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Keep up with literary news and notes on our blog while we get ready for our fall season, including our Albany Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 21.
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Our spring season in review

A message from Paul Grondahl as we put a bow on our spring 2024 season of events
Photo collage of spring 2024 events

Hello Friends of the Writers Institute:

As I reflect on a remarkable NYS Writers Institute’s spring season and the University at Albany’s 180th commencement ceremony recently concluded, I am filled with gratitude.

 

I am thankful for our brilliant and dedicated Writers Institute team; for many generous donors who sustain our programming; for the unwavering support of the UAlbany administration; and, especially, for our loyal audience members who animate our literary events and create an engaged, respectful conversation between writers and readers.

A selection of author photos and books featured in the spring 2024 season

As we collectively catch our breaths after presenting 35 events across 14 weeks, consider a few of the milestones of our 41st consecutive year of bringing the world’s greatest authors to Albany, which once again underscored our reputation as one of the nation’s pre-eminent literary presenting organizations.

 

We welcomed a former Poet Laureate of the United States; three Pulitzer Prize winners; two National Book Award winners; an Oscar-nominated playwright and director who has won Tony, Obie, and Emmy Awards; and a National Medal of Arts recipient.

 

We also welcomed more than a thousand attendees to our 4th Annual Albany Film Festival in April. Pictured below, NYS Writers Institute Assistant Director Mark Koplik with Jacqueline Bisset, who received the Ironweed Award for Exemplary Achievement in Film at the festival.

NYS Writers Institute Assistant Director Mark Koplik with Jacqueline Bisset

We presented two local poets, Dan Wilcox and Natalya Sukhonos, (pictured below) who read their eclipse poems during an eclipse viewing celebration with thousands of UAlbany students on campus.

Paul Grondahl, Dan Wilcox, and Natalya Sukhonos

We co-sponsored an online book club with guest author Russell Shorto and a discussion of his book, The Island at the Center of the World.  

 

In late April, with our colleagues at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center, we presented a sold-out performance of "Selected Shorts." And this past Saturday, we celebrated the life and legacy of teacher, actor, and director Grayce Susan Burian (1926-2023), who endowed our annual Burian Lecture Series that brings  award-winning playwrights and actors to UAlbany. 

Tony Pallone, local actor and former drama student of Grayce Burian

Looking ahead

We're partnering on Sunday, June 30 with the New York City-based Writers Read organization on a reading of short stories by local writers about summer camp experiences at The Linda, WAMC’s performing arts venue in Albany.

We continue to support the New York State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College each July, a collaboration still going strong after 38 years.

 

And please mark your calendars for the 7th annual Albany Book Festival on Saturday, September 21, at UAlbany.

We need your support and continued engagement to continue to deepen our wide-ranging programming. 


We appreciate your attendance and would also love to count you among our supporters. The generosity of our donors makes it possible for us to present renowned authors free and open to all. We intend to keep it that way, and we will – for the next 41 years – with a little help from our friends.

Have a fantastic summer and happy reading,

Paul Grondahl signature

Paul Grondahl

Opalka Endowed Director, NYS Writers Institute at the University at Albany

Our spring 2024 events

2023 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST & PULITZER PRIZE WINNING NOVELIST

Thursday, January 25

4:30 p.m. Craft Talk, Campus Center West Boardroom. See map.

7:30 p.m. Reading/Conversation, Recital Hall, UAlbany Performing Arts Center. See map.

Paul Harding’s new novel is This Other Eden (2023), based on the true story of a multiracial community that took refuge from
intolerance on an island off the coast of Maine from 1792 to 1912.

The novel presents the lives and experiences of a formerly enslaved Black man and his Irish wife, and multiple generations of their descendants and fellow islanders. Shortlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize, This Other Eden was also a finalist for the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction, and an NPR 2023 "Books We Love" Pick.

 

A former student at the NYS Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore, Harding received the Pulitzer Prize for his 2009 first novel, Tinkers.

(Photo credit: Sam Harding) 

Read more

Paul Harding, credit Sam Harding
Paul Harding's This Other Eden Paperback

Cosponsored by the Honors College at UAlbany, the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and Young Writers Project, and the Writing & Critical Inquiry (WCI) Program.

"Lackawanna Blues" movie poster

FILM SCREENING

7 p.m. Friday, January 26

Page Hall, Downtown Campus,
135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203 See map.

(U.S., 2005, 95 minutes, color, Rated PG-13)

Written and directed by George C. Wolfe. 

Adapted for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson from his award-winning play, "Lackawanna Blues" tells the story of a big-hearted woman, Rachel “Nanny” Crosby, who becomes a rock of stability for a collection of boarders, friends, and family members in a Rust Belt town in Western New York. Santiago-Hudson based the character on the woman who raised him after his own parents abandoned him.

