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We are now within two weeks until the 2013 Albany Word Fest, our annual celebration of National Poetry Month and the poetry and spoken word of upstate New York. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, April 14 – Saturday, April 20, 2013 at seven different venues in and around Albany, NY.

The week will kick-off with the launch of Albany Poets’ brand new literary journal, Up The River. Editors Jill Crammond and Keith Spencer have been culling through hundreds of submissions since January and will debut the the first issue on Sunday, April 14 at McGeary’s (4 Clinton Square, Albany). On top of toasting to the launch of Word Fest and the new journal, this event at McGeary’s, home of our monthly open mic, will also feature performances by some of the poets published.

On Monday, April 15 we head to the UAG Gallery (247 Lark Street, Albany) for a night of poetry and spoken word from Poets Against Fracking featuring Band of Bards, a community of Binghamton area writers, artists, and activists who have turned their talents toward helping to preserve their community against the threat of hydraulic fracture gas drilling in New York State and beyond. Some of the poets scheduled to perform are J. Barrett WolfMichael FoldesRoger HechtMario MoroniEmily Vogel, and John Weil. There will be a short open mic for anyone who wants to participate in this event.

Also on Monday night, poet, artist, and teacher Jill Crammond will be hosting an open mic for students in grades 5 – 12 at the Bethlehem Children’s School (12 Fisher Blvd., Slingerlands). This will be a great opportunity for young poets and writers to share their work with others.

On Tuesday, April 16 the festival continues with the Nitty Gritty Slam at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany). For the Word Fest edition of NGS, Mojavi and Thom Francis will present the first ever Nitty Gritty Haiku Battle. This long awaited event will finally make its Albany debut on the Nitty Gritty stage pitting 16 poets in a head-to-head single-elimination tournament. Admission to NGS is $5.00 / $3.00 with student ID. (18 + / 21 to drink).

For Wednesday night, April 17, the Word Fest heads over to The Linda – WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio (339 Central Ave., Albany) for a special free screening of the film Louder Than A Bomb, “a film about passion, competition, teamwork, and trust. It’s about the joy of being young, and the pain of growing up. It’s about speaking out, making noise, and finding your voice. It also just happens to be about poetry.”

On Thursday night we will have two poetry open mics for the community to get involved in. First up is the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center (33 Central Ave., Albany). Dan Wilcox hosts this open mic for poetry and spoken word featuring “Gettin’ Fierce“, students in Professor Daniel Nester’s class, Oral Presentation of Literature, at the College of St. Rose. Then, starting at 8:00pm Poetyc Visionz hosts his weekly poetry and spoken word open mic with a special Word Fest theme at the Book Club (153 South Pearl Street, Albany).

Friday night features two poetry events with the annual Word Fest Open Mic taking place at the UAG Gallery on Lark Street while UGT will be happening at The Linda on Central Ave.

The annual Word Fest Open Mic, hosted by Albany Poets’ very own and Metroland Reader’s Poll 2013 Best Poet Mary Panza, returns home to the UAG Gallery on Lark St. This event will take place from 7:00pm – 12:00am with poets from Woodstock to Saratoga and everywhere in between including Cecele KrausA. C. EversonBrian DornCarole Rossi Kenyon,Tess LecuyerAlyssa NimanAlan CatlinDon LevyJill CrammondChad LowtherBob SharkeyJacqueline AhlJulie Lomoe, Jacky K.Joe Hesch,Ken SalzmanL-MajestyTedi TocaGlenn WernerAdrianna DelgadoDan WilcoxR.M. EngelhardtMike JurkovicCheryl A. RiceEdward Rinaldi,Joe KrausmanAveryCarolee SherwoodAnthony Bernini, and many more. Poets who are interested in participating can still sign up here. There will also be limited opportunity to sign up at the event.

Meanwhile, right up Central Avenue, at The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany), Urban Guerilla Theatre will be presenting the second annual Skit Happens event with skits, comedy, performance and of course incredible poetry. “Skit Happens, Too” will be featuring local poets and performers Carlos GarciaQ-DiamondLeslie MichelleTenesha SmithMs. BlissJess Listen To My WordzMojaviMind Evolution,Floetik and the first official appearance of super producer John C. Majic.

Finally on Saturday, April 20, the Word Fest comes to an end with the inaugural Word Fest Invitational Slam at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) starting at 6:00pm. For the first time ever, Nitty Gritty Slam (Albany, NY) will be joined by Verbal Slap (CT), Underground Poetry Spot (Syracuse, NY), Suffern Slam (Suffern, NY), Jersey City Slam (Jersey City, NJ), and Pure Ink Slam (Buffalo, NY) on one stage to close out the Word Fest and compete for prizes and bragging rights as we get closer to the National Poetry Slam in August.  Admission for this event at Valentine’s is $10.00 in advance / $12.00 at the door. This event is 18+ (21+ to drink) with a picture ID required.

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 to albanypoets+submissions@gmail.com with “Online Open Mic” in the subject line, starting Sunday, April 7.

The 2013 Albany Word Fest is sponsored by AlbanyPoets, Hudson Valley Writers Guild, Frequency North, Urban Guerrilla Theatre, Valentines, McGeary’s, Upstate Artists Guild and the very generous donations of supporters of the arts in upstate New York.

For more information on the history of the Word Fest, directions to venues, and a complete schedule of events, go to www.albanywordfest.com.