Jon Sands

Jon Sands Reading & …, June 25

I can’t be in 2 places at once, but I tried to be at 2 different readings on both ends of the evening. Conflicts happen because we have here in the Capital District of New York State a very diverse, active local arts scene, & probably more poetry events each month, per capita, than anywhere else in the U.S.A. I grew up in this area when there were no conflicts because nothing was going on — I’d rather have the conflicts.

So I headed over to the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY to see a performance by Jon Sands, a poet from Brooklyn. He is the author of The New Clean (Write Bloody Publishing, 2011) & has a background in theater. His performance was spoken loud with elements of slam style but without the clichés & he has a wonderfully plastic, expressive face. After his opening poem, a high school memoir about going to Waffle House, I got a bit nervous when the next 3 poems were in the persona of various black characters, waiting to see if he was going to break out the make-up. I breathed easier as he quickly moved on to his over-riding theme of childhood memoir.

He had the audience laughing & twitching in his hands with “My Gender Identity Timeline Volume One: The Early Childhood Years,” with his confrontations with penises & vaginas (in the book). Also in the book was the last poem he read, the tender memoir, “Elegy.” He is wonderful at storytelling, most of the poems with some level of narrative & humor, even such as a simple thing like a fan encounter in Trader Joe’s (with André 3000).

It was a mixed audience of young & old, few of which I recognized as the poetry crowd, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves & actually bought books.

From there I crossed the River to McGeary’s to catch the tail-end of Poets Speak Loud!, arriving in time to hear Mojavi promoting the new Albany Nitty Gritty Slam Team & then do a couple poems. I even had time to be the last poet of the night, reading a new piece, “Hemingway” (set in Valentines, thus the connection to the Slam). Later I went to the AlbanyPoets website & watched the recording of the live-streaming they had done that night. Has this Blog become yesterday’s papers, redundant, inaccurate & passé? Stay tuned & find out.