Friday, March 28, 2014

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Happy Reading,

The NYS Writers Institute Staff

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Reading others’ works energizes Julia Glass

"I love it when I start a book that is so good that all I want to do is get back to my own writing, in a competitive way. Really good reading accelerates and feeds the writing for me...."

Julia Glass, National Book Award Winner who visits us on Thursday April 3 is profiled this month in the Boston Globe:

More about her upcoming visit:

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Writers' Residencies on Amtrak Trains

Yes, you read that correctly....

"The wheels have begun moving on Amtrak’s plan to offer writers a rolling residency aboard their trains. On Monday the company announced that up to 24 writers, chosen from a pool of applicants, will be given a round-trip ticket on a long-distance train, including a private sleeper-car room with a bed, a desk, and electrical outlets. The trains promise the romance. The writers will have to do the rest."

More in the New York Times:

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Front Page of NY Times Book Review: Dinaw Mengestu

Dinaw Mengestu, who visited us on March 13 to present his new novel All Our Names, landed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review this past Sunday.

Malcolm Jones writes:  "The victories in this beautiful novel are hard fought and hard won, but won they are, and they are durable."

More in the NY Times Book Review:

More about Mengestu's visit:

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Friending a Sociopath: Walter Kirn

Elizabeth Floyd Mair interviews Walter Kirn (who visits tomorrow) in the Times Union:

Q: You write in your book a lot about the idea that you "collaborated" with Rockefeller in your own con.

A: Right. When he told me something that didn't add up, or when he seemed to be bragging in a way that didn't seem credible, I would excuse him, I would make up stories to myself about why he might be doing it.

More in the TU:

More about Kirn's visit:

Picture: Con artist, murderer and kidnapper "Clark Rockefeller" at his 2008 arraignment in Boston for kidnapping.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Walter Kirn Interviews Himself in the NY Times

Walter Kirn, who visits the Institute on Tuesday, 3/25, presents a comic and self-deprecating, but incisive profile of himself in Wednesday's New York Times.

"Mr. Kirn’s prickliness and flashes of arrogance seem to disguise a basic insecurity that may explain why he longed for the approval of a con man posing as a blue blood."

More in the Times:

More about Kirn's visit:

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Walter Kirn today on CBS This Morning

Walter Kirn, who visits Albany next week (!), talks with Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell about his friendship with con artist and murderer Clark Rockefeller, today on CBS This Morning:

Kirn will be featured again on 48 Hours this Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT

See Walter Kirn LIVE this coming Tuesday at UAlbany:

Walter Kirn, journalist, and fiction and nonfiction writer
March 25 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Walter Kirn is the author of the new nonfiction book Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade (2014), about the author’s 10-year “friendship” with Clark Rockefeller, the serial con artist and murderer. Currently serving a life sentence, Rockefeller was convicted of a 1985 killing in 2009. Kirn is the National Correspondent for the New Republic, where he covers “politics and culture and their convergence.” His books include the memoirs, My Mother’s Bible (2013) and Lost in the Meritocracy (2009), and the novels, Up in the Air (2001), and Thumbsucker (1999) that were made into major films.
(See Classic Film Series schedule March 7 listing for screening of UP IN THE AIR)

More about Kirn:

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Rescheduled: Grayce Burian Book Signing 4/1

Book Signing
Grayce Susan Burian, Actor, author and theatre professor
April 1st (Tuesday)
Booking signing — 3:00 p.m., Science Library Room 340
UAlbany Uptown Campus

Grayce Susan Burian, actor, author, theatre professor, and key figure of the UAlbany and Capital Region theater arts communities, will sign copies of her new book, From Jerry to Jarka:  A Breezy Memoir of a Long, Peripatetic Marriage, about her 54-year marriage to Jarka Burian, the primary Western scholar of Czech theatre and long-time Theatre Professor at UAlbany. Among other things, the book recounts their many exciting sojourns in Czechoslovakia at various times over a period of several decades, their friendships with Vaclav Havel and other dissidents, and their first-hand experiences of political turmoil, invasion, unrest, revolution and social change.

