Poetry Night at Caffe Lena

Caffe Lena Poetry Night video with Prostko, Graham, and McCoy, Feb. 3, 2021

On the first Wednesday of every month, Caffe Lena hosts Poetry Night, inviting anyone who will come to listen to new and published poetry by some of the many local poets. Caffe Lena stands as a local legend, a venerable coffeehouse in Saratoga Springs known as America’s longest running folk club that was made famous in the ’60s for hosting the likes of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Don McLean, and more recently, Adirondack legends like Jamcrackers and others. In the poetry scene, host Carol Graser has brought many fine poets to the stage, including Stuart Bartow, Elaine Handley, Marilyn McCabe, Bernadette Meyer, Jay Rogoff, Mary Sanders Shartle, Barbara Ungar, and Nancy White.

In the pandemic, they’ve moved temporarily to Zoom and YouTube. The benefit, of course, is that YouTube recordings will remain available until the internet burns down. So it’s my pleasure to share the Poetry Night video featuring the amazing poets Lucyna Prostko and David Graham, followed by yours truly. As we read, common subjects emerged–birds, characters, elegies. The video was filmed on February 3, 2021.

Host Carol Graser with Lucyna Prostko, David Graham, and Kathleen McCoy

These Winter Sundays

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Mini-chapbook by Marilyn McCabe

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Yes, these are really our socks

 

These winter Sundays, when snow mounds, temperatures plummet, and spirits sag a bit, I renew my appreciation of spirit lifters, chief among which are the Women of Mass Dissemination, my writers’ group of the past decade. We meet monthly, go on a weekend retreat twice a year to write, and hold each others’ multicolor sock-toed feet to the metaphorical (and this year, literal) fire. In the past decade the six of us have published more than I can count (books, poems, video poems, novels, reviews, and essays, with plays in the works), but only after months and years of drafting, rewriting, sharing, critiquing, debating, informing, and exploring. We write collaboratively, try out or create writing¬† prompts, debate literary standards, test the water-worthiness of our rafts of words. We take two drafts forward and three drafts backwards. We mutter, we admonish, we ask, we suggest, we redirect, we inspire, we bless, we curse, we wonder, we wander, we read, we retreat, we return, we succor, we savor, we paint, we review, we write, we blog, we brand.¬† We expand each other’s reading lists and hone each other’s literary taste. (Of course, chocolate and pot pie are often involved.) We worry, we plan, we learn, we teach, we share, we fuss, we fix, we applaud. But mostly, we write.

Here’s to the Women of Mass Dissemination,* without whom I’d be sitting in a barn somewhere wondering where all the poets are, wondering too what happened to the poet in the mirror. And here’s to you, writing at your desk, on your bed, on your train, in your barn. Here’s to your tribe, whether you’ve found them yet or not.

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*The Women of Mass Dissemination (WMD for short) are Lale Davidson, Elaine Handley, Marilyn McCabe, Mary Sanders Shartle, Nancy White, and yours truly. (In the photo above right, standing: Marilyn McCabe, Mary Sanders Shartle, Elaine Handley, Nancy White; seated, left to right: Lale Davidson and Kathleen McCoy.)

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