The 2017 Albany Word Fest – A Week-long Celebration of Poetry and Spoken Word

2017 Albany Word FestIn celebration of National Poetry Month, Albany Poets is proud to present the 2017 Albany Word Fest featuring the poetry and spoken word of upstate New York. This year’s event will take place Monday, April 17 – Saturday, April 22, 2017.

“Every year we celebrate National Poetry Month right here in Albany and each year we add more to the list of events. What started as a one-day outdoor open mic in 2001 has become a full week of poetry and spoken word. There is something for everyone.” Thom Francis, Albany Poets President, said, “Whether you would like to take in a featured performance, celebrate the launch of the fifth edition of Up The River, attend a regional poetry slam, or be part of the return of the 24-hourReadings Against the End of the World open mic, the Albany Word Fest is the place for you.”

On Monday, April 17 the Word Fest will be at the Hudson River Coffee House on Quail Street for “An Evening of Poetry and Prose” featuring regional poets and writers Sylvia Barnard, Brian Dorn, Jacqueline Kirkpatrick, Daniel Nester, and Poetyc Visionz, hosted by Harvey Havel.

On Tuesday, April 18 the festival continues with the Nitty Gritty Slam at The Low Beat with the return of the Haiku Battle. It has been such a great time over the last three years that we couldn’t wait to bring it back to the Nitty Gritty stage in 2017.

For Wednesday night, April 19, we welcome local poet, writer, and hostR.M. Engelhardt to Albany Poets Presents at Restaurant Navona. Engelhardt, who organized the first three Word Fest events, will read from his work and then talk about writing, the local poetry scene, the history of the Word Fest and more.

On Thursday, April 20, there are two opportunities to get involved as the poetry heads to the Social Justice Center with the Third Thursday Poetry Night hosted by Dan Wilcox. This monthly poetry series welcomes poets to step up to the mic and share their work along with featured readerKathleen McCoy.

There will also be the Lark Street Poetry Walk with students from the College of Saint Rose reciting work on the corners of Lark Street starting at the Washington Avenue Armory CDTA bus stop to Madison Avenue.

The annual Word Fest Open Mic will be making a big change this year as Albany Poets and the English Department at UAlbany are reviving the 24-four hour reading event, Readings Against the End of the World, to benefit the South End Children’s Café.

Readings Against the End of the World will need word-lovers and writers to share readings – original work or favorite passages, poems and rants, raps and stories, spoken word and personal visions- enough to fill twenty-four hours the power of words. The event will kick off Friday, April 21 at 7pm with a special performance from Dan Wilcox and Charlie Rossiter at the Husted Hall Café on the UAlbany Downtown campus, and will continue until Saturday, April 22.

Online sign up for the Readings Against the End of the World event for individuals and groups is now available at Organizations interested in having a table can contact Albany Poets at for information.

As one of the final events of the week-long Albany Word Fest, Readings Against the End of the World will celebrate National Poetry Month by bringing local writers and literary communities together with creative writing students and faculty from area colleges to raise money for an excellent local program, the South End Children’s Café. The mission of SECC is to impact food insecurity, address food equality and food justice, enhance academic success and positively influence the physical and mental health of children residing in the South End of Albany, New York. The program offers free, healthy dinner time meals along with homework help, academic enrichment, mentoring, exercise and participation in the arts Monday through Friday. For more information on this excellent local program, check out their website at

Readings Against the End of the World started in 1984 as a fundraiser for the Albany Peace & Energy Council. Tom Nattell coordinated the event in response to the Reagan-era ratcheting up of the nuclear arms race. It took place on weekends at the end of April (or beginning of May), around Earth Day, from Friday midnight to Saturday midnight at various locations, starting at the Half-Moon Café on lower Madison Avenue, to the First Presbyterian Church, above the Eighth Step. The event would end after the 1993 edition with Tom saying, “Things start and things end, and if this (the readings) turns out to be the last one, it was meant to be the last one.”

During this 24-hour reading, Albany Poets will be celebrating the release of the fifth edition of the literary journal, Up The River. The editors will debut their selections with a featured reading by some of the published poets.

Kevin Peterson, Albany Poets board member and UTR editor says, “Every year, we put on this week-long series of events, and year after year, I’m blown away by the talent and creativity it draws out from our community, and the literary community at large.”

Finally, on Saturday, April 22, the Word Fest comes to an end as Nitty Gritty Slam welcomes teams from all over the Northeast to compete in the Word Fest Invitational Slam starting at 7:00 p.m. at Troy Kitchen in downtown Troy. Registration and ticket information will be announced soon.

Additionally, all throughout the week, Albany Poets will be publishing local poetry on their website as part of the Word Fest Online Open Mic. Poets who wish to participate are encouraged to send their poems with “Online Open Mic” in the subject line, starting Friday, April 1.

The 2017 Albany Word Fest is sponsored by Albany Poets, English Department at UAlbany, Hudson Valley Writers Guild, The Low Beat, McGeary’s Irish Pub, The Social Justice Center and the very generous donations of supporters of the arts in upstate New York.

Be sure to check often for details and information on 2017 Albany Word Fest.