Leslie Michelle

Poets Speak Loud!, March 26

Back on my home turf to one of the most “spirited” open mics in the area, perhaps because our host, Mary Panza, is usually spirited herself. With our featured poet, Leslie Michelle, herself, waiting in the wings, Mary began the open mic.

Leslie Gerber (proof that that first name is not gender-specific) read a poem by Tara McCarthy “The Considerate Boyfriend,” then his own about “Meeting the Famous in Manhattan.” Being the season that it is, I just had to read my favorite Spring-time poem, by e.e. cummings “In Just Spring –” then a new piece inspired by the 100th birthday of the Oreo cookie, “Ode to the Oreo.” Jay Wenk read his meditation on history, the grim “On the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, March 25, 2011.” Cheryl A. Rice read from her chapbook, Coast to Coast, the poem “You Let Me” (a kiss in the parking lot of the old Lark Tavern), then a recent poem on the death of her partner Michael’s father, “Irises.” Ed Rinaldi has been writing a poem a day for 2012 & read a couple, “Waiting for My Bones to Dry” & “A Child Never Asks to be Born,” & you can read them at his Blog.

Leslie Michelle is a regular at UGT & at the Nitty Gritty Slam, often serving as a judge. Tonight we got to hear her stretch out a bit from the usual 1 or 2 poems we usually hear from her. She began with a poem written after her mother’s illness, when she was out on her own, “Woman,” then what she said was one of her favorite poems (from a time when she was homeless), “Why Can’t You?” (“… live with it”), & a poem for her ex-husband, “When Blue is Love Jonesing.” A poem written for a UGT Power of Praise event described a spiritual journey, pondering the nature (& the name) of the deity. She ended with a relationship poem titled “Foolish” in which the guy takes & takes but the woman gets her life back. We like happy endings.

Speaking of relationship poems, Carolee Sherwood began with one that both described a relationship as a runaway train, & was about writing the poem, “Don’t Try This at Home We Are Trained Professionals on a Closed Course,” then “How the Body Decomposes, a Love Poem.” The youngest poet here tonight was Lexi with a love poem in rhyme, but filled with cuts & pain. Shannon Shoemaker‘s new piece also had cutting, & “the hollow shadow of a ghost.” Kevin Peterson‘s poem “Clancy’s” was a sketch of a woman in a dive bar in Saratoga; “Train Ride” was about his grandparents, in 2 parts, one for each set. Avery‘s first piece was in pop/rap rhymes, “Your Words Ripped Through Me Like Tumbling Bullets through Ripped Flesh” (another relationship poem, oh well), then the long, fussy shopping list for which he took much heat later on, “Someday Something Better” (maybe, if he’s not too fussy we all agreed). Elizabeth Gordon (Elizag on the Slam stage) followed Avery’s example with another list poem, this like a bureaucratic form with many checkboxes to answer the question “can we be lovers?”

Much to talk about tonight in the aftermath!

Poets Speak Loud! every last Monday of the month at McGeary’s on Clinton Square in Albany, NY, 8PM — but come early, the food is great, the service attractively attentive. Read about it on www.AlbanyPoets.com.