Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rita Moreno to receive SAG's Lifetime Achievement Award

Rita Moreno, star of stage and screen who visited the Writers Institute in October 2009, will receive the highest award of the Screen Actors Guild, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here's a picture of Moreno interacting with an Albany audience during the 14th Annual Burian Lecture, sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany’s Department of Theatre, and funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment.

More about the SAG Award: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-207_162-57594869/rita-moreno-to-receive-sag-lifetime-achievement-honor/

"No one is more deserving of this honor than the fabulous and accomplished Rita Moreno," SAG co-president Robert Reardon said in a press release. "[Moreno] is an inspiration in every effort, but never more so than with her civil rights activism, promoting equality and diversity while ushering in a more representative depiction of the American scene on screen."

More about Moreno's Albany visit:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/moreno_rita09.html

A YouTube clip of Moreno's Albany visit:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0t5Slf-tfQ#at=14

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Sasha Weiss on Henri Cole

Sasha Weiss of the New Yorker's Culture Desk gave a boost last summer to poet Henri Cole (who shares the stage tonight with Jamaica Kincaid in Saratoga).

In the "What We're Reading" feature she talked about Cole's 2011 book, Touch:

His latest book... is a collection of poems (mostly sonnets) that take up a mother’s slow death and a son’s mourning her, a cruel relationship with an addict and his subsequent overdose, sexual longing and degradation, family dysfunction, the killing of soldiers, loneliness, and the desire to escape from one’s life. Yet these are poems of inveterate gentleness (the word “soft” is repeated again and again) and “Touch” is a book one reads with dream-like urgency, as if “drinking water right out of the tap … lips on the faucet” as Cole writes in the poem “Shrike.” Why do we want to linger here, in Cole’s unsettled world? From what source do these poems draw their magnetic power?

More:  http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/06/what-were-reading-henri-cole.html

Full schedule of readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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Booker Prize Long List Announced

Three of the thirteen people on the 2013 Booker Prize Long List, which was announced today, are past visitors of the New York State Writers Institute.

Ruth Ozeki (pictured here) who visited in 2004:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/ozeki_ruth.html

Colm Toibin, who visited in 2001:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/toibincolm.html

And Collum McCann, who visited in 2003:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/mccann_colum.html

Full list here:  http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/longlist-2013-announced

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Jamaica Kincaid Reads Tonight

Jamaica Kincaids presents her new novel tonight in Saratoga.

Full schedule of readings here:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

Elizabeth Floyd Mair interviewed Kincaid about the novel, See Now Then, in Sunday's Times Union:

Q: The long sentences that are a trademark of your style — is that just the way that it first comes to you?

A: When I'm writing about the family in this book, for instance, I tend to condense all of the feelings of the ups and downs into one moment. I write out of that moment, and it seems to come in one sentence, or in one series of sentences that unfurl and refurl into themselves. The poet Derek Walcott once said to me that each of my sentences holds within it its own contradiction. When he said that, I was amazed, because it is true.

More:  http://www.timesunion.com/living/article/See-Now-Then-hits-close-to-home-4673216.php

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Friday, July 19, 2013

William Kennedy Reads Outtakes from "Legs" Tonight

You are invited to attend the following free event:

William Kennedy will present a reading of portions of his landmark Albany novel Legs tonight, featuring a variety of scenes that did not make it into the final draft.

The free reading is  at 8:00 p.m., Friday, 7/19, in Davis Auditorium in Palamountain Hall, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY.
Free and open to the public. For directions to Skidmore, call 518-580-5590.

Full series of free readings: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

More about Legs, a novel about Albany crime boss "Legs" Diamond, http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/wjk/legs.html

More about Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and Writers Institute Executive Director William Kennedy: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/wjk/biography.html

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Friday, July 12, 2013

On Horror: Stephen King reviews Joyce Carol Oates

Stephen King reviewed The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates (who reads tonight in Saratoga) this past May in the  New York Times Book Review:

“Joyce Carol Oates has written what may be the world’s first postmodern Gothic novel: E. L. Doctorow’s ‘Ragtime’ set in Dracula’s castle. It’s dense, challenging, problematic, horrifying, funny, prolix and full of crazy people. You should read it. I wish I could tell you more.”

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/books/review/the-accursed-by-joyce-carol-oates.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Full schedule of free readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Angry, female and refreshingly believable-- Claire Messud

Claire Messud, who talks with you about her work tomorrow, July 11, in Saratoga, is the author most recently of The Woman Upstairs (2013).
Elizabeth Day, writing in the London Observer, says "Claire Messud's latest narrator is angry, female and refreshingly believable.... It's difficult to think of any great novel by a woman that has at its heart an unapologetically furious female narrator who is not insane, thwarted or clinically depressed.... the real achievement of this novel is to imbue every chapter with thought-provoking questions surrounding the place of women in literature, society and – most importantly – their own minds. Female anger has never been so readable."

