To begin this third Thursday night I, as I am wont to do, invoked the Muse, tonight the gone bohemian character & poet Maxwell Bodenheim (1892 – 1954) by reading from his 1930 collection of poems Bringing Jazz. Then on to the open mic.
First up, as often, Alan Catlin, with a dramatic monologue about a farm family dying out, the widowed mother living alone. Sylvia Barnard reprised her 3-part poem based on a friend’s stories of growing up in Denmark on the eve of World War II, “Anna Poems.” Emily Gonzalez followed with a poem on aging “The Phenomenology of My Body.” Joe Krausman’s poem “The Greying” was also on that topic.
The much younger poet Anna Kreienberg’s poem was a satiric family portrait in 2-parts, “Aunt Sharon & Uncle Scott Still Live in New Jersey.”
Matthew Klane is the co-host of the Yes! a Reading series (with James Belflower) & is publisher of Flim Forum press. He writes quirky, playful “experimental” poems that he reads carefully enunciated to bring out the puns & word-play. He began his reading from his flash-card poems series “Of the Day,” hilarious word-poems, he said — & they are. Then on to something else entirely, an experimental “question-mark” he described as “a ghost story,” with the lights off appropriately enough, title “Druid Craft.” The story, if that’s what it is, was hypnotic, filled with images as if from a cut-up of Poe, or Lovecraft. Then on to something titled (I think) “Three Early Related Beginnings & a Fragment” & “Two Early Beginnings & a Torn Fragment Related” & “Passages from the Notebook” all punctuated by sounds from the street & colored by the unintentional atmospheric echoes of the amplifier.
We took a short break & turned the lights back on, & I read my new poem “The Sestina Sestina,” a sort of history of poetic forms in 20th Century American poetry, sort of. Don Levy read a poem inspired by a comment I wrote on Carolee Bennett’s Blog, his poem titled “Kiosks on Lark,” with it’s references to another Albany poet, R.M. Engelhardt. Sally Rhoades’ poem cried out “I Want to be Swathed in Beauty” among the simple elegance of April. Amazingly there were 3 “Bobs” signed up tonight & the first of the them was Bob Sharkey who celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems by mixing O’Hara’s “Yesterday Down at the Canal” with Bob’s own poem “Yesterday Down at the Piano in Front of McGeary’s” about the public piano project in downtown Albany (loved how he punned “Shit” with “Shiite”). Jessica was tentative about reading a new poem she was still working on (but it’s only an open mic where we try things out), maybe a song, maybe spoken word, on the the railroad tankers bringing oil through Albany, “Bomb Trains.”
Then on to the rest of the “Bob’s.” Bob Gumson’s piece “Nowhere With a Token” was a humorous excursion into 50-Cent style rap. The final poet, the final Bob was Bob W., reading from his notebook a consideration of what is in the water a “Barracuda.”
& so ended another night of poetry on the third Thursday of the month at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., 7:30 PM, with a featured poet & always an interesting open mic for community poets.