Thom Francis

Thom’s 10 Things…

Thom Francis

Thom’s 10 Things… a weekly look at Thom Francis’ thoughts on upcoming projects, Albany Poets, and the local poetry and spoken word community…

This is the first in a weekly series of blogs about my thoughts on the local poetry community. I have been reading at open mics and events for 18 or so years and have been with Albany Poets since its inception in 2000. Here is what I have been thinking about this week.

1 – Professor Java’s Wide Open Mic
We only had a couple of people come out to the open mic this past Monday at Java’s, but we still had a good time and learned a few a things about anatomy and blood loss. To be completely honest, I cannot really blame folks for not coming out to the mic either. The weather was beautiful. It was awesome outside, who could argue with that? We do hope to have more people come out next month, April 9. Kevin Peterson is doing a great job as the new host and I can see good things happening with this mic given time.

2 – Poetry on First Friday
Last week, we began talks with the Central Ave. BID and the good folks (Michael Weidrich) that run 1st Friday in Albany to get poetry and spoken word involved in the monthly event. 1st Friday will soon be expanding to the Central Ave. / Townsend Park area (that patch of grass between Central Ave. and Washington Ave.) and they have invited Albany Poets to be a part of this expansion. We are still working out the how and where this will happen, so stay tuned to the website for more details. This is very exciting for us as we have been able to bring poetry to the people at other public events such as LarkFest and Art on Lark over the years and this is another way to let local voices be heard.

3 – Yes! Word Fest Communal Reading Event
We are getting ready for Word Fest, as you may have noticed by all of the recent posts, flyers, and Facebook posts. We are proud to say that we  have finally nailed down the details for the Wednesday night event. As of this past weekend, we are happy to announce that Yes! Reading will be hosting a new and innovative reading concept on April 18 at the Social Justice Center. Anyone who is interested in being part of it, please go to the Facebook page for more information and to sign up.

4 – The 2012 Albany Word Fest Open Mic
Speaking of Word Fest and signing up, the online sign up for the the Word Fest Open Mic will begin tomorrow, Thursday, March 15 on the Albany Word Fest website. The Open Mic itself will be taking place at the Albany Public Library on Saturday, April 20 from 10:30 – 5:00. The Word Fest Open Mic is an annual tradition that we look forward to each and every year as poets from all over upstate New York gather to share their work and listen to others. This year is going to be another great one.

5 – Write Here!
This was a great event put on by the HVWG and the Arts Center. I was fortunate to be able to sit on the panel for poetry slams. During our session, we were able to change a lot of people’s minds on what a poetry slam is and the misconceptions on the art form. It was also a great opportunity for me to go around to a few local spots and flyer for the Word Fest. While I was walking around I realized how much I missed the beautiful City of Troy since I moved away over ten years ago. I will definitely be making more trips across the river to catch up with my hometown.

6 – Nitty Gritty Slam
The last slam was a little light. We were missing a few key staff members and we only had half of the poets to make it a true “8-4-2”. The “less is more” model is something that we have seen before at poetry readings and events over the years, especially with poetry slams, but I do not want to get comfortable with it again. Hopefully this was just a one-time situation and that the warm, springtime weather will bring the poets out from their winter hibernation. We are working hard to put Albany on the map for slam poetry and it would be a shame for all of talented poets and spoken word artists that come out to NGS to not have an audience.

7 – Googling Myself
Looking for a photo for this first “Thom’s 10 Things” post I came across this review / writeup from a performance that I did at the UAG four years ago. This was one of the readings in the series where Albany Poets and Jawbone teamed up to bring together different combinations of featured poets.

Here is a video that was taken of me reading my poem, “Hero”. Funny thing is, I was toying with the idea of doing this poem next week at NGS #14. Maybe I will do it after all.

8 – The Founders Reading
This is something that personally I am very proud of and excited to see happen at the Word Fest this year. Albany Poets has been around for 12 years, so we decided that it would be nice to look back at original poets who have been part of the website since the beinning of the organization. So, on Sunday to kick off the Word Fest, we will have a Founders Reading. I will be joined on stage with Dan Wilcox, Don Levy, Marcus Anderson, Mojavi, A.C. Everson, Mary Panza, and the man who co-founded Albany Poets with me back in 2000, R.M. Englehardt.

9 – Video of the Week.
I have been really digging the poetry of Brian “Onmi” Dillion the past few days after his name came up in conversation over the weekend and found this video that really puts all of the reasons I respect him in one poem.

You may remember that Dillon along with some of the poets involved with the Intangible Collective came through the area in November and performed at Valentines. Opening that show were local poets Dain Brammage, Ed Rinaldi, and Kevin Peterson.

10 – Coming up Next Week
We have a great week of words coming up starting with Saint Poem at the UAG, Front Parlor at the Olde English, and the Nitty Gritty Slam #14 at Valentines. Go to for the full list of readings and events going on in the area.

That’s all I have for this week. Leave a comment and let me know what is on your mind.

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