More of the review:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/may/25/woman-upstairs-claire-messud-review

Full schedule of free readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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Poet Jorie Graham: Imagining the Unimaginable

Pulitzer-winning poet Jorie Graham, who presents a free reading tomorrow in Saratoga Springs, talks to an interviewer about  the purpose of art:

"And what is art for then? What is dreaming for? What is the imagination supposed to do with its capacity to 'imagine' the end? Is the imagination of the unimaginable possible, and, perhaps, as I have come to believe, might it be one of the most central roles the human gift of imagination is being called upon to enact? Perhaps if we use it to summon the imagination of where we are headed— what that will feel like— what it will feel like to look back at this juncture— maybe we will wake up in time?"

Read more of Deidre Wengen's Phillyburbs.com interview on the Poets.org website: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20176

Full schedule of free readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

F. D. Reeve, Poet and Translator Dies

F. D. Reeve, poet, translator of Russian literature, and father of actor and disability activist Christopher Reeve has died.

NYS Writers Institute Director Donald Faulkner, a friend of Reeve, said, "Like the cat that he used as a mask in his later poems, Franklin Reeve had a boundless curiosity, an electric energy, and many lives.  As a poet, thinker, teacher, father, and friend he was fearless, fierce in his beliefs and his loyalties. His great, loving spirit abides."

Full obituary in the New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/books/f-d-reeve-poet-and-translator-dies-at-84.html?ref=obituaries

Reeve visited the Institute to present poetry and jazz in 2008:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/fdreeve_bluecat08.html

Here's a clip from his visit to the Institute:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSetkKNZoHA

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Bharati Mukherjee and Clark Blaise Tomorrow

"After a half-century and a winding continent-wide journey they never planned, Clark Blaise and Bharati Mukherjee are at the forefront of the new immigrant fiction"

Husband and wife authors Bharati Mukherjee and Clark Blaise, who share the stage tomorrow in Saratoga, are profiled together in the Toronto Globe and Mail in 2011:

"Closely chaperoned Bharati Mukherjee, 23, had never been alone in the same room with a man when she met Clark Blaise at the University of Iowa near the unanticipated end of the Kennedy presidency. Two weeks later, the two young writers were married."

"Almost 48 years after that, following dual careers in which the couple have published almost 30 books between them, two of them co-written and the latest two so intertwined they actually share some characters, the authors sit together in Toronto for their first-ever joint interview."

More in The Globe:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/clark-blaise-and-bharati-mukherjee-a-shared-literary-journey/article583203/

Complete schedule of free readings: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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Paul Harding Today, Surprise Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Paul Harding, surprise winner of the 2010 Pulitzer for Fiction (Tinkers) reads tonight in Saratoga.

From the PBS NewsHour, April 2010:  "This year's Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction was not a bestseller or a blockbuster. Its author was not a big name, and its publisher, too -- a small imprint called Bellevue Literary Press, run out of the NYU Medical School -- was basically unknown. The New York Times called it 'the one that got away,' meaning the paper had not reviewed it. But those who had, including the New Yorker and the Los Angeles Times, praised it."

"Paul Harding is the author of 'Tinkers,' a story about a man on his deathbed who remembers his New England upbringing, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction on Monday."

Interview on the PBS NewsHour:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/blog/2010/04/conversation-pulitzer-prize-winner-in-fiction-paul-harding.html

Schedule of free readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Poet Rosanna Warren in Saratoga Tomorrow

Rosanna Warren, daughter of poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren (All The King's Men), will read from her work tomorrow at Skidmore.

Full schedule of free readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

Warren visited us in Albany in 2011 to present the volume, Ghost in a Red Hat (2011), a collection of poems that “contemplate wreckage and sorrow” in family life, Hurricane Katrina, the Civil War, and the Trojan War. To a large extent, the collection represents a conscious effort to internalize and articulate the pain experienced by other people, both real and imagined. Warren asserts in one poem, “as long as the danger lived outside / me I couldn’t write it.”

More: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/warren_rosanna11.html

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This Week's Summer Reading Recommendations

3 out of 9 of Publishers Weekly's summer reading picks for the week of July 8th are new books by NYS Writers Institute visitors....

Chris Bohjalian, who brought out the Armenian community in droves this past April for The Sandcastle Girls:

"The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday) - An exploration of post-WWII Italy doubles as a murder mystery in this entertaining historical whodunit from Bohjalian (The Sandcastle Girls). In 1952 Florence, Francesca Rosati, a dress-shop worker, is brutally murdered by a killer who carves out her heart, and Detective Serafina Bettini is assigned to solve the homicide."

