To say that April is a busy month for me is an understatement. First, there was a baby shower. I was in charge of the pastries. Check that off my list. My mom’s birthday was the day after the baby shower. She may be gone but that is a very hard day for me. My patience is usually fried and I feel a grief most of the day. I try to hold it together but between my hormones and my daughter’s, I don’t get the understanding I deserve. Six days later was Easter (I do Italian greens for my contribution) and one of my pregnant nieces birthday. Oh yeah, then the 2017 Albany Word Fest. I had an interview the first day of Word Fest and got drunk while giving said interview. Tuesday I was at a shit show of a slam. Wednesday was one of my favorite bimonthly events Albany Poets Presents at Restaurant Navona, Thursday I stayed in and then there was Friday. Friday was the big one; READINGS AGAINST THE END OF THE WORLD. Oh yeah, I also worked all week.
RAEW was the brainchild of the Godfather of the Albany Poetry Scene, Tom Nattell and I don’t know how he did it. In the planning of this particular reading I was called “the most hated person on the poetry scene” and my reply was “Well, that line is long and distinguished.” I was also left to answer questions like, “Who are you?”, “I thought (fill in the blank) ran the poetry scene”, “Albany what?” “Huh?” and my favorite, “Never heard of it.” The last statement ran the gambit of never heard of me, any of my fellow organizers, poetry, a poetry scene, a poetry reading, poetry festival or living poets. Now, let me make myself clear. I don’t expect people to know who the hell I am. No skin off my ass if someone doesn’t like me but for God’s sake, not knowing what a poetry reading is, that’s bullshit. I managed to literally hang out with all of my poetry family at one point or another in that 24 hour period. We had some old poets, some new poets, and although we didn’t get huge crowds all at once, we were never completely empty. I didn’t stay up the whole time. I did manage to get a nap and a shower. I also got to change my clothes three times like Cher. Not into Bob Mackey gowns but I did go from a cute black dress (by all photos, I looked really hefty) to jeans and a tee shirt to different jeans and a tee shirt. As you may know, I like my “uniform” of jeans, black tank top and black sweat jacked. Bra is mostly optional as long as the sweat jacket is zipped. By 2pm on Saturday, I was sans bra. The big accomplishment of the RAEW was raising money for a local charity. It was totally grass roots, just like Tom used to do. We literally started with a dollar on Friday at 7pm and ended up with over $1000.00 by 7pm Saturday. I haven’t felt like I have done anything good in a while. Most of the time, I feel like a screw up or a hack or as Professor Important pointed out to me “a nothing”. For a few minutes last Saturday between the final money count and getting my girl from her Dads, I felt like something again. I felt there was, for better or worse, a community. Me and my fellow organizers can hand over the money we made and say, “Here, we hope is helps you” and mean it because what mattered was we put all the arrogant, fighting for the front of the list, I’ve been published more than you, crap aside and put our time and money where our words were.
I can’t speak for him or even begin to understand how Tom Nattell didn’t shank a bitch back in the day. I want to think that he could put all the crap aside and keep his eye on the fact that he believed in what he was doing was helping or at least contributing to something bigger that a writer’s ego.
I hope you sign up to read next year. I hope you start coming out to reading and perhaps even read some of your words. I hope.