at the Social Justice Center, competing with a couple other poetry events in Academe the same night, we still had 5 poets in the open mic & a number of non-readers who came to hear the featured poet, Cara Benson. But first I invoked the Muse, the Gloucester poet, Vincent Ferrini & also played Willie Loco Alexander’s settings of Ferrini’s words.

First up was Schenectady’s (& the World’s) Alan Catlin, to read a poem in 2 parts, referencing Leonora Carringon, Dorothea Tanning, & Max Ernest, “Dopplegangers.”  Chad Lowther was back out at the open mics with a couple experimental pieces recently written in a workshop, “Love Song 28” (not sure who it is for), & “A Karaoke Bop,” a procedural poem based on a song lyric played through a voice-to-text program, a favorite technique of the workshop leader Tomas Noel. Bob Sharkey also brought a couple poems, first reading about an encounter with “Bear,” then a re-worked piece about St. Patrick’s Day in NYC, “Curtains,” cops & a chocolate shop. Matthew Klane also does experimental pieces, read 7 small “word investigations,” strung together as if 1 poem. I tried out a new piece, still being worked on, about September 11, 1973, “Tuesdays.”

It was a night of experimental writing from not just the open mic poets, but from our featured poet, Cara Benson. She read a new piece from a long work, “How the End Will Come,” with the section titled “Cara Benson.” It was a dream (right?) about doing a reading unprepared, & trying to fix the dream. Slowly the reading, her actual reading of the text, begins to break down, dramatizing what is happening (vomiting) on stage in the dream, but the audience (in the dream/poem) doesn’t seem to notice. It was a compelling & at the same time uncomfortable performance. Then, strangely seamless, into a piece about a discussion with her boyfriend about Abraham Lincoln, & Teddy Roosevelt, then another piece (or part of the same one?) & a list of names of famous people, a list without Teddy Roosevelt & another (?) piece like a post-something sci-fi story. Or was it all part of the same dream of a reading & an audience (that doesn’t seem to notice)? It really didn’t matter, the audience (this real audience at the SJC) sat in rapt attention.

We gather here, no matter how many other events are going on in town, at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, NY on the third Thursday of each month, $3.00 (or more) donation supports poetry & the Social Justice Center.