15th Annual Tom Nattell Memorial & Beret Toss began with the beret toss at the Robert Burns statue in Albany’s Washington Park with a successful toss by Mary Panza on here first try. Also in attendance, besides “yours truly,” were Nick Bisanz & Tess Lecuyer. The candle had been lit, the site smudged with sage, the flowers presented & the annual complaint originally uttered by Mary some other cold January, “Hey Tom, the next time you die, could you do it in July.”
|Photo by Mary Panza|
I served as host & Tom’s words were shared throughout the open mic, including selections of the Christopher Columbus Fantasies (1992) & “American Pledge” from 2000 Human Ri(gh)t(e)s (2000). In a true sense Tom Nattell was tonight’s featured poet. The fact that this open mic is held monthly on the last Monday of the month (& has been since January, 2005) is a tribute itself to the spirit that is Tom who got the Albany poetry scene going with a good swift kick in the ass.
First on the sign-up sheet was a welcome regular here Carrie C. who read “A Walk on my Path” combining images of mythological warfare with real forest creatures, then a poem based on a short story of love she wrote when she was younger. Tim Verhaegen is known for his memoir pieces & tonight read 2, “The Circles & Hook Pond” about where he grew up, & “Best Friends at First Sight at a Party.”
Tess Lecuyer who was one of those on the scene at those early QE2 open mics that Tom organized began with a mean sonnet “December Ends,” then one based on an actual conversation “The Widow.” Amanda Pelletier read here in the past at another Tom Nattell Memorial in 2018, & more recently at The Low Beat, tonight reprised her Family Guy piece written to a former lover read just a week ago, then an audience participation piece titled “Share” addressed to her father.
I had begun the night with one a poem about Tom Nattell’s death “Theology 101” & ended with my elegy & memoir “Chasing Tom.” It was the kind of poetry open mic that Tom would have, I’m sure, felt was a success on one of his nights at the QE2. & the generous donations from the poets & audience tonight are going to the Homeless Action Committee.
Poets Speak Loud! happens each last Monday of the month at McGeary’s at Sheridan Square in Albany, NY, sign-up at 7:30PM, plenty of good food & adult beverages efficiently served by Mark & others. Details at AlbanyPoets.com.