This was the 2nd reading in this series, starting just as the World Cup was starting. The reading was at The Low Beat, on a Sunday afternoon, & following the time-honored rule that if you want to have a good crowd for a poetry reading schedule lots of readers — this afternoon there was a 6-pack of writers, what one could say was “an invitation-only open mic.” Pine Hills Review is the literary magazine of The College of St. Rose’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.
To start us off Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Daniel Nester introduced the host of the reading, Senior Editor & Albany Slam star Samson Dikeman. The theme of the reading was “Smallbany,” poetry & prose about living & working in Albany. Ironically, the first reader, Elizabeth K. Gordon (aka Elizag) read a trio from her recent book of poems, Love Cohoes (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books) — close enough.
Katie Vermilyea (who also lives in Cohoes) read a memoir piece in short segments about being single & back in Albany, ranging from meeting “Brad” in the train station & a break-up, celebrity watching, to meeting “Graham” from Albany in Chicago. (Do guys really have names like that these days? Did their parents name them after TV characters?)
James Belflower was the most experimental of the afternoon readers. His poems (?) ranged from a take on punk music & the “No Pepper” sign at Valentines (now here at The Low Beat), to a commentary about a friend’s humorous use of “fuck you”, to a piece that started by talking about W.S. Merwin writing without punctuation then morphed into a take on “virtual reality” & reading the punctuation as part of the text.
Miriam Axel-Lute was more traditional in her poems, each referencing places & events in Albany, from the river (“Wednesday Hudson”), to “Tilting at Roosts” & Albany’s “crow wars,” to a piece about old trolley tracks on Delaware Ave., “A Winter Melting” where the highway & a public housing tower being torn down were both characters.
Frances Cortez O’Conner read a personal memoir about apartments she had lived in from New York City, to Albany, to having a baby & moving out to the ‘burbs in East Greenbush — a take on the classic American Dream success story.
The final reader, Elisa Albert, read from a personal essay in progress, a memoir that took us from working at the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, to a family history of Jews in Pennsylvania, & ultimately a commentary on the act of writing.
There is another reading scheduled in this series for Sunday August 10, 3PM, again at The Low Beat (335 Central Ave., Albany, NY) & a launch reception & reading on September 5 at The College of St. Rose. Check the St. Rose/Pine Hills Review website for complete information. & send them some stuff, they accept submissions year round (just like an S&M chick I knew in NYC years ago).