Back up to Saratoga Springs, this month with my friend Don Levy tagging along for the first time in many months. It was another full list of open mic poets & a similar program of the featured poets, the Nitty Gritty Slam team out of Albany, NY, fresh from their appearance at the National Slam Championship.

But first, Carol Graser, our Caffé Lena host started us off with a poem, “The Quiet World,” by Jeffery McDaniel. Rodney read a couple pieces (the rules being 2 short piece or 1 medium length piece) from his chapbook titled “Moons for the Moon to Read.” Carole Kenyon outed Carol Graser as a Birthday Girl today, with a birthday/toilet paper poem, then read a piece about the recreational drug “K,” “Anteaters.” Kate McNairy‘s poems go by quick, like her first poem “White Heat” then “Architect,” a meditation that whoever made lilies made us too. Steve Pillar had one long piece in rhymes, on a theme from the New Testament, “Mary Oh Mary.”

Albany’s Nitty Gritty Slam Team  members Kevin Peterson, Elizag, Algorhythm, D. Colin, ILLiptical, & coach Mojavi performed a wide-ranging selection of individual & group pieces. Kevin Peteson‘s “Self-Analysis” played on his name, & later he did his outrageous, over-the-top parking ticket poem. Elizag did her moving piece to her brother playing off the hymn “Amazing Grace” & later a series of playful haiku.


Algorhythm did a piece incorporating social commentary & his own personal record, as did ILLiptical‘s piece on hero teachers/mentors. ILLiptical also did a tribute to the singer Sam Cooke, incorporating (& singing) some of his lyrics. Mojavi“cheated” by reading his break-up poem off his phone.

The 2 group pieces included Elizag, ILLiptical & D. Colin doing a poem “to the company selling Trayvon Martin targets” & another about the shooting in Aurora, CO. D. Colin‘s musical poem to Haiti, “Beyond What They Say,” always moves me, & her piece “I Am Not a Slam Poet” said to listen to her words, not her antics. Good advice.

Back to the open mic Carol Graser read her own piece “The Shopper” about the all-too-common response of being overwhelmed in the supermarket. Gordon Hayman‘s first poem rhymed about mixing & matching, while “Esther’s Kitchen” was a childhood memory about a warm place. Patricia Kay first told us about an art exhibit she has at the Perrella Gallery at Futlon-Montgomery Community College (until December 14), then read a piece about painting a wall, “In the Company of Masters,” followed by stories collected from animals in the forest, “Newstand.” I followed with a couple poems written this Summer, “The Meaning of Roses” & “Alcoholism.”

The young poet Eliza was inspired by the Slam team’s performance & just wrote (or as she said “coughed onto the page”) & practiced in the bathroom the emotion-driven “Slam.” AlbanyPoets’ el presidente Thom Francis read the tender poem to his grandfather, “Easter Visit,” then his love poem to his insulin pump, “Machine.” Don Levy‘s poem “70’s High School Cafeteria Blues” was a letter to a classmate, while “Obama at the Nursing Home” was an outrageous response to Republican campaign rhetoric. Charles Watts was down from the High Peaks Region to read from his just-published book, Raptures: Tales of Darkness and Light (Ra Press); he read the “Stolen Preface” (a re-mix of sentences from Anton Chekhov), then a poem on the various ends of the World, “Raptures.” Barbara Garro‘s “New Day Prospects” celebrated the “wonders” of aging, then another piece in rhyme, “Violence.” A.C. Everson, the night’s last poet, was also a Birthday Girl & began with a screed against the diseases that are taking our lives, then a poem for her recently-deceased mother, “Bad Daughter,” ending the night with the pondering of “Probable Blunder.”

Here at Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs, an open mic for poets with Featured Poets (there are also open mics other times of the month for musicians, comics, etc.) on the 1st Wednesday of the month, $5.00, 7:30PM.