Brett Axel

Poetry + Prose Open Mic, January 8

Nancy Klepsch & I were back together again as co-hosts after a couple of months of playing tag-team. It has always surprised me how many folks show up on a Sunday afternoon for poetry, but, hey, I like surprises.

I began with a cluster of poems circling around the suburbs, “What the Deer Sees” & “Coyote 3” & “… 4.” Tim Verhaegen read 3 pieces, playing with telling his stories in short-line repetitive rhymes, “Third Grade Rhyme,” “Washington Park at 2AM” (being chased), & the contentious portrait “Cynthia.” Howard Kogan began with a poem about reading John Hersey’s Hiroshima in Townsend Park in Albany, then with a poem, “First Responders,” to be found on the Occupy Poetry website  & ended with the rural portrait, “His Father’s Mitten.” David Wolcott brought us more of his drug memoir, this time about taking LSD, “Doors of Perception.”

I don’t recall having heard Elizabeth Haight read before, but was totally beguiled by her poems, the dreamy “While I was Sleeping,” “Love in Fashion” (in which she lists past lovers together with what she was wearing at the time), & the fantasy/spy story/memoir “Apricots.” Aviva Rossman has not been to any open mics in recent months (years?) & spent a lot of time hunting for her poems, but they were worth it; “Dancing on George Washington Bridge” was based on a painting in a Art textbook, then “Jasmine Queen,” & a poem for a friend, “Last Days in a Nursing Home.” My co-host Nancy Klepsch responded to the media swirl around the Iowa Republican caucus with a rhythmic piece repeating “Iowa.”

Brett Axel pondered what it means to be a pastoral poet in the 21st century, where fields are turned into shopping malls, then explained “The Difference Between the Dodge Poetry Festival and the National Poetry Slams,” & read a brief poem on conversation as a metaphor. Ron Drummond read the opening section of a story (that he wouldn’t tell us the title of) from which he had previously read to us a later paragraph; in today’s section there is a confrontation with an old man that may or may not be an actualization of a dream. Barry Goldman read a piece off his netbook about a bee (& a pretty girl) in a coffee shop. Bless Wize Words performed 2 pieces, one pondering the “Perfect Life,” the other, one of my favorites, “Man Oh Man,” about a conversation (& a lesson) with a homeless man.

This open mic is for prose & poetry writers & is held on the 2nd Sunday at 2PM in the Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River St., Troy, NY — Free!