The Troy Poetry Mission Presents Adam Tedesco Wednesday-05.31.2017

AdamTedescoTroyPoetryAdam Tedesco Troy Poetry.png

On Wednesday, May 31st 2017 The Troy Poetry Mission Returns With This Month’s May Featured Poet Adam Tedesco at O’Brien’s Public House In Troy, NY.

7:30pm Sign Up
8pm Start Time
$3.00 Donation Requested

Hosted By
R.M. Engelhardt
James H. Duncan

“This is Poetry … Step up to the Mic “

O’Brien’s Public House
43 3rd Street

About Adam:

Adam Tedesco is a founding editor of REALITY BEACH, a journal of new poetics. He conducts interviews and analyzes dreams for Drunk In a Midnight Choir. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Funhouse, Fanzine, Souvenir, Powder Keg, Hobart, Plinth, and elsewhere. He is the author of several chapbooks, including HEART SUTRA (REALITY BEACH).


The Troy Poetry Mission Presents James H. Duncan

C__Data_Users_DefApps_AppData_INTERNETEXPLORER_Temp_Saved Images_TROJAN


The Troy Poetry Mission returns to O’Brien’s Public House on the last Wednesday of this month April 26th with our featured poet James H Duncan.

James is the editor of Hobo Camp Review, a former editor with Writer’s Digest, and the author of Dead City Jazz, What Lies In Wait, Berlin, and other books of poetry and fiction. He is a contributing writer for The Blue Mountain Review, and his work has also appeared in American Artist magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Up The Staircase, Vox Poetica, and many others. He lives with a sleeping dog and piles of books somewhere near Troy, NY.

For more about James, visit :

Come out and join us for our open poetry & spoken word night and for National Poetry Month at O’Brien’s 43 3rd Street, Troy NY.

The Troy Poetry Mission
7:30pm sign up
8pm start

$3.00 requested donation

Hosted by R.M. Engelhardt

Step up to the mic.
This is Poetry.


The February Troy Poetry Mission: Annie Christain



The February 2017 Edition of The Troy Poetry Mission returns to O’Brien’s Public House with our open mic and our featured poet Annie Christain

Wednesday, February 22nd
7: 30pm Sign Up
8pm Start Time

With Host R.M. Engelhardt


O’Brien’s Public House
43 3rd St, Troy, NY 12180
Phone: (518) 328-8690


About Our Featured Poet :

Annie Christain is an associate professor of composition and ESOL at SUNY Cobleskill with poems appearing in Seneca Review, Oxford Poetry, The Chariton Review, and The Lifted Brow, among others. She received the grand prize of the 2013 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, the 2013 Greg Grummer Poetry Award, the 2015 Oakland School of the Arts Enizagam Poetry Award, and the 2015 Neil Shepard Prize in Poetry. Additional honors include her being selected for the Shanghai Swatch Art Peace Hotel Artist Residency and the Arctic Circle Autumn Art and Science Expedition Residency. Her book Tall As You Are Tall Between Them, her debut poetry book, was published in fall 2016 by C&R Press.

Thomas Lux

Caption: “The voice you hear when you read to yourself / is the clearest voice: you speak it / speaking to you.” In this 2010 video, Thomas Lux reads a selection of poems for Georgia Institute of Technology’s Poetry at Tech. Lux passed away at the age of seventy on February 5, 2017.

via Thomas Lux — Poets and Writers

Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?

By William Childress

September 4th, 2012



Editor’s note: After VQR’s Spring 2012 issue released, I received an e-mail response to Willard Spiegelman’s essay, “Has Poetry Changed?” from former National Geographic photojournalist and published poet William Childress. I asked him to elaborate further on that commentary, to which he sent the following.


Poetry needs readers, not writers. But how many poets read any poetry but their own?”~William Childress



When Willard Spiegelman, noted scholar, critic, and editor of Southwest Review,wrote a penetrating essay in the Spring 2012 Virginia Quarterly Review“Has Poetry Changed?”, I wanted to reply, “Not fast enough to suit me!” However, the change I wanted was to step back a century and start re-assessing rhymed and metrical poetry.

Free verse has now ruled the poetry roost for ten decades, and its record for memorable poetry is spotty. Catching on around 1912 when Harriet Monroe was starting Poetry,the apparent writing ease of vers libreattracted millions of poetasters, not to mention the support of Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and other important poets. No more struggling to find le mot juste,or create original images. Just sit down and write.

