Janet Hamill

Third Thursday Poetry Night, May 15

There was a good group of local poets gathered to read in the open mic & to hear our featured poet, Janet Hamill. Our Muse tonight was the rock’n’roll poet Lou Reed, as I read his piece “Chelsea Girls.”

First up to the mic was Alan Catlin with a reading from “an anti-Mother’s Day” book, Books of the Dead: A Memoir with Poetry (Pure Heart Press, 2014), the poem “From Bubbles to Bag Lady.” [I hope to discuss this book in the near future on this site.] Joe Krausman read a new poem about being an old guy “Coming Of Age.”

Emily Gonzalez read once again her bitter-sweet memoir poem “Moon Goddess” — I can’t hear it too often.  Sylvia Barnard did a 3-part poem, parts of which we’ve heard before, based on tales of Denmark told to her by a friend. Bob Gumson was back after a hiatus & joked about being Homer, then read a funny ditty “Fishing.”

A number of years ago I found Janet Hamill’s little book of NYC prose poems, Lost Ceilings, at the St. Mark’s Bookshop (A Telephone Book, 1999). Part of its charm was that it was produced at The Print Center, formerly of Brooklyn, where my first foray into small press publishing, Naitnecniv: the Anthology of the Albany Vortex, was produced back in the 1970s. Lost Ceilings, I see now, is like a 20th Century NYC great-grand-daughter of Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen. Tonight she read primarily from her new book of short fiction Tales from the Eternal Café (Three Rooms Press, 2014). She began with segments from “Ursula and the Sublime” about a painter (“a female Turner”), then some chunks from the beginning of “Baudelaire at the Prince of Wales.” The section from “Espresso Cinecittá” was a vignette in the famed Italian movie studio, then the final tale in the book “Lake of the Buddhas” read in its entirety. Then from a series of pantoums about places she has travelled to, the Jersey shore, Tangiers (with images of Kerouac & Burroughs), & on the North Atlantic. She ended with one of the “Nocturnes” (#2) from Lost Ceilings. A pleasant mix of wild-flung poetic stories. Buy the books.

After the break during which Janet sold some books I continued the open mic with a piece from Poeming the Prompt (A.P.D., 2012) “Tell me why I can’t sleep in the tulip beds.” Kwesi (whose name is often mis-pronounced) (“Born On Sunday”) read a poem for his parents “Being Kwesi at Mom & Dad.com.” Miss S. has become a regular here (we know she is Jessica) & read about getting through life “Vaporized.” Bob Sharkey read “Goose Rock Beach 1947” for his nephew who was battling the fires near San Diego. Brian Dorn signed up late & ended the night with “No Comment” (“… is no answer”).

Another good night at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, as we do each third Thursday of the month — 7:30PM, a featured poet & an open mic for community poets. Please join us & support your local poet.