After the 2003 Albany Word Fest, Albany Poets went through some major changes. One of those changes was moving the Word Fest from September to April. We began the new annual tradition by expanding it to two days, April 22 and 23, 2005, and having performances and events in four different locations (The Lark Tavern, Valentine’s, Lark Street Bookshop and the Firlefranz Gallery). We even got a nice article in the Times Union to help promote the changes in the organization, the new website, and the Word Fest itself.
For the first year we held the open mic at the Firlefanz Gallery, on Lark Street. At the mic, hosted by Mary Panza, over 50 poets including Shaun Baxter, Cheryl A. Rice, Terry Bat-Sonja, Dan Wilcox, Julie Lomoe, Cara Benson, Kristen Day, Jacqueline Ahl, Jil Hanifan, Penny Cornelius, Carol Graser, Pierre Joris, Mojavi, Nicole Peyrafitte, Bessam Sinan Sam, Bob Sharkey, R.M. Engelhardt, Tess Lecuyer, Nancy Klepsch, A.C. Everson, Therese Broderick, Stacey Stump, Bless, and Dain Brammage read their work in a very small space . Poets and the audience were taking turns shifting from the inside to the outside of the gallery so everyone had a chance to be a part of the event.
The next night we gathered upstairs at Valentine’s for the Psycho Cluster F#*k. The name of this event came from what a particular poet from Kingston once referred to the previous Word Fests as. We liked the name and ran with it. The PCF featured a mix of poetry, music, and spoken word. The music for the night was from local greats Mother Judge, Kate McKrell, Joe Glickman, Jon Krakat, and the extremely talented Jared Funari. Many of these musicians are still big supporters of the Word Fest and have performed again over the years with Albany Poets.
We did not just focus on music and forget about the poetry that night. Local poets Leo, Emily Gonzalez, Mary Panza, Marcus Anderson, Don Levy, and The Poet Essence performed and were among the spoken word artists featured on the CD, DIDN’T I HEAR YOU READ, which was available at the event.
After all of dust settled and we were rested up from a great weekend of poetry, music, and art, we decided to do it again the next year. The 2006 Albany Word Fest continued the tradition of spreading out the event over two days and mulitple venues. The Word Fest Open Mic was held on Friday night at the UAG Gallery and Saturday afternoon at Valentine’s. This time around we invited the hosts of the mulitple regional poetry open mics to perform as the featured artists during the Open Mic.