Nancy Klepsch – Poetry Flourishes in The 518 Capital Region

Written by on November 21, 2023

Poetry Flourishes in The 518 Capital Region – Interview with Nancy Klepsch – by Niki Kaos.

Back in the day, I remember Annine Everson breaking my heart with her pinata poetry. And going to the QE2 hosting spoken word, could it be three decades ago? Okay – I don’t want to date myself here in the geology of 518 poets, but… I veered towards songwriter.

My sonic melodic leanings aside, there are a lot of remarkable writers who are doing their thing in the Capital Region right now in 2023! Creating verbal music of their own. And a lot of opportunities for poets to connect with folks who love spoken word and sharing their creative efforts.

Nancy Klepsch is coordinating such an event! Co-curating an art installation and poetry reading at The Arts Center of The Capital Region – titled Visual Poetry – New Vistas. She’s bringing an emotive and immersive experience by inviting local and world renown artists to join up and create poetry in motion.

NK: Let me tell you about this thing we’re doing and why I think it’s important.

It’s an art exhibition and poetry reading. The event will kick off on Nov. 13th with a gallery show opening curated by Willie Marlow.

A real highlight of what is happening is the poetry reading Nov 28th 6pm to 9pm at The Capital District Art Center. We’ve been able to ask CA Conrad who is a non-binary experimental poet internationally known in the poetry community and extremely well published. They are the winner of the Lily poetry prize this year, so that’s a really big deal. This poetry reading is like a next level poetry reading. All of these poets are really established.

RRX: How many poets are going to be featured?

NK: There’s going to be seven total. The other poets are Jill Crammond, Shira Dentz, Philip Good, Matthew Klane, Sarah Wyman, and Ellen White Rook.

Artists included are Drea LaRose, Kelsey Renko, Kim Tateo, Laura Frare, Marisa Cavanaugh, Mary Kathryn Jablonski, Willie Marlowe, Yeachin Tsai. Willie is also one of the curators.

And I’m going to be showing a video poem of my work. It’s called “God Must Be a Bookman”. And if you like music, that gets its title from the Joni Mitchell and Charlie Mingus album.

Also, there’s going to be another cool film collection presented by poet Mary Catherine Jablonski and filmmaker Laura Frare. They’re presenting a collection of nine original poems that they’ve compiled in a chat book, so to speak, in film form with original music that’s called Compass.

For The Arts Center, I should mention Joseph Mastroianni, who has been incredibly supportive. Joseph, Willie and I have been working together to make this an event that provides each poet and each artist with the maximum amount of support and exposure.

RRX: I think the capital region has one of the stronger poetry scenes anywhere I’ve ever lived. Why do you think we are lucky enough to have that? Have you been doing poetry in this area for a long time?

NK: I actually started doing poetry when I was 18. Our poetry scene was started by somebody we call our poetry “Dean”, Tom Nattell. I remember in the eighties Tom started a poetry reading at the QE2, (The Current Fuze Box)

He really taught us all about poetry readings and what they were, which gathered the English majors and the writers and the creatives and the zine makers and stuff at the time. And we have some good institutions in terms of writing.

The New York State Writers Institute provides things. Dan Wilcox and I have been holding an open mic that we run on the kindness of strangers. We get free rent from Avery Stemple at Collar City mushrooms. And we’ve been an open mic for, like, 13 or 14 years.

What happened was there was a scene in Albany because Tom had started it, but it didn’t transfer over the river. So, an art administrator approached me, and I approached Dan. Other people had started some features and open mics, but they didn’t click. Ours did. We were lucky to get free rent and sponsorship, as you would call it from The Arts Center for about 10 years up until COVID happened. And then they lost their funding for Sundays, and it ended up to be a cool transition because I think they wanted to do some other things with the Black Box Theatre.

RRX: You had a good run, and it was time move on.

NK: Yeah. And it was exactly all that. And Avery just welcomed us all in.

The Hudson Valley Writers Guild is a volunteer organization that also supports and sponsors writers. There’s a ton. If you go to the Hudson Valley Writers Guild website, you can access the calendar. When I was a kid here, there was maybe one feature and an open mic a week. Now there’s two or three events each night, and we definitely have fostered and supported a huge writing community.

We have a great local music scene. To be honest with you, I think there’s a lot of people that we live with, you and I, where we make sense of our world through art, through writing through music. That’s who we are. Some of us may have day jobs. Some of us don’t. It’s a really big thing for us around here to make sense of our world, with writing, with poetry, with music.

RRX: That’s a really nice way to look at it. And I think it’s one of the things I value about this area. We really do have such a strong community of creatives as you’ve mentioned and I think that’s a good term to encompass the visual arts, the writing and poetry and the music that we’re lucky to have in our area.

NK: I don’t know if it’s the way the sky looks and the river just hits a certain way? Or it’s the Belgian cobblestone that’s here? Or the stories that I think my building tells me? But I find for me personally, it’s an incredible environment in which to write. I don’t know if I would have been as brave other places. I don’t wanna say it’s like a, you know, a big fish in a small pond thing. I do think, you know, I share this with Albany and Schenectady, but I think we’ve got something special here in Troy. And people that allow us to do things. There are a lot of sponsors for the arts here.

RRX: Since I’m a Troy girl, I can totally get behind big love for Troy and The Arts Center. For those readers who don’t know what to expect and they’re curious about coming to the art show, what’s it gonna be like for them? Will there be snacks? What’s the vibe?

NK: At the art opening it’s like a party. A festive atmosphere. People walk around. You run into older friends and new ones. You’ll have a chance to meet the artists who will not only be there but will probably be walking around and introducing themselves to people there so you can ask questions and interact, which I think is always kind of cool.

When the poetry reading starts, people will be asked to join us in the theater, and there will be a brief introduction and the poets will do their thing.

RRX: Well, it sounds like a place where you could just lose yourself in thought and enjoy it on your own. Or you could meet people and talk to the different artists about their work. It’s really kind of something for everybody.

NK: If you can’t make the poetry reading on November 28th the art exhibit will be open through December 20th.

RRX: It’s a great opportunity for people in Troy. There’s no cost to this, right?

NK: Everything. The art opening, the exhibit, the poetry reading are all free and open to the public. The Arts Center will have its sponsors listed there. But this is being supported by The Arts Center of the Capital Region. But if you’re appreciating it and you have the means The Arts Center takes donations for their facilities and the work they do to curate events.

RRX: What a great collaboration and event for us to enjoy in Troy, NY. Thank you for letting me know about it. I hope our readers get out to the poetry reading and enjoy the art exhibit.

For more information, visit The Arts Center of the Capital Region’s website for the Visual Poetry event



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