Tom Nattell

Poets Speak Loud – 7th Annual Tom Nattell Tribute and Beret Toss

Tom Nattell

Albany Poets will celebrate the 7th anniversary of Poets Speak Loud at McGeary’s on Monday, January 30, 7:00 PM. The event will also commemorate Tom Nattell, local poet and community activist, who died the same day the poetry open mic began, January 31, 2005. Tom had been scheduled to be the first featured reader at the new series, but died of cancer that morning. The open mic was held that night and was a celebration of his life, work and performances.

QE2 Reading with Tom Nattell

Tom brought poetry and spoken word to Albany in a time when there were not 30-plus open mics and readings per month in the area like there is today. The QE2 mic was “the only game in town” and if you wanted to get up on stage and have people to hear your poetry, you made sure you were free on the last Monday’s of the month. Tom Nattell was the man who first announced many of the names you hear now taking the stage.  And some of those same local poets that were staples of that monthly event, like Mary Panza, Dan Wilcox, Don Levy, and R.M. Engelhardt, are now hosting their own open mics and readings, and continuing the traditions that Tom began over 20 years ago.

This very special event will begin with the annual “beret toss” at the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park in Tom’s memory at 6:00pm.

Poets Speak Loud, an open mic sponsored by Albany Poets, is held at McGeary’s in Albany on the last Monday of each month, hosted by Mary Panza. However, for the anniversary event the host will be Dan Wilcox, poet and host of the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center. Wilcox was a friend of Nattell’s and both were members of 3 Guys from Albany, a poetry performance group.

The event Monday will be a classic open mic, in the style of the monthly open mics run by Tom Nattell at the QE2 on the last Monday of each month in the 1980s and 1990s. While it is expected that some poets will read tribute poems to Nattell, or old favorites from past readings, poets are invited to read poems on any theme and share in the spirit of poetry.

Sign up for the open mic will begin at 7:00pm at McGeary’s with the event starting at 8:00pm.

The suggested donation for the event is $3.00; McGeary’s is located at 4 Clinton Square. in Albany, NY. For more information about Albany Poets visit the website: For more information about this event, or about Tom Nattell, contact Dan Wilcox at 518-482-0262 or email to


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