Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jealousy-- Silent Film This Friday

Pianist Mike Schiffer will provide live accompaniment for the silent film, Jealousy (1925), 7:30 p.m., Friday night, 4/29 at Page Hall.

For more on Mike Schiffer, visit his website. You can also catch him playing throughout the summer at various Berkshire venues including Blantyre in Lenox, MA, which received the 2011 Conde Nast Award for "Best Country House Hotel" in the U.S. and Canada.

Read More......

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Additions to Visiting Writers Series

We are pleased to invite you all to the following new event:

Andrew Foster Altschul and Jonathan Segura, novelists
May 3 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Humanities 354, Uptown Campus
Reading — 7:00 p.m., The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

Andrew Foster Altschul is a former UAlbany PhD student and author of the novels Lady Lazarus (2008) and Deus Ex Machina (2011). His short fiction and essays have appeared in publications including Esquire, McSweeney's, Ploughshares, Fence, One Story, StoryQuarterly, and anthologies such as Best New American Voices and O. Henry Prize Stories. A former music journalist and rock DJ, he is the Books Editor of The Rumpus and director of the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University. The story of a Survivor-style reality TV show gone dangerously awry, Deus Ex Machina has been receiving rave reviews since its publication earlier this year. The NPR reviewer called it, "Brilliant...One of the best novels about American culture in years."

Jonathan Segura, Deputy Reviews Editor at Publishers Weekly, is the author of Occupational Hazards (2008), the story of Bernard Cockburn, a troubled, thirty-something crime reporter for a weekly newspaper in Omaha, Nebraska. The Washington Post reviewer said, "[A] savagely funny first novel.... The beauty of [the book] is Segura's ability to walk a line between the comedy and the horror of Bernard Cockburn's story. He's a true louse and a world-class cynic, but he's a better man than the corrupt officials and vice lords he's out to nail. Plus he's one hell of a funny narrator."

Read More......

Monday, April 25, 2011

Elijah Anderson on NPR

Catch Elijah Anderson on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" earlier this month.

Anderson visits tomorrow, Tuesday 4/26.

Read More......

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Code of the Street: Elijah Anderson

Code of the Street (1999), Elijah Anderson's landmark study of urban etiquette in Philadelphia, is widely assigned as a college text. The book grew out of a 1994 cover story in The Atlantic.

An Atlantic interview about the book with Anderson (who visits Tuesday, April 26) appeared August 18, 1999:

Q: To what extent are the dynamics of inner-city life in Philadelphia representative of inner-city life throughout the nation?

A: Wherever there are pockets of poverty and alienation -- whether you're talking about Chicago or New York, Rio or Johannesburg -- you have the code of the street. As a social scientist I am trying to represent this reality as accurately as I can because I think it's very important to get the real story out. My concern in this work is to develop a model that allows for an understanding of Philadelphia that has implications for understanding similar places. To the extent that there are similar problems, there may be similar solutions. More.

Read More......

Cosmopolitan Canopy: Elijah Anderson

Elijah Anderson, leading sociologist of the Black urban experience, visits the Writers Institute this coming Tuesday, April 26, to talk about his new book, The Cosmopolitan Canopy (2011).

Sudhir Venkatesh gives an in-depth review in Slate:

"This is timely terrain, and it is sociology at its finest. There are few writers openly exploring this undercurrent of hostility and self-doubt experienced by a historically subjugated group that just managed to elect one of their own as president. Not since DuBois' impassioned declaration a century ago, that black Americans had a 'double consciousness,' have we seen such sharp use of social analysis for truth-telling." More.

Read More......

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Pulitzer Winners and Finalists

Congratulations to Jean Valentine, who was short-listed for this year's prize for her collection Break the Glass (2010). Valentine, who was named State Poet Laureate by the Writers Institute and the Governor of New York State in 2008, last visited us on November 16, 2010. Here's a YouTube clip.

Congratulations to past Writers Institute visitors Jennifer Egan for winning the prize in fiction, and to Eric Foner for winning the prize in history (Foner participated in the Institute's "Telling the Truth" symposium on nonfiction in 1991).

Chang-rae Lee, who visited in April 2010, appeared on the short list for fiction for his new novel, The Surrendered. Alan Brinkley, short-listed for biography, also participated in "Telling the Truth" two decades ago.

Read More......

Monday, April 11, 2011

Artificial Summers and the Talking Heads: Susan Choi

"Why had it never occurred to me that summer was for the outdoors, for nature, until I was more than 20 years old? Maybe because it wasn't — not in Houston, where I grew up.

Houston is fantastically unnatural, and its summer is the season for embracing all that is contrived, ameliorative and just plain fake about Houstonian life."

Susan Choi (who visits Thursday) talks about the air-conditioned artificial summers of her youth, and her teenage affinity for the music of the Talking Heads, in a 2004 New York Times article preserved on the website of the Talking Heads' David Byrne.

Read More......

Good Intentions Taken to Extremes: Susan Choi

Novelist Susan Choi, who visits Rensselaer (RPI) on Thursday, talks to the TU's Susan Comninos about her attraction to episodes of social upheaval in recent American history:

"I've always been interested in social justice movements," she says in a telephone interview, "in good intentions taken to extremes." She fed her interest by earning an M.F.A. in fiction writing at Cornell University, where the counterculture still reigns: "I have at once a fondness and horror of that kind of college town. There's a kind of thought-police going on: a monoculture of liberal-progressive politics, recycling -- trying to resurrect the barter system," she says, referring to an alternative business practice launched there in the '90s.

