Bertha Rogers reading at Poets Speak Loud at McGeary's in Albany, NY

Poets Speak Loud!, August 26

I had been away for the weekend for some perfect beach time on Cape Ann but managed to arrive at McGeary’s backroom just in time for the start of the open mic, with il papa/el presidente Thom Francis (who very obviously was not Mary Panza) as our host.

When I arrived Sylvia Barnard was just introducing her 3-poems-in-1 “Trilogy,” each part gets it’s own introduction, about a recent vacation trip on the Danube River with her daughter. Joe Krausman read his versions/re-workings of 2 nursery stories, Jack & Jill & the Bible. Naddi hadn’t been here in a couple years but is back in town & treated us to 2 untitled poems, the first perhaps a love poem, the 2nd clearly a love poem, but to candy & chocolate.

Amy Schock has been away from the poetry reading scene even longer & was back with a couple of musical, rhyming pieces like song lyrics, “Barter,” & “But I Do Love You.” In contrast, Brian Dorn, who usually rhymes, gave us “23 Reasons Why This Poem Doesn’t Rhyme.”

Our featured poet was Bertha Rogers, the doyen of poetry in Delaware County where she oversees the Bright Hill Literary Center & publishes poetry under the imprint of Bright Hill Press, along with her husband Ernie Fishman. Most of the poems she read can be found in her 2010 collection Heart Turned Back (Salmon Poetry). This included the childhood memory “The First Time” & the revenge poem “When You Were Dead.” From a series of dog poems (the book is dedicated to the memory of 3 “dog-friends”) she read “The Old Dog’s Lament” & “Dog Girl Tells the Truth.” Among others were “Black Rock Forest” with its allusion to the demise of Nelson Rockefeller, “For the Girl Buried in the Peat Bog” which is a prayer for her preservation, & the New York City memory “Truman & Me.” She also read the ekphrastic sestina “Klee’s Wandering Off” & ended with a poem on the passing of Time, “Change Places.” It was a real treat that she made the long trek from Treadwell to downtown Albany to share with us a rich selection of her entertaining, thoughtful poetry.

Tim Verhaegen was a breeze from a different direction with a look into his past on Long Island, “Old People” & “Letters.” Our host Thom Francis took his turn with a poem on leaving, “Why I Look Out Windows.” Bless was also back among us with a recitation of his philosophical piece “The Perfect Life.” Since I’d gotten there late, I ended up on the bottom of the list & read a poem with a nod to Cape Ann, “Marsden Hartley’s Eyes” & 2 short segments from the longer, on-going “Counting Moons.”

Poets Speak Loud! is a production of It is held on the last Monday of each month at McGeary’s on Clinton Square in Albany, NY & is usually hosted by Mary Panza — an open mic with a featured poet, not to mention great food & drinks & lovely waitresses & bartenders.