I had received two invitations to the evening’s poetry reading — one from the curator and one from one of the featured poets. It was a Tuesday, a night I don’t work at one job or the other. The temptation to have an uncommitted, lazy night at home was very present, but I forged ahead, poems in bag for the open mic.
The Brownstone Poets reading, curated by Patricia Carragon http://brownstonepoets.blogspot.com/p/about-patricia-carragon.html, was taking place at the Linger Lounge Cafe on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, NYC, 7-9pm. Coming from the Bronx, I had choices and chose to take the #4 train to the second stop in Brooklyn. I called first to ask what trains were nearby, and that was the first good impression I had of the place. Not only were they conveniently located around the corner from the train station, the person who answered was very pleasant.
It seemed one could easily walk by and miss the place from the outside. Inside, the Linger Lounge Cafe was spacious and elegant. The furniture had claw feet and was the kind where one just wants to try out sitting on particular chairs. Intriguing oil paintings were displayed on black walls. The stage was actually an area the same level as the floor. There was no mic, but none was needed for the poetry readers. The attentive audience sat near on sofas and chairs. The ceiling installation of black wires and chrome-colored cylinders where lights came from was mesmerizing.
I was welcomed with a hug from Patricia. We know each other from the NYC poetry world. It was a surprise that I showed up, given I reside in the Bronx and work most evenings. I bought a chardonnay and took a seat.
The open-mic-ers read first. I experienced every reader as somewhere in the range of good to excellent. There were no dreadful open-mic moments. That is a credit to Ms. Carragon for the quality of writers she is drawing to her series. It was well worth the $3 donation. I read also and felt heard and appreciated. Two of the outstanding poems I heard at the open were written by an editor of Ms. Carragon’s. One was about the need to fit in when we are youngsters, and the other was from the point of view of a woman who was struck by lightning three times!
There was a short break between the open mic and the featured readers, There were some stores open in the area and a sense of life outside. That feels familiar and comforting to this Bronx native.
Keisha Gaye Anderson was up first. She had a support system with her to assist with her two young children. That was fortunate for her since I have never found poetry readings and small children to mix well. Her reading was moving. A line that stayed with me vividly was, “a soldier’s stride propels my thoughts” — there was something about it that felt helpful to me. More about Keisha at www.keishagaye.com.
Next up and closing the reading was Charles J. Butler whose voice alone pleasures the sound portion of my brain. One of my favorite poems that he read is from his book, 39 Poems, published by No Shirt Press in 2010, and is called “Another Country.” It was a conversation between two old friends, one revealing he is married to a woman he loves and having an affair with a man he loves. Concerned his friend will tell the wife, his friend assures him, “not my place to shit in your world.”
(c) Mindy Matijasevic 2012