Occupy Albany teamed up with Albany Poets & touring performance poet Jared Paul to present a high-spirited evening of performance & politics at the Social Justice Center in Albany, NY.
To start off the night & to represent to the gathered crowd (part of) the range of poets here in Albany, Thom Francis, el presidente of Albany Poets introduced a handful of us to read, beginning with his own new poem. Kevin Peterson from the Nitty Gritty Slam Team began with a poem/lyric by Ani Defranco, then on to one of his signature pieces, what I call “the hangover/diner poem.” I followed with my piece written after visiting the Occupy DC & Occupy Philly sites last October, “One Day Longer,” then a poem read recently at a meeting of the Albany County Legislature, “If Peace Broke Out Tomorrow…” Another member of Albany’s Slam team, ILLiptical did his “Dark Knight” poem, often performed as a group piece, for the victims of the Aurora, CO shooting, then a new piece combining a homage to the wrestling star The Rock with his own role as a Slam Poet.
Jared Paul is a slam poet from Providence, currently on tour. His performance was high-energy, political & often filled with the cliches of Slam, though most of his pieces were extended performances beyond the bounds of the competition limit of 3 minutes. His ABCDerian piece on white immigration from Canada combined some of the best elements of his politics, energy & spit. And speaking of spit, he entertained us with a vigorous “bicycle vengeance” poem, landing a hawker on a cabbie’s windshield. He could quiet down as needed with a gentle love poem, & sing a bit as in a re-mix of a capella & hip-hop, a touring litany. But the rambling meditation on a train from Chicago to Salt Lake City was just too much as he threw in just about every thought he had on that long trip. But it was nice to end with a “victory story” about a police bus-load of arrested protestors singing the national anthem, & a chant right off the street. A energetic performance that the crowd loved.
I was pleased to see the Occupy Albany folks mixing it up with the AlbanyPoets who have occupied the scene for years.
One interesting aside: during Jared’s performance a guy wandered in from the street, thought it looked like a political meeting & wanted to talk about the environment. He was soon ushered outside, but explaining his urgency he said, “I always find out the next day about what’s going on.” Ain’t that the truth…