Monday, October 20, 2014

Ed Hirsch Interviewed in the Times Union

Poet Ed Hirsch visits tomorrow (10/21) to have a conversation about poetry with fellow poets Kimiko Hahn and Marie Howe. Hirsch is interviewed by Elizabeth Floyd Mair of the  Times Union about his new reference work on the art of poetry, A Poet's Glossary:

Q: You're a poet. What was it like for you to work for 15 years or so on this project of explaining in a concise yet thorough way such a huge array of poetic traditions?

A: It was a great pleasure, an offshoot of my vocation. I found working on "A Poet's Glossary" utterly absorbing. Of course, I also worked on other things during those 15 years — I had poems to write, a job to go to — but I always seemed to return to the glossary with renewed curiosity. I see the world of poets as a kind of extended family. I was always wondering what other members of the family were doing at different times in different parts of the world. Sometimes I was outraged, sometimes delighted. But I was always interested in what they were up to.

More in the Times Union:

More about the event:

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Contenders for the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature

Nearly 30% of the leading contenders for the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature (according to British betting giant, Ladbrokes, for what that's worth) have visited Albany under the sponsorship of the New York State Writers Institute.

They include frequent frontrunner Philip Roth; upstate New York native and Summer Writers Institute stalwart Joyce Carol Oates; Polish poet Adam Zagajewski; Chinese poet Bei Dao; Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah (who visited twice); Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood; Bronx novelist Don DeLillo (twice); Israeli novelist Amos Oz; American novelist Richard Ford (twice); Irish poet Paul Muldoon; Australian poet Les Murray; and Irish novelist Colm Toibin.

The Wall St. Journal discusses Ladbrokes' oddsmaking regarding the Nobel Prize in Literature here:

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Our John Lahr Event in the Times Union

In case you missed it, Paul Grondahl writes about our wonderful event on Wednesday 10/1 with John Lahr in the Times Union:

Biographer John Lahr Dishes on Tennessee Williams at the Writers Institute

Tennessee Williams once drew a pie chart depicting how he divided his time: 90 percent working, 9 percent fighting against lunacy and 1 percent socializing with friends.

The former New Yorker chief drama critic, John Lahr, dissects the workaholic and celebrated playwright in a monumental new biography, "Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh," a 784-page volume published on Sept. 22 by W.W. Norton.

It has received enthusiastic reviews. The Wall Street Journal called it "by far the best book ever written about America's greatest playwright" and literary insiders have already placed it on a list for National Book Award consideration.

More in the TU:

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Photo of the Day on the UAlbany Website

UAlbany students pose with Kirsten Gillibrand at our event in the Campus Center Ballroom on Saturday, September 27, presented by the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza and cosponsored by the NYS Writers Institute.
NY Senator Kirstin Gillibrand poses with UAlbany students, Marc Cohen (Vice President of UAlbany’s Student Association), Rose Avellino, Christina Mamone, Raymond Webb, Jr. at her recent visit to the University at Albany sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute to speak and promote her new book. 

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Praise for John Lahr's new book

John Lahr, who visits the Writers Institute this Wednesday, Oct. 1st,  receives high praise from some notable admirers for his new biography, Tennessee Williams:  Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (2014).

More about Lahr's upcoming visit:

‘Splendid beyond words. It would be hard to imagine a more satisfying biography.’Bill Bryson
‘Could this be the best theater book I’ve ever read? It just might be. Tennessee Williams had two great pieces of luck. Elia Kazan to direct his work and now John Lahr to make thrilling sense of his life’John Guare, author of Six Degrees of Separation, House of Blue Leaves, Atlantic City

This is a masterpiece about a genius. Only John Lahr, with his perceptions about the theater, about writers, about poetry and about people could have written this book. What a marvelous read, with brilliantly detailed research.’Helen Mirren

‘John Lahr’s magnificent biography…gathers material from a vast array of sources, including Williams’s diaries, poems, letters and the recollections of countless friends and colleagues,to trace how the personal and the creative lives interweave throughout the whole span of Williams’s oeuvre. The result is at once sensitive and magisterial, and it fulfils the ultimate test for a literary biography by convincing you that the works cannot be understood without it. Once you have read it, it becomes part of their meaning.’John Carey, lead review, Sunday London Times

‘This is by far the best book ever written about America’s greatest playwright. John Lahr, the longtime drama critic for the New Yorker, knows his way around Broadway better than anyone. He is a witty and elegant stylist, a scrupulous researcher, a passionate yet canny advocate… Hebrings us as close to Williams as we are ever likely to get.’J.D. McClatchy,Wall Street Journal

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Gillibrand's Event on Saturday

Here's Dennis Yusko's article in the Times Union on this past weekend's wonderful event with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the Ballroom of the UAlbany Campus Center:

Speaking at a book-signing in the University of Albany's Campus Center Ballroom, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand received hardy applause Saturday when she pledged to keep fighting to have military lawyers — not superiors — hear allegations of sexual abuse among service members. The author of "Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World" told nearly 300 people who bought her book that some victims of sexual assault in the military don't report the crimes because they do not trust military brass to properly investigate and punish suspects.

Gillibrand, 47, said removing military leaders from decision-making roles was crucial for objective investigations. She said she is committed to ensuring victims weren't blamed.

"That second betrayal is the thing they cannot overcome," the senator said.

Gillibrand spent more than an hour at the book signing and reading, which was sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. She answered questions from Marion Roach Smith, author of "The Memoir Project, A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text on Writing & Life." Seated and separated by a coffee table, the women discussed some of the major themes from "Off the Sidelines": female empowerment, politics, family.

More in the TU:

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The House Tour

Alison Lurie, who visits us on Thursday, September 18, is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist who applies her wit and insight to the meaning of ordinary architecture in her new book,  The Language of Houses (2014).

The book is reviewed by Kathleen Hirsch in the Boston Globe:

Lurie serves as able guide on an opening overview of basic architectural themes: style, scale, materials. Concepts such as formal and informal, open and shut, darkness and light, as well as the influences of foreign and regional idioms, become the building blocks on which she proceeds into her discussion of dwellings. We learn that the simple, unadorned, home intended to convey “green” values, often uses “old bricks and boards that in fact cost more than new ones,” while a suburban McMansion’s pricey entrance is coupled with cheap siding and exposed ductwork out back. She chronicles the evolution of the Colonial meeting house into Gothic worship sites that are mini-theaters with their raised altars, lavish pipe organs, and stage lighting. Gender differences abound: In homes and offices, men prefer what she calls “prospects”; women, “refuge.”

More in the Globe:

More about Lurie and upcoming events:

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