James Schultis

Albany Word Fest — Day 1, April 13

The kick-off, the 1st round, the ceremonial 1st pitch, the face-off, the launch of Up the River, the opening lines of Word Fest in the backroom of McGeary’s on Clinton Square in Albany, NY. I was breathless. Unfortunately the copies of Up the River were still coming up the river & won’t be here until later in the week, but the poets were here.

el presidente Thom Francis welcomed us to this week of words, then introduced the 1st of the night’s hosts, Jill Crammond. Jill started us off with a poem by David Budbill, “The Three Goals”  (More of Budbill’s work can be found in the 2012 Foothills Publishing anthology In the Spirit of T’ao Ch’ien, edited by Charles Rossiter). But back to the poets of Albany & the other contributors to Up the River.

Adam Tedesco was first with a Whitmanesque (as in Walt) statement “Pay Me No Mind” (“I am all these things”). Cheryl A. Rice’s poem “Skype Poet” was a memoir of TV written last week. Therese Broderick’s poem “October Surgery,” was followed by Mimi Moriarty’s “Sleeping in my Sister’s Bed” another hospital poem; Mimi also read “Written After a Line by Emily Dickinson.” The poems Mike Jurkovic read are not in Up the River, the political “New York Swallows History” & “Owl” about a photographer of trains & his thieving wife. Shannon Shoemaker read a poem inspired behind the old Lark Tavern “Of Hummingbirds & Sunday Supper.”

James Shultis read 2 relationship (“I” to “you”) poems, “If It Were Warmer Our Arms Could Come Out & Take Them Away With Them” & the much-simpler titled “Focus.” & that was it for the poets in the new Up the River.  Oh, & Jill’s hair was perfect.

Kevin Peterson took over to host an unannounced open mic, starting off with his own poem “Dreaming of Super Heroes & Wrestlers.” Tess Lecuyer followed with haiku. Bless performed a breakup piece about his rough winter, with the message to love yourself. Shannon Shoemaker also had a new, untitled breakup poem. Avery performed his Kripalu commercial. Emily Gonzalez read a new poem, a memoir of going to Orchard Beach in the Bronx. Jacky K. read her bitter poem on her husband fucking “Beatrice Miller” on their wedding night.

Samson Dikeman read a poem based on a news story about pedestrians in San Francisco being treated as second-class citizens. Carolee Bennett’s poem about the loneliness of Space “Since They Manned the International Space Station…” was perhaps inspired by the movie Gravity? Don Levy read about an encounter “In the Pool” in Florida, talking prescriptions. James was back with a poem commenting on bike polo & teeth. A virgin poet, Millie, ended the night reciting an angry Slam-style poem “My Creed a Warrior’s Creed.”

Word Fest was off to a great start. More photos can be found at my Flickr! site.