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 25, 2011

Black Tree Tango

The above phrase caused many poets much conflict last night in my work, which was nothing more than a descriptive passage of the sight of a forest of bare trees dancing in the wind. The trees were bumping hips and elbows and shouting "tequila". I thought it was quite clever. Oh, well.

The night's masterpiece clearly flowed from Tim's pen (figuratively speaking). I had the privilege of doing the second read and, while I was being dramatically affected by the content, the rest of the group was in stitches. I guess you could say it was both moving and hilarious in a sad way. It is called Nightmare on State Street and anyone who missed it should ask for a reading. Definitely a performance piece, possibly to be performed at Sunday Four.

Edie's Eye of a Camera was talked about at length. Edie offered us alternative endings to the comparison of a photograph and a poem, both as art forms. Lots of opinion on this one.

Larry brought us a trilogy of poems, loosely linked in theme (sex, of course). Jim asked if we knew why Bach had so many children (23?) and no one did, although I can't tell you the answer here. Back to Larry's main poem: we labeled it powerful and true. Good one. And...Lar was wearing beautiful bandaids.

That math man assaulted our senses again with a mathematical poem: Cinquain A Cinq, written in five, five-line stanzas with matching number of syllables per line. Each stanza was planned to act as a stand-alone poem, and it all reflected JW's black humor.

Paul's nicely crafted poem delivered its strong, clear message as usual. The topic was friendship: "Sunlight, twilight, rain: no matter: I am in for the long haul." Good sentiment, good poem, although I wanted to chuck the "among tears" phrase that Paul refused to part with. He did vow to take another suggestion about line breaks.

Philomena has been talking to her dead brother, which is not as bizarre as it sounds. Her poem was quite touching. Tim was vehement in his assertion that one would not mourn for someone they had not been close to in life, but I understood it perfectly. One would, perhaps, mourn harder.

I passed around a copy of the Smith's Tavern PL Contest chapbook. Mike Burke did a great job of compiling and getting it published. Thanks so much to Missing Mike and Distributing Dennis. Copies are available for purchase someplace. Maybe Book House. Check with Dennis who was not there last night.

I am having grandchildren visit this weekend but will see you at Sunday Four to hear Joe Krausman, if possible.

PS - Alan, I have Rootdrinker dues for you!

Friday, February 11, 2011

glad for the stink of it

CASLINE'S ARTISTIC MUSE TRIUMPHS: The Bird's artistic muse fought it out with his scientific muse and won. The result was an inspired work called Invoking which included lines such as "blindness occurs when you are shown everything" and "glad for life, glad for the stink of it". We approved.

If the stink line qalified for best line of the night, I'm voting for Tim's Your Eyes for best poem. For me, it edged out a field of extremely good ones because of its intensity, the passion, the sadness and loss that was so apparent in it.

Alan's muses were not the only ones at odds at this meeting. Several minor controversies arose, one revolving around Tim's use of "supposively" which Mark looked up and found in the Urban Dictionary on his ever-ready iPad. I enjoy made up words and will advocate for them except in situations where they appear to be simply grammatical errors, as this appeared to be.

Interestingly, the word "litanize" is also not in the dictionary (at least not in the Merriam Webster's I looked at) but it certainly sounded like a legitimate word and it was obvious to all of us what Dennis meant in his psalm I Am Moved To Litanize. Dennis the criminal justice professor revealed a momentuous decision he had recently made regarding his belief in the afterlife (reference The Will to Believe by Will James).

I was also thinking of the afterlife in a roundabout way as I described The Beast that is consuming all of us "one finger, one toe at a time". Not a lot of critique. Some quibbled with my making the beast male. Seemed logical to me.

Markle and I crossed swords over the composition of Ann's The Magnolia. It was back to the old issue of line breaks and breathing. I thought they were poorly executed in this work, but Obee defended them heatedly. The flowing poem was a nice breakthrough for Ann, who has previously been more reserved and structured in her expression.

Mark himself had a good one about listening to the sound of the Oniskethau creek which runs by his house. There was quite a discussion over whether or not streams "burble" in the winter, but the poem was concise and clear painted a perfect picture of the mountain shadow, full moon, and snowy landscape.

Alan remarked that there was no narrative in Paul's The Silver Lining, a "fantastic" poem (Tim) more conceptual and zen than his story poems. I accused Larry of channeling Tom in his war-is-interrupted-by-jelly-donuts work. Someone pointed out how acidic and bitter it was, making Larry happy.

Jim Williams impressed us anew with his guitar playing and the unusual instrument he was toting (we all smelled it). Beautiful. Beautiful. And it was good to see Jim.

I MISSED COLDFEST. Cathy and I chickened out because of the freezing rain. I understand a lovely time was had by all and I had to eat my appetizer for dinner that night, and for about three days following.

Which reminds me, I heard from Mike Burke, who is presently in sunny Mexico and not coming home anytime soon.

Afterthought: I have been investigating The Poets Laureate Anthology, a new library book which includes all of the American PLs ever (since its inception in 1937) with short bios and samples of work. Foreward by Billy Collins. Worth a look.