Bob Sharkey

Pine Hollow Arboretum Reading, November 9

This was the last of the season’s readings here in Slingerlands, NY where we park on the lawn. Tonight’s featured poet was Bob Sharkey, whose new chapbook Surface at Sunrise has just been published by Benevolent Bird Press. The publisher, Alan Casline, was also our host. He proposed the theme as “jumping the shark,” to be interpreted however we like. He also asked some of the poets to describe their favorite TV comedy episode.

AC Everson linked the theme to Cape Cod where she recently distributed her parents’ ashes, did 2 poems, “Vain Creatures,” & “Patriotic Musings.” Sally Rhoades began with a poem published in the 2007 journal High Watermark Salo[o]n, “I Love to Dawdle,” then a tribute to her waitress Mom. I followed with 2 new pieces, the street observation “Shredded Pants” then a “scary” poem “Not Trick or Treat.” Jill Crammond read a couple of mother/daughter poems, one about picking up a hitchhiker in the North Country with her mother, the other (also North Country) “Leaving the Wedding with My Daughter, a Fish Tale in Many Parts.” Joe Krausman began with the disaster poem “Panacea,” then a poem for Bob Sharkey that plays on “shark.”

Bob Sharkey, who is a regular on the local poetry scene, gave a nice mixed-bag reading, beginning with the new piece “Prayer for New York” & a chunk of a poem by Anne Sexton, read for New Jersey. He followed with a poem from Surface at Sunrise, “The Dutch Girls.” Bob has been experimenting with an invented form of 64 words & read some prose & poetry using that limitation, including a review of his favorite 8 poems from Best American Poetry 2012. He has written a lot about his hometown of Portland, Maine & read his favorite poem from that group, “Monument Squre,” a catalogue of the characters her saw there. He ended his reading with 2 poems from the chapbook, “An American Dream” (which had inspired the poem Joe Krausman read earlier) & Bob’s own favorite from the book, “While Caged Animals Arrived.” This was a most-welcomed chance to hear a big chunk of Bob’s work, rather than the 1 or 2 pieces usually allotted to an open mic. I’m pleased to have his new chapbook, Surface at Sunrise, too.

After a break, Tim Lake made a rare appearance, reading “Home for the Holidays,” a 2011 meditation on the homeless & rabid shoppers on Black Friday, & the up-to-date “Contemplation After Layoff.” Obeeduid‘s poems dealt with stones, the round rocks in strata with reference to the Seneca emergence myth in “The Great Hill People” & a meditation on gravestones in “The Book of the Dead.” Alan Casline also read a story of a stone, the tale of heroic State Workers in “Perious Frink & the Secret of the Stone.” Our host at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, John Abbuhl, read a bouquet of his philosophical nature poems from his little notebooks, the poems titled “Wolf,” “Fulfillment” (his most recent poem), & “Universality.” Edie Abrams was the last poet up with a poem “The Hudson” that contrasted walking a dog there & more recently along the Normanskill, then a new poem (in-progress), a meditation on being Jewish “November 9, 2012.”

Watch for this wonderfully relaxed series of readings to start up again in April.