Looking Back… 2002 Albany Word Fest

2002 Word Fest

We are taking a trip down Memory Lane this week as look back at the previous Albany Word Fest events. Yesterday we posted photos and an article that Dan Wilcox wrote about the very first Word Fest in September of 2001. Today we are heading back to Thatcher Park for the 2002 Albany Word Fest. For the second year poets from all over the area gathered to share their poetry, sell some books, and eat some hot dogs. This was also the first year that we had featured poets, Alan Catlin and Mary Panza.

The Daily Gazette sent reporter Allison Farrell to cover all of the action of the day.

Poets read in open air at Thacher Park event
By Allison Farrell, Gazette Reporter

VOORHEESVILLE – Debra Bump of Schenectady stood in an open-air shelter at John Boyd Thacher State Park on Saturday afternoon ans read to the background beat of a hand drum.

“I had this poem in my head, long before I had to write it, because I knew someday I would,” said Bump, to an audience of about 40 people gathered in the sun.

Bump and many other local, and not so local, poets took part in the second annual Albany Word Fest that ran from 11 a.m. to dusk.

“We’re trying to gather together poets and poetry groups from all over New York and beyond,” said Robert Engelhardt, who lives in Albany and serves as director of AlbanyPoets.org. “It’s pretty much a nice day where people can come together and listen to poetry.”

Some of the poets delivered unique turns of phrase.

“Sometimes the wind blows cat litter in your face,” read Don Yacullo of Saugerties.

“I want to ride pimpastio,” read Jason Dalaba of Schenectady.

As poets read, attendees lounged in lawn chairs and ate hot dogs from the grill. Bruce Richardson played the saxophone during a break.

The featured artist of the event was Schenectady poet Alan Catlin, who read new poems to the crowd.

Michelle Doriguzzo, who lives in Schenectady, gave a reading as well. She said she’s been writing since childhood. “I do it now because it’s like a hobby,” Doriguzzi said. “It’s relaxing. It eases stress.”

She particularly liked the fact that she was reading in the out doors, without the formality of a microphone.

“It’s great. It’s informal,” Doriguzzi said. “It’s out in the fresh air.” About 45 poets were scheduled to read. But, Engelhardt said, the stage was open to anyone who was inspired.

“We get together and celebrate the spoken word,” Engelhardt said. “The whole spirit of poetry is to have your say.”

This was the last outdoor Word Fest as we moved inside and into the city of Albany in 2003, but more on that tomorrow.

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