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

Monday, December 1, 2008


Three EOTNP poets entered the annual poetry competition at the Colonie Town Library, an event sponsored, conducted, and judged by William Robert Foltin. He also conducts the monthly Poets’ Corner at the library, where poets read and discuss their own and others work without critical commentary. The Day of Poet, as the competition is known, was well run, fairly well attended, and had more good poetry than I expected. My expectations were based on thin air, however, as I’d never attended the event before. Only after the event was over did it occur to me to submit a write-up about it, so I must limit myself to observations and impressions. A listing of poems read would be a long list, too long.
Contest Rules: Each poet pays a $3 entry fee (which all gets handed back to poets as prizes), and reads or speaks for two minutes. The reading periods are timed, and if the poet goes over the limit by 15 seconds the judge yells “time” and the poet must stop speaking immediately. After all the competitors read for two minutes, they all repeat the process for a three-minute period. Same rules. After the three-minute readings, there is an intermission. With eleven poets competing, a break is a good thing. Next, all the contenders go back up to the podium for the last round of four minutes. Poets are scored on the basis of presentation, content, and how close they come to the limits of two, three, and four minutes. The watch starts the minute the poet starts talking, whether making introductory remarks, reading poems, or plugging a book or upcoming event. Poets can use only their own work, making this a writing as well as performance contest.
Another rule is that anyone who wins the top prize ($200) is not eligible to ever win first, second, or third place money in this contest again. This rule probably insures that more people who don’t win will keep trying, and encourages new competitors to give it a try. Other poets can win token sums as determined by the judge and the amount of money taken in by entry fees, and this year W.R. Foltin chose to give every entrant a token prize if they were not in the top three.
Alan , having won the event last year and knowing he was ineligible for any of the top prizes, gave a less-than-inspired performance and ended up in tenth place (out of eleven contenders). We all know he can do better, much better; he proved it by winning last year. Tim Verhaegen (Tim Lake was also there) and Dennis were also entered, and read good selections from poems many of us have heard at our group’s meetings. I noticed that both Tim and Dennis had fine-tuned some of the poems I recognized, and that their presentation ability was above one or more poets who ended up higher in the final standings than they did. (Dennis placed sixth, and Tim placed eighth.)
A comment about the winners: that’s first, second, and third place. All were excellent, far above most of the people who show up at open mics around the region. Tim Lake (fourth place, couldn’t place higher by rule as a previous winner) is also a very polished poet and reader. First place went to Miriam Axel-Lute, whose level of presentation can honestly be described as professional. She probably has competed and placed highly in poetry slams, no doubt other events as well. She did all of her work from memory, and if she missed on anything it didn’t show. Everyone else in the contest read their work. Second place Michael Hare, from Saratoga, read from his book “Saratoga Lives.” A very strong reader. I’ve seen him at CafĂ© Lena. Third place Will Nixon, who hauled up from Woodstock to compete, read effectively from his own book (but I failed to get the title. A pen and a pair of dollar-store glasses are never around when I need them.) He was also a very practiced reader.
The whole thing ran from 10:00 to about 1:15, but was worth staying for because the upper end of the poetry and presentations was so good. There is no admission fee, only the $3 fee to enter. Anyone can watch it. The room at the Colonie Town Library is a fine venue for events like this.
William Robert Foltin has created a fine event. I expect to be there next year.
Paul Amidon


  1. Anonymous12/01/2008

    Dennis Sullivan, do you agree with Paul Amidon's findings?

  2. Anonymous12/02/2008

    Say there, anonymous, you aren't leaving Alan out of this, are you?


  3. Anonymous12/02/2008

    Nice write-up, Paul....makes me want to attend next year...

    Mike B.

  4. Anonymous12/03/2008

    Tim's comments about this event can be found attached to the November 24 posting "Notes From Dennis." Tim is right about the winner's first name being Miriam. W.R. Foltin left a message on my machine saying he had incorrectly given me her name as Mirian. Too late, the write-up was already out on the blog.

  5. After reading Tim's report, I think the event sounds confusing and arbitrary.