Judith Prest

Arthur’s Market Open Mic, August 10

There’s always a good turnout here & especially so with the friends & family of the featured poet, Judith Prest (“if your friends & family don’t come to your readings, who will?”). Our host Catherine Norr keeping order.

There’s an exciting collection of young poets here at Arthur’s Market to talk, workshop & just plain hang out before the open mic & many sign up to read. First up was Sydney Lussier with a couple of journal type entries on “Mislaid Lessons” & on her anxiety of hanging out with friends. This was Megan Sherry’s first time here & she read a piece titled “Exoskeleton” remembering a friend who died last year. Sam Maurice explained that he attempted to write a female Hemingway hero, the result titled “For Everything Lost.” Samuel DeSantis read a complex piece, “That Dragon Cancer,” about a woman, roaring rain, & the disease like an invasive plant.

Shayla Clarke read 2 pieces from her laptop, “Will of the People” about a wished-for magical world, & a more personal piece on the misery of trying to compete “Xed out.” Margaret Bryant read a poem from her book written in a workshop run by Judith Prest, communicating with a rock. Richard Jerin was back with a poem about pen pals learning about each other, another about following a rainbow. Leslie Neustadt (who will be the featured poet here in September) read 2 found poems from the New York Times, “How to Plunge into the Abyss” & “Any Hidden Face.”

Judith Prest read poems from her books Elemental Connections & Late Day Light as well as unpublished pieces, beginning with “Chocolate.” Elemental Connections (Spirit Wind Books) is her latest collection & contains not only her poems but her photos as well, nature poems with herons, the Adirondacks, the ocean in a beautifully produced book. From the 2011 Late Day Light (also Spirit Wind Books) she read poems as memory — of her youth during the Viet Nam War, a poem for her son, one in the voice of her great Aunt speaking from an asylum — & her memories as her entourage. It was a great way for her to celebrate her birthday, reading her poems to a rapt, appreciative audience.

Our host Catherine Norr returned us to the open mic after a break with a new poem, “August.”

Next up, the poet who signed up as Asher Wilcox read her poem “Little Red Bird” based on Emily Dickinson’s “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” (Johnson #254), then a very brief & sad “Broken Sky.” I followed with one just written today “Finding Pokémon” then a poem for the season “When Donald Trump Farts.” Ann Stocker read a descriptive piece on the death of a bird, then one she described as “unfinished” titled “A Way of the Cross” about her aunt.

Taylor Pangman read an intricate piece with images jumping from one to the other, titled “Counter Activity.” Raaf could only find 1 of the poems, about a baby platypus, that he intended to read. This was Dan Vollweiler’s first time here & began with “a silly poem” “Ode to Political Wingnuts,” then another silly piece in rhyme “Getting Dressed in Mom Jeans.” Jackie Craven read an old poem, the ironically titled “Priority Mail,” about waiting for books at the New York Public Library.

Susan Jewell’s poem “On Giving Carl Dennis a Ride to the Hilton” was based on a recent, true incident in Saratoga & filled with not only literary allusions but also warnings from her mother. Malcolm Willison read from his intriguing series of descriptive poems about a house in Key West, FL once owned by Elizabeth Bishop, “Afterword” (#13). Karen Fabiane ended the night with one of her classics, “Seeing You Again,” then a new, in-progress piece about intimacies after a party.

This regular monthly reading & open mic takes place at Arthur’s Market in the Schenectady Stockade Section on the 2nd Wednesday, sign-up at 7:00PM, start at 7:30PM, with your host Catherine Norr.


This post originally appeared on Dan Wilcox’s blog on August 14, 2016.