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, February 27, 2009


The two Moriartys were the opening acts last night. Philomena wrote I only know exceptional people, the title being a line from a conversation with her husband. Suggestion: revise to 3-line stanzas. We all like the cast-iron skillet. Mimi was on point, both with her own poem Crying Baby and with her critiques. There were different interpretations of the meaning of "crimson age". Everybody agreed about the effectiveness of "Crap." Standing tall and proud.

Obeedude produced one of his finest, reflecting on lost childhood, complete with an elementary school photo of himself as a blond (!) necktied sweetie. "...was your life left at the bottom of a shoebox filled with Kodachrome and light?" Aren't we all there?

What is a poem? Benevolent Bird inspired yet more talk about what poetry is with Tyman Bouwensen, Dutch Soldier 1626 - an historical piece about the hostilities between the Dutch and the two indian tribes near Fort Amsterdam. Tim V. kicked off the discussion by pointing our that the "poem" read like a news release, with an aura of detachment between the event and author. Mark said it had no beautiful language and Mimi said the clunky lines needed air.

Bird's style to me (and I am only speaking for myself here) usually presents more as a science or history lecture than a poem. Very factual, very straightforward. Very prose. Leaving me with this question - if a writer presents something as a poem, should we just accept it as a poem even if we don't think it is? I dunno. How can anyone offer helpful commentary when they are coming from such opposing viewpoints? I guess I can't. The consensus seemed to be that this Dutch piece was a good story, but had no music to it that would make it poetic. Mimi's final suggestion was to make it a ballad with a refrain. There's an idea.

Alan sometimes has great rushes of inspired writing. I have a snippet from one of his poems tacked on my bulletin board. "...I imagined I was a poet writing you a poem made of wind when I'm the wind." That touched me. That's poetry.

Two, not one, but two, newcomers sat through and contributed to our brutal observations. Timothy Lake and Jim Williams joined us, both bravely bringing a poem to share. We now have a Tim, Tim and Jim, if we haven't frightened the new guys away.

TL picked a wonderful subject for his work - the demolition of an old house. It made me want to write about the same thing, which is always good. He had one phrase that I loved: "ample space for urban ghosts". The advice we gave was that he clean it up, take out unneccessary adjectives and substitute more descriptive words for less specific ones such as "part" and "form".

Jim got a resounding thumbs up for Arrivals---Departures, a terse two column snapshot of a middle-aged couple at an airport,
bags weighing them
Looked like he knew what he was doing.

More visual aids from Tim V. (hey, we could have a TeeVee and a TeeEll). Tim brought photos he had taken of a mystery 17th century cemetery he found on his travels. It was accompanied by a rather haunting poem, for which only minor suggestions for change were offered. I am a fan of old cemeteries and was particularly intrigued.

Another winner from Mister Willis, brief snapshots of an American high school girl and an elderly Russian peasant woman. Either stanza could have been a complete poem in itself, but meshed admirably through the idea of men being jerks. (Art said that, not me!)

Paul produced another flawless effort about a small boy and a lost coin, which Mimi observed was "wonderful before we started messing with it".

I did have a poem, about Eli and I visiting a house where no one answered the door. I thought my best line was the dog "yellowing the snow with impatience". Art pronounced it the "prologue to a novella".

I actually think that we are becoming quite adept at our critiques, and I am becoming an advocate of not pussyfooting around with our comments. (See New Year's Resolution.)

On to business: brunch date is Saturday, April 25, I'll go over details when it gets closer.

Remember the June art show! Bring your pieces to the regular meeting on May 28 and we will hang the show that night or the next day. Anything goes as long as you excercise reasonably good taste. Sculpture, collage, found art, painting or drawings (must be framed for hanging). Outre is in - evidence Mark's shoes descending from the hall ceiling. I just had an epiphany - how about a tromphe l'oeil in the hallway? We'll talk...


  1. Anonymous2/27/2009

    Nice job on this blog entry. I never realized how much time goes into a blog write-up until I did one myself.

  2. Anonymous2/27/2009

    Fort Orange, which we know as Albany not Fort Amsterdam which is Manhatten. Mark O'Brien's critique to the effect that of your historical based poems this one is lacking in language and literacy is one that is helpful and points me in a direction for my rewrite. "It is not poetry and doen't use poetic words" just shows how different are backgrounds are. Oh well, another day, another poem.
    Alan Casline