Note: This event has been rescheduled from March 12th because of weather.

For more information contact the Writers Institute at 442-5620.

More about Grayce Burian:

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

David Sloan Wilson addresses Albany theologians

David Sloan Wilson, evolutionary biologist who participated in our "God vs. Science" debate in April 2007 with Pulitzer winning science journalist Natalie Angier, will speak at the Capital Region Theological Center, April 25 and 26, 2014.

More about the upcoming event:

More about God vs. Science in 2007:

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George Saunders wins Folio Prize

George Saunders, bestselling short story writer who visited us in February 2013, has won the prestigious Folio Prize in England.

Full press release here:

More about his visit here:

Time magazine called Saunders, "The best short story writer in English – not ‘one of’, not ‘arguably’, but the Best."
Saunders is a vaguely familiar face from the early days of the Writers Institute when his wife had a fellowship to study here with Toni Morrison:

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Julia Glass Picks Favorite Children's Books

National Book Award winner Julia Glass, who visits us on Thursday, April 3rd, picks her favorite underrated children's books in   Entertainment Weekly.

Here are two out of ten:

Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton: “For the precocious science nerd, page past the can-do life lesson of Burton’s Mike Mulligan to Life Story, a proscenium-stage drama that travels through time from the birth of the sun to human existence the way it looked about fifty years ago.”

Uncle Elephant by Arnold Lobel: (Pictured) “Frog and Toad can laugh at the Caldecotts; they’ve been on Broadway. Equally enchanting among Arnold Lobel’s characters, however, is Uncle Elephant, a perfect novel in miniature.”

More in EW:

More about Julia's upcoming visit:

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Rave Reviews for Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn

Here are some reviews for the rising bestseller Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn, who visits us this coming Tuesday, March 25th:

"A Top Ten Book of Winter 2014" --USA Today

"In this smart, real-life psychological thriller, the fake Rockefeller is a zombie Gatsby and Kirn the post-apocalyptic Fitzgerald." --Nina Burleigh, The New York Times Book Review
"One of the most honest, compelling and strangest books about the relationship between a writer and his subject ever penned by an American scribe…Each new revelation comes subtly, and each adds to the pathetic and creepy portrait of Clark Rockefeller as a vacuous manipulator…The ending of 'Blood Will Out' is at once deeply ambiguous and deeply satisfying. By then, Kirn has looked into the eyes of a cruel, empty man - and learned a lot about himself in the process." --Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times

"Engrossing… A haunting, pained and terrifically engaging self-interrogation… That's what makes great memoirs - which this one is - so interesting...." --Charles Finch, Chicago Tribune
"Riveting and disturbing, Blood Will Out is a mélange of memoir, stranger-than-fiction crime reporting and cultural critique. The literary markers run the gamut from James Ellroy's My Dark Places, and Fyodor Doestoevsky's Crime and Punishment to Patricia Highsmith's Ripley trilogy and Strangers on a Train. Kirn's self-lacerating meditations on class, art, vanity, ambition, betrayal and delusion elevate the material beyond its pulpy core." --Larry Lebowitz, Miami Herald

"Fascinating…The story of Blood Will Out is one of cosmic ironies and jaw-dropping reversals….What makes Blood Will Out so absorbing is its teller more than its subject. Kirn's persona is captivating-funny, pissed off, highly literate, and self-searching. He's also an elegant, classic writer….Add the highly readable, intricately told Blood Will Out to the list of great books about the dizzying tensions of the writing life and the maddening difficulty of getting at the truth." --Amity Gaige, Slate

More about the upcoming events: 

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Newly Added Event-- Journalist Stephen Kinzer 4/7

You are invited to attend the following free event:

Stephen Kinzer, bestselling nonfiction author

April 7 (Monday)

Discussion — 7:30 p.m., [Note early start time] Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus


Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent, formerly with the New York Times, and a bestselling author of books on American foreign policy in Central America, Rwanda, Turkey, and Iran. His newest book is The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (2013), which recounts how the two powerful men helped to shape America’s zealously anti-Communist foreign policy in the 1950s.


