In spite of another poetry reading going on at a local college on Western & Madison Avenues that shall remain nameless we had 11 open mic poets & some random non-reading audience here for our featured poet Anna Eyre, at the Social Justice Center.
The first open mic poet was new-comer Mary Rubio, who has been busy checking out different poetry venues, with a poem titled “It Was Christmas Then,” sex & love.
Another new face/voice was Keny Garcia with a short political piece beginning “Open Hearted America Where Have you Gone…?” Bob Sharkey, a regular here, with the funny list poem, “7 Actions for Age 65.” Matthew Klane likes to test the one-poem rule with a few very short poems strung together, as tonight with, as he described it, 7 poems shorter than haiku, new words & definitions, “Words on the Street”. Don Levy hasn’t been here for sometime & was thankful to be back with us & read a piece about New York City, “The Old Time Square of my Youth.”
The featured poet, Anna Eyre, had been scheduled for June but came down with that Summer-time nemesis Poison Ivy (“… gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion …”) at the last minute, so was re-scheduled for tonight. I’ve enjoyed hearing her read at other readings in the area & I like her book Faceless Names: Two Books of Letters (BlazeVOX Books, 2012). She began with a couple poems with political ovetones; “Scanned” played on the word “character,” even at one point breaking up “army” into “are me.” Soldiers were mentioned also in “Red Cross.” The short “Coin” also exploited the taking apart of words & syllables. At one point Anna became giggly over the applause after each poem. You see, at academic readings the audience sits in rapt silence until the poet concludes the reading, while out here in the community we tend to clap after each poem. She moved on to poems she described as “prayer-like” & loosely based on 8-syllable lines: “Coin,” “River,” & “Fate.” She ended with a longer piece, also prayer-like, that began “This flesh speaks sound…” with a rich use of repetition, & fractured phrases & syntax; I was struck by the phrase “ladders of letters.” A fine, concise reading that surprised me when it was over, wanting more.
After the break I read the latest version of a political piece on 9/11, “Another Tuesday.” Therese Broderick said her poem, like mine, contained Spanish, based on a visit to Argentina, “Buenos Aires Alongside My Daughter.” That daughter’s father (& Therese’s husband) Frank Robinson was up next with the quirky, funny “Migration” as his becomes hers. I rambled on a bit doing poetry announcements, etc. & eventually got to introduce Anthony Bernini, who had a brief story to tell about Times Square (inspired by Don’s poem), since his poem was only a haiku. Sylvia Barnard‘s poem “Homecomings” was a spin-off from a poem she heard Ghassan Zaqtan read on Tuesday afternoon, but about Cyprus. The last poet, Cara Benson, was last month’s featured poet here & tonight read “Altar to the Will of Privation” about the irony of sending soldiers to fight but ill-equipped.
We are here at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY every third Thursday, starting at 7:30PM, with a featured poet & an open mic, $3.00 helps pay the featured poet, & supports poetry programs & the work of the Social Justice Center.