Wil Gibson

Word Fest 2016 – Albany Poets Presents!, April 20

The third in the continuing bi-monthly series at Restaurant Navona on New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY — this is a relaxed setting for a showcase of an individual poet. I like to get there early, enjoy dinner, wait for the audience to arrive. In February I was pleased & honored to have been the showcased poet.

Tonight’s poet was Wil Gibson, a West Coast wandering troubador, traveling across country doing readings, selling books. He & his companion were delayed on the road by traffic but that just meant there was more time for the rest of us to hang out, even a visitor from D.C. who found the event on the Albany Poets calendar. Thom Francis, el presidente of Albany Poets, was our host.

Wil Gibson did a free-wheeling reading, beginning with memoirs of his childhood, his mother dying when he was 13 years-old. He read from chapbooks & notebooks, including the poems “Street Corner Gods, Parts 1 & 2” from his undated chapbook Pilgrim from Red Bench Press of Eureka, California, with his traveling buddy Alex Horspool on ukulele.

Alex switched to an alto sax for Wil’s tribute to the gone Beat poet Jack Micheline (1929 – 1998) “A Poem for Razors & Sea Lions,” as well as others. Alex himself read a brief poem from his phone.

Wil’s poems frequently referenced “god” & his mother & he is solidly in the Beat tradition, such as “The Right Foot of God” & “To My Students Who Ask Me How to be a Writer.”  In the Q&A session with Thom Francis & the audience, he pointed to his white-trash/truck driver/homeless/drug addict background, but, in addition to the Beats, pointed to Kurt Vonnegut, Stuart Dybek, Gil Scott-Heron, & Tom Waits as inspiration. He lives in Humboldt County, CA but is nostalgic for Chicago & Portland, Maine.

Albany Poets Presents! happens every other month, check the calendar at AlbanyPoets.com for details — & Support your Wandering Poets!


This post originally appeared on Dan Wilcox’s Blog on April 26, 2016.