Thom Francis

Thom’s 10 Things… April 11, 2012

Thom Francis

Thanks for joining me for another edition of Thom’s 10 Things… This week I am going to be talking about Word Fest, Jared Paul, upcoming shows, Word Fest, and a little mention about Word Fest.

1 – One of my First Albany Poetry Memories
Unlike most folks who have been around the scene for a while, I did not go to Tom Nattell‘s QE2 open mic when it was the only game in town. Actually, I never attended any of the Readings Against the End of the World either. My timing was a bit off, I guess. A lot of poets in the area that I have talked to remember their first time at the QE2 or their first time behind the mic. One of my first memories of the scene was standing outside the Borders open mic when I first started coming out to the open mics and hanging out and smoking cigarettes with Steve Clark, Rob Engelhardt, and a couple of other people. It was after the mic was over and we were all just loitering and talking about nothing in particular, but it was the first time that I felt like I was part of the family. And I still hold that close to me. Sure, I remember the first time I read at an open mic and how nervous I was. I remember when I was not nervous for the first time too. But that night, smoking cigarettes and annoying all of the nice people who just wanted to buy books, is one of my fondest memories. What are your favorite memories of the past in the Albany poetry community or your own poetry past?

2 – Like I Need Another Project
We are beginning to work on some new, exciting projects here at Albany Poets HQ and are looking for poets to help out. After Word Fest, you will begin seeing new audio and video on the website. One of the first projects, which started right here in this weekly post, is the video of the week. I want to start featuring a local poet each week performing their work, wherever they are comfortable. It can be on stage, at the bus stop, in their living room, in line at the deli (actually, that sounds pretty neat). If you are intersted in being recorded while reciting your poetry, send us an email at and we will add you to the list and let you know when we get started.

3 – Albany Music Coalition
My very good friend Harith Saam, of The Rev Records fame, has formed a new organization in town for musicians. Harith and Katie Hammond have started the Albany Music Coalition to “share ideas, information, and resources to benefit the Albany music community.” I personally know that Harith has a deep passion for the local arts community. He has worked with Albany Poets in the past as our Music Director, booking the music acts for at least four Word Fest events as well as other shows that we have put on. He also was a long time host of the Borders open mic on Wolf Road and through the Rev Records hosted many shows at the Lark Tavern. This coming Friday at Valentine’s they will be holding their first show featuring performances by Matthew CarefullyMichael Eck, and Tom McWatters & the Philo Beddoe Band. Admission to the benefit performance is $7 and proceeds will be used to support the Coalition’s work as it moves through the process of establishing itself as a non-profit organization. If you like music, having fun, and supporting the local arts community, you should go.

4 – Word Fest Countdown
We are only a few days away from the 2012 Albany Word Fest. Starting at 2:00PM on Sunday at St. Rose, the annual event will be underway. This is by far our biggest event yet. We have gone an expanded it to a an entire week of poetry and spoken word. Go to the Word Fest site for the full schedule and to sign up for the Word Fest Open Mic on Saturday, April 21.

5 – Founders Reading
I am very excited for this event. This is probably what I am excited the most about. I am glad that this reading is happening because it gives us a chance to say thank you to those poets who have been on the site and with Albany Poets since the beginning back in 2000. It has been a great decade to be a poet and spoken word artist in this area. We have such a nurshuring and supportive community. We will be gathering at McGeary’s at 6:00PM for this special reading. Be prepared for the dynamic duo of hosting as Rob and I will be making the introductions for the night and talking about where we came from and where we are going.

6 – Nitty Gritty Slam #16
This coming Tuesday we will be celebrating not only the Word Fest, but also the 16th installment of the Nitty Gritty Slam at Valentine’s. This will mark 8 months since we began this journey into slam (again). There have been the usual ups and downs over the course of 16 slams, but overall it has been a success. The best part of the whole thing has been the amazing new talent that has performed on stage. We have seen Elizag, Kevin Peterson, ILLiptical, Poetyc Visionz, and Jessica Layton among others get up on stage and simply leave the audience speechless. Even if we have a slow night with less than 8 poets for the first round, knowing that we have such great poets and artists in Albany makes it all worth it. If you want to a peek at some of the greatest spoken word in the country, be sure to come by Valentine’s on Tuesday night.

7 – Retiring Poems
Over the past couple of weeks of preparing and thinking about the Founders Reading, I came to the realization that I really need to write more. So, in order to force myself to write more and read new poems out at readings I have decided to retire some of my more “famous” pieces. Last Monday at the Java’s mic I read “Al” and “Trucker” for the last time (at least for a while, anyway). For Sunday’s reading I will be reading from my last chapbook, The Long Walk Home (2002) and will performing a lot of the “hits” and retiring some as I go along. Don’t worry though, “Female Pedestrian” is safe. I will keep performing that poem for a while more.

8 – Jared Paul show at Hudson River Coffee House
[There have been server problems all day, so this part is being written after the event rather than before]
What a great night of poetry at the Hudson River Coffee House tonight. The Albany Poets team represented by Elizag, ILLiptical, Poetic Visionz, Message, Kevin Peterson, and myself warmed up the packed room before the star of the show, Jared Paul came to the mic to share his stories and his pwerful words.  When he comes back into town in the fall, we will definitely be letting everyone know about. It was a great way to spend a Wednesday night in Albany.

9 – Video of the Week
The video this week has nothing to do with wrestling. The video this week is all about the poet who is performing at the Hudson River Coffee House tonight, Jared Paul. Here is Jared performing “Post Election Bailout Blues” at the Bowery Poetry Club.

10 – Coming up Next Week
I should not even have to be writing this. Next week is the 2012 Albany Word Fest. I have been talking about it for a while now. Hell, I even mentioned it a few times in this post. This is an entire week of poetry and spoken word events in Albany. For the schedule and more information, please head over to

I hope to see everyone at some or all of the Word Fest events next week. If you are not able to make it, fear not, we have a lot of things coming up.

Questions/comments appreciated.