Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

November Poetry: Heavy and Light


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On Tuesday, June 11, Second Tuesdays Poetry Series had a rare treat. Two poets, Jack Marshall and Gerald Fleming, shared poems from books published this year by Sixteen Rivers Press. The open mic was equally entertaining with a wide range of voices. You may listen to the featured readers in the Youtube below:

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Opal Palmer Adisa & devorah major read at Albany Library in California, as part of Second Tuesdays Poetry Series. “You cannot disappear into the crowd. You have been named.” –Opal Palmer Adisa

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Happy New Year! For January’s reading, we will celebrate Christina Hutchins, the outgoing Poet Laureate of Albany, and welcome Toby Bielawski, Albany’s new Poet Laureate. Please join us for this evening of “passing the poetry mantle” as the New Year begins. And please bring your own poetry for the evening’s open mic.

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Reading poems aloud show if they really work. Are the words chosen and placed in a way the voice can carry them, or does the voice trip and stumble from a lack of balance? Do the endings work? Are the meanings muddled or made clear by speaking them aloud? This last point is a great mystery when we speak another’s lines–say, Emily Dickinson’s. The cadence is our own, we can’t really imagine how she would intimate her lines out loud.

It is a great privilege to hear a poet read his or her own words because the sense of utterance, the fight for the right sound and tone, comes through. We hear a person’s thoughts becoming speech.

Sandra Gilbert gave us a glimpse of that process last Tuesday night. The endings definitely worked, the meanings were strong and clear, painful and occasionally merry. She chose to read part of an essay from Rereading Women. The essay was like an incantation, with some humor stirred into the mix. She discussed Emily Dickinson and, though the Boom was her Own, the Thrill was all the poets that preceded her. Maybe when the living read poems, the dead speak through them. The Thrill came slowly like a Boom for /Centuries delayed. (Dickinson-1495.)

Gilbert’s voice showed its fullest range–both incisive and tender–as she read a series of sonnets from Aftermath. The matter of the facts was difficult and, in the end, the facts mattered to us. A true disclosure. It would be a pleasure to see the words in print and read them aloud–or silently.

Look for video of this event on Albany’s public access channel. See photographs below.

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Albany Library welcomed Richard O. Moore, Brenda Hillman and Paul Ebenkamp to its Second Tuesdays Poetry Night on 9/13  at 7:00 pm.

Brenda Hillman and Paul Ebenkamp began the evening with selections from their own books of poetry. Both are active in the writing program at St. Mary’s College, with many of their students and colleagues in the audience.

Richard O. Moore was the final featured poet. His resonant voice filled the room and gave everyone a new appreciation of poetic diction. Moore’s recent book, Writing the Silences, is a celebration of over 60 years of writing. The book provides a glimpse into San Francisco Renaissance Poetry of the 1940’s, a movement that preceded Beat Poetry.  True to the ethos of that era, Moore–a pioneer broadcaster who helped found KPFA–said that his political art sprang from “radical doubt” in government, power, and language.

Hillman and Ebenkamp co-edited Moore’s book and the readings were followed by a discussion of the selection and editorial process.  They spoke of the pleasure of learning from each other and the difficulty of condensing a lifetime of poetic output into one book. All three made strong statements about politics and art–condemning the current state of perpetual war in Central Asia and the Middle East. Brenda Hillman reaffirmed the power of conscience against complacency.

Brenda Hillman has published eight collections of poetry, all from Wesleyan University Press. Themost recent, Practical Water (2010), which won the LA Times Book Award for Poetry, is part of herlarger project of meditations on the natural elements that includes Pieces of Air in the Epic (2005)and Cascadia (2001).

Paul Ebenkamp, a writer, editor, and assistant academic coordinator, has published poetry inTry!, RealPoetik, and The Walrus. He is currently at work on An Anthologyof Early Women Modernist Poets (forthcoming April 2012, Counterpoint Press).

Albany Library thanks all three September poets for kicking off the 2011-2012 Second Tuesdays’ Poetry series.

Richard O. Moore (Author), Brenda Hillman (Editor), Paul Ebenkamp (Editor)

Writing the Silences

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Featured Poets: Camille Dungy, Cynthia Parker-Ohene, and Al Young with Poetry Night coordinator, Catherine Taylor

Nature poetry took center stage with three great poets reading from their work and sampling the riches of a new anthology called, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. Editor and poet, Camille Dungy was joined by Cynthia Parker-Ohene and Al Young. The three read individually then hosted a panel discussion on the topic of African-American nature poetry.

Parker-Ohene made a very strong case for nature all around us, recalling her memory of concerts in Central Park and the city itself as alive with poetic imagery. She also did a really great reading of Margaret Walker’s Southern Sun.

Former California Poet Laureate, Al Young, read a host of great lines and made wise and witty comments throughout the evening. He says we shouldn’t be afraid of traditional voice and sound patterns, but bounce our own sounds off of these traditions. Young praised the mix of old and new voices in the anthology. The audience enjoyed that mix, as well.

Camille Dungy has wonderful stage presence that gave focus and energy to the evening. As she approached the topic of Black Nature, she made careful selections from across the centuries that show how political dissent, dispossession and anguish, as well as calm self-possession and pride, inform the words harvested from this American land. Civil Rights era poets are well-represented and show poets willing to demand authentic nature poetry, lines that do not tranquilize the senses–but expose truth and arouse anger. Her selection of post-80’s poets include writers focused on incidents from the past and those who hear and sing of nature in the present. Her chapters are teaching units in themselves and the book is highly recommended for schools and libraries.

Author: Camille T. Dungy, Publisher: University of Georgia Press, ISBN-13: 978-0820334318

“Nature abhors a vacuum.” During open mic, the air was filled with a wide variety of voices, one reading for the first time. More photos of the event below.

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