Sunday Four Poetry

Sunday Four Poetry, December 30

was actually Sunday Fifth Poetry, the reading moved this month to avoid the Xmas craziness. This afternoon’s featured poet was Philip Good, but first the open mic & other business (you’ll see).

First up was Alan Casline in his new cap, with a conversation of poets in the woods, “Anthology from Another Time,” then a poem about the Newtown shootings, “Cup of Sorrow.” I followed in a different vein with 2 cynical break-up poems, “Trailer Park” & “Adirondack Life.” Dennis Sullivan‘s poems were discursive, philosophical, on mortality, the big topics, “I Am the Richest of Men,” & “Only Moments Ago,” a poem for his granddaughter in response to a poem she wrote.

Mimi Moriarty & her brother Frank Desiderio read together whenever Frank is in town, going through their poems & finding pairs or “companion pieces,” as Mimi calls them. Today they were seasonal/holiday poems, beginning with Frank’s “Christmas,” then Mimi’s “First Snowfall.” Frank’s poem “Boxing Day” was about putting things away, Mimi responded with a concrete poem in the shape of a Xmas tree, “Bare Tree.” Frank’s poem “God’s Name” was theological pondering on how we human’s try to define the divine, while Mimi read her marvelous poem about putting up her creche, “Two Wisemen & a Buddha.”

Edie Abrams, who had been introducing each of our poets, was next with the poem she had promised last month, responding to a poem by Dennis Sullivan, her poem titled “Eternity (to DS, in memory of ADW),” then a redux of a poem from last year, “The White Bear 2”, on memory, again. Either Obeeduid‘s poems were untitled or I missed them in a mumble in some arcane language, like his first poem on writing & poetry & sound, with a subtitle like a software release (appropriate enough since he was reading his poems from an iPad); the other 2 poems the result of his delving into his family history, even creating some of his own history.

I was pleased to see Ron Pavoldi at an open mic again & when he got up to read he underscored how long it must have been by remarking that he had never seen someone read from an iPad (!); his first poem “Puncture Wound” was to his father, then a poem, “Then the Stars,” about a wonderful concept of rearranging the stars — I want to do that! Sue Petrie followed with a just-written poem (untitled?) reacting to the shooting in Newtown, CT, filled with bullets & history. Humor in poetry is Joe Krausman‘s stock-in-trade so it was no surprise he read a poem titled “Can God Take a Joke?” then an anti-New Year’s resolution resolution poem. Philomena Moriarty also used her iPad to read her poems, 3 meditative, discursive Buddhist poems, 2 on the theme of walking & meditating.

Before the featured poet read, Dennis Sullivan presented the 2012 Arthur Dare Willis Award to Alan Casline “for his outstanding contribution to poets & poetry.” Alan is the director of the Rootdrinker Institute & published of Benevolent Bird Press & in both roles makes the work of local poets available to the wider poetry community through chapbooks, broadsides & readings, a true poetry-activist. The annual Award is named in honor of Arthur Dare Willis (1936 – 2010), a teacher at Voorheesville High School, a poet, philosopher & mentor.

The featured poet was Philip Good, who read “a few older poems, a few newer ones” before reading a selection from his book, Untitled Writings from a Member of the Blank Generation (Trembling Pillow Press, 2011). The reference to the “Blank Generation” is to the 1970’s punk anthem, “Blank Generation” by Richard Hell. The older poems were “In the Park,” “Location” (at an art gallery/museum) & a piece on Dada from the on-going Tsatsawassa Papers. His newer poems took on a decidedly newsy, if not political, complexion: “After Super Storm Sandy,” “Parents with Guns…,” & “Shortest Day of the Year.” Then on to a selection from Untitled Writings from a Member of the Blank Generation. Philip’s poems run the gamut from perplexing randomness, to the startling clear (as in the new poems mentioned above). The numbered (hence, “untitled”) pieces from the book often sounded like cut-up or shuffled lines, many quite stunning juxtapositions & frequently ending with a humorous, aphoristic punchline (e.g., “Let us please learn something useless everyday.” #41). He even took requests from the audience (I resisted the temptation to shout out a random number).

This wonderful group gathers on the 4th Sunday (usually) of the month at the Old Songs Community Center in Voorheesville, NY at 3PM, with a featured poet & an open mic. Worth the trip from almost anywhere.