“In this cemetery I do not die, / In this cemetery I grow leaves….” Just a pair of eloquent lines Mina Hatami delivered from her poem “I”. Hatami, this month’s Just Poets featured reader at Before Your Quiet Eyes bookstore Wednesday night, delivered her deep poetic conflicts softly, delicately, almost sensually. There is a sense of sorrow in her poetic voice that rings against her reach for hope. The first stanza of her poem, “Mirror”: “Mirror, my mirror/ When will you come// I know a girl that is in love with a mirror/A clear mirror/ A clean, moist alive mirror… “ She read with clarity and confidence—incredibly moving performance.
And, as usual, the open mic portion of the evening had a bit of sparkle to it. Maybe those in attendance sense the end of the rainy season, but it was a crisp roster. Buffalo’s Scott Williams brought a witty reflection on his 45 years teaching. “I Did Not Do Your Homework” was a clever collection of excuses college students have come up with over the decades—all of them creative, none of them acceptable. Also of Buffalo, Ryki Zuckerman read “Sardines” and “Reincarnation.”
Good stuff. Steve Lewandowski showed veteran poetic control in his thoughtful poem “Fight” which opens with the line “Anger and Sorrow had a fight/ in a small locked room...” (We’ll let you imagine who would win that one.) David Michael Nixon read a fun classic of his, and a new one entitled “How You Lost Your Inner Light.” Monica Beck read her smooth poem “Montreal by Moon Light.” David Purdy read an extended haiku-like poem that was tight and insightful. Jennifer Maloney’s poem “How Things Break” was about a “drunk” smashing into their parked car and “murdering our rose bush” that “old whore” (rose bush) on the corner, and it was strong and evocative. Jere Fletcher read his introspective poem “Distant Snow.”
Michael Reese read a long, witty, indicting, and politically charged stream-of-consciousness piece. Just Poets Bart White and Maril Nowak read as well. Special thanks to newcomer to the area Charles Banks (from Houston) for bringing his impressive poems, “Orange Not Blue” (about Trump bringing back the “blues”), and “Poets” an introspective read with lines like “Where do poets come from?/with their washed full eyes/leakin’ hearts…”
A good night for the neighborhood, a good night for poetry.
As always, thanks to Ken at Before Your Quiet Eyes, and to David Delaney for writing this review.