Yes, Reading

Yes! Reading Series, January 20

Somehow there has (almost) always been conflicts in the world of Albany arts with this series that brings in a variety of young writers/artists tied to the academic world. But tonight the conflict was what the newspapers, in referring to a non-plane crash, a “near-miss” — I was scheduled to be at Urban Guerilla Theater up at the Linda later in the evening (more on that in another Blog). But I wanted very much to catch this particular night of Yes!

One of the unique features of this series is the inclusion of music or visual (or any other) arts along with the reading of prose & poetry. The program is not really integrated, just whatever is available, sort of like a Ed Sullivan program for the “avant-garde.” Tonight’s artist was Maureen Jolie Anderson displaying a table of photos for the taking, the show called “The Lost Photographs of M.” Each time she does this particular installation/performance the title changes. Unfortunately, when it came time for me to scoot out the door & race up Central Ave., I had no time to grab a photo.

Matthew Klane, the series’ co-coordinator, went on to introduce Jessy Poole, a fiction writer, with a cut-up/jump-cut word salad that seemed to parody the stuffy, sententious intros one hears at readings at area (to be unnamed) universities. He began with a short (it was “flash fiction” after all) piece about an encounter at a bus stop, then on to a couple scenes from his novel-in-progress, “The Von Darling Family Circus,” set in Wisconsin in the 1960s with characters named after ancient Persian kings.

Co-coordinator James Bellflower took over the intro duties, but his sounded just like Matthew’s, so I wonder… Peter Fernbach interspersed his poems with those by women writers, such as Amy Gerstler & Sylvia Plath in a self-conscious reference to gender rather than poetic talent. His comments tended to sound like he was teaching one of his classes & made me wonder if he’s ever been to a poetry open mic or read his poetry in public much, other than before students. He introduced the Amy Gerstler poem saying, “it goes like this,” & his own poem “Everyday” by describing it as “social justice-y.” When he gave the background to his poem “The Model” he identified the Buddhist practice of sand mandalas as being located in India, whereas sand mandalas are more closely associated with Tibet & China.

But my main reason for doubling up my schedule, & waiting to the very end, was to hear Anna Elena Eyre, who has served her time helping to run this series in the past. She has 2 books of poetry out recently & began with poems from Are Me (Dancing Girl Press, 2011). She read “He,” “She” & “I,” the last read so effectively with the word “I” always uttered as a cross between a gasp & a sigh that she garnered the rare (for academic readings) applause for a single poem (it is the practice at such readings, as opposed to most community readings, not to applaud each poem but to pile it all at the end). Anna’s most recent book is Faceless Names: Two Books of Letters (BlazeVOX books, 2012), namely, poems responding to William Carlos Williams’ early work, Kora in Hell (or, as she refers to him “W Carlos W”), & “Nameless Mail,” (or “Letters to Evelyn”, her mother’s mother). As one says, it was worth the price of admission.

Then I had to dash off to the second event of the night (stay tuned). Meanwhile you can catch the Yes!Reading Series every little once in a while at the Social Justice Center, in Albany, NY.