The Yes! Reading Series appeared on the Albany poetry scene in early 2009 as the brainchild of Douglas Rothschild and Colie Collen. The name comes from the initials on an over-sized calendar given to Douglas by a commercial laundry machine distributor: Yankee Equipment Systems. As he tells it, “They had a BIG calendar, lots of room to write in names in the boxes, on the top of the calendar it said, YES! & in smaller type, Yankee (etc.). It was just so affirmative!” Originally, it was to be held in the Laundromat but space and noise prohibited, so it began in now defunct pizza parlor in downtown Albany. Its original mission was to bring innovative poetry and fiction to Albany and periodically combined an alternative event such as “Poetry Game Show” where prizes were awarded to the team with the best esoteric literary knowledge.
In late 2009 Anna Elena Eyre and James Belflower from Suny Albany joined the team, and the series expanded, moving to its current home in the Albany Social Justice Center and receiving sponsorship from The Graduate Student Employee Union. At the end of 2010 Douglas and Colie moved on to other projects and Cara Benson curated until early 2011.
In its current manifestation, curated by James Belflower and Matthew Klane, the Yes! Poetry and Performance series presents monthly multidisciplinary events. Its goal is to bring innovative local and national writers into conversation with experimental film, dance, music and art in the belief that these intersections enrich each form in vital ways. From essays on obscure punk music to local noise artists; contemporary “flexing” to transgender performances; and hosting writers such as Charles Alexander, Rebecca Wolff, CA Conrad, Bernadette Mayer, Corina Copp, Joshua Ware, MacGregor Card, and Kate Greenstreet, the Yes! series continues to expand its offerings through the support of a committed and encouraging audience.
Never far from its roots in the enthusiastic bustle of the laundromat, Yes! serves as a bridge between SUNY Albany and local literary communities believing that the creative diversity these interactions provide engenders mutual innovation.