Alan Casline

Poetry At The Aboretum, August 10

This series has been popping up on the 2nd Friday of each month at the Pine Hollow Arboretum Visitors Center, usually with a featured poet as well as an open mic, under the aegis of Rootdrinker Institute. Tonight, it was a program of poets who have been showing up here for the events, with a couple of “open mic” poets thrown in.

Alan Casline served as host & “producer” for “NewsChannel Pine: Local News as if People Matter,” with just short intros for each poets as if they were members of the news team. Each poet had a closely monitored maximum of 15 minutes & they all stuck to it & no one went over (was this a poetry reading? Certainly it wasn’t in Woodstock!)

Mimi Moriarty lead off the “broadcast” with a bouquet of family poems, beginning with a couple about the beach & her grandfather, on to a poem about her daughter moving to this area (“Upper West Side”), the puzzling “Abraham & Isaac,” “Diner” (in Canajoharie) & a poem about when you realize you will never write another poem, “Nothing to Say.”

Bob Sharkey began with a funny piece written today about buying a javelin from someone known (& picked on) in high school, then on to “old, dusty” poems. He read a couple responding to statues. “The Trail” is a poem that builds a story just from a credit card receipt found in the woods. In “1957” he recalls being a kid in Maine, then on to a dream poem (my guess), “Paddy,” with his grandfather & his favorite character, Earl, both in it.

Mark Obeedúid~ O’Brien was introduced as reporting on the outdoors, as he consistently does in his poems. But he began by fiddling with technology & the sound from a recording on his phone accompanying his poem “Fulfillment” sounded more like static than rain — oh well. Many of his poems were short, recording his time in the woods, with a stonewall, crows, mist, etc.

Joe Krausman, an unscheduled reader, was our “man on the street” reporter & began with a poem on political advice titled “Alice” (& included Nixon). “30, or Trust No One” was about poets, followed by another poem about trust with a couple talking in bed. There was more conversation, this time with a Viet Nam vet “At the Dollar Store.” He ended with a poem pondering how the ubiquitous personal pronoun “my” is really about loans, not possession.

Our “style reporter” for the night’s news was Tim Verhaegen with a single prose piece about growing up in the Hamptons in the Summer & going back later as an adult, a bumping together of the rich & famous against the mundane.

Most of Faith Green‘s (our “Sunday Supplement,” per Alan Casline) poems were short, some as brief as aphorisms, the kind of things we poets write down in our pocket notebooks. Her topics included love, & its loss (“Second Hand Lonely Blues”), memory (“Summer Memory”) & musing on life’s meaning. A longer, untitled piece was in the voice of friend, her philosophy & life experiences, which seemed to blame it all on men.

After a break for snacks & conversation, our “financial reporter” Jan Tramontano brought us back with a political poem “Eyes Wide Open” written in response to a peace demonstration with the reading of names of the war dead & an exhibit of empty shoes. She ranged from marriage (“Floating Island”) to senior moments to writing (“Free Fall”), even to cleaning out the refrigerator. Her contemplative poem “Leading My Life Quietly” was inspired by one of her favorite poets, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Susan Riback, introduced as “arts & entertainment” reporter, is back on the open mic scene, but her poetry is still unpacked from her recent move so she read from a recent notebook. The first piece was inspired by the Caffe Lena open mic, while “No Man’s Land” was a memory of her first poem; her last piece was a prayer of petition. Then she read poems by Mary Oliver & Wendell Berry.

Our host, Alan Casline, dubbed himself the “investigative reporter” in the grand American poetic tradition of Olson & Sanders, with a piece culled from the archives of the Altamont Enterprise in 1911, “Toad’s Wild Ride.” His poem “Eco-Art Like Seedlings Planted in the Forest,” dedicated to his son Tom, was about Capitalism & the manipulation of scarcity, & sequed into a piece about the fragility of trading maple saplings. He ended with an historical slice from his manuscript, “Normans Kill Investigations.”

Unplanned (& unknown to me) Alan introduced me as the “lefty” sports announcer. Coincidentally I had at the last minute selected to read a poem about the 1992 Olympics, “Pindar,” thus another piece of synchronicity to add to the Jungian pie. Next I read another old piece, “The Altamont Fair Poem,” then on to recent pieces, including the lesson from Catherine Connolly, “Tell Me Something That Matters,” & ended with another short piece from the past, “Starting the Wine.”

Paul Amidon had been saved for the last, introduced by Alan as the “Andy Rooney segment,” indeed it was — short, pithy pieces, first “Drought,” then an observation on the true qualities of youth & effort at the “County Fair.” He ended with another piece inspired by the county fair, “Step Right Up,” contrasting the popularity of the shooting gallery of Sin with its big targets, abundance of ammo, to the arcade of Virtue with its small targets & no one there. I wonder where Paul will be at at the Altamont Fair?

It was an evening of “Nation of poetry, local news, sports and live Doppler whether” from “NewsChannel Pine” sponsored by the Rootdrinker Institute at Pine Hollow Arboretum 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY, but the series continues on the 2nd Friday of each month.