Meet Tony Award-winning actor, director, and playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson at the annual Burian Lecture on Monday, Feb. 5th.

Watch a movie clip

AngelineBoulley (photo credit: Marcella Hadden)
Angeline Boulley, Firekeeper's Daughter paperback 400.jpg

#1 NEW YORK TIMES YOUNG ADULT BESTSELLER

4 p.m. Wednesday, January 31

Virtual Author Event

Register at: https://bit.ly/edTrends01-31-24 

Join Angeline Boulley, celebrated YA author and enrolled member of the Ojibwe community, for a virtual conversation as part of the School of Education’s “One School One Read” initiative.

 

The featured book is Boulley’s bestselling 2021 debut novel, The Firekeeper’s Daughter, the story of a young Ojibwe woman, newly in love and college-bound, who must put her dreams on hold after the FBI pressures her to be an informant in the investigation of a local drug ring.TIME magazine named it a “Best YA Book of All TIME.”

Her newest novel is Warrior Girl Unearthed (2023), a gripping follow-up to Firekeeper's Daughter. 

(Photo credit: Marcella Hadden) 

Read more

For resources and discussion sessions, please visit www.albany.edu/education/faculty-development

Cosponsored by edTrends, The Academy for the Advancement of Teaching, Leadership, and Schools (AATLAS) and the UAlbany School of Education. 

Elizabeth Benedict's Rewriting Illness
Elizabeth Benedict

WRITING ABOUT CANCER WITH HUMOR, WISDOM, AND TERROR

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 31

Reading / Conversation with Robert Boyers,

Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition. See map.

Author of the eternally popular how-to book, The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers (1996), Elizabeth Benedict applies her talents to retelling the story of her recent encounter with cancer in Rewriting Illness: A View of My Own (2023).

 

NPR’s Mara Liasson called it “startling, self-aware, and wickedly funny,” and Professor Kathy G. Niknejad, MD, of Harvard Medical

School said, "Her surprisingly entertaining memoir should be required reading for every medical student, resident, and physician – an ideal teaching tool."

Benedict’s 1985 novel, Slow Dancing, was a National Book Award Finalist. She has served on the fiction faculty of the New York State Summer Writers Institute since 1997.

Read more

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Women in Science and Health Network (WISH).

A NEW LANDMARK ANTHOLOGY

Sandra Guzman. Photo credit Bobby Román
Sandra Guzman's Daughters of Latin America book cover

4:30 p.m. Thursday, February 1

Conversation / Q&A,
Assembly Hall (2nd Floor), Campus Center. 
See map.

Sandra Guzmán, Afro Indigenous storyteller and literary editor, presents her new anthology, Daughters of Latin America: An International Anthology of Writing by Latine Women (2023), a dazzling collection of essential works by 140 Latin American and indigenous writers— many of them translated into English for the first time. Kirkus Reviews called it, “A significant collection of Latine women's voices across five centuries… A fresh, indispensable look at the wide, multicultural world of Latine women writers.”

Guzmán also served as producer and interviewer for the Emmy-nominated documentary, "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am," which the Writers Institute screened in 2019 to celebrate the life of UAlbany faculty member Toni Morrison (1931-2019).

(Photo credit: Bobby Román)

Read more

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Department of Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies and the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

A MESSAGE FROM JACQUELINE BISSET

Jacqueline Bisset, who stars in Friday's film screening of "The Sleepy Time Gal," will join us in person at the 4th Annual Albany Film Festival to take place on Saturday, April 6, at the University at Albany.

FILM SCREENING

7 p.m. Friday, February 2

Page Hall, Downtown Campus,
135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203 See map.

(U.S., 2001, 108 minutes, color, Rated R) Directed by Christopher Munch.

Jacqueline Bisset, British actress who rose to Hollywood superstardom beginning in the 1960s, portrays an older woman who embarks on a search for the daughter she gave up for adoption in her youth, after becoming pregnant during an affair with a married man.

Bisset regards this performance as the best of her career. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Feature at the Sundance Film Festival.

Meet Jacqueline Bisset, star of Francois Truffaut’s "Day for Night" and John Huston’s "Under the Volcano" at the 4th Annual Albany Film Festival on Saturday, April 6th, with her 2022 film "Loren & Rose."

Watch the trailer

26th ANNUAL BURIAN LECTURE ON LIFE IN THE PERFORMING ARTS

Ruben Santiago

7:30 p.m. Monday, February 5

Recital Hall, UAlbany Performing Arts Center
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222 See map.

