Watch the NYS Writers Hall of Fame induction ceremony live on Tuesday
UPDATE: Watch the event here at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 18, or with this link: https://youtu.be/HevoPSNWDTY
Let's have a round of applause for 2022 NYS Writers Hall of Fame inductees:
Irving Berlin – creator of classic American songs such as “White Christmas,” “God Bless America.” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”
Min Jin Lee – author of Pachinko and Free Food for Millionaires. Her books explore the intersection of race, ethnicity, immigration, class, religion and gender.
Audre Lorde – Writer, feminist, librarian, civil rights activist, former New York State Poet.
James McBride – Award -winning author, musician. His books include The Good Lord Bird, The Color of Water and Deacon King Kong
The induction ceremonies will be held on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, announced Rocco Staino, Director of the Empire State Center for the Book. The event will also be broadcast online.
“After a hiatus of two years, we are delighted to be back with an hybrid event which will be both virtual and in-person,” said Staino. “It is only fitting that the event be at The Algonquin Hotel, a national literary landmark.”
“This year’s honorees, including two living authors and two deceased artists, are luminaries in their respective genres,” said Paul Grondahl, Director of the New York State Writers Institute. “This quartet joins an illustrious roster of Writers Hall of Fame inductees. They underscore New York State’s grand tradition of fostering world-class literary figures and creative artists of the first rank. The ceremony and its gathering of New York’s literati and publishing industry pillars gives me great joy and optimism. It reminds me that the state of our writerly union is strong.”
The Empire State Center for the Book is the New York State affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book and oversees the Hall of Fame, presented in partnership with the New York State Writers Institute.
Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin on May 11, 1888. One of eight children, his exact place of birth is unknown, although his family had been living in Byelorussia when they immigrated to New York in 1893. When his father died, Berlin, just turned 13, took to the streets in various odd jobs, working as a busker singing for pennies, then as a singing waiter in a Chinatown Cafe. In 1907 he published his first song, "Marie from Sunny Italy," and by 1911 he had his first major international hit "Alexander's Ragtime Band."
Over the next five decades, Irving Berlin produced an outpouring of ballads, dance numbers, novelty tunes and love songs that defined American popular song for much of the century. A sampling of just some of the Irving Berlin standards includes "How Deep Is The Ocean," "Blue Skies," "White Christmas," "Always," "Anything You Can Do," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Cheek To Cheek," "Puttin' On The Ritz," "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody," "Heat Wave," "Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning," "Easter Parade," "Let's Face The Music And Dance," and "God Bless America." He also wrote 17 complete scores for Broadway musicals and revues, and contributed material to six more. Among the shows featuring all-Berlin scores were The Cocoanuts, As Thousands Cheer, Louisiana Purchase, This Is The Army, Miss Liberty, Mr. President, Call Me Madam and the phenomenally successful Annie Get Your Gun. Recent musicals culled from his screen work include Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Broadway, across the USA, Canada and Great Britain), and Top Hat, winner of the 2013 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Among the Hollywood movie musical classics with scores by Irving Berlin are Top Hat, Follow The Fleet, On The Avenue, Alexander's Ragtime Band, Holiday Inn, Blue Skies, Easter Parade, White Christmasand There's No Business Like Show Business.
Min Jin Lee's novel Pachinko (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017. A New York Times Bestseller, Pachinko was also a Top 10 Books of the Year for BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the New York Public Library. Pachinko was a selection for “Now Read This,” the joint book club of PBS NewsHour and The New York Times. It was on over 75 best books of the year lists, including NPR, PBS, and CNN. Pachinko will be translated into 30 languages. President Barack Obama selected Pachinko for his recommended reading list, calling it, “a powerful story about resilience and compassion.”
