James Belfower

Third Thursday Poetry Night, November 15

On a night of many events, competing poetry readings, a jazz concert, etc. we still had a decent crowd of indecent poets for the open mic & for our featured poet, James Belflower. I invoked the Muse, “the old poet of the City” (as Lawrence Durrell dubbed him) C.P. Cavafy, then on to the open mic. 

First up was Alan Catlin, playing off the city poem of Cavafy, with his own “neighborhood poem” “Parallel Lives.” A new face & voice tonight was Arielle Gumson with a poem in rhyme about the need for people to work together (her father told her she should come here). Comrade-in-(dis)arms Dayl Wise came up from Woodstock tonight & read funny piece about taking Ho Chi Minh to a Mets game.

Shirley Brewer came from an even further distance, Baltimore, MD & was there with Rezsin Adams; she read a poem written for Ted Adams that she had read at his memorial service almost a year ago, “Staircase Anthology.”

James Belfower, tonight’s featured poet, is one of the organizers of the Yes! reading series. After checking for Johnny Cash fans in the audience, he read a single long piece “Johnny Cash at Folsom,” an exploration of myth & how we make it, he explains. The piece includes quotes from the taping of the concert, ponderings of prison movies, & stones & words, lines from the songs, the lines often broken off, the way a tape machine will truncate a line or word. An interesting piece.

After the break I read a new poem written in response to a prompt to write “a scary poem,” written just after Halloween & just before the election, “This is Not Trick or Treat.”

Jan Farrell has been coming to the open mic of late, but this was her first time reading, a nature poem “The Quiet Life of a Recent Wave.” Tess Lecuyer has been reading on this street for a long time, a brand new poem, “Wild Pumpkins,” another nature poem, on making a jack-o-lantern, & more. Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia read in the open mic last month & was back (wishing Ted Berrigan a happy birthday), a wild ride titled “Don’t Lose the Sun.” The evening ended with last month’s fine featured poet, Anna Eyre, with a piece from her Snow White series, her mirror on the wall.

Another night of varied poetry at the Social Justice Center (33 Central Ave., Albany, NY), just like any other third Thursday, 7:30PM, donations support the featured poet, other poetry venues & the Social Justice Center.