THE SCHOOL OF NIGHT : ALBANY, NY’S OPEN MIC FOR
POETS & WRITERS RETURNS ON THURSDAY 04.11.13
In celebration of National Poetry Month, Albany Poets is proud to present the 2013 Albany Word Fest featuring the poetry and spoken word of upstate New York. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, April 14 – Saturday, April 20, 2013.
“What a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month right here in Albany. With a full week of poetry and spoken word, there is something for everyone.” Thom Francis, Albany Poets President, said, “Whether you would like to take in a featured performance, celebrate the launch of a new, local literary journal, attend a regional poetry slam, or be part of one of the largest annual open mics in the area, the Albany Word Fest is the place for you.”
Avery Stempel, Albany Poets board member, adds, “Word Fest is a celebration of spoken word spanning a full week of events that incorporate the diverse forms of expression ranging from impromptu skits to rehearsed and choreographed slams. Poets, philosophers, performers: all are welcome in this growing community of Albany writers. I am excited to be a part of the team coordinating the festivities this year!”
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 and will debut their selections for the first issue on Sunday, April 14 at McGeary’s. The evening will also feature performances by some of the poets published.
On Monday, April 15 we head to the UAG Gallery on Lark Street 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.
Also on Monday night, Jill Crammond will be hosting an open mic for students in grades 5 – 12 at the Bethlehem Children’s School in 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 Valentines. For the Word Fest edition of NGS, Mojavi and Thom Francis will present the first ever Haiku Battle. This long awaited event will finally make its Albany debut on the Nitty Gritty stage.
For Wednesday night, April 17, the Word Fest heads over to The Linda – WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio on Central Ave for a 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.”
Thursday, the poetry comes back to the Social Justice Center with the Third Thursday Poetry Night hosted by Dan Wilcox. This monthly poetry series welcomes poets to step up to the mic and share their work along with featured performers from the College of Saint Rose.
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.
This year Albany Poets is going back to a familiar place for the Word Fest Open Mic. We are returning to the UAG Gallery on Lark Street for this annual Word Fest tradition. The UAG has hosted the Open Mic five times in the past (2006 – 2010) and it is great to be back home for the 2013 Word Fest.
Poets who wish to participate in the open mic can sign up online by going to the signup pageuntil Sunday, April 14. Performers will also have a limited opportunity to sign up at the event itself. Each poet will have 10 minutes to share their work. The open mic is open to all poets and spoken word artists with no style or content restrictions.
Meanwhile, right up Central Avenue, at The Linda, Urban Guerilla Theatre will be presenting the second Skit Happens show. UGT President Mojavi explains, “ ‘Skit Happens, Too’ is an eclectic blend of poetry, comedy and skits. UGT is dedicated to bringing you funny, incredible performances and even crazier skits. We continue to bring you the best in poetry, comedy and performance as part of the 2013 Albany Word Fest.”
Finally on Saturday, April 20, the Word Fest comes to an end with the first ever Word Fest Invitational Slam at Valentine’s starting at 6:00pm. Albany Poets, Frequency North, and Urban Guerilla Theatre are proud to welcome six teams from all over the Northeast to compete in this event. 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. Tickets will be available online beginning on March 14.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with “Online Open Mic” in the subject line, starting Sunday, April 7.
The 2013 Albany Word Fest is sponsored by Albany Poets, 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 including Matt Galletta, Dan Wilcox, Howard Kogan, Kenneth Salzmann, and Bob Sharkey.
Latest Word Fest News
2013 Albany Word Fest – The Word Fest Kick Off Party and Launch of Up The River on Sunday, April 14
April 3, 2013 2:36:40 PM EDT
Getting Closer… Two Weeks Until the 2013 Albany Word Fest
April 2, 2013 10:44:56 AM EDT
2013 Albany Word Fest – Poets Against Fracking featuring Band of Bards on Monday, April 15
March 29, 2013 9:55:17 AM EDT
2013 Albany Word Fest News – New Events, New Features, and How You Can Help
March 14, 2013 10:26:52 AM EDT
The Albany Word Fest is © 2013 Albany Poets. All Rights Reserved.
Read It Here:
This coming Thursday, March 14, at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza local poet R.M. Engelhardt will be launching his brand new book, The Resurrection Waltz, with a special reading and a performance by Murrow (Thom Francis and Keith Spencer). R.M. has been a a big part of the local poetry scene for over 20 years. In that time he has hosted many open mics and events including Saint Poem, The School of Night, Ghost in the Machine, VoX, LISTEN, and P.R.O.P.A.G.A.N.D.A.. His works has been published in Retort, Rusty Truck, Sure! The Charles Bukowski Newsletter, Thunder Sandwich, The Boston Literary Review, Full of Crow, Fashion For Collapse, 2nd Avenue Poetry, and right here on AlbanyPoets.com.
