Poets Speak Loud!, July 30 In the back room things got raucous with “Vodka Mary” Panza as our host, telling stories, trading insults, & creating new grammar & vocabulary & no one was safe.
Sylvia Barnard began it nicely enough with her poem about a visit to SPAC, “Ballet on a Summer Afternoon.” I followed, also quite nicely (if I do say so myself), with a poem in honor of visiting poet Ken Hada, “Oklahoma Sunday,” then the recent chance-meeting poem, “City Life.” Coincidently Bob Sharkey had a poem that referenced Indian Nations (as had mine), “Road to the Monuments,” then a meditation on the use of military drones, “As Olympic Flames Burn.” Emily Gonzalez began with a poem by Adrienne Rich, then one of her own, a tender poem listening to stories in a car, “Driving Me Back Home 7AM.”
Ken Hada was in town from Oklahome on a book tour; he read from his collection Spare Parts (Mongrel Empire Press, 2010), “Ramona” (actually about 2 Ramonas), “Streaking in Bible Camp” (27.3% biographical, like every poem), & a poem about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, “Security Guard.” Kim Henry‘s one poem, “Polar Opposites,” was more than enough to embarrass her teenage daughter in the audience. Kristen Day‘s wry sense of humor was out in force in “Dog,” & in her workplace poem, “Bad Mood.”
Before unleashing the night’s featured poet, ILLiptical, our host brought up 3 members of Albany’s Nitty Gritty Slam team (Elizag, ILLiptical & D. Colin) to perform their group piece “To The Company Making Trayvon Martin Targets” (The Hiller Armament Company of Virginia, if you are interested).
The featured poet had done his job & packed the house with his family & friends, so how could he not give a great performance. ILLiptical the Wizard of Mars is a teacher, wrestling expert, & member of the Nitty Gritty Slam Team. He began with a poem he described as being written 3 years ago & never performed, a declamation that “the stage is my life …” titled “Engraved.” He did his next piece in a falsetto voice of a young student talking about a substitute teacher “Mr. Jenkins” then the impassioned “The Last Jew in Spain.” Lightening up a bit his next pieces were haikus mainly about movies & in the voice of the movie character, then on to the prison metaphor love poem to his wife, “Sentence Complete,” & more comedy in “Loner Full of Irony.” He ended with 2 poems from the news, a Slam poem on the Aurora, CO shootings, & an eulogy for the local boy, Miles McAdoo.
Carolee Sherwood, after complaining that she didn’t have enough time to read all the poems she wanted to read at her recent Poets in the Park appearance, read “Apiary” that had been the Split This Rock Poem of the Week (local girl gets national poetic attention!). Tess Lecuyer read “Sonnet for a Watercolor” (from 2003) & a new, FaceBook haiku for her coffee. Chad Lowther doesn’t come to open mics often & his poems, like the one he read tonight (“We Admonishing Advice”), need more than one hearing — complex, interwoven.
Sarah Giragosian is also a rare sight, read poems from a series, one titled “The Fish Beneath the Portuguese-Man-of-War” & the other about the angler fish. Cheryl Rice‘s poem “We Live in a World,” about women changing their names upon marriage, comparing it to mutilation, was a big hit with in this audience. Thom Francis re-did his poem “Saving the World” from last Friday for those of you not there, a message that needs repeating. Sally Rhoades had 2 poems, “Mourning Mother” & “Studying Street Music.” Always positive Poetyc Visionz began with an anatomy lesson on how marvelous we are, then to the long & preachy “You’re Already Beautiful,” which sounds so familiar he must have done it somewhere else. Introducing Mojavi, Vodka Mary used another of tonight’s neologisms, “crotchily” — hmm? Anyways, he did his vision of the Apocalypse & pantheon of the gods, “The First & Last Time I Smoked a Joint,” then an excerpt of his piece on R&B, naming the names. Mary ended on a Slam note by bringing back Elizag to do her Slam piece riffing on “motherfucker/a” to promote the Nitty Gritty Slam Team.
Enough to make your head spin, even without Mary’s vodka. Poets Speak Loud is at McGeary’s on the last Monday of most months, check out AlbanyPoets.comfor up-to-the-moment details.