By Ana E Williams
Readings Against the End of the World is an event that occurs annually in Albany. This year (2019) RAtEW was held from 7pm on Friday, April 12th until 4pm the following day in honor of National Poetry month. Mary Panza, poet and VP of Albany Poets, and Jil Hanifan, poet and Director of the UAlbany Writing Center, hosted—not for the first time—at Husted Hall on UAlbany’s downtown campus. Both hosts personalities (plus their jokes) made the experience funny, entertaining, and interesting.
Started over 20 years ago, in 1984, by the late Tom Nattel, the 24-hour poetry reading was held as a perfect example of passive activism—a way to speak out against the major risks to our world at the time. Tom Nattell was a part of the group “3 Guys from Albany” which included himself, Charlie Rossiter and Dan Wilcox. The “3 Guys from Albany” website is still available to view at http://www.3guysfromalbany.com/. Visit to get more information about exactly what these men did for poetry!
Both Charlie Rossiter and Dan Wilcox were in attendance this year. They are full of life, happiness, and excitement for poetry and their community all these years later. Unfortunately, Tom Nattell, Albany’s poetic community legend passed away in 2005. Even though he is no longer with us, his activism event has lived on, and continues to bring poets together each year to remember what they are writing for. I encourage everyone to attend in future years. Many people signed up to read during the course of the event; there were original works, as well as, pieces from other poets the readers admired. Some of Albany’s prominent local poets were in attendance including: Alan Catlin, Todd Fabozzi, Tess Lecuyer, and Nancy Klepsch to name a few.
Nancy Klepsch, spoke about someone close to her who lost their life in a tragic event. What was so creative about this piece she shared was how she incorporated such an emotional topic into the experience of baking an apple pie. Don Levy touched on more liberal topics that many are afraid to discuss. Such as, the state of our country, and the LGBTQ community. An interesting fact that he confronted in one of his pieces was the act of Chick-Fil-A supporting anti-gay organizations. Darby Penney also discussed something very touching in her pieces—the passing of her husband that past December. She expressed how they shared interest not only in poetry but also in fishing. The emotion that she felt resonated to the audience so clearly through her work and how much the poems she shared meant to her.
RAtEW is one event where everyone can feel welcome and find the door to Albany’s poetry family. There weren’t many college students in attendance, but I do encourage students in the Capital Region to attend this amazing event in 2020. Overall, it was a great experience to be around so many creative people and hear the amazing stories they had to share. There was no judgment, only applause and encouragement, which made it even more enjoyable. If you have something to share or need to break the first time performance nerves, this is the place to do it!! You won’t regret it.