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  • NYS Writers Institute

State Author and State Poet to kick off Adirondack book festival

Ayad Akhtar (photo credit Vincent Tullo) and Willie Perdomo

New York State Author Ayad Akhtar and New York State Poet Willie Perdomo will kick off the Adirondack Center for Writing's 2022 Kickass Writers Festival with a reading from their works at 7 p.m. Friday, August 19, at the Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake.

Free and open to the public, the event is a collaboration between Adirondack Center for Writing and the NYS Writers Institute in Albany.

“It is our pleasure to partner with the Adirondack Center for Writing to bring State Poet Willie Perdomo and State Author Ayad Akhtar to Saranac Lake. It is their first public appearance as laureates after receiving this high honor at the Writers Institute’s 4th annual Albany Book Festival last September,” said Paul Grondahl, director of the NY State Writers Institute.

“No other literary organization in the country has a legislative mandate to appoint a State Author and State Poet every two years. We relish this role and we are pleased that Willie and Ayad are bringing their diverse voices to the North Country. I have no doubt that these two remarkably talented writers will deliver kickass performances.”

This event marks the first time the State Author and State Poet have given a free public reading in the Adirondack Park since Russell Banks, a long-time Keene resident, was named the State Author in 2004.

"We wanted to highlight this connection between generations of New York writers," says ACW director Nathalie Thill, "so we're thrilled to have arranged for Russell Banks to introduce Akhtar at the event, and Chase Twichell to introduce Willie Perdomo, providing them both with a welcoming introduction to the North Country. We couldn't think of a more fitting way to launch the first annual Kickass Writers Festival."

Homeland Elegies book by Ayad Akhtar

Ayad Akhtar is an acclaimed novelist and playwright whose work explores the immigrant experience, Muslim American identity, and the world of high finance. His 2013 play, "Disgraced," was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

He is the author of Homeland Elegies, which Dwight Garner of the New York Times called “A beautiful novel about an American son and his immigrant father that has echoes of The Great Gatsby and that circles, with pointed intellect, the possibilities and limitations of American life.”

Ayad Akhtar currently serves as president of PEN America, one of the leading defenders of free speech both here and abroad.

Smoking Lovely book by Willie Perdomo

Perdomo, a prize-winning poet and children’s book author who examines and celebrates the Nuyorican and Afro-Latino experience. His poetry collections include Where a Nickel Costs a Dime (1996), a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award; Smoking Lovely (2004, revised 2021), winner of the PEN/Open Book Award; The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (2014), a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and The Crazy Bunch (2019), which chronicles a weekend in the life of a group of East Harlem friends in the 1990s.

Perdomo is also the co-editor of a recent anthology, Latínext (2020), a celebration of work by emerging Latinx poets who represent an array of nationalities, genders, sexualities, races, and writing styles.


More info about Kickass Writers Festival:

The Adirondack Center for Writing has been bringing people and words together for more than 20 years through provocative events and meaningful programs like this one.

For more info about ACW, visit and follow @adkctr4writing on social media.


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