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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:


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



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



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 (photo by Beowulf Sheehan)

Virtual Conversation — 7:00 p.m.

The UAlbany Office of Diversity and Inclusion Speakers Series

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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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



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 (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. READ MORE



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


OCTOBER 21-24, 2021

Jewelle Gomez (photo credit: Irene Young)

Keynote conversation and Q&A with author Jewelle Gomez followed by film screening of "Let the Right One In" / ("Låt den rätte komma in")

6 p.m. Friday, October 22, Campus Center Ballroom, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

UAlbany’s Program in Writing & Critical Inquiry (WCI) presents its sixth annual Film Festival and Lecture Series. The 2021 Festival explores one of the world’s most popular and enduring images: the vampire, a powerful metaphor for prescient matters from imperialism to AIDS, BLM and #MeToo.

Keynote guest Jewelle Gomez will read from her novel, The Gilda Stories, discuss her writing process and writing as activism, and introduce her favorite vampire film, "Let the Right One In" / ("Låt den rätte komma in") (Rated R, Sweden, 2008, 114 minutes, color, directed by Tomas Alfredson).

After the screening, Gomez will lead a discussion about the film.

For more information and a complete schedule of the WCI Film Festival, visit

The WCI Film Festival and Lecture Series is sponsored by the UAlbany Program in Writing and Critical Inquiry, with support provided by UAlbany Libraries and the NYS Writers Institute.



Presentation/Q&A — 7:30 p.m., Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

Andrea C. Mosterman, American historian, is the author of the new book, Spaces of Enslavement: A History of Slavery and Resistance in Dutch New York (2021), a critical and overdue chapter on the place of slavery and resistance in the colony and young state of New York.

The book received the 2020 Hendricks Award for best book-length manuscript presented by Albany’s New Netherland Institute, an organization dedicated to casting light on America’s long-neglected Dutch roots.

Andrea C. Mosterman is the Joseph Tregle Endowed Professor in Early American History at the University of New Orleans. READ MORE



Phil Klay, author of Missionaries (photo credit: Hannah Dunphy)

Craft Talk:

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


7:30 p.m., Campus Center West Auditorium

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

Phil Klay, fiction writer and Iraq War combat veteran, received the National Book Award for his 2014 short story collection, Redeployment, inspired by his own military service. Klay spent 13 months in Iraq’s Anbar Province during the U.S. troop surge (2007-8). His first novel is Missionaries (2020), one of President Obama’s “Favorite Books of 2020.” Missionaries explores America’s involvement in Colombia’s civil wars. Klay draws on six years of research in Colombia and America to tell a tale of drug cartels, state militias, and U.S. advisors who acquired their skills and training amid the carnage of America’s wars in the Middle East. READ MORE



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

Roxane Gay is one of the great public intellectuals in America today. Her books include the modern-day classics, Bad Feminist: Essays (2014), which TIME called, “a manual on how to be human,” and Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (2017), a “work of staggering honesty” (New Republic) that explores her relationship with food, weight, and body image. Her forthcoming book is How to Be Heard (2022), practical advice for anyone who wants to use their voice to have an impact on the world. A contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times, she is also the author of The World of Wakanda (2017) for Marvel Comics.

Debbie Millman, UAlbany Class of ’83, is host of the world’s first design podcast, Design Matters, and cofounder of the world’s first graduate program in Branding at New York’s School of Visual Arts. The president emeritus of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), she is one of only five women to hold that position in the organization’s 100-year history. For 20 years, she was president of Sterling Brands, a leader in the field. She credits her education at UAlbany for sparking her interest in design. Her new book is Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People (2021).

Millman and Gay, who are married, will discuss their creative processes. READ MORE

Major support provided by the University at Albany Foundation and University Auxiliary Services.



Craft Talk: 4:30 p.m.

Reading/Q&A: 7:30 p.m.

Both events in the Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

(Note: The 7:30 event was originally scheduled to be held in the Assembly Room.)

Jennifer De Leon is an emerging author who is receiving wide acclaim. Julia Alvarez has said, “Jennifer De Leon represents the new generation and exciting voices of Latinx storytellers.” Her new YA novel, Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (2020), tells the story of first-generation American Latinx Liliana Cruz and her struggles to fit in at a nearly all-white school. Celeste Ng called it, “A funny, perceptive, and much-needed book telling a much-needed story.”