We recently sat down with Rob to talk to him about the book and some upcoming projects …
In a place where bloodshed was nearly commonplace and mud and the enemy were fought with equal vigor, something surprising occurred on the front for Christmas in 1914. The men who lay shivering in the trenches embraced the Christmas spirit. In one of the truest acts of goodwill toward men, soldiers from both sides in the southern portion of the Ypres Salient set aside their weapons and hatred, if only temporarily, and met in No Man’s Land.
After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, the world was plunged into war. Germany, realizing they were likely to face a two-front war, attempted to defeat the western foes before the Russians were able to mobilize their forces in the East (estimated to take six weeks), using the Schlieffen Plan.
Though the Germans had made a strong offensive into France, French, Belgian, and British forces were able to halt them. However, since they were not able to push the Germans out of France, there was a stalemate and both sides dug into the earth creating a large network of trenches.
Once the trenches were built, winter rains tried to obliterate them. The rains not only flooded the dug-outs, they turned the trenches into mud holes – a terrible enemy in and of itself.
It had been pouring, and mud lay deep in the trenches; they were caked from head to foot, and I have never seen anything like their rifles! Not one would work, and they were just lying about the trenches getting stiff and cold. One fellow had got both feet jammed in the clay, and when told to get up by an officer, had to get on all fours; he then got his hands stuck in too, and was caught like a fly on a flypaper; all he could do was look round and say to his pals, ‘For Gawd’s sake, shoot me!’ I laughed till I cried. But they will shake down, directly they learn that the harder one works in the trenches, the drier and more comfortable one can keep both them and oneself.1
The trenches of both sides were only a few hundred feet apart, buffered by a relatively flat area known as “No Man’s Land.” The stalemate had halted all but a scattered number of small attacks; thus, soldiers on each side spent a large amount of time dealing with the mud, keeping their heads down in order to avoid sniper fire, and watching carefully for any surprise enemy raids on their trench.
Restless in their trenches, covered in mud, and eating the same rations every day, some soldiers began to wonder about the un-seen enemy, men declared monsters by propagandists.
We hated their guts when they killed any of our friends; then we really did dislike them intensely. But otherwise we joked about them and I think they joked about us. And we thought, well, poor so-and-sos, they’re in the same kind of muck as we are.
The uncomfortableness of living in trenches coupled with the closeness of the enemy who lived in similar conditions contributed to a growing “live and let live” policy. Andrew Todd, a telegraphist of the Royal Engineers, wrote of an example in a letter:
Perhaps it will surprise you to learn that the soldiers in both lines of trenches have become very ‘pally’ with each other. The trenches are only 60 yards apart at one place, and every morning about breakfast time one of the soldiers sticks a board in the air. As soon as this board goes up all firing ceases, and men from either side draw their water and rations. All through the breakfast hour, and so long as this board is up, silence reigns supreme, but whenever the board comes down the first unlucky devil who shows even so much as a hand gets a bullet through it.
Sometimes the two enemies would yell at each other. Some of the German soldiers had worked in Britain before the war and asked about a store or area in England that an English soldier also knew well. Sometimes they would shout rude remarks to each other as a way of entertainment. Singing was also a common way of communication.
During the winter it was not unusual for little groups of men to gather in the front trench, and there hold impromptu concerts, singing patriotic and sentimental songs. The Germans did much the same, and on calm evenings the songs from one line floated to the trenches on the other side, and were there received with applause and sometimes calls for an encore.
After hearing of such fraternization, General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, commander of the British II Corps, ordered:
The Corps Commander, therefore, directs Divisional Commanders to impress on all subordinate commanders the absolute necessity of encouraging the offensive spirit of the troops, while on the defensive, by every means in their power.
Friendly intercourse with the enemy, unofficial armistices (e.g. ‘we won’t fire if you don’t’ etc.) and the exchange of tobacco and other comforts, however tempting and occasionally amusing they may be, are absolutely prohibited.
On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. Though Germany readily agreed, the other powers refused.
Even without a cessation of war for Christmas, family and friends of the soldiers wanted to make their loved ones’ Christmas special. They sent packages filled with letters, warm clothing, food, cigarettes, and medications. Yet what especially made Christmas at the front seem like Christmas were the troves of small Christmas trees.