 

Ruben Santiago-Hudson is a celebrated American playwright, actor, and director who has won major awards -- Tony, Obie, Drama Desk -- in all three categories.

In 2021, he directed and starred in the Broadway production of his autobiographical play about growing up in a Rust Belt town outside Buffalo, "Lackawanna Blues" — marking the first time in Broadway history that an individual wrote, directed, and starred in a single play.

He directed the 2022 Broadway production of Dominique Morisseau’s

Skeleton Crew, which received four Tony nominations including

Outstanding New Play. He also directed the 2017 Broadway production of August Wilson’s Jitney, which earned the Tony Award for Best Revival and five other Tony nominations. In 1996, he received the Tony Award as Featured Actor for his performance in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars. His 2021 screenplay adaptation of another Wilson play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, received several Oscar nominations, winning two for costume design and makeup.

​​Read more

Watch: "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" is now streaming on on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/81100780

Presented by the UAlbany Theatre Program and the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment in collaboration with the NYS Writers Institute.

2023 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

Aaliyah Bilal, credit Tasha Pinelo
Aaliyah Bilal's Temple Folk book cover

Thursday, February 8

4:30 p.m. — Craft Talk, Standish Room (3rd Floor), Science Library. See map.
7:30 p.m.— Reading / Conversation, Recital Hall, UAlbany Performing Arts Center. See map.

Aaliyah Bilal’s debut story collection, Temple Folk (2023), is a groundbreaking portrait of the lived experiences of Black Muslims—a community rarely featured in U.S. literature—as they grapple with the challenges of faith, family, and freedom in America.

 

Bilal, who grew up in a Black Muslim family outside Washington, D.C., presents a diverse cast of flawed, heroic, and memorable characters. Edward P. Jones said, “Temple Folk is more than a special literary accomplishment, it is a gift of glorious songs…. this gift should be praised from as many rooftops as possible.” A finalist for the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction, it was named one of TIME magazine's “100 Must-Read Books of 2023.”

(Photo credit: Tasha Pinelo)

 Read more

Cosponsored by the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and Young Writers Project.

Emancipation Proclamation excerpt

EXHIBIT OPENING & CONVERSATION

7 p.m. Thursday, February 15

Readings and conversation featuring New York State Poet Patricia Spears Jones, historian Dr. Jennifer Burns, and curator Dr. Jennifer Lemak
Huxley Theatre, NYS Museum, 222 Madison Avenue, Albany 

Join us for a lively program to mark the launch of a new temporary exhibit at the New York State Museum.

 

The exhibit will showcase Abraham Lincoln's preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation (Sept. 22, 1862), the only surviving Proclamation document in Lincoln’s own hand, and an audio recording of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering a speech on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation in New York City in September 1962. 

The program will feature poetry, readings of brief excerpts of historical documents, and a conversation with the audience about the complicated legacy of slavery and emancipation in the United States.

Speakers:

Patricia Spears Jones, a major force of the New York City poetry scene since the 1970s, is the reigning State Poet of New York (2023-25), by proclamation of the Governor and mandate of the Legislature, under the auspices of the NYS Writers Institute.

Dr. Jennifer Burns is Lecturer in Africana Studies at the University at Albany.

Dr. Jennifer Lemak is Chief Curator of History at the NYS Museum.

Resources: Curriculum guide for grades 3-12 (pdf)

Cosponsored by the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education and the Archives Partnership Trust in honor of African American History Month.

Armor Of Light movie poster

FILM SCREENING

7 p.m. Friday, February 16

Page Hall, Downtown Campus,
135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203 See map.

(U.S., 2015, 88 minutes, color, rated PG-13)

 

"The Armor of Light" is an acclaimed documentary directed by Abigail Disney— outspoken critic of American capitalism, philanthropist, filmmaker, and daughter of Walt Disney Company co-founder Roy O. Disney.

 

The film tells the story of Evangelical minister Rob Schenck, a fixture on the political far right, who breaks with orthodoxy by questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life. The film earned the 2017 Emmy Award for Outstanding Social Issue Documentary.

Watch the trailer

Steamboat Willie movie poster

The screening will open with "Steamboat Willie" film short. 

A cultural artifact of extraordinary significance, the 1928 animated short that launched Mickey and Minnie Mouse loses its copyright protection and entered the public domain on January 1, 2024.

Meet award-winning filmmaker and activist Abigail Disney at the 4th Annual Albany Film Festival on Saturday, April 6th, with her 2022 film about America’s culture of inequality, "The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales."

2024 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. CELEBRATION

Adjoa Asamoah

7 p.m. Tuesday, February 20

Campus Center Ballroom See map.

