When Tom Nattell, Albany poet, peace & environmental activist, was dying in late 2004 he set up a fund, the Tom Nattell Peace Poetry Prize, with the Community Foundation of the Capital Region to provide a cash award for students at Albany High School for a poem they had written. When Tom had been a student at AHS in 1970 he received a cash prize for a poem and said it encouraged him to continue to write poetry — not that he would always be paid writing poetry but it made him feel that his work was recognized. His plan was that the prize be opened to all grades. He asked me, Dan Wilcox, to coordinate this for him.
Two years ago the Hudson Valley Writers Guild agreed to administer the prize funds so that they could be awarded directly to the students. No prizes had been awarded for a number of years and consequently, the fund had grown to the point where it was possible to make the award without touching the principle.
This year two prizes of $200. each were awarded to Albany High School Senior Jazmin Galloway and Sophomore Mandy Berghela. Unfortunately, because schools have been closed due to the pandemic there is no Awards Ceremony so the prizes were sent directly to the students. We wish them both continued success with their writing.
We expect to continue with the Tom Nattell Peace Poetry Prize next year, with thanks to the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, the Community Foundation of the Capital Region, and the generosity of community members who have contributed to the fund over the years.