The Half-Dead Poet Review – In This Place of Light & Sound ​(or What the QE2 Meant to Me​)​


This photo was taken by Dan Wilcox at the QE2 in February 1995, where Tom Nattell (right front) ran a poetry open on the last Monday of each month. There are a couple dead poets in this picture (including Tom), others who have moved from the area, some I don’t know, some don’t show up at open mics anymore & there are a few hard-core open mic-ers & folks still writing. Tom Nattell & the readings at the QE2, a punk rock club in a former White Tower Hamburger joint, were the start of the vibrant poetry scene that continues to this day in Albany.

In This Place of Light & Sound ​

“This is my religion, this is my church
And nothing else matters”


They are the ghosts of poets
Which rain down upon the future
But that live within the past,

The signs which say “We Lived”

Go back to the beginning
Go back to that place,

Where the voices of
Memories take the stage.

I see Tom walking in
With the sign up sheet,

And over there
Pat Covert waiting,
Smoke in his mouth
Making some wise-cracking
Remark to some frightened kid,

Reading…for the first time.

And in front
Dan is taking pictures
And passing out fliers
Still talking about “Peace”

And now there’s Mary, Tess,
Don & Steve. Making fun of some
Guy in a polyester suit &
With a long Whitman beard


But we’re all still here
And all for the same reason
And the same thing.

Because we are all
Addicts to the pen
And to the paper

And we all need to
Say something because we
All have our reasons
To say it.

After all, what makes
You a poet anyways?
Why do you still write?
Keep napkins and
Discarded sheets of paper
All just for that one line
Which says


“I’m here”


As over the years we see
People come and go while all the
Places remain the same.

And our souls are
Who we are when we get up
Upon that stage


So where’s Whiteboy?
Where’s Fleming?
And where is Matt Kelly?

And all the voices,
Of the disappeared?

Where punk rock meets the 1960’s,
And revolution meets anarchy,
George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Clinton
And verses, sex in the bathroom,
Siestinas, sonnets & the avant-garde?

Poems about love, sorrow
And Vietnam, Hardcore drinking &

On the hoof.

And one poet asks;

“Where Are All The Professors?”

Where are all the poets?

By body or by soul,
By mind or by time
We are.

And in some way
Still here


In this place of sound
And Light, words and voices

Where all of it “Mattered”

And all matters



This poem is a memory of the past.

My own past and a part of who I am and eventually on the Albany Poetry Scene​? Became.

There is an old saying that someone once said about “It’s in our time that existence shapes us within the fire of that time​”​. ​And perhaps​ ​they were right. The QE​2​ was the first place that I ever read my work. ​Two​ Haiku poems that came from a young man who from going out and living for the music & partying there heard about the monthly poetry reading and decided to venture out. And like so many others of that time period, say what we felt we needed to say. It was an amazing time to live and many things were different. Perhaps we were more rebellious? More wild​?​ Or perhaps we were all just creating our own revolutions in our own lives upon a stage where the host, Tom Nattell made us all feel as if we were all a part of something bigger. Truthfully? I miss those days at the Q​E​2, that open mic​ ​because to me? ​T​he Q​E​2 ​was like a mecca, a temple where I spent my misspent youth and ​that spirit still remains in my soul.​

​We all carry that time within us and there are ​now ​many readings-open mics that continue this tradition as well like at ​Albany Poets’ “Poet’s Speak Loud” at McGeary’s and ​many ​others. ​Stop in sometime and read a poem.​