Howard Norman, regular visitor to the Summer Writers Institute, who reads again on July 25:

"I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place by Howard Norman (HMH) - In this luminous memoir, novelist Norman (The Bird Artist) recalls moments of 'arresting strangeness,' even in the midst of his quest to gain clarity and stay balanced emotionally. Norman writes of five places where he lived and the characters he met in each, providing him with an opportunity to reflect on his life. With a twinge of melancholy and a steely resolve not to let himself be moved or hurt, Norman regales us with his tale of lust, death (he inadvertently kills a swan on a local lake), and disappointment that mark his teenage summer of 1964 in Grand Rapids, Mich."

And Stacey D'Erasmo who visited us in 2009:

"The Art of Intimacy: The Space Between by Stacey D’Erasmo (Graywolf) - Part of Graywolf’s “Art of” series on the craft of writing, edited by Charles Baxter, this first work of nonfiction by novelist D’Erasmo (The Sky Below) examines the concept of intimacy and the ways this mysterious phenomenon has been conveyed by writers, visual artists, and filmmakers. D’Erasmo organizes the book into chapters based on the places where intimacy occurs, and the results are lucid and provocative."

More:  http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/58057-pw-picks-the-best-new-books-for-the-week-of-july-8-2013.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=27e6247d6a-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-27e6247d6a-304669825

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Historical Fiction Writer Adam Braver Today

Adam Braver, award-winning author of novels that reimagine the Kennedy assassination, the Lincoln presidency, and the lives of Marilyn Monroe and Sarah Bernhardt, will present a free reading tonight in Saratoga.

Full schedule of free events here: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

About the Kennedy novel, November 22, 1963, Publisher's Weekly said, "With a captivating mix of fact and fiction, Braver chronicles the events surrounding JFK’s assassination to moving effect . . . While the accumulation of small moments gives the book its weightiness, the stories of people peripherally associated with the assassination make the book sing . . . Braver reveals the tragedy of a national story that decades later can still be acutely felt."

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Joyce Carol Oates in a New Yorker video interview

"I'm not sure that I really have a personality...."

Joyce Carol Oates, who presents a free reading in Saratoga on July 12, gives an intimate video interview to the New Yorker on June 23, 2013.

All Readings are at 8:00 p.m. in Davis Audiorium, Palamountain Hall
Free and open to the public

Full schedule of free readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

New Yorker interview: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/06/video-joyce-carol-oates.html

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Phillip Lopate on the Art of the Essay

Major American essayist Phillip Lopate, who presents a free reading in Saratoga on Monday 7/8, has published two new books in 2013-- the collection, Portrait Inside My Head: Essays, and the writer's guide, To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction.

Morris Dickstein reviewed both in the New York Times in March:

"His gods are Montaigne, the father of the essay, whose field of research was his own mind, and William Hazlitt, who, besides being an incomparable literary critic, sketched vehement novelistic impressions of what no one else thought worth noticing, from boxing matches and Indian jugglers to 'the pleasure of hating.'"

More:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/books/review/essays-and-a-writers-guide-by-phillip-lopate.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Complete schedule of free readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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Robert Pinsky on the PBS News Hour

A July 4, 2001 appearance by poet Robert Pinsky (who presents a free reading today 7/5 in Saratoga) on the PBS NewsHour was reshared yesterday on that program's website.

Pinsky read some astonishing lines from a poem by Walt Whitman ("By Blue Ontario's Shore") that emphasize the importance of self-criticism in any true expression of patriotism-- of recognizing our country's failings so that we may work to improve and perfect it.

Also featured is Pinsky's July 4, 2002 reading of poet John Hollander's poem about fireworks, "Sparklers."


For a full schedule of free readings at the New York State Summer Writers Institute in Skidmore:

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hillary Clinton's 1969 Commencement Speech at Wellesley

Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate, who reads July 5th at the New York State Summer
Writers Institute in Saratoga, remembers Hillary Clinton's commencement speech at Wellesley, which he attended as a young poetry professor. The piece appeared yesterday in Slate:

"What was amazing, and not standard, was the gift for rising to an occasion: a political gift and a matter of talent surging toward its realization. As part of the prepared part of her speech, Hillary Rodham read a poem by a classmate, a composition also touchingly of that era. On that day in May, in other words, the notes that were struck may have been unremarkable, but the occasion was like hearing a very young, uniquely gifted musician play: something in the sheer, expressive command—a word used about athletes, as well as musicians—was extraordinary, unmistakable, and already formed."

