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  • NYS Writers Institute

Fall 2021 season schedule

The NYS Writers Institute based at the University at Albany proudly announces a full slate of events for the upcoming Fall season. While some events are online, most are scheduled to be in-person, which has not happened since author visits shut down abruptly in March 2020 due to COVID.


These pandemic times have been very hard on all of us. The loss has been staggering. The rapid spread of the Delta variant has thrown us back into a phase of uncertainty and wariness. At the same time, we continue to confront the existential threat of climate change, the reckoning over systemic racism, and the toxic divisions of our politics.

In troubled times such as these, literature offers a refuge. Graceful writing gives us hope and takes us outside ourselves. It creates empathy and understanding.

Now, more than ever, the wisdom and talent of our best writers can help us find the path forward. We need to hear the hard truths of their fact-based research and compelling arguments, to revel in the lyricism of their language, and to marvel at the remarkable ways in which their writing transports us to places we never imagined.

We believe in the literary alchemy that occurs when readers and writers come together, in person, to discuss important and sometimes uncomfortable topics in thoughtful and respectful conversation.

Slowly and carefully, we are reclaiming things that bring us joy. For us, that means live audiences and in-person events. We missed seeing your smiling faces and your questions during Q&A sessions with authors. We missed seeing you buy books to get signed by the authors. We missed your laughter, your applause, your expressions of gratitude for this community we have created among people who believe that great literature opens our minds, touches our hearts, and nourishes our souls.

We have worked hard to restore all those things we missed, including the 4th annual Albany Book Festival and this fall program of events featuring our signature Visiting Writers Series and Classic Film Series, as well as our collaboration in the Creative Life series and other special events. We will comply with all COVID-19 protocols and follow the guidance of health officials to ensure your safety. Please thank our Writers Institute team, UAlbany community, our Friends of Writing advisory council and all our generous donors and supporters who have made this lineup possible.

We are grateful that you can join us, in person.

Paul Grondahl

All events subject to change. Please sign up for our email newsletter signup form to receive up-to-date event information and COVID protocols:

Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of The Other Black Girl


Craft Talk:

4:30 p.m., Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222


7:30 p.m., Page Hall, UAlbany Downtown Campus, 135 Western Avenue, Albany 12203

Local poet D. Colin will serve as moderator for the evening event.

Zakiya Dalila Harris is the author of the breakout New York Times bestseller, The Other Black Girl (2021), a thriller about workplace aggression and competition set in the starkly white world of New York City publishing. READ MORE


Crystal Maldonado, author of Fat Chance, Charlie Vega


Craft Talk — 4:30 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library

Reading/Q&A — 7:30 p.m., Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition.

Both locations at University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

Crystal Maldonado is the author of Fat Chance, Charlie Vega (2021), a Young Adult fiction debut that explores the plus-size experience in weight-conscious America, and what it’s like to be the only Latina at a white Connecticut suburban high school. Maldonado draws on the details of her own life to craft “a warm and insightful coming-of-age tale” (Publishers Weekly).

NBC News said, “Maldonado wants you to rethink the way you view fatness.”

A finalist for the New England Book Award, the novel was named a Cosmopolitan “Best New Book of Winter.” READ MORE


Poet Randall Horton, {#289-128}: Poems


Randall Horton (photo by Thomas Sayers Ellis)

Craft Talk — 4:30 p.m., Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition

Reading/Q&A — 7:30 p.m., Campus Center Assembly Hall

Both locations at University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

Randall Horton, acclaimed poet who earned his Ph.D. in English at UAlbany, is “the only person in the United States with seven felony convictions and academic tenure” (PEN America).

His powerful collection, {#289-128}: Poems (2020) addresses America’s prison industrial complex and the paradoxical idea of freedom in a cell. Winner of an NEA Fellowship and the Gwendolyn Brooks and Bea Gonzalez Poetry Awards, he’s also a member of the performance group Heroes Are Gang Leaders, winners of the 2018 American Book Award in Oral Literature, and creators of The Amiri Baraka Sessions, named “Best Vocal Jazz Album” by NPR in 2019. READ MORE


Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning


Cathy Park Hong (photo by Beowulf Sheehan)

Virtual Conversation — 7:00 p.m.

The UAlbany Office of Diversity and Inclusion Speakers Series