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, October 29, 2010

working backwards

I hope you all took the time to read Self Portrait IV which Dennis passed out at the end of the evening and we did not have time to read together. It is a wonderful work and worthy of conversation. Dennis graciously gave his time spot to Philomena who came late with paradoxical poem with a fascinating title (Schrodinger's cat?).

Obeeduid's visuals put a real kiss on Dad was right you had great gams about his mother and his daughter. "in the archway the a kitchen...I was never in". Good stuff.

Dennis compared my Orphan Chronicles, part 1, to a Greek chorus, a two-voice effort about, what else, the parents. Our guest Rod Cornell, who I have not yet mentioned, did a nice reading of it and I forgot to compliment him. Rod is (was?) a teacher at the high school who wants to do some writing and came at Dennis' urging.

I questioned people about any experiences with the fairly new Troy Bookmaker; contemplating self-publishing a book of my Alzheimer poems.

I am afraid I went a little off the rails over Alan's Bee Buzz Before the Winter. Sorry, Alan. The following comments are mine alone: the poem was floating along in a lovely lyrical manner - "flowers drip desire...who will drink our nectar?..." when, whammy, he dropped in a textbook excerpt on how many pesticides are found in the human body, intestinal flora, herbicides, chemicals, percentages, organisms,and more,then abruptly began to wax poetic again at the end. No, I do not consider scientific data poetic. Informative, enlightening, maybe activist, but not poetic. It gave me an abrupt, stabbing pain in my head.

Larry did not delight me either but his collection of 87 (yes, Alan counted them) one-liners did inspire quite a bit of discussion, beginning with way to pronounce the title Seraglio (meaning a harem, pretend there's no "g"). General consensus: too long, not cohesive, no taproot, possible haikus. Mark went to the bathroom and said he missed nothing.

Tim delighted all of us with Mister Figgerwigger's Sister, a poem in "constant motion" which O'B said had a rhyming Cat-in-the-Hat feel. It included a love poem to Dennis, who proclaimed it a "great step forward, a liberation poem" for Tim. I just took it for a great, amusing character sketch. The shower curtain joke is pretty funny.

This poem also led to Dennis' speculative question on whether an adjective ever takes away from the force of a noun. Good question to ponder, maybe talk about. That leads me to announce the change of 5th Night Poetry discussions to 1st Night poetry discussions, still on Thursdays, still nicely alliterative. For those interested, we meet next Thursday at 7 p.m. in the director's office to talk. Everyone is welcome, last time was fun.

Israel's musicality (how Paula Abdul of me) was evident in Coppertop (an energizing drone in the movie The Matrix )who dreams of a more utopic world as he works. With a few syllabic adjustments it would be a perfect rap.

Catherine's Wheels led to talk of similes and metaphors, with Dennis giving pertinent examples in a very effective relationship poem, tightly focused and universal.

Dan's blossoming artistry shone through in The Dead Soul, a rather dark railroad journey through dreams. "haphazard tunes on broken silk....infuse the silence of the night...dream a dream of no demand".

I am an old woman and I reached for the Websters to look up dactyl, a word that came up in our discussion of Paul's Carousel Horses. The poem received mixed reviews. Catherine pointed out that it was a little unsettling, as clowns can be, and it revived creepy, puking memories in Mark. Someone asked "what is the message?" in the poem, and I wanted some color.

The dictionary on dactyl, btw, says a prosodic foot of three syllables, one long followed by two short in quantitative meter. So, I looked up prosodic, the appropriate meaning of which seems to be the stress and intonation patterns of an utterance. Fortunately I knew what utterance is, so I went back to quantitative and got pertaining to or based on the relative duration of syllables. I am getting a little discouraged. This seems too much like work.

Dennis reiterated his invitation to a memorial poetry/food fest in honor of Arthur, to occur the day after Thanksgiving. You should all have rec'd an email. EOTNP (and s.o.s) only.

Eight of us, who seemed to be starving, went to Smit's for sustenance and were briefly joined there by Jim who had been referee-ing. Gosh, I have no clue how to spell that. And I don't intend to look it up.

Hope to see some of you next Thursday. Larry, Tim and I are definites. I am heading to Dobb's Ferry today for Hallo with some of my kids. I'm psyched.

Friday, October 15, 2010

No Difference Between Living and Dying

The last man in will be the first man up: Dan Lawlor brought The Child Inside, which he dedicated to Dennis. It proposed a thought provoking concept that at death we are greeted by the child we were born as and he presented it well. Mike B. commented that it was a beautiful idea, filled with peace.

Mike, back from his Saratoga sabbatical, brought an appropriately titled piece which put the finger on the track and it's patrons accurately. Most of us agreed that the first verse which described the physical surroundings was unneccesary (boring?) and could be incorporated into the next verses with the use of adjectives.