On Christmas Eve, many German soldiers put up Christmas trees, decorated with candles, on the parapets of their trenches. Hundreds of Christmas trees lighted the German trenches and although British soldiers could see the lights, it took them a few minutes to figure out what they were from. Could this be a trick? British soldiers were ordered not to fire but to watch them closely. Instead of trickery, the British soldiers heard many of the Germans celebrating.
Time and again during the course of that day, the Eve of Christmas, there were wafted towards us from the trenches opposite the sounds of singing and merry-making, and occasionally the guttural tones of a German were to be heard shouting out lustily, ‘A happy Christmas to you Englishmen!’ Only too glad to show that the sentiments were reciprocated, back would go the response from a thick-set Clydesider, ‘Same to you, Fritz, but dinna o’er eat yourself wi’ they sausages!’
In other areas, the two sides exchanged Christmas carols.
They finished their carol and we thought that we ought to retaliate in some way, so we sang ‘The first Noël’, and when we finished that they all began clapping; and then they struck up another favourite of theirs, ‘O Tannenbaum’. And so it went on. First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words ‘Adeste Fidéles’. And I thought, well, this was really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.
The Christmas Truce
This fraternization on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas was in no way officially sanctified nor organized. Yet, in numerous separate instances down the front line, German soldiers began yelling over to their enemy, “Tommy, you come over and see us!”8 Still cautious, the British soldiers would rally back, “No, you come here!”
In some parts of the line, representatives of each side would meet in the middle, in No Man’s Land.
We shook hands, wished each other a Merry Xmas, and were soon conversing as if we had known each other for years. We were in front of their wire entanglements and surrounded by Germans – Fritz and I in the centre talking, and Fritz occasionally translating to his friends what I was saying. We stood inside the circle like streetcorner orators.
Soon most of our company (‘A’ Company), hearing that I and some others had gone out, followed us … What a sight – little groups of Germans and British extending almost the length of our front! Out of the darkness we could hear laughter and see lighted matches, a German lighting a Scotchman’s cigarette and vice versa, exchanging cigarettes and souvenirs. Where they couldn’t talk the language they were making themselves understood by signs, and everyone seemed to be getting on nicely. Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!
Some of those who went out to meet the enemy in the middle of No Man’s Land on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day negotiated a truce: we won’t fire if you won’t fire. Some ended the truce at midnight on Christmas night, some extended it until New Year’s Day.
One reason Christmas truces were negotiated was in order to bury the dead, many of whom had been there for several months. Along with the revelry that celebrated Christmas was the sad and somber job of burying their fallen comrades. On Christmas day, British and German soldiers appeared on No Man’s Land and sorted through the bodies. In just a few rare instances, joint services were held for both the British and German dead.
Yet many soldiers enjoyed meeting the un-seen enemy and were surprised to discover that they were more alike than he had thought. They talked, shared pictures, exchanged items such as buttons for food stuffs. An extreme example of the fraternization was a soccer game played in the middle of No Man’s Land between the Bedfordshire Regiment and the Germans. A member of the Bedfordshire Regiment produced a ball and the large group of soldiers played until the ball was deflated when it hit a barbed wire entanglement.
This strange and unofficial truce lasted for several days, much to the dismay of the commanding officers. This amazing showing of Christmas cheer was never again repeated and as World War I progressed, the story of Christmas 1914 at the front became something of a legend.
Communications From Elsewhere
In mind, place & sound
Mona Lisa in overdrive
Nearer to the ground
Hiding behind a gaze
In any time
Or place or even
Upon my wall.
R.M. Engelhardt 2011
For round you,
Thy life there is a world
All thee who live
And all thee who strive
Strife may not as yet
Have touched your bones.
For the lark & the light
And the music of the night
And its kingdom.
So far from the dark
And apart from those times
A better world that
Is still trying
To be a better world.
For the child, and the heart
And the happiness & time
The seasons and the soul and
The hope that our kind,
For in the true
Kingdom of Night
There is no love to find,
No beauty, no truth no meaning
And no time
For it is not merely
The act of being alive,
But for that which
Keeps you alive,
Against the storms
Against the hard times
For among the ruins
There is a shining diamond
A star within the wreckage
Waiting to be found
So be thankful
That the daylight shines
And that the moon
Remains to remind
That time, life
Is merely a passing dream
And that the night
Good or bad
Shall eventually pass
R.M. Engelhardt 2011
EINSTEIN: There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe – the world as a unity dependent on humanity, and the world as reality independent of the human factor.
TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty.