Albany Word Fest, April 18

It was a dual/dueling event night, with the Yes! WordFest Communal Reading at the Social Justice Center & Live from the Living Room at the Pride Center. I had hoped to participate in both, but there were others using the store-front space at the SJC so the Yes! folks were slow in getting in. I had to cut out before it began. Matthew Klane had organized a string of poets to put together 1 minute segments from poems that would be read in a continuous stream. Apparently it went off well by all reports.

Meanwhile I had gone over to the Pride Center on Hudson Ave. for Live from the Living Room. This series, with Don Levy as our host, is usually on the 2nd Wednesday of the month but because of other things going on at the very busy Pride Center they asked Don to re-schedule for this night. The features were 4 poets from the Java Poets Collective, Suzanne Myers, Cecele Allen Kraus, Terry Royne & Amy White.

They read round-robin style, with Suzanne beginning with a memoir of childhood drills in a fall-out shelter, “Basement View.” Cecele read “Rail Time,” followed by Terry reading a rhymed poem, also referencing rails, “The Wrong Side” (from their 2009 collection, Java Wednesdays). Amy read a couple of flower poems, “About the Anemones” & “Hallucinations” (peonies?).

Suzanne continued with her poem “The Conversation” from the book, & at about that time more poets wandered in from the SJC to sign up for the open mic. Cecele read 2 poems, “Melissa and Jimmy” & the title poem from her new book, Tuscaloosa By-Pass (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Terry read the ironic “Prayers.” Then Amy read “Query,” “Winter Moment,” & the bitter-sweet “Alzhiemers.”

Back around to Suzanne with a story about an encounter in the grocery store, then Cecele’s “Shanty Town” about being in the Peace Corps in Columbia. Terry’s piece “Dirty Little White Spoons” pondered adoption & what her birth-mother’s life was like. Amy concluded with 2 poems about her late husband, 1 just written this Easter.

Now there were plenty of poets in attendance for the open mic & I went first with my newest poem written for Catherine Connolly, “Tell me Something that Matters,” then a bit of salaciousness “Looking for Cougars.” Bob Sharkey read “Alarm” imagining his execution, then “Elephants” reading Alan Catlin’s poems in Maine. Alan Catlin himself followed with 2 poems from his collection of made up self-portraits, “Self-Portrait of the Artist Afraid of His Self-Portrait” & “Formerly Repressed Self-Portrait Viewed from the Deep End.”

Sally Rhoades read a poem from her recent vacation in Anguilla, “Quiet Splendor,” then the in-progress “My Father’s Slippers.” Brett Axel read his touching poem to his mother “About You” about how she never came out to him as a lesbian. Don Levy ended the night with a poem-memoir of Boston poet Jack Powers, “Stone Soup” & then the recent “Action Figure with Kung Fu Grip.”

This series is (most often) on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, 7:30PM at the Pride Center of the Capital Region on Hudson Ave. in Albany, NY — a featured poet followed by an open mic.