While this event is free, registration will be required.
Visit www.albany.edu/odi for more info.

Adjoa B. Asamoah, co-creator of the CROWN Coalition, is a lifelong racial equity champion, award-winning social impact strategist, highly sought-after political operative, and history-making policy architect. She developed the legislative strategy for and leads the groundbreaking CROWN Act movement, which seeks to make discrimination based on hairstyle illegal in all 50 states.

CROWN stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” New York became the second state to sign the act into law on July 3, 2019. Asamoah also served as the Biden-Harris campaign’s National Advisor for Black Engagement, and was then tapped to serve as the Black Engagement Director for the historic 59th Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Association, and Honors College in collaboration with the NYS Writers Institute.

TALES OF A DYING MALL IN UPSTATE NEW YORK

Karin Lin-Greenberg
Karin Lin-Greenberg's You Are Here book cover

4:30 p.m. Thursday, February 22

Conversation and Q&A — Assembly Hall (2nd Floor) Campus Center. See map.

Karin Lin-Greenberg is the author of You Are Here (2023), a debut novel about the residents of a small Upstate New York town who must grapple with the impending closure of a once-bustling shopping mall.

 

The novel appeared on numerous “Best of” lists throughout 2023, including Elle magazine’s “Best and Most Anticipated Books of 2023,” the Washington Post’s “10 Noteworthy Books for May,” and Oprah Daily’s “Best Books You Might Have Missed in 2023.”

Publishers Weekly called it a “remarkable study of ordinary people’s extraordinary inner lives.”

Lin-Greenberg’s 2013 story collection, Faulty Predictions won the Flannery O'Connor Award in Short Fiction. She is Associate Professor of English at Siena College.

 Read more

Cosponsored by the Honors College at UAlbany, the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and Young Writers Project, and the Writing & Critical Inquiry (WCI) Program.

FILM SCREENING

Turn Every Page Movie poster

7 p.m. Friday, February 23

Page Hall, Downtown Campus,
135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203 See map.

(U.S., 2022, 112 minutes, Rated PG) Written and directed by Lizzie Gottlieb.

Lizzie Gottlieb’s award-winning documentary explores the remarkable 50-year relationship between two literary legends, writer Robert Caro and his longtime editor Robert Gottlieb (the film director’s father who passed away in June 2023 at the age of 92).

 

In the film, Caro was working to complete the fifth and final volume of his masterwork, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, for Gottlieb to edit. The New Yorker's Mary Norris called it “a rare window into a relationship that usually goes undocumented… the dance between editor and writer.”

The pair, both in their late 80s, had worked together for five decades, starting with Caro's biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker  and continuing through Caro's first four volumes about Johnson. Its story is focused on the interplay between writer and editor as they work to finish the fifth book rather than a history of their lives and the film features interviews with politicians and media personalities. "I very much wanted this to be a story about them finishing their life's work, not just a retrospective of their lives and how impressive they are," Lizzie Gottlieb said. 

Watch the trailer

Meet film and theater director Lizzie Gottlieb at the 4th Annual Albany Film Festival on Saturday, April 6th.

Jode Millman

7 p.m. Monday, February 26

With Jodé Millman
Event is free. Registration is required:
https://writersandai2024.eventbrite.com
 

With the speed of light, artificial intelligence seems to be invading the world. In particular, the art and literary worlds are facing the most dramatic transformation since the Gutenberg Press by innovative programs like ChatGPT and DALL-E.

 

Jodé Millman, an attorney with more than 40 years of practice and an award-winning author, designed a new seminar to educate “makers” about protecting their artistic rights in this ever-changing world.

In this session, you'll learn:

  • The latest legal developments in the world of AI and Copyright

  • The steps the government is taking to protect an "Author's" rights

  • The tension between copyright law and fair use - What is the Fair Use Doctrine?

  • How authors/artists can proactively protect themselves against the robots

  • Resources to help you protect your rights

William Wegman

7 p.m. Tuesday, February 27

Conversation with WAMC’s Joe Donahue
Main Theatre, UAlbany Performing Arts Center
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222 See map.

Free and open to the public. No registration required.
Books and calendars will be for sale and a signing will follow the talk.

William Wegman is a beloved American artist known throughout the world for photographs and videos that feature his Weimaraner dogs in a variety of costumes and poses.

 

Wegman's work is held in the permanent collections of major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

William Wegman is a beloved American artist known throughout the world for photographs and videos that feature his Weimaraner dogs in a variety of costumes and poses.

 

Wegman's work is held in the permanent collections of major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He has also created film and video works for Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Street and appeared on The Tonight Show, The David Letterman Show, and The Colbert Report.

