The Safe Haven…Business or Pleasure?…, January 31

This is a new open mic series in town that I’ve been meaning to get to, but it’s on Thursdays & I miss at least one a month due to my own venue on the third Thursday & somehow other Thursdays get away from me as well. Finally, I got there this cold last night of January. But the welcome was warm & the poets were hot. It was co-hosted by Poetyc Visionz & Kat SoPoetic who also took turns working the sounds. I say co-“host” but it was much more free-form than that. Actually, it reminded me of a Quaker meeting where folks speak when the spirit moves them, no introductions (although P.V. did honor me with an introduction the first time I read for the benefit of those who wondered who is that stranger in the house?), poets & singers jumping up to perform a piece, then returning again later as inspired.

Kat SoPoetic did kick-start the night, “tapping into the energy,” as she said, performing the first of a series of her tough, personal pieces, this one about “writing replaces slitting her wrists…,” later a long piece with random guitar, “I Wear the Crown,” imagining the time after her death, & later with a piece about being molested as a child. Bless was there & his pieces ran from a seduction poem, to one on death & religion, to one on sex & rape; I miss his voice at the other venues in town.

Of course Poetyc Visionz put his positive spin on, including on the negativity of being high on chemicals & later on the paradox of being given the freedom to chose by “the Creator.” Michael Anthony Dillon did a long ramble about his life, an introduction that became the piece itself, later singing Bob Marley. I let the topics of the night dictate to me what what I should read, my first poem the recent “Trailer Park,” then later in the night, as “God” became a frequent topic, I read an older piece combining religion & sex (& humor), “Gods.”

Of course one problem in just getting up there is that if you don’t introduce yourself a stranger (such as I was) won’t know what your name is. There were a couple of performers like that, with their material running the gamut from religious testimony couched in rather derivative hip-hop rhymes, to political pieces on racism, to raps on love & on the Mother Land, Africa.

Once performer who did announce himself was the singer Bryan Barcello backed up with a professionally produced CD (& a rich, sonorous voice). Just before I left Christopher the Poet showed up to do his signature crack-addict performance. & I was happy to catch a fine poem titled “Unspoken History” about her great grandmother from a young poet named Shaniquise (again, not sure of the spelling.”

All in all a most interesting night, with or without names. This open mic takes place every Thursday at The Urban Book Cafe, 153 South Pearl St., Albany, with doors open about 8:00PM & the festivities starting about 8:45 — $5.00. But you know, I can’t make you famous if I don’t know your name.