Social Gathering at the Social Justice Building

By Jesse Seidel

February 15th, I had the pleasure of attending, Third Thursday, the monthly poetry event at Albany’s Social Justice Building at 33 Central Avenue. This gathering happens every third Thursday of the month at 7:30pm. It is hosted by Dan Wilcox.

This particular reading was also attended by Bunkong Tuon. Author of Gruel, whose featured reading marked the halfway point of the event.

Here are the readers and wonderful pieces they shared. Some lacked names but deserve to be mentioned for their artistic content. (If anyone knows the names of these authors please let us know!)

Dan Wilcox opened the evening,

Bob read the poem “Siege” about war featuring the Philippines,

Howard Cohen read a poem of his own creation about his childhood, called “Dick and Jane”. This work was both nostalgic and humorous.

Douglas read “Kith and Kin”, a poem from his own book about bullying.

W.D. Clark read “Prospector’s Revenge”, a western tinged poem that reminded me of Johnny Cash.

Brianna read “Garden” a poem that was about her mother.

Mike, an energetic man, read “Steuben’s Charge”, a poem about the bravery and heroism of Frederick von Steuben; a Prussian who turned hapless farmers into a revolutionary militia, a formidable force capable of driving back the British and winning independence.

Bunkong Tuon read from his newest book, And So I Was Blessed, which discusses different aspects of Vietnam: the fetishization of its culture, its cuisine, his first impression of visiting the country, meeting his father’s family for the first time, and about the future.

Afterward, there was a short intermission allowing people to mill about and converse with one another. Then the second half of the open-mic began.

Dan Wilcox read once more, this time he read his “Birthday Poem”. Celebrating his 72nd year, demonstrating that the fire of youth is still alive with his charismatic and high-spirited performance.

Sarah read “Cassandra .999” that was about revolution.

Alan read “Valentine’s Day 2018”, which was a eulogy to the 17 students who died in the Florida shooting that coincided with that date this year, along with the others who were injured either physically or emotionally by the horrible attack.

Frank Roberts read a poem about Trumps Wall and how ladders exist.

Kim read off a familial love poem to her daughter.

Following was Don, whose poem was also a eulogy. Dedicated to a 19-year-old boy who was murdered by a white supremacist for multiple counts of discrimination including, his Jewish Heritage and his homosexuality. The boy tragically died due to senseless hate.

The event was then closed out by Clarisse who read a poem about complicated love lives.

All in all, the poems were astounding! I look forward to the next poetry reading – and the chance to engage with these talented poets – which will be on March 15th, the Third Thursday of the month.