The School of Night Poetry Open Mic is Back in Session

Apr 04, 2013 by Thom Francis | School of Night

On Tuesday we told you about the upcoming Frequency North reading on April 11 and how Thursday nights are very busy in the poetry world here in Albany. Well, there is even more going on next Thursday evening as R.M. Engelhardt is resurrecting the School of Night poetry open mic at the Pearl Street Pub in downtown Albany.

This open mic series has come and gone a few times over the years. Before Nitty Gritty Slam was at Valentine’s, the School of Night was the monthly poetry reading at the club. After leaving the New Scotland Ave. venue, the series moved to a couple other places in the city including The Fuze Box, Ballingers (now the City Beer Hall), and Red Square. Most recently Rob was the host of the Saint Poem Reading Series at the UAG Gallery on Lark Street.

We sat down with Engelhardt to get more information about why he is starting the series up again, what makes the School of Night so different from the other mics in the area, and why is moving downtown to Pearl Street.

It’s in the air, things … the feel of poetry is changing and everything is in a way for the 21st century just starting to change. When I was hosting “Saint Poem” at the UAG something was missing and it somehow didn’t feel right. I thought that the location was helpful on Lark Street but it wasn’t getting enough public notice. Granted, poetry readings, open mics here in Albany are plentiful but in order to create a successful one you need the right place and the right atmosphere to truly bring it to into life. The Pearl Street Pub-Dirty Martini Lounge has that right feeling … it’s the right place for it downtown. The School Of Night has always been more, was always more than just a open mic or poetry reading but symbolic of exactly the people & the original purpose the group was formed for by Kit Marlowe, Doctor Dee and Sir Walter Raleigh in the late 1500s England. To share words & ideas, free verse & free thought. It has an air of mystery that surrounds it as well as an air of decadence. It has the imagery for poetry & writing of all kinds read in a dark noir place where the mood is perfect for it and captures the imagination. Back in the late 90’s Valentines nightclub fit that mood perfectly, as does the readings new venue.

Downtown Albany needs more events like this. Bringing poets & writers down to a great location and perhaps to be in an area is historic and a bit mythic. The Dirty Martini Lounge is right near The Kenmore Hotel where jazz legends used to play back in the day (The Rain-bo Room). And known gangster Jack “Legs” Diamond frequented the hotel and had partied at the Rain-Bo the night of his death. The Hotel features prominently in many of William Kennedy’s books, including his novel Legs about the life of Jack Diamond. Downtown Albany and the Pearl Street area are far cooler than most people are even aware of.

The time to bring back SON is now. Poetry seems to be both locally and internationally beginning to steer in a new and perhaps different direction. It’s looking for it’s place with new poets and writers of all styles & forms finding their voices and excited about creating poems, books and even plays. I hate labels but there appears to be only what I can call a “new movement of verse” coming into being with a mix of forms that is everything from neo-romanticism, free verse slam & new formalism as parts of it. Albany has always been from the days of readings at the QE2 a place where all kinds of writers & poets have gathered and read and I am excited to be hosting and resurrecting such a gathering where poets can speak their art. We also here in Albany believe in supporting our writers and venues and we have all worked very hard to do just that and have achieved it.

This is going to be a very cool monthly open mic which will be just that. A simple open mic to step up to and read your work. Eventually there will be featured poets as well as connected events with the Literary Rogue Magazine so keep an eye out for those events too. The School Of Night website is and we hope that poets and writers of all styles and from all walks of life will join us at The Pearl Street Pub & Dirty Martini Lounge on the second Thursday night of each month.

Now all we need is our saxophone and stand up bass players back and we will create even more magic.

The School of Night will be happening each month on the 2nd Thursday, starting at 7:30pm, at the Pearl Street Pub / Dirty Martini Lounge (1 Steuben Place Albany). R.M. is asking for a $3.00 donation.

Celebrate National Poetry Month : The 2013 Albany WordFest!





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 with “Online Open Mic” in the subject line, starting Sunday, April 7.

The 2013 Albany Word Fest is sponsored by Albany PoetsHudson Valley Writers GuildFrequency NorthUrban Guerrilla TheatreValentinesMcGeary’s,Upstate Artists Guild, and the very generous donations of supporters of the arts in upstate New York including Matt GallettaDan WilcoxHoward KoganKenneth 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

More Word Fest News

The Albany Word Fest is © 2013 Albany Poets. All Rights Reserved.