The author of many books for children, Wegman is also the creator of numerous short segments featuring his dogs for "Sesame Street." His new book is William Wegman: Writing by Artist (2022), his first collection to focus on his multifaceted and deeply funny relationship to language, spanning the early 1970s to the present.

Read more

About The Creative Life: Created and produced by the New York State Writers Institute, University Art Museum, and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in collaboration with WAMC Northeast Public Radio, this series features leading figures from a variety of artistic disciplines in conversation with WAMC’s “Roundtable” host Joe Donahue about creative inspiration, craft, and career.

Major support for The Creative Life is provided by the University at Albany Foundation and University Auxiliary Services.

THE STRANGE LAND BETWEEN FABLE AND REALITY

Richard Mirabella

4:30 p.m. Thursday, February 29

Conversation and Q&A — Recital Hall, UAlbany Performing Arts Center. See map.
 

Richard Mirabella is the author of the debut novel, Brother & Sister Enter the Forest (2023), a queer coming-of-age novel about a young man’s relationship with a violent older boyfriend—and how he and his sister survive a terrible crime.


The book was named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a Washington Post Noteworthy Book, and a Harper’s Bazaar Best New Book of 2023.

The Vulture reviewer said, "Mirabella writes about the strange land between fable and reality…. Part fantastical horror, part road trip narrative… [it’s] an uncanny portrait of the lengths we go to protect the people we love." A member of the UAlbany community, Mirabella works for the University in the High School Program (UHS).

 Read more

Cosponsored by the University at Albany’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Council and the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and Young Writers Project.

The Hustler movie poster

FILM SCREENING

7 p.m. Friday, March 1

Page Hall, Downtown Campus
135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203 See map.

(U.S., 1961, 134 minutes, b/w) Directed by Robert Rossen.

 

Hollywood icon Paul Newman stars in this all-time classic about an up-and-coming pool player, “Fast Eddie” Felson, who risks it all in a match with pool champion “Minnesota Fats,” played by Jackie Gleason.

The film was nominated for 9 Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay, winning for Cinematography and Art Direction. It frequently appears on lists of the best films of all time. Film and theatre historian Ethan Mordden has identified "The Hustler" as one of a handful of films from the early 1960s that re-defined the relationship of films to their audiences. This new relationship, he writes, is "one of challenge rather than flattery, of doubt rather than certainty".

Watch the trailer

Shown in association with a visit by legendary book editor David Rosenthal at the 4th Annual Albany Film Festival on Saturday, April 6th. Rosenthal is the editor of Paul Newman’s candid, posthumous memoir, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, a New York Times bestseller first published in 2022 — 14 years after Newman’s death in September 2008.

2 p.m. Sunday, March 3

Recital Hall, UAlbany Performing Arts Center
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany
NY 12222 See map.
Free admission. No tickets required.
For more information visit www.albany.edu/pac or call (518) 442-3995

Featuring:

Marni Gillard, Aya Mahmoud, Claire Nolan, and Stephanie Ward

 

To kick off Women’s History Month, this program features four storytellers spinning yarns about strong and influential women: both past and present, famous and lesser known, real or imagined in myths, folktales and legends. Honoring and exalting their contributions and the experience of being female, the stories acknowledge that women across the world are groundbreakers shattering conventional wisdom, defying naysayers, and making history theirs.

More about the program and the storytellers

CELEBRATING WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH

History is Her Story flyer image 400w.jpg

This performance is part of a series spotlighting local artists. Presented in collaboration with the UAlbany Performing Arts Center. Funding support provided by the University at Albany Foundation, University Auxiliary Services, Office of Intercultural Student Engagement, and the Alumni Association.

THE DARK SIDE OF OVER-ACHIEVING

Tuesday, March 5

4:30 p.m.— Craft Talk / Q&A
7:30 p.m.— Reading/Conversation
Both events in the Multi-Purpose Room, Campus
Center West Addition.
See map.

Prachi Gupta is the author of They Called Us Exceptional: And Other Lies That Raised Us (2023), a memoir about growing up in an ambitious Indian-American immigrant family; the pressures to over-achieve and belong; the special hell of the “model minority” stereotype; and the hidden shame of mental illness and personal trauma.

Celeste Ng said, “I read it in one sitting. Wow. It aims right at the tender spot where racism, sexism, and family dynamics collide.” Gupta is an award-winning journalist and former senior reporter at the feminist news site, Jezebel. She received a Writers Guild Award for her investigative essay, “Stories About My Brother.” (Photo credit: Ruben Chamorro)

​​Read more

Cosponsored by the Honors College at UAlbany, Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies and the Writing & Critical Inquiry (WCI) Program.

