Susan Maurer

Third Thursday Poetry Night, July 17

Another third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, with our featured poet, Susan Maurer, all the way up from New York City. I invoked the Muse, the late poet-activist Grace Paley, then on to the open mic.

Alan Casline was the first poet up with a few chronological selections from a longer poem “To & From the West,” the results of a recent cross-country drive. Mark W. O’Brien hadn’t left yet for his much-touted trip to Ireland, read “When You Think About Growing Old” from his impending chapbook from Benevolent Bird Press. Joe Krausman didn’t read one of his own poems but a poem by English publisher, poet, & philanthropist Felix Dennis (1947 – 2014), “I Just Stepped Out.” M.C. Hurd read her poem “Taken” without an introduction, a new voice/face here.

Our featured poet Susan Maurer read from her 2012 Phoenix Press International book Josephine Butler: a Collection of Poetry. Susan & I had read together in 2009 at a Bowery Poetry Club reading organized by George Wallace, a poet from Long Island who will be reading in the Poets in the Park series. She jumped around in the text to give us a flavor of the variety of themes & styles in the book, beginning with the vignette “Strolling with Salisubsilious,” then to an oblique commentary “Seashine.” Another poem about the sea was “The Secret Life of the Fishes: FL, 9/21/98,” then a descriptive poem set in Iceland, “Saga Class.” “Black Lion, 12/16/98: Nightscope” is a surrealistic account of another American invasion, & then to a poem about the sounds of demonstrations against the Republican National Convention in 2004 outside her window. She also dealt with environmental issues in a poem about the horseshoe crab. Other poems included “Yellow Wool,” “Beak Eats” about an octopus, “Little Audience,” “El Lobo” with its reference to the Back Fence bar in the Village, & the title poem “Josephine Butler” with its account of feminist heroes. Susan said later she really enjoyed her own reading because people “actually listened” — it’s what we do in Albany.

After the break I read a new poem “Medicine Buddha.” Sylvia Barnard also had a new poem on Albany history, “The Journey of the Furs.” Bob Sharkey read a descriptive account of fireworks & the blues at a holiday celebration. The final poet for the night was Jessica with a poem based on a prompt describing what she sees “From My Window.”

The third Thursday of each month is Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY, 7:00PM, with a featured poet & an open mic for everyone else, for a modest donation that helps pay the featured poet, supports other poetry programs in the community & supports the Social Justice Center.  Join us.

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