By Nancy Klepsch: I’ve been writing about buildings since I bought my first rehabilitated home in Troy’s North Central neighborhood from a not-for-profit housing developer. Shortly thereafter I produced a project called poems about buildings that was a scattered-site poetry-in-public places installation, designed to highlight Troy’s neighborhoods, architecturally significant buildings and places of importance to individual poets. If it sounds familiar, Breathing These Words, the poetry project spearheaded by Danielle Collins and me, is really a continuation of a question I’ve been asking myself for over 20 years: Do you have a story to tell and does my story make you think about your own stories?

Like many engaged in Troy’s most recent renaissance, I too was born in Brooklyn and fell in love with Troy’s architecture, because it tapped the collective memory in my soul. We want you to think, dream and help us to tell the stories of vacant and beautiful buildings in Troy, Schenectady and Albany:

All buildings are equal

Homes are like art like love is like love

Precious moldings medallions dear shelter

Salvaged stone my poor love

Do you know how to love love1


Magic and feelings deeper than words rise up when we polish and shine old wood and mend broken bricks:

Look at my building

And rise let it rise

From soot smoke and ash

Broken glass never despise

My building to fix

My building to love

My building to make my own2


You can be a part of this conversation by telling your story in the form of a poem. Write about a vacant building in Troy, Schenectady or Albany and share it with us. As the saying goes, if these walls could talk what would they tell us about their past and what they “need”/we need from each other in the future.

We are in the process of curating poets to research a vacant property/area and write about it with passion for walking tours this fall in the areas where Breathing Lights’ hubs exist: the Albany Barn, The Sanctuary for Independent Media and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady and project partner Proctors.

To apply, please send the following:

  • Cover page with your name, address, email, phone number and a short bio., a list of the titles of poems submitted
  • Brief proposal of one paragraph (please, no name on this)
  • Address/area/information of the vacant property
  • Description of your poem
  • Three samples of your poetry – no name, please
  • Deadline is August 15th. Email submissions to

You will be asked to share your work on walking tours in the fall and via our Facebook page. They’ll also be public readings in Sept. – Nov., and you’ll be asked to be a part of that, too. There may be a modest stipend for your work. The deadline is August 15th. Thank you!

1, 2, excerpt from a poem, “Another Troy” by Nancy Klepsch