"At the time, I thought," says Choi, whose humor belies her dark subject matter, "'Aww! That's so sweet. They're trying to do away with currency. Good luck with that.'"

Read More......

Why She Doesn't Write Novels

Award-winning poet Rosanna Warren (who visits tomorrow, April 12) explains to literary blogger Louis Mayeux why she doesn't write novels:

"I wrote stories all through my teens, and dug myself fairly deep into a novel the year after graduating from college. But in the middle of that story, I quite suddenly realized — after reading Gertrude Stein's 'Ida'— that I had no idea what I was doing. I stopped it cold. Now I write fiction only in my dreams. I could no more write a novel than I could build a 747 in the back yard. One of my main qualms about fiction was my panicky sense that I didn't know how to move my characters through the door from one room to another. It seemed too laborious." More.

Read More......

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Poem for Spring in Albany

Rosanna Warren's new poetry volume, Ghost in a Red Hat (2011), contains a long poem, "Earthworks," that pays homage to the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York City's Central Park, and of Albany's Washington Park:

....The Park The Central
Park The central idea that all--

ward heelers, dandies, urchins, freed slaves, desperadoes,
gents and ladies, the halt, the swift, the lame--
might come, might be drawn forth in courtesy, might

harmonize Democracy is space in which we flow....

Read More......

Rosanna Warren on Arthur Rimbaud

Poet Rosanna Warren, who visits the Writers Institute on Tuesday, April 12, talks about Rimbaud's revolutionary impact on the art of poetry in The Atlantic, October 21, 2008:

"[H]e radically reinvented the idea of love, even as he pioneered two major experimental forms of poetry, the prose poem and free verse (vers libre).

By the time he was nineteen, this astonishing adolescent had mastered and then assaulted the classical beauty of the Alexandrine line—the central building block of French verse—and he had broken through into realms of erotic and psychic experience for which his culture scarcely had no language. So he invented one." More.

Read More......

Ben Katchor in downtown Albany this Sunday

MacArthur Award-winning cartoonist Ben Katchor will give a free slideshow presentation at the Albany Institute of History and Art this weekend (Sunday at 2PM).

Katchor's newest collection, The Cardboard Valise, was published last month (the book comes in rather unusual cardboard valise-shaped package).

Adam Sternbergh of the New York Times said: "[T]he appearance of a new Katchor collection is always reason to celebrate, so let’s start celebrating.... Katchor is a true, rare, untarnished New York treasure — the kind of artist who can concoct a fantastical made-up world, but one that ensures you’ll never see the real world in quite the same way again." More.

Read More......

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shanly on the TU Movies Blog

C. J. Lais has an ethusiastic piece about John Patrick Shanley's visit later today on the Times Union's Movies Blog: "Suppose you write a play that wins the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, then adapt that work into a screenplay to a film that you direct to five Academy Awards. Think you might be qualified to speak about writing and movies? Say hello to John Patrick Shanley, creator of “Doubt.” Literally, say hello to him today at the University at Albany when he gives an afternoon seminar and an evening lecture as part of the New York State Writers Institute Spring 2011 Visiting Writers Series." More.

Read More......

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

TU interview with John Patrick Shanley

Elizabeth Mair's interview with John Patrick Shanley, who visits the Writers Institute on Wednesday April 6, appeared in Sunday's Times Union.

Picture: Shanley with Meryl Streep at a screening party for Doubt at the Motion Pictures Academy.

Mair /Times Union: You've said that your childhood in the Bronx involved "constant fistfights." Why was that?

A: It was an Irish and Italian neighborhood -- probably more Irish than Italian -- and the Irish like to fight.

Q: Yourself included?

A: I was in fistfights from the time that I was 6 years old. Usually a couple of times a week. It was like a job.

Q: What would you fight for?

A: I was fighting to defend myself, for the most part. I didn't start spontaneously hitting people until later. Until I was about 15, I had to be hit first.

Q: In your Oscar acceptance for "Moonstruck," you thanked all the people who had ever punched or kissed you --

A: "Everybody who ever punched me or kissed me, and everybody who I ever punched or kissed."

Q: I understand the kiss part, but why the punch part?

A: Well, it's contact. It's somebody reaching out to you -- or for you. And it's a form of sincerity. More.

Read More......

John Patrick Shanley Visits Tomorrow

Here's a great New York Times profile from 2008 of Oscar and Tony-winner John Patrick Shanley (who visits the Writers Institute, Wednesday April 6, 2011): "A former marine and the son of an Irish immigrant father from County Westmeath, he has a lot of other prosaic credits in his résumé, including working as a locksmith, a bartender and an elevator operator. He is, in conversation and approach, very much a product of the kind of hard-knocks Roman Catholic primary school that frames the moral dilemma of 'Doubt.'" More. Shanley will deliver the 15th Annual Burian Lecture cosponsored by the Theatre Department and the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endownment.

Read More......

UAlbany Alum Stephen Adly Guirgis on Broadway

Playwright and UAlbany alum Stephen Adly Guirgis, frequent collaborator with Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, and one of the leading dramatists of his generation, makes his Broadway debut with the new play, "The Motherf****r with the Hat," which opens April 11th at the Gerald Shoenfeld Theatre. Guirgis visited the Writers last April 12, 2010. Here's a video clip.

Read More......