Philomena, back from the unknown, who snuck in even later than Dan, offered a nice small poem with a great title Only two elevators left about the enforced intimacy of elevator rides. Susan was expounding on love with wonderful imagery that was cluttered and in need of trimming. Larry suggested she try to make a story from the scattered list.

Susan was "dancing with joy" over Dark Water, brought by Michael Nardacci. Mike freelances for the Altamont Enterprise and heard about EOTNP from Jill (our poetry "groupie" from Smitty's). Mike is a spelunker who is probably full of exciting tales of caves. It was quite obvious that he was no fledgling writer from the quality of his poem, a dense and descriptive adventure that produced strong emotional reactions in many: "powerful presence, tapestry of cold, chill, black, sense of mystery" were some of the remarks. I hope he continues to join us as I'd like to hear more.

My own Waiting for the Water to Get Hot struck a chord with at least a couple of people. Tim said it was devastating. Reflective of the dark quality of my thoughts lately.

Tim Norman Verhaegen was my hero last night, appearing with a gift that took my breath away (okay, maybe I'm easily impressed). I'm not telling what it is but if you want to see it, it is sitting on the counter in my office until I can make room for it at my house. Tim Norman also brought a successful poem about art and loneliness, which put a voice to the strong internal struggle most artists and writers experiece.

Larry evoked the smells of autumn, which included some that were less than desirable (Susan objected strongly). "it's all piano out today, fingers reaching out for peak colors" - that's my kind of autumn poem. None of the schmaltzy rhyming rhapsodies which too many people churn out.

Mark was vacillating between several versions of a work in progress that shows good promise. I loved the phrase "lipless mouth" and everyone agree the final line of "endless ways of being held Prisoner" was a winner.

Mr. Amidon fielded a little critism this week over tightening up Hawk Shadow, a bird revenge poem with a kick at the end. Paul also brought an announcement of a Veterans Poetry Open Mic Night at Sage on November 10.

True to form, the Math Guy had written a sonnet, teaching (me, anyway) that sonnets consist of 10 syllables per line, what cachexive means and what a volta is (an emotional or dramatic turning). Susan remarked that it was a beautiful form for a terrible subject (Jim's cancer).

Dennis, the new Cosmic Poet, was in fine form about the relationship between biology and the psyche, called My Torah, dedicated to Edie. Dennis also offered some very helpful critiques tonight.

Tim and Larry in particular seem eager to continue the "5th Night" poetry discussions. We all had a great time at the last one and are considering the possibility of meeting more frequently. Any joiners? Any opinions?

We missed Catherine, Anne and Ally Cat, Israel and Alan and Boondocks Tom, but still had a full house.

Monday, October 4, 2010

5th Night

Ah...those of you who did not grace us with your presence missed a great deal of inspired discussion. There were eight of us, each of whom offered their response to the question "Why do you write?" Not only did we get to know each other better, but the answers led to other questions and we covered a good deal of territory. It was definitely a good session, leaving us to lament the fact that there is not another 5th Thursday for several months.

There follows some "Ramblings" from El Rapant, the titular head (did I say that?) of the philosophers, exhorting your attendance and...well, generally rambling.

Tis a shame that many of the folks on this list were not around for our grand discussion of the 30th when many of these topics were either spoken about or hinted at. Tis also to be regretted that they do not ever attend philosophy club meetings. If they are so concerned with the below issues...

I will repeat my off-the-cuff remark from last week: I am all the time amazed by the general and scientifically caused belief that, despite our obvious and pronounced differences and uniqueness or quirkiness as individuals, we are all of the same species. Whether or not our dissimilarities are at least in part caused by the emphasis on humanism and individuality in Western cultures, the rift between what we want and need for ourSELVES and what the community needs in order to survive cannot be patched up by simply ignoring or repressing one side of ourselves for the sake of the IMAGINED OTHER, i.e., the image that holds the community together. The flaws in both the individual and the community make both imperfect, make all shoes fit uncomfortably, and prick us on to ceaseless strife. Conflict resolution is a hoax, or a temporary fix to a permanent problem built right into the creature of various species mixed, also referred to imperfectly as the human being.

And conflict resolution, with a decidedly mystical tone to which all of the faithful sing the same tired old song together, is another name for religion. All it takes is one original voice, aka the gorgeous angel named Lucifer, or the poet, to return the entire congregation to its conflicted reality. Please remember that there could be no Lucifer unless we all had an emphatic luciferousness about us.

This conflicted angel would like to ask all the smoothies out there: Are any of you into numismatics per chance?

We are all going to try to stuff all this nonsense in one little room again on the first Thursday of October at VPL at 7:00 p.m. Please come and be another trapezoid in the confines.