The Washington Post reviewer called The Brothers, “a bracing, disturbing and serious study of the exercise of American global power.” The book was named a “Best Book of the Year” by the Atlantic and Kirkus Reviews.


Cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute; Women Against War; UAlbany’s History, Political Science, and Judaic Studies Departments, and Journalism Program; and UAlbany Peace Action.


For more about Stephen Kinzer:


For more information, contact the NYS Writers Institute at 442-5620 or by email at You can also visit our blog at or like us on Facebook.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Short Essay Contest, Deadline April 15th

You are invited to enter the first New York State “Poetry Unites” short essay contest.

Open to all New York State residents for the best short essay (no longer than 600 words) about your favorite poem
After a successful six-year run in Europe, the Poetry Unites contest, inspired by Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem project, has come to New York State.
Marie Howe, the New York State Poet (appointed by Governor Cuomo under the sponsorship of the New York State Writers Institute), and Corinne Evens, a philanthropist, in co-ordination with the Academy of American Poets, the New York State Writers Institute, and the New York State Office of Cultural Education, are pleased to announce a contest for the best short essay about a favorite poem. The contest is open to all New York State residents.
·         The four winners of the main prize will be featured in short film profiles, which will be placed on the Academy of American Poets website, New York State Library website, New York State Writers Institute website, and may be broadcast in the USA by Public Television .
·         All winners will be invited to NYC gala in October 2014. The invitation will cover travel expenses within New York State.
Picture:  Walker Hancock's bust of Robert Frost.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Treasures from the Archive: Barbara Kingsolver

Major American novelist Barbara Kingsolver visited the Writers Institute in the spring of 1992, and was also interviewed by the late Tom Smith, Institute Director, for the WAMC Book Show, April 16, 1992.

Here's an excerpt from that interview:
Kingsolver: People also have asked the question if I write women’s books or to put it in the way a student asked me, “Is The Bean Trees a chick book?” I guess it is because most of the characters seem to be women but the thing is I’ve read so many white guy books in my life and it had never even occurred to me that those people in the books were white men. Lawrence of Arabia, the film, comes to my mind. I remember after I saw the film, a friend said, “Did you notice that there were no women in that movie?” We get accustomed to what literature is and literature is about a man and a great white whale. But it seems to me that what happened between two women in a kitchen can be just as interesting and just as heroic in its way as what happens between a man and a great white whale. It just happens that I know much more about what happens between two women in a kitchen than I do about whales. I think I’m on safer territory writing about the people I know.
Picture:  Kingsolver posing with locally grown leeks and asparagus in the San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 2, 2008, in an article on the locavore movement.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Steve Hartman's Translation of Sleet Nominated for Prize

Sleet, a collection of stories by major Swedish author Stig Dagerman (1923-1954), translated into English by former NYS Writers Institute graduate assistant Steve Hartman, has been longlisted for the 2014 Best Translated Book Award.
Hartman visited us last October for a celebration of Stig Dagerman, who committed suicide in 1954 at the age of 31. The celebration was also attended by Lo Dagerman, Stig's daughter with Swedish movie star Anita Björk.

Picture: Stig Dagerman.

More about the award nomination:

More about the Celebration of Stig Dagerman in October 2013:

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Maurice Walsh, author of The Quiet Man

The Kerry Writers Museum in Kerry, Ireland has a web page dedicated to Maurice Walsh, author of "The Quiet Man," the basis of the John Ford movie to be screened at Page Hall on Friday.

"Maurice Walsh was born in Ballydonoghue on 2 May 1879. He was the third child of ten and the first son born to John Walsh, a local farmer, and his wife Elizabeth Buckley who lived in a three-roomed thatched farmhouse. John Walsh’s main interests were books and horses and he himself did little about the farm, preferring to have a hired man. The most famous of these was Paddy Bawn Enright, whose name was to be immortalised by Maurice Walsh in his story The Quiet Man (though the name was not used in the movie version). John Walsh passed on to his son not only a love of books but also legends and folk tales and the theory of place that were later to be a feature of many of Maurice’s books."


