series called “Dytopias” a poem in the persona of a corporate mogul, “The Wall St. Strut.”  Judy Kerman finished out the night with “Daughters,” “Plane Surfaces,” & sang a poem from a longer work, a most interesting performance.

This series continues on the 2nd Saturday of each month, at 7PM at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 320 Sawkill Road, Kingston, 7 PM. Contact Micky Shorr at mickyshorr@gmail.com, or call 845-331-2884.