Her debut novel Free Food for Millionaires (2007) was a Top 10 Books of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’s Fresh Air, USA Today, and a national bestseller. In 2019, Free Food for Millionaires was a finalist for One Book, One New York, a city-wide reading program. Her writings have appeared in The New Yorker, NPR’s Selected Shorts, One Story, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, Conde Nast Traveler, The Times of London, and Wall Street Journal. She served three consecutive seasons as a Morning Forum columnist of the Chosun Ilbo of South Korea. In 2018,
Lee was named as an Adweek Creative 100 for being one of the “10 Writers and Editors Who are Changing the National Conversation” and a Frederick Douglass 200. In 2019, Lee was inducted in the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame. She received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Monmouth College. She will be a Writer-in-Residence at Amherst College from 2019-2022. She serves as a trustee of PEN America, a director of the Authors Guild and on the National Advisory Board of the Immigration Initiative at Harvard.
Audre Lorde, poet, essayist, novelist and teacher, grew up in Manhattan where she attended Catholic school. She loved to read poetry, often reciting whole poems or individual lines to communicate with people. When she could no longer find poems that expressed her feelings, she started writing her own poetry. Her first poem to be published appeared in Seventeen magazine when she was still in high school. She attended Hunter College and Columbia University and was a librarian for several years before publishing her first volume of poetry, First Cities, in 1968. More successful collections followed, including From a Land Where Other People Live (1973), nominated for a National Book Award, and The Black Unicorn (1978). Lorde also wrote the memoirs The Cancer Journals (1980) and A Burst of Light (1988).
New York Head Shot and Museum, probably her most political and rhetorical work was published in 1974. Writing from the perspective of a city dweller, the poems in this volume express her visions of life in New York City, intertwined with themes of what it is like to be a woman, a mother and Black.
Her seventh book of poetry, The Black Unicorn (1978) is considered to be her most revealing work and the apex of her poetic and personal vision. Poet and critic Adrienne Rich said of The Black Unicorn: "refusing to be circumscribed by any simple identity, Audre Lorde writes as a Black woman, a mother, a daughter, a Lesbian, a feminist, a visionary; poems of elemental wildness and healing, nightmare and lucidity."
Lorde worked intensively with women of color in many different countries and was a founder of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, and Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa.
She served as New York State Poet under the auspices of the New York State Writers Institute by proclamation of Governor Mario Cuomo from November 1991 until her death from cancer in November 1992. (Read Gov. Cuomo's proclamation) Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl, then a reporter for the Times Union, covered the story of Audre Lorde’s investiture as NYS State Poet together with NYS State Author Norman Mailer.
Read: Audre Lorde's "A Litany for Survival"
James McBride is an award-winning author, musician, and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, published in 1996, has sold millions of copies and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Considered an American classic, it is read in schools and universities across the United States.
His debut novel, Miracle at St. Anna, was adapted into a 2008 film by Spike Lee, with a script written by McBride. His 2013 novel, The Good Lord Bird, about American abolitionist John Brown, won the National Book Award for Fiction and was adapted for a Showtime limited series in 2020 starring Ethan Hawke.
McBride has been a staff writer for The Boston Globe, People, and The Washington Post, and his work has appeared in Essence, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times. His 2007 National Geographic story “Hip Hop Planet” is considered an important examination of African American music and culture.
A noted musician and composer, McBride has toured as a saxophonist sideman with jazz legend Jimmy Scott, among other musicians. He has written songs for Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr., Pura Fé, Gary Burton, and even for the PBS television character “Barney.”
The 2022 NYS Writers Hall of Fame selection committee:
Paul Grondahl, Director of the New York State Writers Institute
Stefanie Peters, Editor, Library of America
Ira B. Matetsky Esq., Partner, Ganfer, Shore, Leeds & Zauderer
Andrew Medlar, President & Director of the Carnegie Library
Lauren Moore, New York State Librarian
Pamela Newkirk, author, journalist and professor
Will Schwalbe, author and journalist
Cynthia Shor, Executive Director of the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association
Rocco Staino, Director of the Empire State Center for the Book
Hong Yao, Director of Technical Services, Queens Library.
The Empire State Center for the Book is housed at the New York Library Association. For additional information on the Writers Hall of Fame, please contact Rocco Staino at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-475-3857.