ASK Hosts the Hosts, February 12

A busy poetry day for me. After the Poetry + Prose reading in Troy I high-tailed it down to Kingston to the Arts Society of Kingston, 97 Broadway, for a special reading by 10 hosts of area open mics. Unfortunately Cheryl Rice who had been scheduled to read was not there. The MC/host for tonight was Lew Gardner, who started off us off with one of his poems, “Thoughts While Down-wind of the Catfood Factory” (with a nod to William Wordsworth). Lew limited each of us to 8 minutes, & brought along his kitchen timer, which ended up becoming one of the characters in the night’s event.

Going in reverse alphabetical order, first up was Chris Wood (Heyday Poetry Series, Half-Moon Books, Kingston). Appropriately he started off by reading a tribute to the hosts of open mics, “Receiving the Host,” then a poem on a meteor shower “Outside of Beauty,” another outside poem, “Waiting for Dawn,” & ending with a song from Van Morrison’s 1968 album, Astral Weeks. I was up next with 2 poems about the readings & poets of Albany, “Where Were the Professors?” & “One Poem (for Changing Spaces Gallery)” & ended with the new hot pants poem, “Southwest Flight 2095, Seat 8A,” just as the bell rang at the last line.

Glenn Werner‘s poems are meditative & philosophical, usually set outdoors, “Winter Harbor Maine,” “What the Cherry Tree Said,” “St. Joan Confessional,” & the portrait of a social scene, “The Gators of Venice, Florida.”

Micky Shorr had some of AlbanyPoets read at her venue at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Kingston a few months ago. Tonight she started off with the funny memoir, “Sex Education,” then what a poet writes about, “Not Just Whining.” Also, “Vitals,” a memoir of dinner “Digestive Disorder,” “Body Love,” & a poem about the murder of a Yeshiva boy in Brooklyn “Many Wars.” She ended with a poem for her new grandson, “First Year.”

Last year I read with other veteran’s on Memorial Day at Michael Platsky‘s open mic at the Harmony Cafe in Woodstock. He read a couple of long pieces for, & inspired by, Allen Ginsberg, “Letter to Ginsberg” & “America 2011” & as he read the word “telephone” towards the end of the poem, the timer bell went off, as if it had been rehearsed.

Robert Milby is the whirling dervish of mid-Hudson & environs poetry venues. His poems were also inspired by the outdoors world, “Deer on a January Night,” “Beethoven’s 9th Piano Sonata” (Autumn to Winter), then a poem on how poets’ lives end “Van Gogh,” & “Hudson River in Winter,” love & magic & remembering another gone poet.

Phillip Levine currently hosts Chronogram Open Word in Kingston & the Woodstock Poetry Society. He started off with a poem referencing the readings once held at the Colony Cafe, a poem about himself, “Tonight’s Feature.” “My Night in Treadwell” was “a prose song” about being the featured poet at Bertha Roger’s series, & he ended with what sounded like a dream poem “No Bottom Lake.”

Judith Lechner hosts Writers’ Night at Cafe Mezzaluna in Saugerties. She began with some haiku, then the love poem “Long Running Box Office Hit;” “Island Clocks” was about Mexico, & in “The Web” her thoughts build a refuge for her.

Mike Jurkovic, who runs Calling All Poets at the Howland Cultural Center in Beacon, began with a memoir of his youth in New Jersey, & ended with a poem about the evacuation route out of the State. In between he read about youthful playing with works, a couple of poems on revolt, “Zuccoti” & “Growing Old Rebels” & a short ecological piece.

Teresa Costa‘s poems are generally short so she could get a lot in in 8 minutes. Many of her poems were outside too, in her garden, watching a thunder storm, “Life in the Woods,” “Goddess Gone Fishing,” a wonderful love poem to her husband, & “The 6th Day” with its play on the word “image.”

It was a novel idea to get so many of the poetry open mic hosts in the same room at the same time to listen to each other.   & there were many other fine poets from the area listening in the audience as well.