It was a slow-starting night, but by the time the crowd gathered we had 11 open mic poets, plus our featured reader, William Seaton. But first I invoked the Muse, tonight the sadly recently-gone Jayne Cortez with her wonderful, rhythmic, amusing poem, “You Know,” you know.

Respectfully following the one poem rule, Alan Catlin read his piece “Wasted” (he wasn’t wasted, that was the title of the piece), the lives trashed by urban violence. Brian Dorn was back again with a “social justice poem,” focusing on our similarities, repeating, like Jayne Cortez’s poem, “We All.” Bob Sharkey‘s poem “To the One to Whom No One Lights a Candle” was Nancy Lanza & gun violence & women with guns. Alan Casline read a poem “The Poet Universe is Expanding” where we all become dust. Tess Lecuyer talked of Winter camping & read a poem about it “After Winter Day at LIttle Notch,” perhaps one of the only poets who can make me (almost) want to do it.

William Seaton channels Kurt Schwitters

Our featured poet William Seaton has a new book out from Nirala Publications, Dada Poetry: an Introduction, containing translations of German Dadaist poets Emmy Hennings, Richard Huelsenbeck, Hans Arp & Hugo Ball. I discovered Dada in high school & along with the Beat poets it blew open the poetry I’d been reading in anthologies of 18th & 19th century English poets, made me find “new” ways of using words, of looking at the world. I’ve continued into the 21st Century to study the interlocking lives of those German & French poets of the early 20th century, & this book certainly contributes greatly to that study. After an abbreviated recitation of a poem by Kurt Schwitters, Seaton gave a relaxed, wandering lecture on the beginnings of Dada & the role of the 4 poets in his short study. He read a poem by each, & ended with a few of his own Dada-influenced poems from his collection Spoor of Desire (FootHills Publishing, 2008).

Bob Gumson

After a short break for a chance to buy books, I re-started the open mic with a new poem, “The Leprechaun’s Cottage.” Amy Nelson Hahn handed out copies of the poem she read, “Transition Black and White” about the chance meeting of a skunk & a train. Jan Farrell returned tonight with a poem, “It Just Happened,” memory bound up in a chance meeting. Arielle Gumson has also read here previously & tonight read the story-line for a children’s book she is writing. She also brought along her father, Bob Gumson, our last reader for the night & the first poet I can recall to read his work from Braille; his poem was inspired by the 2011 Occupy movement.

We gather each third Thursday at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany, 7:30PM for an open mic with a featured reader. Bring a poem & $3.00 donation (which helps to pay the featured poet, supports the SJC & supports poetry events in Albany).