Don Levy has run the Live from the Living Room reading & open mic series at the Pride Center of the Capital District in Albany, NY on the 2nd Wednesday of each month since February 2003. He has recently taken on other poetic duties, including writing regular book reviews & blogs for the Albany Poets website & he decided it was time to hang up his runcible hat. He went out in a gay blaze of glory, with many poetry friends returning to celebrate Don’s years of supporting area poets.
The featured poet on this last night was Sue Oringel who also did her job by bringing some friends to her reading. She read from a manuscript of poems titled “My Coney Island” a poetic memoir & tribute to her parents who had lived on Coney Island. Food — they were Jewish — played a large part in her memories & her poems, as in “Not Just Any Old Food” which was about her grandparents & her father. “Song of Coney Island” (based on a Lorca poem) was a celebratory piece, while “Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, 4th of July” brought us back to food. Other memories of her parents were “My Father’s Workshop,” “Freud in Dreamland 1909,” & a poem about her mother as the French chanteuse Edith Piaf. “Last Responder” was an odd piece about a man sifting for remains in the ruins of the World Trade Centers, while “Olive Juice” & “The Fact of Actor” played with the sound of words. “Chopped Chicken Livers” was like a recipe as memory of working with her mother. Then on to “Poor Everybody” & the lush descriptive “Mom & Dad Barbecue in Heaven” (food again). She ended in dreams, “where I began & begin again,” in the title poem “My Coney Island.” Rich, elegiac & conversational poems looking for a publisher.
There was a short break to pass the hat one last time, taste some chocolates, cheese & crackers (from Sally Rhoades) then on to the open mic.
I was first on the list (since I arrived with Don) to read my tribute to this series “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” (which you can read on this Blog). Carol Jewell (the first of the 4 Carols of the night) read the sexy “Furtive,” poems like a beauty sought after.
A.C. Everson began with a look back to the weather of a month ago (unlike today’s unseasonably warm weather) with “Cold Feet,” then the short Zen-like “Bliss.” Our 2nd Carol, Carolee Bennett said she had a Valentines poem that she was going to read just to Don & the rest of us shouldn’t listen, but I at least caught the title “Prettier When You Smile.” Sylvia Barnard read again her abstract, scientific poem about cells in our body having a reunion, then from her 2012 poetry collection Trees “Poem for My 72nd Birthday.”
Sally Rhoades read her 2 poems from the recent anthology 2, “The Sky is My Witness” & “A Silence.” Another Carol, Carole Rossi read a poem from her project of 120 days of dreaming poems “Dreaming Day 95: Super Ego, Ego & Id Have an Argument While I Do the Dishes.” The final Carol of the night (I’ve never been anywhere where there have been 4 Carols) Carol Graser read a loving poem written for her son’s wedding “Dissolving the Distance Between You.”
Don has always ended the night as the last reader, often with a brand-new poem he had just cranked out, but tonight he instead looked back at this series & others he had done &, most importantly, thanked all the poets & listeners who made all this craziness worthwhile.
It’s important to note that future 2nd Wednesdays of the month will not be bereft of poetry since there is an ongoing poetry reading & open mic on that day at Arthur’s Market in Schenectady each month that now, finally, I will be able to get to. For details on that & all the other poetry events in the area check out the calendar on AlbanyPoets.com.
The post originally appeared on Dan Wilcox’s blog on March 10, 2016.