Poets Speak Loud!, March 24

Mary Panza put on her sexy high-heels, then made sure we noticed, as we gathered in the Back Room of McGeary’s, chasing out the interlopers on their way to the Palace Theater movie or the Capital Rep. Hey, all the theater was here! The featured poet, Ben Figueroa, brought some of his poetry peeps with him (you could tell by their hats), & Mary cracked the whip as our host. Meanwhile competing with a music open mic out at the bar area made me think we were back at Valentines, exiled to the attic. But we were poets speaking loud & we prevailed.

Sylvia Barnard was up first (an early arrival for dinner at Don Levy‘s table in the Back Room), with a couple poems from her poetry chapbook, Trees. I followed (I was also at Don’s table) with the new poem “Living in Wilcox” & a poem for this night, “What Passover Has Taught Me.”

Jamie Martin was part of Ben’s entourage with a piece based on Alice in Wonderland, “Alice at 50 Writes to Her Old Friends.” Brian Dorn read a couple of love poems in careful rhyme, looking for “Luck” in love, & in praise of subtle beauty “Plain to See.” A.C. Everson recalled a moment of good luck with an 8-ball break, “A Ball Breaker.” Tess Lecuyer‘s “Driving to France” presented an alternative to doing your laundry.

Tonight’s featured poet, Benedicto Figueroa, is the Poet Laureate of Union City, New Jersey; the fact that he as an office made some of the Albany Poets seethe. While Ben competes on Slam teams the poems he read & performed tonight were mostly of the story-teller variety without Slam attitude or spit, & were from his book, Was. Most of the poems were memories of childhood & school, teasing a girl (“Karate Chop”), finding god in sharing an ice with his mother (“St. Pete”), getting advice from a gay friend (“Friends & First Dates”), & the “Letter to my 8th Grade Self.” He ended with a couple of poems in the present, the tender love poem “That Finger” & an “occasional poem” he wrote for an event in Union City, a poem about the children of Newtown & about his own 4-year old daughter, “Tendencies.”

Don Levy was up next with one of the finest of his new poems, “Growing up Queer,” then on to getting lots of laugh with his dream poem, “NRA Pride March.” The night was getting long & raunchy (&, like I said, Mary Panza was in heels) & Ed Rinaldi was getting the brunt of it; about the poem he read, “Portage Reported” I can only report what I wrote down in my notebook: heading towards the Promised LandBrian Roessel was last month’s Featured Slam poet here & made the drive again to support his friend Ben, but he forgot his notebook of poems so did one from memory a poem he had performed last month, “Microsoft Word is a Mother-Fucking Prison.” One of Albany’s Slam poets, Algorhythm, followed with his dialogue-in-dialect imagined conversation with his father, but almost got derailed before it began with a lot of in-joke heckling from the crowd.

RM Engelhardt is definitely not a Slam poet & began with a poem about drinking at an open mic, “Poetry Whiskey & Buk,” then a poem from his new book, Resurrection Waltz, remembering the 1980s. Julie Lomoe‘s poem “Library Sale” was about the trashing of books. “K.P.,” another member of the Albany Slam team, had a couple of short poems, an untitled piece on writing a clever folk song, then a good Ketchup poem, “Realization Over Eggs.” After much joking & snarky comments, the Albany Slam team’s coach, Mojavi, did a tender poem about his new son, then a sadder piece about a dysfunctional relationship.  & that was the night.

The last Monday of the month finds this event at McGeary’s on Clinton Square in Albany, with lots of open mic poets & a featured poet — check AlbanyPoets.com for compete information.