Phillip Levine

Chronogram Open Word, March 3

Because in the 21st Century everything is an acronym, I suppose you could say that this reading series in Kingston (NY) is udderly mooving, & that’s no bull. I’ve been to this reading a few months back, but tonight I was one of the featured poets. There were some old friends in the audience, & some new faces/new voices too.

Our Chronogram host, Phillip Levine, started off the night with what he identified as a slam poem, “Woman on the Subway” (about a 9.2). Tony Pena read 2 poems from his self-published collection Opening Night in Gehenna, the grim, urban “Finer Things,” & the sad & tender “Head in the Clouds.” Tim Dwyer read a poem from what he described as the unpublished work of Irish poet Donald Michael Furey, then his own poem on an Irish theme, “Train Boat Train.”  Ron Whiteurs had to wait for the flush of a friend in the bathroom to begin his 2 pieces, one on roosters & chickens, “Pecking for Seeds & Crumbs,” & the sentimental & cliched “Rogue Dogs,” read from a large display type version. Donald Lev read a series of short (some very short) poems, among them a dream-like “Lost Again,” & the very recent “Arizona: A Brief Visit, 1958,” then ended with a poem from his very new book, A Very Funny Fellow. Jay Wenk read a moving poem on “100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.”

I was pleased to be asked to be a feature at this series, another in a string of engaging open mics hosted by Phillip Levine. I read a poem each from my chapbooks Poeming the Prompt (A.P.D., 2011) & boundless abodes of Albany (Benevolent Bird Press, 2010), a couple of “peace poems,” including “Baghdad, Kingston” by Cheryl A. Rice, then a cluster of poems written during a recent Florida vacation, ending appropriately with “At the End.”

Alan Salant is an old friend of Phillip Levine’s & although he has published a collection of poems, The Expedition Sets Out (The Oliver Arts and Open Press, 2011), he doesn’t read his poems out & this was his first public reading. He included a few poems from his book in his reading but most were not. Interestingly enough, there were 2 poems both in 16 short parts, “Inequality is an Art,” ironic & philosophical, on visiting the Occupy Wall St. site, & “Finally the Inner Revolution,” musings on music in urban conversations & cats liking jazz. It was a good, straight-forward reading of thoughtful, introspective poetry, well appreciated by the audience.

Back to the open mic Andrea Stolte read an untitled piece written today, a spooky piece about getting old, merging with her mother. Jennifer Bennett sang the lyrics to Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady.” Then Tim, who was locked out of the out-of-tune piano had the audience recite lines from which he picked up a phrase to riff on. & our host, Phillip Levine, read “Hooked”, built on a litany of NYC coast-line names.

Chronogram Open Word happens on the first Saturday of the month at 7PM at the BEAhive, 314 Wall St., Kingston, NY. The $5.00 cover charge gets you some wine too!