More about the Classic Film Series:

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Lydia Davis profiled in this week's New Yorker

Lydia Davis, NYS Writers Institute Writing Fellow, is profiled in the March 17th issue of the New Yorker.

"Somewhere in the files of General Mills is a letter from the very-short-story writer Lydia Davis. In it, Davis, who is widely considered one of the most original minds in American fiction today, expresses dismay at the packaging of the frozen peas sold by the company’s subsidiary Cascadian Farm. The letter, like many things that Davis writes, had started out sincere and then turned weird. Details grew overly specific; a narrative, however spare, emerged. “The peas are a dull yellow green, more the color of pea soup than fresh peas and nothing like the actual color of your peas, which are a nice bright dark green,” she wrote. “We have compared your depiction of peas to that of the other frozen peas packages and yours is by far the least appealing. . . . We enjoy your peas and do not want your business to suffer. Please reconsider your art.” Rather than address her complaint, the company sent her a coupon for Green Giant."

More in the New Yorker:

Davis (who poses frequently with cats) speaks on Wednesday, April 16 at Rensselaer (RPI):

Lydia Davis, short story author and translator
April 16 (Wednesday)
Reading and McKinney Writing Contest Award Ceremony — 8:00 p.m., Biotech Auditorium, Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Rensselaer (RPI), Troy

Lydia Davis, winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, will read from her newest story collection, Can’t and Won’t (2014). Masterpieces in miniature, the stories feature complaint letters, reflections on dreams, and small dilemmas. Davis has been called “one of the quiet giants of American fiction” (Los Angeles Times Book Review), and “one of the best writers in America” (Oprah’s O Magazine). Her previous collections include The Collected Stories (2009), Varieties of Disturbance (2007), Samuel Johnson is Indignant (2001), Almost No Memory (1997) and Break it Down (1986).

Sponsored in conjunction with RPI’s Vollmer W. Fries Lecture and the 73rd McKinney Writing Contest and Reading
For directions see:

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Author Joe McGinniss Dies

Joe McGinniss, one of the creators and most influential authors of the "true crime" genre, is dead at age 71.

McGinniss visited the Writers Institute at UAlbany in November 2007 to present his true crime book, Never Enough.

Obituary in the New York Times:

A remembrance in the New Yorker:

McGinniss also wrote the major nonfiction bestseller, The Selling of the President, 1968 (1969), a pioneering study of the role of marketing in Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign.

More about his visit to Albany:

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Christopher Durang and Grayce Burian last night

Here's a photo of 2013 Tony Award-winning playwright Christopher Durang and Grayce Burian at
the 18th Annual Burian Lecture last night.

Durang cracked up the audience with (among other things) a reading of excerpts from a new parody of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.

The Burian Lecture is funded by Grayce Burian through the Jarka & Grayce Susan Burian Endowment.  (Thank you Grayce for another lovely evening!).
Weather willing, on Wednesday (tomorrow), March 12, 2014,  Grayce Burian herself will sign copies of her new book, From Jerry to Jarka: A Breezy Memoir of a Long, Peripatetic Marriage, at 3:00 p.m. in Science Library Room 340, on the UAlbany Uptown Campus.


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Monday, March 10, 2014

From Africa to America: Dinaw Mengestu

Elizabeth Floyd Mair profiles Dinaw Mengestu (who visits us on Thursday) in the Times Union.

Q: How did the idea for this book come to you? Did you need to do any mapping out in advance of what would happen?

A: I began this novel while finishing my second book. It started off with a simple image/idea — a group of young friends on a college campus somewhere in Africa just after independence. I thought the story would remain there, and since I had no plan, or map for it, I had to work out the rest of the narrative slowly over the several years.

More in the Times Union:

More about Mengestu's visit:

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2013 Tony Winner Christopher Durang in the Gazette

Bill Buell of the Schenectady Gazette profiles Christopher Durang who visits UAlbany today:

As a young boy, Christopher Durang had no interest in short stories or novels. His passion was to write for the stage.

“When I was 8 I announced to my mother that I was going to write a play,” said Durang, whose latest work, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.

