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, August 13, 2010


The meeting three weeks ago, a tumultuous blend of blather, multiple conversations, and performances, was attended by fourteen poets and combatants. Apparently quite a few people got their fill at that one, because a total of four poets, a record low as far as I can tell, showed up for tonight’s session. Maybe it was the summer doldrums, level of humidity, position of the stars, or possibly that not much writing has been done of late, but there was discussion time aplenty and we made the most of it. Still, it came as a surprise, left us wondering if there was some cosmic reason for the empty chairs, a reason that might be grasped if we tried hard enough. We didn’t come up with one. We gave up looking after a minute or two and moved on to the poems.

My offering was “Reunion,” a short poem that Dennis felt was one of my better efforts as far as rhythm is concerned. Cathy thought it had a depressing quality, since the reunion referred to is one that occurs after death. Ann liked it because it was “more obscure” than most of my stuff, and provokes thought by being so. I stumbled into the rhythm by accident, but did hope to provoke thought by the subject matter.

Dennis gave us “The Nature of Native Land.” A short period of silence followed, then he tossed out the clue that the poem was about the nature of personality. Cathy said “It’s too deep for me.” Dennis gave us some background material to the effect that each person has a native land that is their real self, from which personality develops. The poem, he explained, expresses a theory of personality. There was a brief discussion of the line “when the snow turns cold,” but nothing was resolved about how the snow is before it turns cold. I think it’s a thought-provoking line (among others). The poem was written at 1:08 a.m., when deep thoughts are bound to be out on the ether of the universe. I’ll have to try staying up later and see what happens.

Ann’s poem “Cardinal Flowers” generated much discussion, some of which might actually prove useful when considering revisions. The basic idea of commenting on these endangered flowers in conjunction with several problems facing present-day Catholic religious leaders is a creative one, but several parts of the poem would benefit from clarification. The ending lines are strong and need little change (I won’t give it away). I expect a very good poem to emerge from all this.

In the discussion of this poem, Dennis noted that Ann has a feeling for the subjects she writes about, and also worked into his commentary the following observations that I personally was unaware of: (1) A poet should never give the reader a choice, (2) The preposition is a late manifestation of the language, and (3) The pluperfect tense is valueless in poetry. Good thing I showed up for this meeting. Who knows if I’m guilty of any of these?

Cathy brought “Strange Taste,” a reflective work I felt could be made longer, although I couldn’t explain how. The feeling she wants to express is already there, but might be strengthened with more elaboration. Since I couldn’t offer any specific suggestions, however, maybe it would be better not to tinker with it. Nobody else recommended tinkering with it.

After grilling the poems, we sailed off into the wild blue of non-literary current events before gaveling out early. A bit of musing on the idea of Tom writing a few blog postings occurred, but since Tom’s current residence is half way to Idaho the chance of it happening is slim. Cathy brought the book Edie made from poems and photos of Cathy’s birthday party, a professional-looking hardcover volume only talent could produce. Top-notch job, Edie.

There are poets lurking around the area, and somebody besides tonight’s stalwart four must be doing some writing. Bring some to the next meeting. If only three show up next time, I’ll take the other two to dinner and write a piece of pure drivel about the missing poets.

-Stoneman Amidon

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