Scott Smith, Anne, Michael Eck, QE2, Albany, N.Y. Oct. 7, 1989. Dan Wilcox photo.
This represents a section from my work-in-progress “Opening the Mic: a Personal History of the Early Days of the Albany Poetry Scene” covering my move back to Albany in 1986 to when I started my blog in January 2007. The sources are my personal diaries and the notebooks where I recorded the readings I attended as well as “the world’s largest collection of photos of unknown poets.” In January 2007 I started my blog, “DWx” (https://dwlcx.blogspot.com) about the readings and literary events that I attend, which includes photos and is, in itself, an archive. But there was no public archive of the early years, thus this project. There are also over 4,500 photos on my Flickr site.
Anne In Albany
It was on Central Ave. in Albany, NY early October, 1989 I first met Anne Waldman walking with Tom Nattell. Tom had kick-started the Albany open mic scene in March, 1988 at the QE2 rock club on Central Ave. just a few steps from where I ran into Anne with Tom while on my lunch hour Tom had brought Anne to Albany to help promote her book Helping the Dreamer: New & Selected Poems with a reading/book-signing the next day at Boulevard Bookstore also on Central Ave. & the day after, a workshop sponsored by the Hudson Valley Writers Guild & a reading at night at the QE2. I had taken photos of Anne at the Boulevard Bookstore when I saw her at the workshop asked her to sign Helping the Dreamer she wrote: for DAN WILCOX of the photo-eye!
(from my Diary)
“… she asked if I was going to take take pictures at the QE2 tonight because, ‘I need some performance shots,’ she said.”
The QE2 was crowded that night regulars folks I hadn’t seen before writers from the workshop Anne did a solo set then a set with local musicians Mike Eck on guitar, Scott Smith sax & flute Anne’s performance a mix of poems from Helping the Dreamer from loose pages of manuscript from Memory the kind of high-energy performance I would come to know as quintessential Anne Waldman but then was new, exciting to me, to the nascent Poets of Albany perfect for the stage of this punk-rock club that had become the omphalos of the rock & poetry scene. Two years later, October 1991, Tom brought Anne back for a benefit for Art & Understanding a literary project of the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York at Steamer #10 Theatre in Albany poet Jim Cohn opened with poems & a song also, “The Upstate Blues Band” with Anne her family in from Cherry Valley helped packed the house young nieces & nephews danced on stage Later, I took family pictures for Anne Anne read from Iovis Omnia Plena performed with the band: “Kali Yaga Blues,” “Uh Oh Plutonium” “Anarchy,” others Anarchy!…Anarchy!…Anarchy!… The visit had included a performance the day before at UAlbany Assembly Hall mostly students but many community poets
(from my Diary)
“… the place was packed - Steve [Clark] said, ‘why couldn’t we get a crowd like that at our readings?’ Anne came flowing in, all scarves & flowing dress, with Judy Johnson & Tom Smith. Katie [Yates] came up & gave Anne a hug. As Anne sat down, she recognized me & said, ‘Thanks for keeping me in touch with what’s happening.’ She gave a great energized reading… One question from a woman behind me was on how to find out what’s going on —Anne said to get together with other poets, then said, ‘Talk to that man right there’ & pointed to me.”
In 1996 Anne was back in Albany on some kind of assignment with UAlbany that - of course - included Poetry in the Community a NYS Writers Institute sponsored performance at Page Hall with saxophone intro by Scott Smith poetry intro by Pierre Joris poems from the Theragatha, Iovis sax & poetry & the next night back at the QE2 music by Scott Smith, Chris Funkhouser & Anne’s grand-nephew Devin on sax (my photo of them used in In the Room of Never Grieve, 2003) a grand party with Anne’s family & community poets back at Tom Nattell’s house. Later years, ran into Anne in Woodstock at the Colony Cafe at a reading of United Artists Books poets in NYC at Split This Rock in Washington, DC & most recently October, 2019 at Bennington College, Vermont Trickster Feminism just an hour from Central Ave.
Although Dan Wilcox once worked as a dishwasher and as a short-order cook, he has never driven a cab. For most of his career he worked as bureaucrat and wrote poetry. He was named one of the 2019 Literary Legends by the Albany Public Library Foundation. He claims to have “the World’s largest collection of photos of unknown poets.” Currently he organizes poetry events in Albany, N.Y. and is an active member of Veterans For Peace.