Always high on my list of the monthly poetry events to join in, listen, read, with our host & my passenger, Don Levy. Tonight the open mic list included a covey of regulars, with a visitor from afar & a couple of shy listeners — as it should be.

Tonight our featured poet was Alan Casline, director of the Rootdrinker Institute & publisher of Benevolent Bird Press. He titled his reading “Political Tracks on the Face of the Tao of Nature.” Like a good Taoist, he cast the I Ching before the reading, getting hexagram #22 (Bi), variously translated as “Grace,” “Elegance,” or “Adorning,” leading to the poem “When Flexibility is in the Balance.” Of course, the natural world was the subject of the poems he read, including a poem about a spring in New Mexico, “Gate Closed” & the playful song in the voice of a “Lightening Bug/Firefly.” Another poem explained “Why I Don’t Pitch My Tent Inside the Fairy Circle” (good advice I hear). Some of the other poems were “The Last Will & Testament of Frederick Krause,” the Spring rain poem “Off the Face of a Field of Grass,” & “Downstream from the Escarpment.” Often philosophical & meditative, Alan’s poems can be playful too in their use of language, as well as tender & wistful.

Sylvia Barnard is out & about promoting her new book, Trees, but tonight read new poems, “Wind” about wind-turbines in Sicily, & “Autumn 2012” in which she combines the loss of lab mice at NYU during Hurricane Sandy with the killings in Newtown. Obeeduid celebrated his heritage with 2 Irish-themed poems, the first on the Irish language, “My Great Hunger,” then a poem on Death “The Melancholic Truth” (or as the Irish put it, “life is a dirge”). Alan Catlin‘s poem “My Dream Date with the Bronte Sisters” recalled the early Albany rock club, J.B. Scott’s, while “The Happening” characterized a modern poet in 1950’s era film noir. I did 2 poems of Winter, the older, darker “Winter Light,” the newer “Winter Peace.” A.C. Everson read from her early self-published chapbook, And Then Some, from “the worst time” the poem “Twice More,” then a poem from “good times” “Close to Home” with the audience quickly joining in on her repeated refrain. Bob Sharkey read from a couple of his ongoing projects, first from “the Genome Project” the poem “Wise Guy,” then “What’s That Sound?” single words from his word-a-day project.

Terry Provost was still in town & began with an old poem on Chaos Theory (& the butterfly as the leader of the Free World, or not), then the equally philosophical “A Day Without Wittgenstein…, on words, spelling & meaning. Our genial host, Don Levy, concluded the night with the urban poem, “Noisy Neighbors” & a poem on the old-time TV show, “Hullaballou.” There was a good crowd tonight with some listeners who wandered in &, of course, Alan’s wife Jennifer Pearce in addition to the poets who read.

A wonderfully relaxed, straight-friendly venue at the Pride Center of the Capital Region, 332 Hudson Ave., Albany, NY, on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7:30PM, with a featured poet & open mic for a small donation. Join us.