Some days and weeks are just so busy, my mind preoccupied by numerous things, that even taking one picture takes a lot of effort. Let alone writing a paragraph.
Last night though I got to go to Caffe Lena *in Saratoga, and got to hear one of my most favorite poets: Carolyn Forche *. Her tenure at Skidmore College is ending, and it was the last chance to see her while she was still in the area.
I am showing the stage while the lights were still up. It was too dark later on to take a good picture.
The place filled up completely. While she started with two older poems from her time in El Salvador, she read from a collection of new and unpublished works. What a rare treat! She is a human rights activist, cultural ambassador, professor, and someone who just came out of cancer treatment. I love her poems because they are haunting, surprising, and accessible; the language just IS, it stands there and belies the immense hard work and practice practice practice that goes into every line.
The reading was cushioned by an open mic, and while the guys were sometimes funny and sometimes just guys writing about their, you know, thing, (Dan Wilcox and Alan Catlin being the exception); the ladies really showed the way: down to the hard details of what it feels like to be in a depressive coma after a son's death, to a gardener knowing how to pull up weeds just right. Or taking over six years before able to write about September 11, 2001. One young poet wrote about a simple scene of sitting alone on bleachers with a stranger a few feet away, and lighting a cigarette. Another, immensely talented woman poet with a severe speech impediment demonstrated a beauty of language that made me feel like all I needed to do was listen differently; I closed my eyes and was transported into another realm of the senses.
Leave it to women to show you how it's done, every time.
*I am , however, apologizing for the absence of proper accents above "e".