As you may have guessed, I’m a formalist, but I’ve written and published a lot of free verse—mainly because of editorial bias against form poetry. In the hands of the right poet, which is true of any form, vers librecan shine—but we’ve had a steady diet of it for way too long. We are, unofficially at least, a one-poetry nation, and various editors, publishers and hidden agenda-ites seem determined to keep us there. As David Orr points out in Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry,“There is complete avoidance and disdain for the kinds of poetry pre-Baby Boomers were raised on.”

Well, I’m a pre-Baby Boomer, and I think such favoritism is stupid, petty, and demeaning to poetry. Form poetry is the kind of poetry a third of living Americans grew up with. A nation that discards its traditions and history is a nation without pride in itself. When I was a youth in the 1940s, most poetry was gentler and more pleasant in tone, but powerful in effect. As a migrant worker and the son of a sharecropper, my schooling was sporadic and interrupted. But somewhere I came across a poem by John Crowe Ransom, “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter.” The way he used words to paint pictures was so powerful, it was like a stonecutter engraving them in my memory.

The lazy geese, like a snow cloud,
Dripping their snow on the green grass,
tricking and stopping, sleepy and proud,
Who cried in goose, Alas …

A few years after reading the lyrical beauty of a poem that could make me feel good, even about death, came Howl,Allen Ginsberg’s nihilistic free verse oral diarrhea—and suddenly the world was supposedly singing the praises of Ginsberg’s drug-poisoned pals, who

let themselves be fucked in the ass
by saintly motorcyclists
and screamed with joy
who blew and were blown by those human seraphims, the sailors

Howlin’ Allen has the right to describe the rotting sowbelly of life, but I have the right to say it’s pointless, and as far from real poetry as shit is from Chanel #5. Beat poetry went far toward making ordinary Americans see poets as drug-crazed society-wreckers who wrote only for themselves. By definition, that makes them elitists.

I researched a large stack of Beat poetry magazines from the 1970s and 1980s for this post, ranging from Doug Blazek’s Olé Anthology to Kumquat 3 and E.V. Griffith’s highly touted Hearse (“A Vehicle for Conveying the Dead”). Not only were 95 percent of the poems free verse, many of them hewed to a core of societal destruction that in another era would sound like fascism. It was an argument for too much freedom encouraging anarchy. Vitriol was plentiful, but ways to improve things were not.

A blind person can see that American society is in turmoil, with a fractured government and enormous debt. Both political parties are to blame—but shouldn’t poets be trying to change things instead of writing chaos-poetry or “woe is me” diaries? Who will read poetry when they can’t find a common bond in a poet’s writing? Who likes ruptured grammar, twisted syntax and what my grandpa called flapdoodle? There’s at least a partial consensus that free verse these days consists of a lot of badwriting. I forget who said, “Poets should learn to write before they try to write poetry.”  Many of today’s poets don’t seem to realize that all writing is connected.

Here’s another example of free verse:

Fear-spores in-coil taut
(and calm) as copper-snakes
or-springs—before they cause.

From the sweeping grandeur of The Iliad and The Odyssey to this unfinished fragment in less than 3,000 years. God bless progress. This techie poem is tighter than post-Preparation-H hemorrhoids, but is it poetry,or what we called, back in the day, doodling? It was written by a pleasant-faced young man named Atsuro Riley, and is being hailed as a breakthrough for free verse. Breakthrough to what? This is the amazing shrinking poem. Soon we’ll be gone. Can modern poets be poeticidal?

I agreed with Spiegelman in several areas. Like him, I don’t read much modern poetry. Of today’s writing students he said, not unkindly, “Only a small percentage can satisfy the technical prosodic demands and also write a syntactically accurate English sentence.” And they want to be poets? Free verse must be sending students a message that form poetry does not: beginning poets don’t need “syntactically accurate sentences” to write free verse.

At 80, I won’t spend time trying to fathom the Rubik’s Cube verse of Atsuro Riley, although I wish him well. His poetry just doesn’t move me, and movements are important to octogenarians.  I’d rather read Lewis Carroll than Atsuro Riley.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son,
The jaws that bite, the claws that snatch,
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious bandersnatch!


In 2006 John Barr, head of the Poetry Foundation, wrote: “American poetry is ready for something new, because our poets have been writing in the same way for a long time now. There is fatigue and stagnation about the poetry being written today.”

