• NYS Writers Institute

Announcing our Fall season schedule of events!

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

Register at

A free Zoom account is required.

Free and open to the public.

Poet Cathy Park Hong talks about her memoir, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (2020), a ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness. With biting humor, Hong examines the many ways in which the experience of Asian American marginalization is dismissed, ignored, and devalued.

A New York Times bestseller and one of TIME magazine’s “10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Year,” Minor Feelings won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Poet Claudia Rankine called it, “Brilliant,” and said, “To read this book is to become more human.”


Presented by the UAlbany Office of Diversity and Inclusion, in partnership with the NYS Writers Institute.

FILM: "The City Without Jews"


City without Jews, Alicia Svigals and Donald Sosin performing with film

Film with live musical accompaniment, 7:30 p.m., Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

No tickets required. For more information, visit

The screening of this 1924 silent film by Austrian director H.K. Breslauer is accompanied with live original music composed and performed by world-renowned klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals and celebrated silent film pianist Donald Sosin. Based on the dystopian book by Hugo Bettauer, it is a chilling premonition of the Holocaust. READ MORE

Presented in partnership with the UAlbany Performing Arts Center. Funding support provided by the Sunrise Foundation for Education and the Arts, University at Albany Foundation, University Auxiliary Services and UAlbany’s StAR program.

Jennifer Doudna, Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry


Virtual conversation, 1:00 p.m.

For more information, visit

Dr. Jennifer Doudna, 2020 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, will be the sixth speaker in the UAlbany and RPI collaborative series, “Life at the Interface of Science and Engineering.” A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, she has made numerous major contributions to science.

The first researcher to reveal the shape of an RNA catalyst, she earned the Nobel Prize for discovering the CRISPR immune system and its therapeutic applications to editing DNA. This discovery is the subject of Walter Isaacson’s current bestseller, The Code Breaker (2021), and of Doudna’s own book, A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution (2017).


This lecture series was established through the generous contributions of Distinguished Professor Marlene Belfort at UAlbany and Professor Georges Belfort at RPI.

NYS Attorney General Letitia James and former NYS Attorney General Robert Abrams


Democracy in Action: The Role of Attorney General and the Public Good

Conversation – 7:00 p.m., Cultural Education Center, NYS Museum, 222 Madison Avenue, Albany

Registration required.

Visit to register for either the in-person event or livestream

Join the Archives Partnership Trust for an engaging evening of conversation between current New York State Attorney General Letitia James and former Attorney General Robert Abrams, author of the new memoir, Luckiest Guy in the World: My Journey in Politics (2021). Listen in as they discuss the importance of public service, and Abrams’ groundbreaking work on environmental, consumer protection and civil rights issues that forever transformed the role of the office of Attorney General. READ MORE

Presented by the NYS Archives Partnership Trust in partnership with The Government Law Center at Albany Law School, Historical Society of the New York Courts, League of Women Voters of New York State, New York Bar Association, and the NYS Writers Institute.

New York State Author and Poet Award Ceremony


7:30 p.m., Campus Center West Auditorium, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

The Albany Book Festival will kick off with a ceremony to award the new State Author and State Poet for 2021-2023. The names of the laureates are still to be announced.

In addition, the inaugural Bruce Piasecki and Andrea Masters Award on Business and Society Writing will be presented at the ceremony.

4th Annual Albany Book Festival


10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

The fourth annual event will be held in-person for the first time since 2019. All events are free and open to the public. More information at

An Evening of Flamenco Music & Film


Performance and film screening — 7:30 p.m., Performing Arts Center, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

No ticket required. For more information, visit:

Flamenco guitarist Maria Zemantauski kicks off the evening with a solo set followed by a screening of Flamenco Vivo's "6 Hilos (6 Threads)," which pays homage to the Golden Age of flamenco. A meet and greet with the artists in the theatre lobby will culminate the evening. YouTube clip:

Presented in partnership with the UAlbany Performing Arts Center. This presentation is made possible with funds from the NYS DanceForce, a partnership program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the New York State Governor and Legislature. Additional support provided by the Alumni Association, University Auxiliary Services, University at Albany Foundation and UAlbany’s StAR Program.



Conversation with WAMC’s Joe Donahue — 7:00 p.m., Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

Ruth Reichl, beloved cookbook author, six-time James Beard Award-winner, and former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, is also one of the most influential restaurant critics of her generation. Reader’s Digest said, “Her writing became so powerful at the height of her career, she was forced to wear disguises to dinner, creating characters such as ‘mousy’ Molly, ‘brazen’ Chloe, ‘frumpy old Brenda’ and ‘nasty’ Emily.”

Her newest book is Save Me the Plums (paperback 2020), a memoir of her time at Gourmet. The New York Times reviewer said, “Poignant and hilarious . . . simply delicious . . . Each serving of magazine folklore is worth savoring.” READ MORE

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

Meredith Talusan

Meredith Talusan (photo by Albrica Tierra)


Craft Talk:

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


7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

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

Meredith Talusan (she/they) is the author of an acclaimed transgender memoir, Fairest (2020), a singular, beautifully written coming-of-age memoir of a Filipino boy with albinism whose story travels from an immigrant childhood to Harvard to a gender transition, and illuminates the illusions of race, disability, and gender. Ocean Vuong called it, “A ball of light hurled into the dark undertow of migration and survival.”

Fairest was named a “Most Anticipated Book of 2020” by O, The Oprah Magazine and numerous other publications. An award-winning journalist, Talusan is also the founding executive editor of them, Condé Nast’s LGBTQ+ digital platform.

The High Peaks Impact Awards


Symposium and Award Ceremony, 1 to 6:00 p.m., Massry Center for Business Building, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

Join UAlbany’s School of Business for The High Peaks Impact Awards, a new award program to honor regional businesses for excellence in the personification of Environmental Social Governance (ESG) practices. This afternoon symposium will also include speakers and panel discussions to share best practices as to how ESG benefits businesses and their stakeholders in multiple ways.

Registration required. For more information on the schedule of events and to register, visit