“Well, I kept on writing them and they kept on getting made. I always wrote plays, and I don’t quite know why. I think it might have been because my mother loved the theater and was always talking about it.”

More in the Gazette:

More about Durang's visit:

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Christopher Durang in the Times Union

Steve Barnes profiles playwright and humorist Christopher Durang in Sunday's Times Union. Durang visits the Writers Institute today!

Picture: Durang accepting his 2013 Tony for "Best Play" at the Tony Award ceremonies.

From the Times Union: 

The playwright Christopher Durang had an epiphany while making up new lyrics for a nursery rhyme in his 1983 play "Baby with the Bathwater."

"When I finished, I realized they were," he says, pausing, "nice I thought, 'Oh, that's oddly positive for me.'"

Durang, who's written comedies including "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You" (1979), "The Actor's Nightmare" and "Beyond Therapy" (both 1981), "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" (1985), "Laughing Wild" (1987) and "Betty's Summer Vacation" (1999), isn't known for nice. He's known for outrageous and absurd and biting, for sure, but nice? That surprised him.

More in the TU:

More about Durang's visit today:

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Our Poet Laureate of the Absurd-- Christopher Durang

Christopher Durang, who visits us on Monday 3/10, is crowned "Poet Laureate of the Absurd" in a New York Observer review of his 2009 play, Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them.

"It’s very good news that Christopher Durang, our Poet Laureate of the Absurd, has written a smashing new play. Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them at the Public Theater is a black farce that’s essentially about, well, torture, and a peculiar brand of American paranoia and bigotry—and I haven’t had such fun at the theater since the recent revival of Mr. Durang’s fable about his own dysfunctional childhood, The Marriage of Bette and Boo."

More in the Observer:

More about Durang's visit:

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Carolyn Yalkut's New Play, "Everywoman"

You are invited to a staged reading of UAlbany Professor Carolyn Yalkut’s new play, “Everywoman,” on Thursday, April 3rd at 7:30 pm in the Performing Arts Center on the UAlbany Uptown Campus.

Should a woman’s life stop just because she’s giving birth? Time and space collide in WAM Theatre’s staged reading of Carolyn Yalkut’s one-act play that debates global as well as personal catastrophe in women’s lives everywhere. The classic quandary of being a woman is explored in this light-hearted, innovative and poignant tragicomedy that reaches across generations.

The play was developed during a fellowship and multiple residencies by the playwright at the Norman Mailer Writers Colony in Provincetown, MA.

Professor Yalkut teaches numerous courses at UAlbany in association with the NYS Writers Institute Visiting Writers Series.

Advance tickets: $5 general public , $3 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff Call (518) 442-3997 to reserve.

Day of show tickets: $8 general public , $6 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff

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Up in the Air Film Screening

We'll be screening Up in the Air starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, on Friday night 3/7, 7:30 pm at Page Hall. The film received more than 70 award nominations, including a Golden Globe for "Best Screenplay."

The screening is intended to whet your appetite for a 3/25 visit with author Walter Kirn, who wrote the novel on which it is based.

More about our film series:

A rave review of the film from Pete Travers of Rolling Stone:

More about Walter Kirn's upcoming visit:

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Literary Friendship Spanning 5 Decades

Bill Kennedy's long friendship with E. L. Doctorow (who visited 2/27) is the subject of an article by Paul Grondahl in the  Times Union:

"They are both in their 80s now, William Kennedy and E.L. Doctorow, two acclaimed American novelists whose literary friendship spans 50 years, three dozen books, a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, four National Book Critics Circle awards and a shelf of other prestigious fiction prizes between them."

"The two met in 1968 when Doctorow, an editor at The Dial Press, acquired Kennedy's first novel, The Ink Truck, a metaphysical tale loosely based on a 1964 newspaper strike at the Times Union, where Kennedy worked as a reporter...."