Who determines what’s poetry and what’s not? Who are the grand taste-makers? I have always heard, and understood, that poetry has no definition—an argument that goes back to at least the 17th century. If true, how is it that critics, reviewers, and bureaucracies can give awards, prizes, and accolades to certain poets and poetry? How do they define the best of an indefinable art? And why do the rest of us sheep go along with it?

How about something old, Mr. Barr, instead of something new? Really good poems, like wine, improve with age. But free versers have welded shut the doors to the past. Where once we recited favorite poems (always rhymed), or had them taught in school, we now ignore the orphan art in droves. We’re trying everything but free coupons, and the results are a combination circus (slam poetry) and coldly mechanical poems that verify the nature of our earplug-wearing, neighborless, push-button society. Where are the sabot throwers when we need them?

Poet Dana Gioia wrote in his 1992 essay “Can Poetry Matter?”:

American poetry now belongs to a subculture. No longer part of the mainstream of artistic and intellectual life, it has become the specialized occupation of a relatively small and isolated group. Little of the frenetic activity it generates ever reaches outside that closed group. Like priests in a town of agnostics they still command a certain residual prestige. But as individual artists, they are almost invisible.

Not only a telling comment 20 years ago, but an accurate prophecy of our current malaise. Poets should also be aware of a report from the University of Florida at Gainesville, which followed MFA graduates for a decade. Only ten percent landed writing or editing jobs. The rest found jobs in real estate, insurance, or McDonald’s. Memphis State University’s Thomas Russell wrote, “Ninety percent of the MFA students are never going to publish a word after they leave the program.”

Poetry needs readers, not writers, but how many poets read any poetry but their own? As one editor said, “All poets should stop writing for a year.” When I was studying poetry in Philip Levine’s class in 1962, he made a point of telling us, “Poetry is the most useless art.”

Yet poetry has been discovered by commerce. The dean of American verse magazines, Poetry, turned 100 in 2012, and is trying to avert a poetryless future. In 2003, it received a $200 million dollar bequest from Ruth Lilly, and has become a kind of Sears Roebuck for poets and readers. That’s fine with me. I grew up with Sears Roebuck, and not just in our outhouse. Christian Wiman’s inking of all kinds of poetry means there’s now something for everyone. The fact that  Wiman’s editorship has increased Poetry’s readers from 11,000 to 30,000 is a hopeful sign. He also says poets should be well-grounded in form poetry before leaping into vers libre. Even that ol’ fascist Ezra Pound announced: “Poetry should be at least as well-written as prose.”

When Germaine Greer declared, “Art is anything an artist calls art,” she probably didn’t mean Thomas Kinkade, who painted for more plebian tastes and died very rich. The gulf between what is and is not art has been debated forever—the blind leading the blind into a kind of elitism. If no definition exists, why are critics, reviewers and the American Academy of Poets tripping over each other to laud the hottest vers libre poet in years? Perhaps I’m unkind—but everyone else is so laudatory, I felt that at least one ordinary mortal should challenge the gods.

What goals do modern poets have? At least during the Viet Nam War, poets wrote antiwar poems and marched. I was among the 225,000 anti-Viet Nam War marchers in 1969, when Nixon watched football in a White House surrounded by a protective ring of buses. A former student of mine, Danae Walczak, contacted me not long ago to remember that march. Why have there been no major demonstrations against Afghanistan, when our government can’t even say why we’re there? As a Korean War veteran in the Washington march, my goal was to get our guys home. In August 2012, a young marine, murdered by one of our “Afghan allies” did come home—in a casket. The turnout for his funeral was enormous, with hundreds lining highways and bridges. How many poets will be concerned enough to write poems? Or will they be too busy entering contests and seeking easy recognition?

I’m not advocating control of vers libre, which has been around since the Book of Kings,just that its adherents stop stifling rhyme and meter poems. If poetry is to survive, it needs to use everything in its armory, especially metrical rhymed poems—serious, humorous, nonsensical, satirical, even insult poems. Variety, as Christian Wyman found, is the spice of life, and it’s absurd to think that vers libre should be the only form American poetry should take. No wonder John Barr found stagnation in American poetry. So loosen up, vers librists, and ask formalists to join you. Poetry needs all the help it can get. Or can’t you write good rhymed and metrical poems? Walt Whitman couldn’t.

About William Childress

Fifty years ago, William Childress published his first antiwar poems in Poetry.  Then he spent decades as a freelance photojournalist. A former National Geographic editor/writer, 2011 saw his poems published in Steel Toe ReviewCT Review, and the Connecticut Review. An environmentalist, his “Flight of the Wild Goose” will appear in Bird Watcher’s Digest this October. His 14-year column in  the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. In August 2012 he was awarded the $100 second prize in The National Senior Poet competition.

