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, July 9, 2010

Fomenting Revolution

It appears that my blogging time, as well as my muse, has been slain by the demands of more plebian work. I was just too busy to blog the June 24 meeting notes, so I will incorporate them here.

Midway through last night's meeting, as we were struggling with unanswered questions over a poem, I was struck with the inspiration to abandon the RULES! After taking a quick survey, the group decided to suspend the protocol under which we have labored for umpteen years and try something new; namely, restoring the ability of the writer to respond to questions during the course of the discussion. I am feeling that this change will facilitate (stimulate?) conversation and the gavel will be employed with greater frequency, but I look forward to that. There will still be NO preamble allowed and this is being done on a trial basis. If it flops, it's over.

Paul reminded me that we have a fifth Thursday in July and we had vowed to begin discussion nights on such occasions. If you have ideas for discussion questions, please email them to me. I have started a list.

Alan mentioned that he is working on an Art Willis collection and an upcoming poetry day at the arboretum. Details will follow.

Moving on to actual poems. Ally joined us ready to do battle over war. I learned that the phrase "the dogs of war", which was the title of her poem, is a quote from Shakespeare. The poem strongly echoed the sentiments of most if not all of us - as Susan pointed out, poets are against war. However, some took issue with the generalities Cathy included, suggesting that they oversimplified the situation. Cathy, btw, expressed delight with the birthday book that Edie put together for her. She will bring it for show and tell.

Speaking of show and tell, Ann brought beets. Yep, chioggia beets. Alan, whose turn it was to do the second reading, was not happy with that one. Say key on jah. We all got to sample the shredded vegetable, which looks very similiar to a bermuda onion when sliced and tastes sweet and delicious. Ann's poem received very little critique because we were all busy chewing and discussing beets.

Alan's Molly Gregory was discussed a lot - portrait of a woman who was on the faculty of Black Mountain College, an experimental school begun in the 1920's (30's) and which died a dreadful death by mismanagement and bad press. The poem is part of a collection Alan is working on to present at a seminar later in the year. We found it confusing. Remarks were made that it was choppy and disjointed. I particularly felt that Alan was "telling" us things he should be "showing".

Dan wrote Painting a Poem, a lovely concept reflecting on making the transition between words and pictures. We suggested losing some of the "big" words such as verisimilitude and obliqueness, and changing some of the questions to statements to strenghten it. Susan asked for more specifics events to show the colors portraying the emotions. Dan has made great strides in the sophistication of his work since last year.

Clever Larry struck again with an ingenious portrayal of a man becoming a woman. It totally cracked me up . "The man waxed ashamed of his (hairy) chest and went to the beach in two pieces." Dedicated to Tim who was in P-Town for vacation.

Susan wrote Love Songs which we amended to Love Song, and she incorporated several of our revision suggestions to emerge with a totally kick-a poem about a man/woman relationship while the man is in prison. Lovely and sad.

Paul surprised us with a sarcastic rather than nostalgic piece called Repent, Ye Sinners. Larry expressed confusion about the first verse - I guess he is unfamiliar with "earthly disciplines". An amusing and satisfying poem.

Villanelles. They confuse me. 5 stanzas of 3 lines, 1 stanza of 4 lines with a complicated rhyme scheme which Jim Williams mastered while in traffic on I81 between Harrisburg and Scrotum (sic), PA. i don't think I will attempt one.

Here's the ketchup blog from June. (What is the matter with me? Just musing.) Because it was a small group, we let the conversation lead us in varying directions - covered kenning (I need to look that up, refers to changing words without changing meaning), Raintree County, Wallace Stevens, Sartre, suicide notes and other strange topics, all related to poetry.

Alan's Push a Blossom into the Green Fuse, a "take off" on Dylan Thomas, began the discussion of the kenning process. Alan, btw, had a successful performance at Cafe Lena last week, with several of us in attendance, although not me. Fearing the heat in the crowded upstairs venue kept me home. Not to worry tho, as Lena has finally acquired some a/c.

Larry's Allegory was another tickle-my-fancy as he described a yellow jacket "pacing like an innocent con in his cell on death row", then transporting the poor doomed creature in a dirty yogurt container to his grave - which, in turn, led to a debate over woodchucks vs. gophers not worthy of repeating here. Somehow Alice in Wonderland also became involved. I don't remember how.

People seem to be thinking war these days. Dan wrote about The Great War in dramatic detail. A few small suggestions were made regarding the use of capitals, keeping "creeping" instead of "slithering". Dan mentioned All Quiet on the Western Front which was one of my favorite books as a teen. I intend to re-read it now.

204 Boundary Avenue was almost a recap of Paul's early years. Beautiful memories of his grandmother's house; few improvements suggested as usual.

Missing Edie and some of the guys. Don't forget to send me topics and join us for the July 29 discussion, here at 6:30 p.m. Don't tell Larry yet, but I think I will ask him to moderate the discussion. Next regular meeting July 22. I might have a poem. Something that happened on the way home last night got me thinking about it.

AT (afterthought): Paul tells me his comments are still not getting through. My computer gurus are working on it again. Keep trying.

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