R.M. Engelhardt

St. Poem Reading Series: Occupy the Word, January 16

Unbeknownst to me, the December version of this regular monthly open mic held at the UAG Gallery that had been titled “Occupy the Word” had been postponed. So this month’s version of the St. Poem series was on the theme of political pieces inspired by the Occupy Albany (or fill-in the blank). Meanwhile I had planned another, albeit one-shot, open mic for the following Wednesday, to highlight the “Occupy the UAG” exhibit currently at the Gallery. 2 open mics, 2 nights, 1 theme. This town can handle it.

Our host, RM Engelhardt, began the reading from Songs of Wall Street: An Anthology of Verse for Literary Investors, edited & written by Michael Silverstein (Running Press, 2001). The book consists of pastiches on investment themes of famous poems & includes the original versions of the poems as a reference. Rob began with “The Ten Market Commandments,” a version of Arthur Hugh Clough’s “The Latest Decalogue,” & “Globalizaton’s Coming; Too Damn Fast,” based on William Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much with Us, Late and Soon.”

Hard act to follow, so I started off with a poem on the theme, “One Day Longer,” then “What Really Happened” & a poem inspired by an earlier exhibit here, “The Clever Cleaver.” Rob followed with more from this book, this time 2 based on Emily Dickinson poems “I Tanked on Options,” based on “I Died for Beauty” & “I Never Met Al Gore” based on “I Never Met a Moor.”

Cara Benson began with an Occupy movement inspired poem beginning “And when we woke we heard the sound of a drum…” then a notebook draft, “What Do I Say When I Say Environment;” both pieces build on running, stuttering flow-clusters of words bouncing off each other. Bless performed a couple of his signature pieces (that I always enjoy hearing), the poem about returning to his old neighborhood, beginning “Up the Street from history…”, & finished with “Guilty Pleasures.”

Our patient host ended the night talking about a dream he had that included fences & work permits & police, then his poem “Occupy, or Under the Harvest Moon.”

This series continues every 3rd Monday of the month at the UAG Gallery, 247 Lark St., Albany, NY, 8PM. But the current “Occupy the UAG” exhibit will only be up until the end of this month. Better run if you want to see it.