Here we are...

...a group of Baby Boomers of sundry religious,
political and cultural orientations, who have been
meeting at the Voorheesville Public Library since 1991
to read and discuss each other's poems.

We include old fathers and young grandmothers,
artists and musicians, and run-of-the-mill eccentrics.
Writers are welcome to stop in and stay if they like us.

Some of Us

Some of Us
Dennis Sullivan, Beverly Osborne, Tom Corrado, Edie Abrams, Art Willis, Alan Casline (all seated); Paul Amidon, Mike Burke, Tim Verhaegen, Mark O'Brien, Barbara Vink, Philomena Moriarty

Friday, June 29, 2007

Personally, I have to stop eating

We ate like starving third world children last night. Really. The bill at Smit's was bigger than I've ever seen it and it wasn't from the libations. That said, I will apologize for falling asleep on my couch and missing the beginning of the meeting. You, of course, carried on without me, but Alan (who was also late) and I just weasled our poems in under the time wire.

News first. Ally appeared to say goodbye for the summer as she has chosen to do water aerobics on Thursday nights instead of poetry (!). I concede it is better for her health, but we will miss her. Joyce tells me she is also taking a writing break. Burke has deserted us for the lake house. No Mimi for a couple of sessions. She will be in VA and at Pyramid Lake. Paul was missing last night and I missed the explanation if there was one. Also no Philomena. Still, a dozen of us there and some good, good poems.

Dan had questions about poems that rhyme v. those that don't and expressed his inability to write the others. We might want to spend some time talking about that subject and the subject of gerunds, which also came up. Dennis has suggested that we do an evening outside the library which is devoted to discussions of that nature. Our time is usually so short at meetings that we cannot get into other subjects of interest. We will be planning something.

Okay, the poems. Edie's Sanctum Sanctorum was unmistakeably hers and one of her best. Markle's new language was almost decipherable and very clever. He is making progress. Ally did a DRY LAND SAIL which was not only a great title, but a great poem about an encounter with a bicyclist with "lime green billowing".

Tom had a new technique called "leave extra words in the poem and let the audience choose". It worked admirably and we all had an opinion. It was fun. A small debate ensued about #4 pencils. Willow also prompted quite a discussion with her surprise ending on an "alien" poem which turned out to be litter of puppies. We opined that it needed a new title.

I missed the reading of Art's Targum but picked up on positive remarks about the cadence and the content. Dennis divided us all between those who had heard of Phillip Berrigan (the 60's peace priest) and those who hadn't. Our peace and justice master impressed us (me, anyway) with his personal acquaintance with the man who was an object of my admiration.

I got a little dramatic with Timmy by tearing his poem apart (literally) and did apologize after, but he didn't seem to mind. I found the first two pages confusing so I ripped them off. The final page I loved.

Dennis inspired me to write about my grandmother, who was his neighbor years ago. I was kind of rough on her. I have strong memories of our visits to her in Tennessee and think it was a strong poem.

Alan wrote about Adirondack clouds, ending with the terrific phrase "this weather is too small to hang your hat on". I loved that. He also published a broadside of my poem from last time about my family around the fire. It is adorned with a beautiful woodcut (?) of leaves. I love it and appreciate his effort with it. Thank you, Alan.

And - thank you all for your presence at my birthday and for the very thoughtful gifts and speeches. You are all very special to me.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Yeah, right.

All praise and acclamation to Paul who made a hefty contribution (okay, I'm wincing) at the meeting last night. We now have a gavel that can lick its weight in poets and writers. We practiced a little with it (I allowed Mark to take a turn) and it works just fine.

Paul also gave us a good solid poem about tintypes which prompted a lot of conversation. I guess most of us have some and we all have the same thoughts about the people pictured - their lives, their fate, etc. In reference to the poem itself, Dennis made a valuable comment about being able to take out word connectors without damaging the essence of the work. I feel the same about adjectives, as Mimi does about adverbs, and Willow about exclamation points! I just purposely omitted the unneccessary descriptor "old" from in front of tintypes, as of course the nature of the tintype means that it is old.

The Red Menace also prompted discussion about how some of us feel inadequate when faced with a poem that includes literary references that are unfamiliar. His poem contains some magical lines for me about angels ("with a leg, a wing in every world" "to grow wings, will that make us angels"), but I am trying to disgest "angellein" and "pre-valence", words I was not familiar with. Willow suggested stanza breaks to make each idea stand apart.

Willow gave her audience a little rap on the knuckles with a witty presentation about the angel Gabriel trying to locate a virgin mother for Christ. Yeah, right. Dan Lawlor made a good rhyming poem about movie-watching on the couch. Alan was still in his Christman reverie and wrote a poem in half-Christman, half-Casline style which I can't quite describe. It was a lovely nature portrait but I found the structure and rhyme scheme of the poem disconcerting.

Obeedude was totally incomprehensible and if you missed it you will have to have him explain it to you. Something about making up the language. Check out his blog today, he does have a wonderful growler thing-y on it. Which reminds me, Alan's new broadside has Mark's growler poem on it.

Philomena had a popular offering about the erosion of relationships: "...I remember that perfect sunset and you the kind of car you drove..."

Personal pick of the week was a close call between Tim and Mimi, both of whom I thought were top notch. Tim continues to grow by giant steps and Mimi keeps fine tuning her already sensitive and funny voice. Tim was doing things his own way in a gay nightclub. Mimi wrote a stinging commentary on the "Pope Discredits the Theology of Limbo". Both winners.

It was a learning meeting for me as I picked up a few pointers. Oh, yeah, I had a quiet and simpleminded little poem about two Bambis beside the road. Made me feel like I didn't belong in the company of great thinkers either.

I am going home to write thank you notes in the rain.

Monday, June 11, 2007

We meet again at last

Thank you, all my faithful ones, for your presence at my party, your wonderful words and gifts. I will be posting pictures and sending notes when I get "organized", as my mother used to say. She never did get organized, but it was a promising idea. It has been a long barren stretch but we finally meet this week.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dennis O'Sullivan Day (guest post)

Dear Dead Poets oh excuse me Dear members of the Dead Poets Society!!

What a wonderful time Georgia, our peerless leader Benevolent Bird, our esteemed and
venerable magister
Arthur, and Artisto Marco O’Briano—he said he likes O’s—and I had reading poems by Will
Christman, Hewitt [i
think was O’B’s poet], and ourselves on a variety of nature and non-nature subjects.

We drank small flutes of Mead sitting by the edge of a precipice overlooking the falls at the
sanctuary. It
certainly felt as if we were some resurrected dead poets society from a mighty prep school in
Massachusetts. Or maybe we were sprites at home for ever.

Thanks to Alan for organizing the event; he has added so much to our group by his interest
in producing
memorized poems contests, readings along the Bozenkill, broadsides, and little books of
would say libelli—whose spines are hand-stitched for security and art’s sake.

In between our readings we spoke about—some of us eloquently—that was a joke son!!—the
nature of religion,
the daimon, the spirit of the woods, the world, life, and how structured religions as practiced
by many
somewhere failed to invigorate, give the life they promised to those who need to live.

Mark and Art waxed eloquently on these subjects to such an extent that I rode over to SUNY
to ask for three
credits toward a docorate—which was antithetical to the purpose of the discussion which was
that there was no
external institution or being which/who could certify our experiences and give them greater
or even any
validity. If it were the Sixties I’d’a said: Heavy dude.