This eclectic series continued at the Social Justice Center, Albany, NY with 4 readers/performers. The first half MC was Matthew Klane, offering in addition to some home-brew “Poets’ Porter” in the back corner, his characteristic cut-up/word-pile introductions.
Adam Roberts began with poems in what he called “robotics,” short-line rhymes, little poems on big pages, peeled off as he read them, some about writing to Obama’s daughter about policy, another series about privilege, a White Boy song. Then short poems on the different versions of military “Drones,” while his “Character Sketches” were of a beagle, a bee & the sea. He ended with a piece in which he held up cardboard with hand-written lines & phrases, but it was too dark to in the center to see them clearly & folks were sheepishly quiet in reading them out loud.
Kate Sharpira read first from The Bounty: Four Addresses (Noemi Press), poems written while taking the bus to work, then from How We Saved the City (Stockport Flats), “Weird Math 2” (quotes from a Letter to the Editor on a real-estate sting), & “Weird Math 3.” “Emotions” is a new project, with audience participation (somewhat). Much of her work, & particularly the last piece, are written in spare, direct statements of fact, trying to make the incongruity of the world around us stand in for the re-working of the world in words.
James Belflower took over the introductions, bringing in Michelle Taransky. Her running theme tonight was “the woods”, poems that piled up images, often recycled phrases unfotunately read very flatly. “The Difficulty of Describing Trees” was a poem for poet Robert Haas; there was also “Sorry Was in the Woods,” “Do Not Think Timber,” & “Fear in the Woods” which she described as about teaching freshman writing, as all her poems were, apparently.
CA Conrad was clearly the most entertaining poet of the evening, not only because of his flamboyant, out-there style. He began with a couple selections from A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics (Wave Books). This is an intriguing, big book, 8×10 inches, nearly an inch thick, & includes some reproductions of hand-written pages from notebooks. The “(Soma)tics” are instructions for writing exercises (printed as white on black), followed by his poem written in response (so to speak). He read “(Soma)tic 1: Anoint Thyself” followed by the poem “Emily Dickinson Came to Earth and Then She Left” & “(Soma)tic 5: Storm Soaked Bread” & the poem, “One Day I Will Step from the Beauty Parlor and Enlist in the Frequency of Starlings.” He ended with sections from The Book of Frank (Wave Books), outrageous images that reminded me of the vignettes of William S. Burroughs.
While Kate is a coordinator of a reading series in Providence, R.I, & Michelle worked at reading venues in Chicago & Philadelphia, they both seemed very inexperienced in reading, largely un-dramatic & un-modulated in their presentations, which marred the appreciation of their work. CA Conrad’s experimentations on the other hand were successful because of their entertaining material & his equally entertaining presence.
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