Prachi Gupta, credit Ruben Chamorro
Prachi Gupta, They Called Us Exceptional 400w.jpg

THE POWER OF WORDS AND BOOKS

7 p.m. Wednesday, March 6

Reading/Conversation, Alumni House Conference Room. 
Event is free. Registration required: https://mollyguptillmanning.eventbrite.com

Molly Guptill Manning, who grew up serving ice cream at her family’s famous Guptill’s Arena in Cohoes, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II (2014).

 

USA Today called it, “a tribute to the civilizing influence of books and a careful account of what it took – a lot – to ensure that U.S. fighting men had the right stuff to read.” Her new book is The War of Words: How America's GI Journalists Battled Censorship and Propaganda to Help Win World War II (2023). Manning graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UAlbany, earning both a BA (2001) and MA (2002) in History. (Photo credit: Martin Bentsen)

 Read more

Cosponsored by the History Department and Alumni Association at UAlbany.

Molly Guptill Manning, credit Martin Bentsen
Molly Guptill Manning, War of Words

BLACK LIFE IN THE NORTH WOODS

6 p.m. Thursday, March 14

Reading/Conversation -- Albany Public Library, Community Room (2nd Floor), 161 Washington Ave, Albany
Sold out: We've maxed out the registration for this event.

Join us for a conversation about the Black history of the Adirondack Mountains with legendary civil rights activist Alice Green and historian Amy Godine.


Alice Green is the author of a new, second memoir, Outsider: Stories of Growing Up Black in the Adirondacks (Sept. 2023), an account of her childhood and young adulthood as one of very few Black residents in the tiny

hamlet of Witherbee, Essex County, where her family grappled with poverty and racial issues in the mid-20th century. Green is the executive director of the Center for Law and Justice, a civil rights organization she founded in 1985 in Albany. She earned multiple degrees at UAlbany, including a B.A. in Africana Studies, and a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice.

​Amy Godine is the author of The Black Woods: Pursuing Racial Justice on the Adirondack Frontier (Nov. 2023), a history of the pioneering Black families who migrated to the Adirondacks in the 1800s, mostly from urban areas, to establish farms and rural communities and—significantly — secured the right to vote in New York. Filmmaker Ken Burns said, “The Black Woods is a beautifully written, painstakingly researched, and uncommonly nuanced story.”

 Read more

Presented by the Albany Public Library and the New York State Writers Institute.

Amy Godine, The Black Woods
Alice Green, Outsider copy.jpg

NEW YORK CITY MAYORS:  THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY

7 p.m. Monday, March 18

Conversation and Q&A with biographers Andrew Kirtzman and
Terry Golway
Page Hall, Downtown Campus

135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203 See map.

Join us for a conversation about the colorful parade of characters who have served as mayor of New York City -- the brilliant and the incompetent, the virtuous and the corrupt, the boring and the bizarre.

Andrew Kirtzman is the author of Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America's Mayor (paperback, 2023), a New Yorker Best Book of the Year. The Guardian called it "masterful and engrossing," and the Los Angeles Times said it "cuts through the myth and caricature that has too often defined Giuliani." An Emmy-winning former reporter for NY1, Kirtzman has covered Giuliani for three decades. His earlier biography, Rudy Giuliani: The Emperor of the City (2000)— published in paperback one year later with an added chapter about September 11th— remains the definitive portrait of the mayor at the height of his career.

Terry Golway is the author of I Never Did Like Politics: How Fiorello La Guardia Became America's Mayor, and Why He Still Matters (Feb. 2024), a hugely entertaining book about a mayor who, Golway argues, remains a model of public service to be emulated in our own times. Harold Holzer calls it, "A delightful man-behind-the-myth account of the iconic 'Little Flower'―as unlikely and as successful a mayor as New York City has ever elected." A longtime writer and editor at the New York Times, New York Observer, and Politico, Golway is the author of many acclaimed books, including Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics (2014).

 Read more

Terry Golway, I Never Did Like Politics copy.jpg
Andrew Kirtzman, Giuliani tp cover 400w.jpg
Merchant Ivory Documentary poster copy.jpg

FILM SCREENING

7 p.m. Friday, March 15

Page Hall, Downtown Campus
135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203 See map.

(U.S., 2024, 112 minutes, color) Directed by Stephen Soucy.

Following the screening, the documentary’s composer Ryan Homsey will be doing a short Q&A with Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl.

Arthouse film lovers will enjoy immersing themselves in the glorious history of Merchant Ivory Productions, a film company widely credited with creating its very own genre of films steeped in literature and history, featuring lavish sets and costumes, as well as nuanced performances by first-rate actors portraying disillusioned and extremely genteel characters.

