Mark O'Brien

Pine Hollow Arboretum, September 12

Back for the open mic at the Pine Hollow Arboretum, with the featured poet, Mark W. O’Brien, who was back from Ireland (you did know that he went to Ireland recently, didn’t you?). Tim Verhaegen started off the open mic with a piece written yesterday about a panic attack on a recent visit to East Hampton, then a poem about a song from the 1960s singer Melanie, “Holding Out.” Our Arboretum host, John Abbul, read a poem “From Them” then a paragraph from an essay on “Truth” then a poem on our connection to the past “My Hand.” Mike Connor read 2 of his own poems, “Goodbye Summer” & “Dilemma or Adventure” (on getting engaged at 59) & then a poem by Seamus Heaney, a famous Irish poet. Joe Krausman’s “Scene in a Subway Car” was about a woman texting while making out, then a companion piece in funny rhyme on email love, & another poem on men in fake childbirth.

Our featured poet Mark O’Brien had a fine time in his ancestral home, being a true Irish poet. He performed from his work “Blackwater Suite” with Gail Allen on guitar. He introduced the work by saying it included new words to old standards in the grand folk-song tradition, even including singing in that ancient Irish musical form, Reggae, & with versions of “Amazing Grace” & “Tom Dooley.” The poems & songs were about the emigration of his family from Ireland to America.  If you are a member of Rootdrinker Institute you will be getting soon a copy of Mark’s chapbook; otherwise, you will have to buy it when you see him.

Following a break, Bob Sharkey continued the Irish theme with “The Clum’s Corner Manifesto,” another piece on Irish heritage & immigration, & a “scolding” by one of his ancestors, old Catherine Wayland. Tom Corrado read another of his “Screen Dumps,” this #115 musing on mediocre red wine & going on from there; ask him for a copy of one of his Screen Dump chapbooks. A new voice, Katrinka Moore, read a story of a girl, “A Chance to Redeem All Sorrow.”

Folksinger Deb Cavanaugh said she has been working on memoir pieces & read about all her moves & those of her childhood instrument “The Piano.” Alan Casline, our warm & gentle host, read a couple of seasonal pieces, “Lap Water Off the Roof…” that he dedicated to poet Dennis Sullivan, who wasn’t here, then a harvest prayer from the Hittite. Brian Dorn read a poem about himself as a child pondering who he will be “Creative Sonnet,” then the sensual love poem “Sublimely Connecting.”

The Pine Hollow series will be coming to a seasonal end after the November reading, so there are a couple of sessions left. Sponsored by The Rootdrinker Institute the program includes featured readers & an open mic, at The Pine Hollow Arboretum, 16 Maple Ave., Slingerlands, NY.

This post originally appeared on Dan Wilcox’s blog on September 23, 2014.

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