This event is presented on the 1st Tuesday of the month by the Straw Dog Writers Guild in Northampton, MA at The Elevens. I decided to take a little road trip & see what is happening outside Albany. It was about 2 hours over there, with rush-hour traffic getting out of Albany, but otherwise a pleasant trip to 140 Pleasant Street. The Elevens is a small rock club & bar attached to an Irish pub-like bar. There is a stage with professional lighting & a sound-guy in a sound-booth.
Jacquelline Sheehan & Nila
They have an interesting system here where each writer who wants to read puts his or her name on a slip of paper then 8 names are drawn at random. Names not drawn are saved for next month & if you show up then you are guaranteed a slot; my name was not picked. The room was filled with mostly women, 40s & 50s & older, a handful of younger folk, but most of the readers were men. Although all the folks in charge were women. Jacqueline Sheehan served as host & introduced Terry Johnson to talk about the 30 poems in 30 days project & writing from prompts.
Then Jacqueline introduced Nila who served as MC & timer, enforcing a 5-minute rule. Grant was the youngest reader & one of the few poets, reading "Striations" about clouds, then a long heart-break poem in many parts, filled with "the pathetic fallacy" (i.e., weeping trees, sad skies, etc.). Beth followed with short prose pieces, "Storm Over the Marsh" & a piece of prose fiction set in a mental hospital, "Man Singing."
Richard Horton read from his self-published collection of short fiction, Strange City. The first piece sounded like a journal/memoir of the 1966 event, "East Coast Blackout," followed by "The End of the Vegetables" -- all art is autobiographical, I guess. When he saw me taking pictures, Shane, the next reader, had asked me not to take his; he was a tall, thin guy, with neat hair & trimmed mustache in a 3-piece suit without a tie; his piece was a tedious interview of a rock star, part of a longer work (thank god for the timer). I usually accomodate folks who ask not to take their picture, but he didn't ask not to print his name, or his description.
Nila, the MC, was next with a single, long poem "Among the Gardens" filled with cicadas, a yew tree & the Moon. The next reader read a section from a book by Harriet Rogers, the beginning of a mystery story, but she said she was not Harriet Rogers. Another mystery.
Mark Hart read a couple of poems, elegies for his father. The first, "Flight from Ducksford," about the father surviving as a pilot in World War II, followed by a consideration of Quantum physics & immortality, "The Field." Dick Bentley was the night's last reader with what was either prose fiction or memoir -- does it matter?
It was fun, different, but a long way from the busy poetry scene of Albany, NY, even with a stop-over part way at the Leprechaun's cottage, so if anyone who shows up next month wants to claim to be "Dan Wilcox," that's OK with me. You'll probably make me look good.