Vengeance of the Black Swan

Vengeance of the Black Swan
Vengeance of the Black Swan

Words in chains (in advertising, law, religion), words manipulated by sclerotic bureaucrats, words abandoned in textbooks, words gagged by television, words surrounded by newspapers, words without margins, words whose light has nearly been snuffed out, archaic words, words waiting to be born, words that order one about senselessly, words whose edges are blunted, words imposed on the poor, words confined to the rich, words that fight the bosses’ war, words smothered by the ruling class, words that riot and burn, words that lie in the street, words that sit in the tops of trees, words that ride on the crests of waves, words that fly, dive, swim and burst into flame: Let us liberate these words, let us open once and for all the commodity-literary cages of their quotidian imprisonment and let them speak for us in the poetry of revolution.
The black swan of Lautreamont, “with a body bearing an anvil surmounted by the putrefying carcass of a crab, and right inspiring mistrust in the rest of its aquatic comrades,” is now everywhere, a comrade-in-arms, one of us and all of us. The Revolution today is no longer a question of political parties and vanguard sects, but rather of the spontaneous self-activity of masses of people risking everything to be free.
Men and women must be made to realize that the world of the mind is capable of practically limitless expansion, and that the material world is capable of providing practically limitless pleasure, perceived in its countless manifestations according to love, humor, mythology, dream, play and the thirst for adventure.”

~Franklin Rosemont,

“Vengeance of the Black Swan” in Dancin’ in the Streets 

With The Slow Demise Of Slam Poetry, We Move Ever Towards New Voices & New Poetics In The 21st Century

Ezra Pound, Poet

                                                             Ezra Pound, Poet.

Is Slam in Danger of Going Soft?

Marc Kelly Smith has expressed mixed feelings about the growing popularity and respectability of slam poetry, the art form that he created almost 25 years ago.


CHICAGO — Slam poetry was invited into the White House last month and it is also the focus of the recent HBO documentary series “Brave New Voices.” So you might think that the originator of the poetry slam, a raucous live competition that is more likely to take place in a bar than in a bookstore, would be feeling rather pleased these days.

But from his base here at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Marc Kelly Smith expresses mixed feelings about the growing popularity and respectability of the art form that he created almost 25 years ago. From the start, he envisioned slam poetry as a subversive, thumb-your-nose-at-authority movement, and he wants to ensure it stays true to those origins.

“At the beginning, this was really a grass-roots thing about people who were writing poetry for years and years and years and had no audience,” Mr. Smith said recently, just before his weekly Sunday night slam at the Green Mill. “Now there’s an audience, and people just want to write what the last guy wrote so they can get their face on TV. Well, O.K., but that’s not what people in this country, from Marc’s point of view, need. We’ve got too much of that. This show wasn’t started to crank out that kind of thing.”

Like it or not, Mr. Smith’s concept has become a global phenomenon, especially among young people, who, helped by exposure to hip-hop, seem more comfortable with the idea that poetry belongs both “on the stage and on the page.” Slam poetry has been incorporated into school curriculums across the country; more than 80 cities now compete in the annual national championship; and similar contests are springing up in the most unlikely places, most recently on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean.

“I think that perhaps Marc sees this as snowballing out of control,” said Susan B. A. Somers-Willett, author of “The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry” and a slam poet herself. “This is something that started in Chicago as a group of oddballs who wanted to do some pretty avant-garde things, but over the years, as it entered the commercial sphere, it has gotten more and more homogenous and started catering to a demographic mainstream.”

The poetry event that President Obama and his wife, Michelle, hosted at the White House on May 12 was a “jam” rather than a slam, perhaps to distance it from the sometimes boisterous atmosphere that Mr. Smith promotes. The evening included performances by two college-age slammers who have appeared on “Brave New Voices” and by Mayda del Valle, a slam poet from Chicago who won the national slam competition in 2001.

The Chicago connection is not coincidental. As Ms. Somers-Willett put it, “Chicago is America’s poetry city, with a rich, rich tradition of orality and performance-oriented poetry that goes way back,” at the very least to Carl Sandburg and Kenneth Rexroth in the first decades of the 20th century.

The Poetry Foundation, which publishes Poetry magazine, also has its headquarters here, and in April set up a Chicago Poetry Tour that includes 22 sites around the city. (An online version of the tour can be downloaded at One of the stops is the Green Mill, Mr. Smith’s artistic home since 1986.

“What Marc Smith has achieved here and around the world is remarkable,” said Stephen Young, program director of the Poetry Foundation. “The slam movement summons a lot of energy and has taught some traditional poets a thing or two about how to read their poems in public.”

Yet Mr. Smith and his disciples still raise the hackles of what he refers to as “the academic poets,” on both sides of the cultural wars. Amiri Baraka, a Marxist who is known for his politically provocative poetry, has said, “I don’t have much use for them because they make the poetry a carnival” and “elevate it to commercial showiness, emphasizing the most backward elements.”

On the other side of the divide, Jonathan Galassi, now the honorary chairman of the Academy of American Poets, once described slam poetry as a “kind of karaoke of the written word,” while the critic Harold Bloom has called it “the death of art” and complained of “various young men and women in various late-night spots” who “are declaiming rant and nonsense at each other.” George Bowering, a former poet laureate of Canada, condemns slams as “abominations” that are “crude and extremely revolting.”

Mr. Smith seems to relish such attacks. The initial impulse for slam poetry, he acknowledged, came from his disdain for the conventional poetry readings he attended when he first began to study the craft.

“I went to them, and they were stupid and horrible, with nobody in the audience, and somebody up there onstage throwing all these allusions around, acting as if it’s a crowded room and he’s communicating,” he said. “So I started looking at these poetry readings like, ‘These people don’t know what they are doing.’ And they didn’t, which gave me the confidence to say, ‘Well, I can do that.’ ”

A college dropout, Mr. Smith, born in 1949, worked for more than a decade as a surveyor and construction worker. At the same time he was also writing and reading poetry, verse from Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens and Robert Frost, all of whom he admires, to Ezra Pound, “who I hated, because, what is he saying, you know?” But when asked about influences on the slam style, he mentions the singer-songwriter Tom Waits first. On hearing songs by Mr. Waits, like “Putnam County,” he said, “it was like: ‘What was that? Wow.’ ”

To spread his version of the slam poetry gospel, Mr. Smith has recently released two books, “Take the Mic” and “Stage a Poetry Slam,” which he wrote with Joe Kraynak. In addition, the Sunday sessions he leads at the Green Mill are broadcast nationally on Sirius XM satellite radio.

He also continues to refine the show here, which consists of an initial open-microphone set, followed by a performance by an invited artist and finally the competition. But since “the competition from my point of view is meant not to be serious, but a mockery,” the first prize is $10, which is an improvement over the Twinkie he used to offer.

“The gimmick here has always been to entertain you and then pow, put it right in you,” he said. “Slam is a serious art form that seems like it’s just a big, goofy thing. But it’s deadly serious. Why do it? Why do any art if you’re not going to bring out of yourself the thing that is most vulnerable and most precious, that has to be said? Why do something unless you’re really trying to get at what it’s really about? And that’s what this show is.”


R.M.’s Notes:

“Poetry is for everyone.” Poetry is a place and it is free to all

~ William Burroughs




This article was originally posted in 2009. Since that time slam poetry and the event of poetry slams has still been and has become a tool & staple in academic & public school institutions in the promotion of English & poetry. But lets face it. It’s time we do. Slam poetry has been around for over 25 years now and there has not been a single new literary movement that actually reaches out to and or that promotes or invites different or new poets-writers with other forms and styles that will never fit into it’s same old unchanging and un-growing mold. Sadly, slam has become much like the “McDonald’s Of American Poetry”. Over commercialized and unbelievably over hyped and it follows public popularity and not the voices or words anymore which transcend from the talents of writers and the written page. As for slam guru Marc Smith on Ezra Pound? Ezra Pound actually knew what poetry was and studied it. He was an expert on languages, forms and an amazing writer who did translations and who being very poor himself helped out emerging writers. Pound with others of note formed the Modernist Movement & helped new poets like T.S Eliot become recognized for their incredible work. So, yes …it’s true. Everything changes. And it looks like, sounds like slam poetry is on it’s final legs and it’s about time. Everything has its moment and slam like other movements of the past has also. So? Don’t be hurt or even offended. Just write. Because in the end? That’s what matters the most, and only the most is the words, and the authentic voice itself.
The words are the all and the nothing, and they remain.

R.M. Engelhardt,
Poet-Writer, August 2012



Create a website or blog at

Up ↑