Genesee Reading Series & JP Open Mic October 2018

Back-to-back Karla Linn Merrifield. Tuesday she read with poet Bill Heyen at the Writers and Books Genesee Reading Series, and Wednesday night Merrifield was featured reader at the Just Poets open mic at Before Your Quiet Eyes book store. Both Merrifield and Heyen are Just Poets’ members.

Genesee Reading Series: Heyen, fluid and reflective, lead off (baseball season & all). It was a cozy read. No mic, Heyen in a chair up close as the attendees enjoyed his reach-backs grabbing bits of conversation he’s shared with famous poets. He read from his remarkable daily journal, not from the 30+ books he’s written. He focused on his one single-line couplet form poem “Coda: Diaspora Satori” :

I was a boy and then a young man / then an old man/ by which time/ Time arrived when I realized that when I slept/on my side/one leg drawn up/ I had myself become my own single line/ couplet form/ this realization/stunned me. After 30 or 40 books/thousands of poems/ I was home.

Many of Heyen’s poems aren’t as cryptic, yet he encourages “the poem” to remain somewhat mysterious even to the poet who penned it. He suggests; allow the poem to live on when the author does not. Heyen is to be heard as well as read.

Merrifield is prolific herself (13 books) and hundreds of published poems. She chose to read from her new book Psyche’s Scroll, her book- length poem in six sections. It is a journey story of sorts where protagonist “Ego” searches with the accompaniment of “Jojo” the “id” accompanied by “Superego(s).” Complex and near stream of consciousness, Merrifield delivers on “How was Universe formed”; “Are black holes amorphous? …/ Can a rainbow name its seven colors? / Do matter, antimatter, dark matter matter/…What’s the matter with me? No matter…” 

Just Poets Open Mic: Featured reader Merrifield delivered poems from her works in an easy informal read: poems about moon jellies (jellyfish), travels; “Crossing Hecate Strait” (British Colombia) a powerful lament of the Haida (tribe) and their encounter with the European culture; poems on the power of mist; and a brush of poems erotica; “Paramour” with lines like; “Last night I dreamed I was a John Sloan nude…”

Merrifield was on. Longtime friends, one can hear a touch of Heyen in her work. 
The Open Mic portion was really good as well. Here’s who read: David Michael Nixon, Joel Lesses, Robert McDonough, Maril Nowak, Elizabeth ‘Dream” Engert, Mary Hood, Lisa Nichols, Roy Bent, Charles “SeaBe” Banks, Richard Robbins, David Delaney, Jennifer Maloney, Gracen Lynch, Bart White, George Haig and JP open mic host, David Yockel. 
Poetry lives.

Review by David Delaney