As a relative newcomer to Albany--we moved here from Brooklyn in 2005 when I started teaching at The College of Saint Rose--I was curious to see what the local poetry scenes were like in and around our new hometown. It didn't take long after going to my first readings that I noticed one dude at every one. He wore in a black beret, a flash camera around his neck, and lots of political buttons.
That dude's name is Dan Wilcox, and he was always taking pictures. A peace activist, veteran, and former state worker--everyone seems to be a former state worker up here in New York's state capital--Dan Wilcox is one of the poetry scene's griots. He claims to have the "world's largest collection of photos of unknown poets." Some of the photos are, in fact, of very well-known poets. Here's a mini-exhibition for your viewing pleasure, with Dan Wilcox's commentary.
This was taken 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 micers & 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.
Another event that Tom Nattell was responsible for organizing was the annual 24-hour reading/performance fund-raiser, Readings Against the End of the World. He ran it from 1984 to 1993. It was a fund-raiser for the Albany Peace & Energy Council & was in about 3 different venues during its run, around the weekend of Earth Day each year. This is Ed Sanders reading in 1991.
Other famous poets who came to town include Allen Ginsberg who did a series of readings in Albany in November, 1990. Here he is on the left with novelist William Kennedy at a reception at Mother Earth Cafe along with other luminaries from the local music & art scene. I like to think that Allen is asking, "Now Bill, is that i before e or ..." There are more of my pictures of Ginsberg on http://www.flickr.com/photos/
Another famous poet who visited Albany & did a reading & book-signing was Lawrence Ferlinghetti (second from left). He ended up staying at Tom Nattell's house because he didn't like the motel he was in & the water in the pool burnt his eyes. Here he is with the "3 Guys from Albany": me, Tom & Charlie Rossiter, at Tom's house. I don't remember who took the picture, perhaps Mary Anne Winslow.
This is a classic Paul Weinman shot, at Mother Earth's Cafe in Albany in April, 1995. The young students in the foreground thought they were going to a poetry reading, not a strip show. I think this was a poem about censorship. Paul was well-published in the 1980's & 1990's zine scene as "White Boy," know for his short, outrageous political pieces. He's still in the area but doesn't come to readings anymore (I guess he figures we've seen enough of him).
Still another event that Tom Nattell created is Poets in the Park, held on Saturdays in July in Albany's Washington Park at the Robert Burns statue. When Tom died in 2005 he passed the responsibility for the event on to me. This is from 2007 & the poet reading is Dayl Wise from Woodstock, NY, editor of Post Traumatic Press. His wife, the poet Alison Koffler, is in the foreground listening.