The Resurrection Waltz Book Launch With Murrow
Thursday, MARCH 14th 2013


Poems In Retort Magazine

I Was Once Dead Too  R.M. Engelhardt


In a famous painting
of Christ nailed to
and crucified upon the cross
I am the watching 
leper on the right.
And with my one good eye
I watch as Jesus dies
and screams up into
darkening sky asking
his father for a reason


And then, suddenly 
as the clouds open up
and the rain begins
the Romans scatter like mice,
the water, burning off their
flesh like corrosive acid.
As I feel the wetness upon my
skin like the warmth of a beautiful woman 
touching my face, I raise my
hands outward, and I am healed.
When a voice comes
which tells me I am now
the angel of death, and the
watcher in the eternity
that is time, wandering 
the earth.

The screams of both Jesus,
and his murderers the Romans
now a distant sound & memory
in a world without messiahs
or miracles to amaze us.
Only questions
which remain unanswered.


You reach inside

Your guts and you

Pull out

A fuzzy bunny.

You reach inside

You’re soul and worse

Yet you pull out

A teletubbie.

The image

In your mind appears,

the voices speak.

You’re probably insane.

And you wonder;

Has this ever happened

To Whitman? Dickinson

Or Frost?

Probably not.

But then again,

They didn’t have


As good

As ours.

More …

Literature  R.M. Engelhardt

Poems In Retort Magazine

Outside The Box : Article~Poems 2009

R.M. Engelhardt Albany, NY

The World According To Poetry

September 3, 2009


If poetry can represent something meaningful, it is in the way it presents us shared and divergent perceptions of life and the world around us. In “The World according to Poetry” I will present you every fortnight a specific poet who can sway your body and soul, bring you to the depths of knowledge and perception and raise you to the heights of pure beauty and recognition. Where minds can meet as one, where souls can be touched, where bodies can utter emotion and where the spirit can long at last. I present you …

R.M. Engelhardt: the angel from below.

One poet, a world of visions. Dark from above, brilliant from below, haunting yet hopeful … Ten poems from the bottom of the heart and mind … let his poetry speak to you, it will tell you more than I can say.




In the bar
The doors are closing
It’s time to leave.

It’s cold outside,
The bright red eyes & wasted lines,
Wasted lyrics.

And the sight of daylight,
The empty streets
That remind us & annihilate
We, the subjects of loneliness
Lost in zero-land.

The night before
Seeking warm machines
With engines & hearts unseen,
That something to believe in
Or dream about

Beyond all these places.

Like a movie in the 1980′s
Where boy meets girl
Girl chooses boy
Over the vast amount of
Jocks and pretend beings.

You, now far away
From zero-land
The only kid left
With a soul.

Thinking about fate & destination,
Thinking about that one

That only one, that kissed you

And got away.

Like a movie in the 1980′s.

Lost in zero-land
The scent of her perfume still

20 Years later.



In constant touch. Constant motion constant sleep. In constant contact constantly,
our worlds all separate and yet all connected at once, for … and against. Love that’s not love, friends who are not friends, souls that are not souls. All of these, our lives unauthentic and those which devour the human heart incessant. NOTE: This communication is now dead, mechanical … DO NOT RESURRECT OR RESUSCITATE. Days long past long ago when humans could once speak, words mattered FEEL . What words would you say? Sorry? Goodbye? This is a simulation and not a dress rehearsal for pain meaning “FUCK YOU ! FUCK OFF! . You don’t hear ANYTHING very well now do you ?”,Received by mail delivery system network information I love you I hate you I need you I want you FUCK OFF! You don’t hear ANYTHING very well DID YOU THINK I WAS FUCKING KIDDING???? You obviously don’t fucking know ME very well now DO YOU. YOU now only a simulation and not a dress rehearsal for pain. “I am in struggle with responding to you as I have been from the first contact you made recently”. “Feelings I’d not allowed myself or had with anyone other than two others in my lifetime”. we can not talk, we should talk. I can not handle it. I wish it were different, I want to see you. The Tower card suggests that your relationship may be in crisis, and this is your wake-up call. You can’t go on fooling yourself any longer, and if you don’t break up, you will. “You don’t hear ANYTHING very well now do you”?

Frozen in time, unwanted & untrue. Sender unknown.


I’ll be happy being my responsible self doing the things I love, taking care of myself, and my responsibilities and not having to worry about anyone else in my life and I can be whole again. it is freeing to me to know that I can just be without expectation of myself or anyone else.

It is freeing to me to know that I can just be without expectation of myself or anyone else.

