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  • NYS Writers Institute

It's our 40th Anniversary. Let's celebrate!

We're kicking off our 40th Anniversary with a celebration -- you're invited! --

and a packed schedule of events.


Join us as we celebrate our 40th year as one of the finest literary conversation programs in the world. Over the past four decades, we have welcomed thousands of writers in all genres to Albany, in fulfillment of William Kennedy’s vision for making this city a crossroads on the map of world literature.


We will also celebrate Bill’s birthday — he turns 95 on January 16th. Most of all, we’ll be celebrating you, our audience. For 40 years, you've supported NYS Writers Institute events. We couldn’t have done it without you!



NYS Writers Institute 40th Anniversary Celebration

6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 19

Recital Hall, UAlbany Performing Arts Center

1400 Washington Avenue

Albany NY 12222

Free and open to the public.

No registration required.




A message from Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl

The New York State Writers Institute’s origin story is a humble one. It began in 1983 on the campus of the University at Albany.


As our founder William Kennedy recalls, we started with no office, no money, and no name. We were undaunted because Bill had a vision.

Spring 2023 season program cover

We aimed to bring the world’s greatest writers to UAlbany to enrich the lives of our students and community and to help aspiring authors learn from well-established writers. We developed a loyal

audience from across the Capital Region with an ongoing series of free public readings, author conversations, book signings, and special events.


Just look at us now, as we celebrate our 40th anniversary, recognized as one of the pre-eminent literary presenting organizations in the United States.


We have welcomed to the UAlbany campus 2,500 acclaimed authors in every conceivable genre from dozens of countries, including 13 Nobel laureates and well over 100 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners. Showcasing a diversity of voices is baked into our DNA as we host first-time authors, rising stars, and literary legends.


NYS Writers Institute spring 2023 season program.

Find our spring season schedule of events at


“Literary conversation is the best conversation in the world,” Bill declared. And so, it has been.


We hosted stimulating programming across four decades, thousands of hours of master classes on the writing craft. We added the annual fall Albany Book Festival and the Albany Film Festival each spring as community engagement initiatives. We post recordings on our popular Writers Institute YouTube channel for those who missed our programs presented live.


Our modest beginnings improved when Bill donated a portion of his MacArthur “genius” grant awarded in 1984 and brought Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow as our first visiting author. Governor Mario M. Cuomo signed into law that same year legislation with our mandate “to increase the freedom of the artistic imagination” and “to encourage the development of writing skills at all levels of education throughout the state.”


Today, UAlbany Honors College students attend our events and students majoring in English read the books of our visiting authors. We host free online writing workshops annually and support the ongoing Capital Region Poetry Workshop. We recently launched a therapeutic journal writing program funded by the Carl E. Touhey Foundation to help at-risk teenagers in underserved communities in Albany on a path

of healing.


Come celebrate our 40-year history throughout 2023. Help us get this party started.


Director, NYS Writers Institute


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, The Opalka Family Endowment, The Opalka Endowed Directorship, and the Carl E. Touhey Foundation.


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, AcaDamien's Bookstore, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Albany Times Union, and Friends of Writing.

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