Her new essay collection, White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing (2021), received the Juniper Prize for Creative Nonfiction of the University of Massachusetts Press. READ MORE



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

(2021, USA, 60 min., color and b/w) In the mid-1800s, abolitionist and real estate baron Gerrit Smith devised a “scheme of justice and benevolence” that he hoped would provide refuge to black families. This film reconstructs the nearly forgotten history of that refuge, the pre-Civil War Adirondack settlement of African American homesteaders known as “Timbuctoo.”

The film also follows an archaeology team looking to unearth evidence of the community. Featured voiceovers in the film include civil rights activist Alice Green, Congressman Paul Tonko, former Sierra Club president Aaron Mair, and WAMC’s David Guistina.

Paul Miller

Paul Miller is an independent writer, filmmaker and photographer based in upstate New York. As 20-year veteran of broadcast and cable television, he has worked for national shows and networks, including The History Channel, National Geographic Channel, PBS headquarters, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. He currently serves as Senior Director of Advancement Communications at UAlbany.

Cosponsored by the New York State Museum. An excerpt of the film "Searching for Timbuctoo" is now featured in an exhibit in Adirondack Hall at the NYS Museum.



Melissa Febos (photo by Beowulf Sheehan)

Conversation/Q&A — 7:30 p.m., Campus Center West Auditorium, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

Melissa Febos, feminist writer and scholar, is the author of the new essay collection, Girlhood (2021), which examines the forces that shape girls and the adults they become. The New York Times reviewer said Girlhood belongs “in a feminist canon that includes Febos’s idol, Adrienne Rich, and Maggie Nelson’s theory-minded masterpieces....” Her bestselling memoir, Whip Smart (2010) recounted her work as a professional dominatrix, a job that supported her studies at the New School in New York City. Her first essay collection, Abandon Me (2017), a meditation on the need for physical and personal connection, received the Lambda Literary Jeanne Cordova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction. READ MORE

Funding provided by UAlbany Professors Emerita in English, Judith Barlow and Judith Fetterley.



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

Temple Grandin, often called “the rock star” of the autistic world, is a world-renowned animal behaviorist, college professor, inventor, bestselling author, and animal rights activist. One of the first autistic individuals to write books about her life and experiences, Grandin has been an indispensable source of knowledge and wisdom for parents and teachers confronting the puzzle of autism.

Her bestselling books include Thinking In Pictures (1996), Animals in Translation (2005), Animals Make Us Human (2009), and The Autistic Brain (2013). Claire Danes won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her portrayal of Grandin in the 2010 HBO film, "Temple Grandin." READ MORE

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Disability Resource Center and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.



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

Russell Banks, major American fiction writer, will discuss his new novel, Foregone (2021), the story of a Vietnam War draft evader turned filmmaker as he confronts his complicated past. One of 60,000 Americans who fled to Canada to avoid military service, Leonard Fife, now in his seventies, is dying of cancer in Montreal. He has agreed to a final interview in which he is determined to bare all his secrets at last, to demythologize his mythologized life.

The New Yorker said, “Banks carefully layers the strata of a life, showing that the past is always more ambiguous than we think.” READ MORE



All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask or other face covering while inside any UAlbany owned, operated or leased building.

Unvaccinated individuals are also required to wear face coverings in all outdoor settings. This revised mask requirement will remain in place until the University removes the requirement upon the recommendations of the CDC or other public health officials. Individuals should not attend our in-person events if they — or anyone in their household — are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.


Courtesy parking for Writers Institute events on the Uptown Campus will be available in the State Quad Student Parking Lot one hour prior to and one hour after events.

Visitor parking lots are also available for $5 per vehicle, though parking spaces are very limited.

For Page Hall events on the Downtown Campus, courtesy parking will be available in the Thurlow Student Parking lot on Western Avenue. Handicapped entrances available: Milne Hall (from Washington Avenue) and Richardson Hall (Page Courtyard, Western Avenue).

For a map of the UAlbany campuses including parking lots, visit


With special thanks to our primary sponsors, The University at Albany Foundation, The John D. Picotte Family Foundation, The New York State Writers Institute Classic Film Series Endowment, The Maguire Family Endowment at the NYSWI, and The Opalka Family Endowment.

The New York State Writers Institute gratefully acknowledges the support of University Auxiliary Services, Division of Student Affairs, Student Association, Alumni Association, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Office of University Events, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, University at Albany Bookstore, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Albany Times Union, and Friends of Writing.


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