Smith's Tavern

Smith’s Tavern Poet Laureate Contest, April 22

Mark O’Brien & Dennis Sullivan

Another annual poetry-rite-of-Spring & I just had to be there. This was the third year for this event, with 10 poets competing for the laurel crown. This is a very well organized & structured contest, run by Dennis Sullivan, Edie Abrams & Mike Burke, with the wonderful support of the owners & staff of Smith’s Tavern up in Voorheesville, NY. This year’s judges were the reigning Poet Laureate, Howard Kogan, & Greg Gross, Thom Francis & Phillip Levine. Each poet read 3 times in random order, with different maximum line-lengths for each round. The score-keeper once again was Georgia Gray.

Charles Straney‘s poems were centered on the natural world, exemplified by his 2nd round poem “Poetics” in which words are objects, such as birds, wind, & insects.

Mark O’Brien (aka Obeeduid) is a favorite & his poem about sending his poems out as “children” resonated against his poem about his daughter driving off.

Sue Petrie‘s poems were quiet, pensive, like her reading style, about relationships.

Voorheesville stalwart Catherine Anderson‘s poems were full of the natural wisdom of gardens, hay & chairs.

Tom Corrado‘s John Ashbery rip-offs are fun, but his rage against the dark, “I Continue to Get Older,” bounced words against each other & made us laugh.

Therese Broderick also drew heavily from the natural world, culminating in “Cemetary Rondeau.” 

Stephen W. Leslie is another poet with a quiet, meditative style, even including meditation in his poem “Ornamental Cherry Tree.”

Sara Anderson

Sara Anderson‘s work was new to me, captivating strings of images & rhymes, a poet whose work I’d like to hear more of at area open mics. 

Jim Williams also likes to use rhyme (after all he is also a folk-singer), but I particularly enjoyed his Pantoum 1 (which apparently is his only pantoum).

Faith Green is another poet who should try out her work more at open mics, particularly since she likes to use humor, as in “Terms of Endearment” & “I Hate Mushrooms.”

Tom Corrado, Therese Broderick & Charles Straney

When the dust settled & the scores were calculated, Howard crowned Therese Broderick as the new, reigning Smith’s Tavern Poet Laureate. Tom Corrado was in 2nd place & Charles Straney in 3rd. & the rest of us enjoyed the poetry, the food & drinks at Voorheesville’s wonderful Smith’s Tavern, where there is an actual “Poet’s Corner.”

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