For the 2003 Albany Word Fest we decided to move the event inside the walls of Valentine’s, which was at the time the home of the monthly open mic School of Night. This was the first time that the annual event took place in the city of Albany.
In 2002 we had our first featured poets in Alan Catlin and Mary Panza, so for 2003 we wanted to have more featured poets to go along with the open mic. R.M. Engelhardt hosted groups of poets from the area (Woodstock, Voorheesville, Albany, etc.) as featured performers upstairs while there was an open mic downstairs hosted by Leo. The poetry was a true showcase of the diverse talent that was coming out to readings and open mics at the time. A lot of the poets who performed at “A Poets Day” are still around, heavily active in the local community. The event was promoted as “New York State’s finest poetry & small press gathering” and there were a few tables around the perimeter upstairs for publishers could sell books and network with other poets and publishers.
So, on Saturday, September 27, 2003 poets, small press publishers, spoken word artists, and curious onlookers converged on Valentine’s for the last Word Fest in the fall. Here is a run down of the day’s events from the Albany Poets archives:
The 2003 ALBANY WORD FEST was the third annual event celebrating the arts of poetry and spoken word.
2003 saw the Word Fest relocate from the windy hills of Thatcher Park to Valentines in Albany. Performers for the third installment included:
Woodstock Poetry Society: Bob Wright, Cheryl Rice, Will Nixon, Barbara Threecrow
PoeT’s Inc. (from Connecticut): Gabrielle Zane, Elizabeth Thomas, Faith Vicinanza
Laughter & Tears: Don Levy, Shannon Shoemaker, Jill Hannifan
A.P.D. – Anthony Bernini, Maureen Kowsky, Rachel Zitomer, Dan Wilcox
Performance form “musician-experimental spoken word linguist” Jason Martin
Universal Poetics: The Ghetto Soul Inc.: Mojavi, Simone Sneed
Music by: Dr. Sax (Bruce Richardson and James Washburn)
Albany Poetry Syndicate: Mary Panza, Bone Leonard, Thom Francis, R.M. Engelhardt
Voices of the Valley: Mike Jurkovic, Eddie Bell, Amy Ouzoonian, Robert Milby
Every Other Tuesday Poets – Julie Gutmann, Victoria Moore, Nancy Klepsch, Sally Rhodes
Plus, the Albany Word Fest Open Mic hosted by Leo
After the 2003 Word Fest Albany Poets went through a number of changes including putting together the first Board of Directors, reaching out to people to help with new projects, changing the website dramatically, and changing the name of the organization from AlbanyPoets.org to Albany Poets. After all of those changes we then started planning for next Albany Word Fest. As the plans started moving forward we decided to switch the event from September to April, National Poetry Month, and begin again in2005. The story continues tomorrow with the 2005 Albany Word Fest… “Now With Chairs!”