 

UAlbany alum Stephen Soucy worked closely with cofounder James Ivory himself to reconstruct the company’s extraordinary journey.

Meet director/writer/producer Stephen Soucy and James Ivory, the oldest person ever to win an Oscar for screenwriting (at age 89, for "Call Me By Your Name") at the 4th Annual Albany Film Festival on Saturday, April 6.

 Watch the trailer

​​A REVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO HOMELESSNESS

7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20

In conversation with WAMC's Joe Donahue
Page Hall, Downtown Campus

135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203 See map.

Tracy Kidder, "a master of the nonfiction narrative" (Baltimore Sun), presents his new book Rough Sleepers (2023), the story of Dr. Jim O'Connell, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, who invented an unprecedented “community of care” for Boston's unhoused population.

The author of classic works of nonfiction, including Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003), and The Soul of a New Machine (1981), Kidder spent five years following Dr. O’Connell and his colleagues as they navigated the city streets at night, working with thousands of unhoused patients. Abraham Verghese said, “I couldn’t put Rough Sleepers down. I am left in awe of the human spirit and inspired to do better.” An NPR "Book of the Year."

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Cosponsored by The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, The Homeless and Travelers Aid Society, MVP Health Care, City Mission of Schenectady, and Unity House of Troy, Inc.

ONE OF THE MOST ORIGINAL MINDS IN FICTION

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Tuesday, March 26

4:30 p.m.—Craft Talk / Q&A, Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition
7:30 p.m.— Conversation, Recital Hall, UAlbany Performing Arts Center

Lydia Davis, one of the most accomplished writers of our time, presents Our Strangers: Stories (2023), her new collection addressing topics ranging from marriage to tiny insects. The New Yorker called her "one of the most original minds in American fiction today,” and Jonathan Franzen said, “She is the shorter Proust among us. She has the sensitivity to track the stuff that is so evanescent it flies right by the rest of us."

By request of the author, Our Strangers: Stories is available only at independent booksellers and libraries. 

A former faculty member in the UAlbany English Department, Lydia Davis received the 2013 Man Booker International Prize for "continued creativity, development and overall contribution to fiction on the world stage."

​​Read more

Cosponsored by the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and Young Writers Project, and the Writing & Critical Inquiry Program.

AUTHORS THEATRE

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 2

Staged Reading and Q&A with playwright Amina Henry and director Shaun Patrick Tubbs featuring UAlbany Theatre Program students.
Arena Theatre, UAlbany Performing Arts Center
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222 See map.

Workers at an independent video store in a college town in the late 1990s navigate sexual politics and the weirdness of life as 20-somethings. When it becomes clear that Julian has had sex with fellow employees Nora, Sam, and Lucy, the previously “chill” atmosphere at Red Door Video reaches a boiling point. As TITANIC plays endlessly on the TVs, these workers will either sink or swim.

Shaun Patrick Tubbs

Shaun Patrick Tubbs is Visiting Assistant Professor of Directing in the UAlbany Theatre Program. Recent directing credits include Ragtime (Union Avenue Opera), Defacing Michael Jackson (Miami New Drama), The Tempest (Powerhouse Theatre), and Troilus and Cressida (Juilliard). He directed the 2019 Authors Theatre reading Talkin’ to this Chick Sippin’ Magic Potion by James Anthony Tyler.

About Authors Theatre

Featuring staged readings of original plays-in-progress or adaptations of work from other genres, Authors Theatre is designed to focus on dramatic writing as literary text and to provide a mechanism to assist playwrights in the creation of new work.

Amina Henry is a Brooklyn-based playwright. Her productions include The AnimalsDucklingsHunter John and Jane and The Johnsons (all at JACK in Brooklyn); and P.S. produced by Ars Nova (NYC). Winner of the 2020 Sarah Verdone Writing Award, she teaches contemporary theatre at UAlbany, and her play Interstate was featured in Authors Theatre in 2021.

Amina Henry

Presented by the UAlbany Theatre Program and the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment in collaboration with the NYS Writers Institute.

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“A MORAL MASTERPIECE”

Alice McDermott. Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan
Alice McDermott's Absolution

Thursday, April 11

4:30 p.m. — Craft Talk / Q&A, Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition
7:30 p.m. — Conversation, Campus Center West Auditorium See map.

Alice McDermott, one of the leading novelists of her generation, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Absolution (2023), about the lives of American women on the margins of the Vietnam War. Wives have appeared as minor characters in Vietnam War fiction, but in Absolution they take center stage.