More: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2013/07/hillary_clinton_wesleyan_commencement_speech_robert_pinsky_on_the_politician.html

Full schedule of free summer events:

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Anti-sentimental romance fiction, tomorrow

Binnie Kirshenbaum, who reads at Skidmore tomorrow, July 4th, is celebrated for depictions of romantic love relationships in fiction that are never idealized and anything but sentimental.

Here's the Daily Beast on her most recent novel, The Scenic Route (2009):

“.... Binnie Kirshenbaum’s clever, offbeat novel The Scenic Route is an antidote to all that soft-focus sentiment. This is indeed a woman-has-midlife-crisis-and-finds-romance-in-Italy story, but it is so resolutely unsentimental, even antisentimental, that you won’t be dialing Alitalia anytime soon. Instead of escapist fantasy, narrator Sylvia Landsman offers a reality check, sobering truths about family, regret, loss, history—in fact, she provides commentary on all kinds of subjects..... Just about the only thing she doesn’t serve up is a happy ending.”
The Daily Beast

Kirshenbaum shares the stage with award-winning poet, Frank Bidart.

Full schedule of free summer events:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

Kirshenbaum also chairs the Writing Department at Columbia University School of the Arts: http://arts.columbia.edu/faculty/binnie-kirshenbaum

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President of The Poetry Foundation Reads Today

Robert Polito, award-winning writer and poet, and new president of The Poetry Foundation (which boasts an astounding $200 million endowment from philanthropist Ruth Lilly), will present a free reading as part of the New York State Summer Writers Institute tonight. He will share the stage with novelist Ann Beattie.

Polito is also director of the writing program at The New School in Manhattan, and a past winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for his biography of pulp fiction writer Jim Thompson, Savage Art.

His latest book is the poetry-prose hybrid collection Hollywood and God (2013).

Here is the title poem, which starts "If only God would save me / I would know how to hurt you."


Full schedule of free readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Frank Bidart Reads on the Fourth of July

Here's a poem to contemplate during a fireworks (or firefly) display from Frank Bidart, award-winning poet who reads at the NYS Summer Writers Institute in Saratoga on July 4th:

The Third Hour of the Night
by Frank Bidart

When the eye

When the edgeless screen receiving

light from the edgeless universe

When the eye first

When the edgeless screen facing

outward as if hypnotized by the edgeless universe

When the eye first saw that it

Hungry for more light

resistlessly began to fold back upon itself TWIST

As if a dog sniffing

Ignorant of origins

familiar with hunger

As if a dog sniffing a dead dog....
Bidart has a new collection out, Metaphysical Dog (2013). Writing in the NY Times, Stephen Burt says, "Bidart writes through passion, but also through subtraction, leaving out all but the statements that seem essential to the soul, the desire, the wisdom or the memory at hand. The results, however austere, can be revelations: his poems are doors best opened with cautious attention — behind them you might even see yourself." More: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/books/review/metaphysical-dog-poems-by-frank-bidart.html?_r=0
The complete summer reading schedule here: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html. All events are free and open to the public.

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Ann Beattie, Asking Questions Without Answers

Ann Beattie, major novelist who reads to you tomorrow in Saratoga, tells the Paris Review in a 2011 interview:  "It took me years and years to realize a very simple thing, which is that when you write fiction you’re raising questions, and a lot of people think you’re playing a little game with them and that actually you know the answers to the questions. They read your question. They don’t know how to answer correctly. And they think that if they could only meet you personally and look into your eyes, you could give them the answers."

"At readings I’m quite often speechless, actually. I am really very happy that I am striking a nerve. But it’s when they take it a step further and think that I have the salve for the nerve I’ve hit, or that I have personally lived through that myself, and that therefore we have a common bond, ­because they have also lived through that—then I begin to realize that what is ­between me and other people isn’t kinship, but a kind of a gulf."

The New York State Summer Writers Institute presents Ann Beattie tomorrow, Wednesday, July 3rd.

All readings are at 8:00 p.m. in Davis Audiorium, Palamountain Hall, and are free and open to the public.

Full interview:  http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6070/the-art-of-fiction-no-209-ann-beattie

Full schedule of readings:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt today in Saratoga

The New York State Summer Writers Institute today, July 2, features a free reading with literary couple Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt.

All Readings are at 8:00 p.m. in Davis Audiorium, Palamountain Hall

Free and open to the public

Paul Auster recently visited the Institute with South African Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee to present their collected correspondence.

More on their visit here: 

A recent review of the book of letters here: http://www.theskinny.co.uk/latest/304732-here_now_selected_letters_20082011_paul_auster_jm_coetzee
Siri Hustvedt's most recent book is the essay collection, Living, Thinking, Looking (2012):

For the full schedule of readings in July:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/sumread.html

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