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Amsterdam man’s poems provide an outlet

Amsterdam man’s poems provide an outlet

Longtime urban planner and city native Todd Fabozzi has self-published a book of poems that showcase his views on everything from his native city to the effect of suburban sprawl to government surveillance.

A planner with the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, Fabozzi is also an adjunct professor at the University at Albany’s department of geography and planning, where he teaches geographic information systems.

The 45-year-old moved from Saratoga Springs back to Amsterdam, where he said he has a “ringside seat to the decline of upstate New York cities,” because he didn’t want to be one of those planners who gripes about suburban sprawl and lives in the suburbs.

Fabozzi has been writing for over 20 years, beginning at an alternative paper published in Amsterdam, for which he penned a column called “Urban Visions.”

Fabozzi found that through his writing he could articulate some of the things he was unable to in his career.

“When you write government reports the language is stripped down and unemotional," Fabozzi said.

One of Fabozzi’s biggest frustrations is urban decline.

“I believe that things should be different, we shouldn’t be wasting farmland and segregating ourselves in cul-de-sacs,” he said.

Fabozzi originally wrote a novel expressing his ideas and feelings, but felt that the message wasn’t getting across properly, so in February he started writing poems in a leatherbound notebook that he had used to write notes and ideas. In three months he filled three notebooks

“I realized that I had essentially rewritten the ideas in the novel,” Fabozzi said. “I had discovered a new form that allowed me to do things way beyond what I could do with a novel.”

While Fabozzi might be doing technical work in his career, he has always viewed himself as an artist above all else.

Fabozzi moved to Hollywood after he graduated from SUNY Potsdam, driving across the country in his first car to become a rock star.

He found work as a drummer with what he called a “relatively popular band” in the 1980s, during the dawn of the hair-band era.

While he was out there, Fabozzi befriended a group that would perform Afro-Cuban music in a neighborhood park during the day. The rhythms have stuck with him and he currently plays congas for Alex Torres’ Latin Band, a highly popular group that gigs regularly throughout the Capital Region.

After his stint out West, Fabozzi returned to the Northeast to pursue a graduate degree from the University at Albany in urban planning.

“I’m kind of a chameleon, comfortable in a suit at a political convention or wearing a leather jacket at a biker rally,” Fabozzi said.

Most recently, Fabozzi turned to poetry for his artistic expression, and he wrote a book of poetry, “Umbrageous Embers.” He published it himself through The Troy Book Makers, a decision that allowed him to say what he wanted without the filtering of a big publishing house.

“I didn’t want to be told what I can and can’t say because I deal with that during my day job,” he said.

The book is dedicated to America, but Fabozzi said the message is a personal one found by reading the book cover to cover instead of reading the poems piecemeal.

“Maybe I’m accomplishing that, maybe I’m not; I don’t know. That’s for others to judge,” he said.

Fabozzi will be reading excerpts from his book at the Amsterdam Free Library this morning, including a poem called “City of Yesterday’s Tomorrow,” which is a tribute to Amsterdam and tells what Fabozzi views as the untold story of the city.

The discussion is expected to begin at 10:30 a.m.

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