Thursday, December 18, 2014

NY Times Book Critics' Top Ten Lists of 2014

Six books by past visitors to UAlbany, under the sponsorship of the New York State Writers Institute, appear on the new top ten lists of New York Times book critics Michiko Kakutani, Janet Maslin and Dwight Garner.

They include Country Girl by Edna O'Brien, The Innovators by Walter Isaacson, Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart, The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, Lila by Marilynne Robinson, and All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu.

Picture:  Edna O'Brien.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NY Times "100 Notable Books of 2014"

Visitors to the New York State Writers Institute whose books appear among the newly released "100 Notable Books of 2014" of the New York Times include:

Dinaw Mengestu, Rivka Galchen (who is in the office as we speak, but as a spouse), Lorrie Moore, Siri Hustvedt, Institute Fellow Lydia Davis, Joseph O'Neill (also here in the office at the moment), Louise Gluck, Akhil Sharma, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, Marilynne Robinson, Francine Prose, Colm Toibin, Susan Minot, James McPherson, Diane Ackerman, Gary Shteyngart and Elizabeth Kolbert.

Complete list here:

Picture: Rivka Galchen.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

50 Writers You Need to See Read Live

The hip and influential webzine Flavorwire posted a list yesterday of "50 Writers You Need to See Read Live." Not to sound smug or anything, but 20 of them have appeared at the New York State Writers Institute (although we have a very unfair advantage in that 2 of them are part of our "family").

One them of course is our own Bill Kennedy, NYSWI Founder and Executive Director. Another is Elisa Albert, who lives in Albany, and is married to NYSWI Writing Fellow Ed Schwarzschild.

The rest are regular NYS Summer Writers Institute visitor Paul Harding, as well as Gay Talese, Claire Messud, Colson Whitehead, Gary Shteyngart, Mary Gaitskill, Denis Johnson, Shalom Auslander, J. M. Coetzee, Marilynne Robinson, Sigrid Nunez, Sherman Alexie, Isabel Wilkerson, Charles Simic, Karen Russell, Chang-Rae Lee, James Salter, and Jonathan Ames.

Picture:  Mary Gaitskill.

Full list here:

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Richard Norton Smith, C-SPAN's "in-house historian"

Richard Norton Smith, who visits us on Thursday, 11/20, talks to the TU's Paul Grondahl about what it was like to wrestle with writing a monumental biography of Nelson Rockefeller for 14 years:

"His long slog on Rockefeller was less a case of writer's block and more of information overload, as he kept uncovering fresh material and boxes of Rocky's previously sealed archives were made available to Smith. Stressed to the max about the ballooning biography, Smith suffered two heart attacks on Nov. 30, 2010. 'I can't remember four or five days. Luckily, a neighbor got concerned and came to my apartment,' he recalled. 'He got me to the hospital right away, and they discovered I'd had a heart attack and there was a blood clot in my heart. I had another heart attack the next day.'"

More in the Times Union:

More about the upcoming events with Smith:

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Galway Kinnell, 1927-2014

Poet Galway Kinnell, who visited the NYS Writers Institute in the Spring of 1996, is dead at the age
of 87.

Here's the NY Times obit:

Galway Kinnell, who was recognized with both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for a body of poetry that pushed deep into the heart of human experience in the decades after World War II, died on Tuesday at his home in Sheffield, Vt. He was 87.
The cause was leukemia, his wife, Barbara K. Bristol, said.
Mr. Kinnell came of age among a generation of poets who were trying to get past the modernism of T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound and write verses that, as he said, could be understood without a graduate degree. He succeeded well enough that all of the volumes of poems he published from 1960 to 2008 — evocations of urban streetscapes, pastoral odes, meditations on mortality and frank explorations of sex — are still in print.
More in the Times:

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Tiphanie Yanique on the NY Times Op Ed Page

Virgin Islands author Tiphanie Yanique, who visited us last week, explores the unknowns of her grandmother's Puerto Rican childhood on the Op Ed page of Wednesday's  New York Times:

My grandmother was raised in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. She said the name, Vega Baja, meaning the “low plains,” with such romance that it was clear she longed for the place. In her stories she described a big house, and a farm where the children could eat the fruit from the trees and learned to milk a cow. Every Sunday after church they went to the beach. She taught herself to swim because the other children always played in the deep water and she hated being left behind.

More in the NY Times:

More about her visit with fellow first-time novelist Jacinda Townsend:

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lemon Andersen on the front page of the TU Preview section

Tony Award-winning hip hop poet Lemon Andersen, who visits UAlbany on Thursday, November 6th, will be the subject of several different events at the University over the course of the next three weeks.

Andersen is profiled on the front page of the Times Union "Preview" section by Connor Kelly:

Brooklyn wordsmith, artist and actor Lemon Andersen, 39, will be visiting the University at Albany next month, but the group he will resonate most with just might be high school students.

That's because Andersen, a high school dropout himself, believes in inspiring young people through his stories, just as stories he read while in prison inspired him. He hopes those in similar situations can escape the life of poverty and crime that he experienced firsthand.

The stories Andersen crafts, typically inspired by his experiences growing up and living in Brooklyn, take the form of performance-based spoken word poetry, with a focus on rhythm and storytelling.

"I don't do anything without teaching," said Andersen. "I'm teaching what I'm learning everywhere I go. For me, it's not a job, it's a lifestyle. I like being a rock star in the classroom; I like showing up with a strong curriculum — hopefully, it inspires alternatives.

More in the Times Union:

More about our events celebrating Lemon Andersen:

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