Novelist Ann Patchett said, “Absolution is one of the finest contemporary novels I've read. It is a moral masterpiece." McDermott is the author of nine novels, including Charming Billy, winner of the National Book Award, and That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This — all three of them finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

(Photo credit Beowulf Sheehan)

Read Jack Rightmyer’s interview with Alice McDermott published in the Albany Times Union

​​Read more

Cosponsored by the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and Young Writers Project.

LITERATURE IN PERFORMANCE

*** Sold out *** 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27

Main Theatre, UAlbany Performing Arts Center  
Advance tickets: $15 general public • $10 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff.  
Day of show tickets: $20 general public • $15 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff.  For tickets, visit the UAlbany PAC box office 

See map.

The acclaimed weekly public radio broadcast turned touring show has a simple premise: take great stories by well-known and emerging writers and have them performed by terrific actors of stage and screen. Be transported through the magic of fiction in this unique night of literature in performance. 

​​Read more

Presented in collaboration with the UAlbany Performing Arts Center with support from the University at Albany Foundation and University Auxiliary Services.

Selected Shorts

"AMUSINGLY VICIOUS AND VERY WELL-TIMED"

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7 p.m. Thursday, April 25

Page Hall, Downtown Campus
135 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203 See map.

Michael Wolff blew the lid off the Trump White House with his 2018 book Fire and Fury — written after being granted unprecedented access as a “fly on the wall” observer inside the West Wing throughout most of the first year of Trump’s presidency.

The book debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list in January 2018, and within a week had become the fastest selling book in the history of Henry Holt and Company, with over 700,000 orders shipped and 1.4 million orders placed.

 

Wolff’s new book is The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty (2023). Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times called it, "Amusingly vicious and very well-timed.” 

​​Read more

22ND POET LAUREATE OF THE UNITED STATES AND PULITZER PRIZE WINNER

7 p.m. Friday, April 19

Moderated by D.Colin, UAlbany alum, poet, and educator
Reading and McKinney Writing Contest Awards,
EMPAC Building, Concert Hall, Rensselaer (RPI),
110 8th St, Troy.
For more information, contact McKinney@rpi.edu

 

Tracy K. Smith is an award-winning poet, memoirist, editor, translator, and opera librettist. She received the Pulitzer Prize for her 2011 poetry collection, Life on Mars, an elegy for her father, a scientist who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. Her memoir, Ordinary Light, was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

Smith served as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017-19. Her new book is To Free the Captives: A Plea for the American Soul (Nov. 2023), a stunning personal manifesto on memory, family, and history that explores how we in America might —together — come to a new view of our shared past. The book was named a TIME and Washington Post Best Book of the Year.

(Photo credit Rachel Eliza Griffiths) 

​​Read more

Sponsored by Rensselaer’s Annual McKinney Writing Contest and Reading in partnership with the NYS Writers Institute.

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BELOVED FICTION WRITER AND POET

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Cemetery of Untold Stories by Julia Alvarez

4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18

Conversation and reading 
NOTE CHANGE IN VENUE: The event will now take place in the UAlbany Campus Center West Auditorium
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222 See map.

Julia Alvarez is one of America’s most acclaimed and best-loved fiction writers and poets. Her novels about the Dominican and Dominican-American experiences have not only inspired new generations of Latinx authors, they have also helped to enlarge the map of world literature. Her magical new novel, The Cemetery of Untold Stories (April 2024), explores what happens to stories that are left unfinished.

 

Her 1991 novel, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, was named one of "21 new classics for the 21st century" by Library Journal. Her 1994 novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, was selected for "The Big Read" by the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

In 2013, President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts and, in 2021, Mattel unveiled a Barbie doll in her honor.

​​Read more

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Department of Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies, and the Writing & Critical Inquiry (WCI) Program.

“IT HITS YOU LIKE A COMET”

Tuesday, April 16

4:30 p.m.— Craft Talk / Q&A, the Campus Center West Boardroom
7:30 p.m.— Conversation, Campus Center West Auditorium See map.

David Wallace-Wells is the author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (2019), a #1 New York Times bestseller, now available in a new 2023 Young Adult edition. The book argues that the state of the world, environmentally speaking, is “worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible—food shortages, refugee emergencies, climate wars and economic devastation.”

Farhad Manjoo said, “The Uninhabitable Earth is the most terrifying book I have ever read,” and Andrew Solomon said it “hits you like a comet.” Wallace-Wells is a weekly columnist and staff writer for the New York Times

​​Read an excerpt from The Uninhabitable Earth

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Office of Sustainability, UAlbany Environmental Humanities Lab, and the Honors College at UAlbany.

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The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace Wells
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