I’ll be happy being my responsible self doing the things I love
it is freeing to me to know that I can just be without expectation of myself or anyone else.

I’ll be happy being my responsible self doing the things I love
it is freeing to me to know that I can just be without expectation of myself or anyone else.

It is freeing …



In thy breaking heart, obscured,
Silent whereas no one
Gives a “shit.”

Whereas a single voice or one still moment in
its measure linger,
This message, “unreceived.”

Where no amount of time, wine-roses or memories can heal.
As human falls, fails broken, out of reason.
Long letters written, months recorded days, photographs and longings,

And unrelenting dreams.

The cold earth, this cold world
Which still compels,
The embodiment or abandonment, of spirit.

Where all of your magnificent angels have flown, and have now fallen below,

To the pavement.

Love, no longer a poem but only a word,
Too slow to process.

Poet, out of time place and season.
Century… Here.

In thy soul, thy breaking heart obscured, silent.
Whereas no one gives a “shit.”

Etc Etc.Etc.

This message “unreceived.”



Within you
The celestial bodies


And the eye opens
What the heart conceals.

Travel by thought,
Destination unknown.

Beyond all gravity

The Surface.

Is this just
All a dream?

A vision?


Catharsis: In 4 Parts :


She is waiting.

You dream in syllabus, questions. And see the lines that others cannot.
And you waltz across the dance floor of the world with verses…and wit. For this moment
Is honest, simple. But does not truly exist, or last




Words, meanings leave & return. Like a dream that you cannot fully comprehend, or
Remember…”touch” . For she is loyal to no one. No man or woman. And always comes and goes as she pleases. Take’s what’s there, and takes what she wants. Or even, what’s just left inside. Alone in an empty room at 2am, you light up another cigarette and merely wait… for her to return.

Like a lover, like a ghost who you’ve never really known. She loves you; she loves you not, but just might care. And when the light of the next morning comes up, and shines thru your windows, you open up your eyes to find her standing there, over you. Waking you gently and with a smile she says “Hey baby… I missed you” And then she tells you more of her beautiful lies. Lines … as always from the start. And even if you leave her she will always find you again. Look for you in a crowded bar or passing you on the street as you walk to work, or even… in your sleep.


Dear Reader;

So let me tell you a story, write you another poem. Because this is what I do, do well and do best. Give me another day, another reason. Give you another reason to smile, or laugh, or just make it through again. Just one more moment. So that you don’t lose hope. Inter-connected as we are no longer mere strangers. Lives, experience & hearts. Because this is what I do, and do best. And there is nothing else worth doing, save this.


So am I the only one who sees her?

There she is.

She’s beautiful and sitting in the back at the show or at the poetry open mic.
Smiling at you from one of the seats. And after you read she has something more to tell you. She wants to take you aside and “Whisper” those words in your ear.

And even after you try as you may to ignore her. She just stands there, one hand upon her hip, looks at you and says;

“This isn’t over darling” “Not by a long-shot”

“You’ll come back to me, you’ll see”

Because you need me.

I know … You need me.


And now alas yet another poem from my destructions,

You, witness to and here in new flesh and new skin.

The skin of hero, the skin of snake, the skin of monster, the skin of saint all

Gradually and eventually shedding piece by piece living and dying and

Reinventing the world. Poems, photographs, enemies and the catastrophes

Which perish into the void. Paper, undigested words, mute horses and mad

Nostalgic whores, all reality deficient and nocturnally deaf to the unpure beating heart of man and muse. Reason-religion-idealism-theory …and shit.

The perfect and critical butt-flight of monkeys and the cacophony of idle

Crows who sit upon the fences of eternity passing judgment upon our souls

Until we give in…to emptiness.

But let them all know this;
That Jesus came unabridged with two fish and a loaf of bread, more a poet

Than a precise carpenter and he fed multitudes…

“With hope”


Poet & writer R.M. Engelhardt has published several books over the last decade including Nod~Logos~Alchemy~The Last Cigarette: The Collected Poems of R.M. Engelhardt & others. His current experimental book of poetry & prose is called “Versus”. His work has also been published by many journals both in print including Retort, Verve, Industrial Nation, Sure! The Charles Bukowski Newsletter, Copious Amounts, Thunder Sandwich, The Angry Poet, Zygote In My Coffee, Full of Crow & many others. R.M. currently lives in Albany, NY

(C) R.M. Engelhardt

Outside The Box : Article~Poems 2009