Best Place to Hear and Read Good Poetry

Poetry at the Albany Library

There are some hidden gems that cause deep inner conflict: We feel compelled to divulge the secret, to let others in on a good thing, but at the same time we fear that the treasure will be spoiled, overrun by crowds. A select group of poets and poetry-lovers in the Albany/North Berkeley environs feels this way about a long-running, under-publicized monthly poetry series run by local impresario of poetry Catherine Taylor, and funded by the Friends of the Albany Library. On the second Tuesday of every month, in the library's comfortable Edith Stone Room, a featured reader of the caliber of Robert Hass, Sharon Doubiago, or Lynn Knight reads at 7 p.m., followed by a discussion session and an open-mic list (with signups often pushing twenty) of generally talented poets — some regulars, some newcomers or passers-through. Taylor crafts the event thoughtfully, sometimes with themed nights, such as June's fathers-and-fatherhood reading in honor of Father's Day. The audience is attentive, well-read, and engaged, and does not flee after the featured reading is over; during the open mic, you might look up from your sonnet to see Maxine Hong Kingston smiling and nodding at your words. Really.

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