Caffe Lena Poetry Open Mic Featuring Quarry Songs

Poetry Open Mic on Wednesday, September 1 Featuring Quarry Songs: A Song Cycle for Change


Hosted by Carol Graser

For those of you that can’t attend in person, the featured performance only will be streamed live at 7 PM. Go to and click the red box for “Watch From Home”. Please note that the open mic portion of our event will not be recorded or streamed. 

Our virtual audience can donate to poetry night at anytime during the reading or click the link above to lend your support to Caffe Lena whenever you want.

Quarry Songs is a collaboration and crossing-over between music and text, where the thoughts and ideas of poet, composer, and performers form the basis for a four-song cycle, a world premier for soprano, baritone, and piano by award winning composer Brett L. Wery. Quarrry songs features the poems of Carolyn ForchéReginald Harris, Joseph Ross, and Laura Tohe. The poems represent varied American perspectives of the artifacts of human existence and the trajectory of our culture(s), the human capacity to grow numb to suffering, the weight and cost of identity—self-imposed and projected—on ourselves, our nation, and our children. The poets’ voices represent not only suppressed perspectives but also the voices of Americans born of privilege, willing to use the power of art to focus the readers’ minds on the rough truths of our shared history as Americans. The pieces will be performed by soprano Areli Mendoza-Pannone, baritone Robert Frazier and pianist Mark Evans.

The poems that will be performed are listed below:
“Museum of Stones” by Carolyn Forché (poet, translator, essayist and human rights activist)
“Normal” by Reginald Harris (Poetry in the Branches Coordinator for Poets House in New York City and Contributor to LGBTQ America Today: An Encyclopedia)
“Hammering on Rocks” by Joseph Ross (author of four books of poetry including Raising King, which explores the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr.)
“My Body Holds Stones” by Laura Tohe (Navajo Nation Poet Laureate and Professor Emerita with Distinction from Arizona State University)

About the Composer 
Brett L. Wery is an active composer/arranger in the Capital Region area of upstate New York. For twenty-five years he taught theory, conducting, and applied woodwind studies at Schenectady County Community College where he also directed the college wind ensemble. He is  the Music Director/Conductor of the Capital Region Wind Ensemble in Schenectady, NY—a group of professional musicians that has premiered many of Wery’s works for wind ensemble and band. An award-winning member of ASCAP and SCI, Wery’s compositions have been performed and recorded around the world and include Sonata for Guitar Quartet, Dance Variations for Woodwind Quintet, Oot-kwa-tah for chamber orchestra, Four World Variants for Clarinet Quartet, and Sonata for Multiple Woodwinds and Piano.

About the Performers 
Soprano Areli Mendoza-Pannone and baritone Robert Frazier, currently in the Opera Studies Program at SUNY, have been frequent performers on the Caffe Lena stage both as part of Open Mic and, in August 2019 as part of the award winning Out of Time Barbershop Quartet.

Pianist Mark Evans is Associate Professor of Piano at SUNY Schenectady. He has performed throughout the Capital Region including Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, the Hyde Collection and Caffe Lena. Mark has recorded CDs with mezzo-soprano Lucille Beer and as part of the Lev-Evans Duo in a program for piano four-hands.