I attended and read at the Evil Grin Poetry Series, held on the second Saturday of each month at Ahh! Coffee in Annapolis, Maryland. This monthly gathering was organized by Maryland poets, Rocky Jones and Cliff Lynn. Last night was my second time attending and reading. There were no featured readers for this month's gathering, but Rocky had organized a couple of fun, experimental, ad hoc group poetry exercises. One was a magnetic board and words which folks used to create a poem over the course of the evening, with individuals each adding a line. The created poem was then read at the end of the evening. For the other exercise, Rocky had brought a device that records words picked up through the microphone, plays back, picks up more, etc. He used it, along with five other volunteers, to create a poem. Rocky spoke the first word. When it was played back by the recorder, the second person spoke their word, which was added to the string, and so on. At the end of the process, you had a six word line for a poem. The process was repeated to create a four line poem. I acted as scribe. Hopefully, Rocky will post the poem somewhere, along with the poem created on the magnetic board.
Because there were no featured readers, the night was entirely open mic. There were enough us to have a nice variety of poems, but few enough of us that we could fit in two rounds of open mic. Readers include Minnie Warburton, J.P. Cashla, Devon Taylor, Brian Smith, Rocky Jones, myself, and a couple other folks whose names I cannot remember. I started with the two poems of mine that appear in issue #2 of the Free State Review, "I Was Priest to Your Confession" and "The Potato Eaters," and finished my first round with "In Memory of Aunt Shirley." In round 2 of the open mic I read "Skimino," "Claudia Greets Me in the Morning," and "When I Pray, I Will Lay Down Words."
I enjoy the opportunities to share my poems, get some feedback, and in the process get a sense of what works in a poem and what might need revising. Given that the general rule is that you're not supposed to provide context and background for each poem and, instead, just read it, I get a good sense of when context needs to be provided within the body of the poem. For instance, in "In Memory of Aunt Shirley," after I finished reading, I wasn't sure it was clear that the photo of Aunt Shirley and Aunt Barbara Lee was taken by a street photographer. I mention Aunt Barbara Lee's suspicion of the photographer, her guarded stance, but I'm not sure it was clear why she was guarded given that usually individuals know the person taking the photo. I might need to revise that portion of the poem.
I really like the Annapolis poetry scene-- lots of good poets who produce an eclectic mix of work, but always entertaining. In addition to the Evil Grin series, Rocky runs another series that meets on the fourth Friday of each month. There is also the Spiral Staircase series, organized by Dan Kagan, which meets on the third Sunday of each month at 49 West coffeehouse. I've been a regular at that series. My resolution for 2013 was to get out and read publicly on a regular basis. Dan's series helped me get into the local poetry scene and meet that goal. And, in the process, I've met a lot of good local poets and become part of that community.