Essex poetry and Essex taxes infrequently cohabit the same sentence. Clearly this is an oversight.
In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy on November 13, 1789 Benjamin Franklin opined that “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” This fundamental tenet promptly assumed right of place between the Golden Rule and Newton’s apple. I’d like to posit a similarly self evident corollary.
Nothing can be certain except that poetry alleviates the sting of taxes.
Last night I experienced one of those quintessentially Adirondack phenomena, an Essex poetry and tax slam.
What? You missed it? Pity.
I’m aware of at least two others who juggled Essex tax grievance hearings with the Adirondack Art Association‘s poetry slam, and yet the concurrently scheduled events, offering an emotional Main Street point-counterpoint, drew mostly distinct audiences. No doubt retitling the events — Poetry Hearing and Tax Slam — would have increased the cross pollination.
That said, both venues entertained capacity audiences, and any more excitement on a Tuesday evening might have prompted a need for even greater security measures. (By my count there were no fewer than four crisply attired, pistol wielding Officers of the Peace patrolling downtown Essex last night ensuring safe, orderly rebelry and revelry.)
Last summer’s poetry slam was such a success that the AAA has doubled down this year. You heard that right, two poetry slams… June 12 and again on July 10. (Essex on Lake Champlain)
With almost two dozen people attending last night’s Essex poetry reading, of whom a majority brought and read poems, the potential for an autograph-seeking mob on July 10 is feasible if not inevitable. Our diligent New York State police would be well advised to increase their security detail by an officer or two lest the event blossom into Essex Poetry-Palooza.
Essex Poetry Highlights
Willsboro eighth grader, Laura Klein, set the bar high early in the evening with two exotic excerpts from her dramatic adventure poem, “For the Love of Gold”. Although still a work in progress, Klein anticipates it tipping the scale at approximately 150 verses by the time it reaches the press. Judging by her eloquent reading last night, you’ll want to read the book before you see the movie.
Event organizer Jeff Moredock offered up a veritable Whitman’s Sampler of poetry ranging from the unselfconsciously philosophical to a lighthearted political rumination which concluded, “apple pie… Yum!” He even rhymed a quick quip about the Old Dock Restaurant celebrating the brew and view. Should you cross paths at the Old Dock or the Crater Club, ask him to recite it. It’s short. It’s memorable. It’s tongue-in-cheek.
Al Haberle’s poignant poem, “Lightning”, chronicled an Air Force pilot’s touch-downs from the Adriatic to St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Judith Moore’s glance at the wings of a Monarch butterfly provoked wonder about the power and mystery of light and life. In addition to sharing several poems she invited area poets to attend a twice monthly poetry group which meets in Westport at the library on the first and third Thursday of the month between 5:30 and 7:00 in the evening. Track her down for details or simply show up with a rucksack full of verse.
Malcolm Willison and Bill Poppino read several provocative poems, and then Poppino leaned over to me and discretely confided, “Willison’s the best poet in Schenectady.” If we’re fortunate enough to hear more of his poetry next month we might soon be whispering that he’s also the best poet in Essex. Is it time for our Cartoonist Laureate, the late Sid Couchey, to be joined by an Essex Poet Laureate? Poppino thinks so.
Come to the next Adirondack Art Association poetry slam on July 10 at 7:00 in the Old Firehouse. And bring your poems!