Calling All Poets, April 4

“(… and poetry lovers)” is a series in Waterbury, CT at the Silas Bronson Library, run by Connecticut poet & musician Victoria Muñoz. “Calling All Poets” is a popular name for a poetry series. I had been invited to read with 2 other fine poets, both from Connecticut, Virginia Shreve & Baub Bidon.

I like to prepare a program carefully for such readings, especially among strangers, to give them a sense of the different kinds of poems I writer. But this program floated around a core of poems while other selections floated in & out until I was at the podium. I began, though, with a “seasonal poem,” e.e. cummings’ “In Just Spring –“, then I introduced the group to the poets of Albany with “Where Were the Professors?” & “Joe Krausman,” then on to “Poeming” & “Looking for Cougars.” My political poems were represented by “One Day Longer” & “A Pain in the Neck”. On to a more gentle theme with “On a Poem by e.e. cummings,” “Freckles,” & the poem beginning “This morning when i turn the key…” I ended with another season piece, “What Passover Has Taught Me.”

Virginia Shreve began chronologically with a story she heard as a girl, “Knitting Bandages for Lepers” then a tender piece about her father only remembering his wife’s hand, “The Guest of Memory.” She continued the family connection with a poem written by her brother Paul Shreve, about a girl flying a kite on a beach, then carried that lovely image with “A View of Small Things: Gitaway Island.”  Then came an interesting weaving of dog & butterfly poems, beginning with a poem on a dog’s view of humans, then one on to chaos theory (“Butterfly Gods”), the philosophical speculation of “The Algebra of Fate,” & then tying it up with “Butterfly Effect with Dog” (punch-line: dog eats butterfly). She ended with “Resumé,” a poem stitched withe the refain, “did you never …”, a litany of bad/un-wise things one could do.

Baub Bidon came up from New Haven, interjecting the energy of hip-hop to the night’s reading, studded with musings on on his spoken word forebears, Gil Scott-Heron, Amiri Baraka, the Last Poets. He began with a tribute for Gil Scott-Heron, “a crying poem … a grieving poem … a strong poem … “. After some thoughts on the state of today’s hip-hop, he launched into some phenomenal beat-box sounds from his own voice box, the into the piece “Hip Hop is Broken.” He ended with a powerful, extended performance, with Victoria on flute, on the epidemic of kids lost on the streets of New Haven, filled with the painful images of teens & children in the thoughts of a “Ghetto Mama.”

With the Library set to close at 8PM we had only a little time left for a quick open mic, & all the readers obliged. Tom (Thomas Michael McDade) read a memoir poem “Advice 1966” & a portrait of an old guy with an old car, “Insurance.” Miriam‘s poem “The Calm After the Storm” reflected on the past. Deidre said this was her first time reading her poems in public & shared “A Visitation” (a woman at a bus stop who looked just like her grandmother) then a poem in response to Luke 20. William commented on my reading of e.e. cummings (a fan himself) & love poems & read a couple sonnets, one on Obama, another commenting on a black couple in a museum. Our MC/host Victoria Muñoz read beat list poem of images from a Blues festival, “Blues Cats Everywhere,” then the poem “Shout” stringing together a series of advertising slogans.

So if you happen to be in Waterbury, CT on the first Wednesday of the month, check out this reading at the Silas Bronson Library (except for the summer months, I believe).