More in the TU:

More about Doctorow's visit:

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dinaw Mengestu's New Novel in the NY Times

In yesterday's NY Times, Michiko Kakutani reviews All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu, who visits us on Thursday, March 13:

Dinaw Mengestu’s deeply moving new novel, “All Our Names,” takes place in the early 1970s in two worlds that could not be farther apart: a quiet, semirural town named Laurel in the American Midwest, and Kampala, the capital of Uganda, where bright hopes of independence have given way to violence, corruption and brutal government crackdowns. The young African man who transits these two worlds is named Isaac — or at least that is the name on the passport he carries. He has arrived in Laurel with a one-year student visa and is introduced to a social worker named Helen, who is supposed to be “his chaperone into Middle America — his personal tour guide of our town’s shopping malls, grocery stores, banks and bureaucracies.”

More in the Times:

More about Mengestu's upcoming visit:

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Pulitzer Winner Gil King Returns to Niskayuna High

Gil King, graduate of Niskayuna High School, returned to his hometown on Monday to talk with high school students. King, who visited the Writers Institute in September 2013, received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, The Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, an elegantly written account of the future Supreme Court Justice’s role in defending four black men falsely accused of raping a white woman in Florida in 1949.

Bill Buell of the Schenectady Gazette reports:

     [King] was thrilled that so many students seemed interested and excited by their interaction with a Pulitzer Prize winner.He conceded a similar situation probably wouldn’t have interested him when he was in high school.
     “Yeah, I would have checked out mentally of something like this back then,” he said. “But everybody seemed to be paying attention and that was nice. They asked a lot of questions, and some were very passionate and I love that. I was shocked. I can’t believe how much time I let pass in high school without paying attention to anything.”

More in the Gazette:

More about King's visit:

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Monday, March 3, 2014

New Event: Grayce Burian on Wednesday 3/12


Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Book Signing, 3:00 p.m.
Science Library, Room 340, University at Albany uptown campus

Grayce Susan Burian, actor, author, theatre professor, and key figure of the UAlbany and Capital Region theater arts communities, will sign copies of her new book, From Jerry to Jarka:  A Breezy Memoir of a Long, Peripatetic Marriage, about her 54-year marriage to Jarka Burian, the primary Western scholar of Czech theatre and long-time Theatre Professor at UAlbany. Among other things, the book recounts their many exciting sojourns in Czechoslovakia at various times over a period of several decades, their friendships with Vaclav Havel and other dissidents, and their first-hand experiences of political turmoil, invasion, unrest, revolution and social change.

Full text of the event flyer:
Grayce Susan Burian
Grayce Susan Burian, actor and theatre scholar, is the author of the new book, From Jerry to Jarka: A Breezy Memoir of a Long, Peripatetic Marriage (2013), about her 54-year marriage to Jarka Burian, the primary western scholar of Czech theatre, and long-time Theatre Professor at the University at Albany. Among other things, the memoir recounts the couple’s numerous extended stays in Czechoslovakia (and later, the Czech Republic) over a period of several decades from the 1960s to the 2000s, as that country experienced dramatic political upheavals and cultural transformations.
After spending long periods in Czechoslovakia throughout the 1960s, the Burians happened to arrive in Prague just days after the Soviet Bloc invasion in 1968 and remained there during the course of that fateful year. In her memoir, Grayce Burian bears witness to the determination of the Czech people— writing about the student protests, the immolation of Jan Palach, and meetings with dissident artists including Václav Havel that she and Burian experienced. Their research travels also included other European countries and China, enabling Grayce Burian to consider the different communist regimes in which they lived as well as echoes of the Nazi occupation— a Jewish friend remembering her escape from a Nazi camp, a young German struggling to reconcile his heritage, and the Burians themselves staying in Hitler’s private suite in Wrocław, Poland.  The Burians were also in Prague immediately following the 1989 Velvet Revolution and were ideally placed to view the changes, good and bad, in process.  In 2002, they were living in Old Town when the Vltava flooded, devastating large parts of Prague.
The book also chronicles the Burians’ experiences as actors in New York City (where they met while performing in an off-Broadway play in the 1950s), their long teaching careers in Albany and Schenectady, and their extensive involvement in helping to build the theatre community of the Capital Region.
Grayce Burian earned her B.A. (1963) and M.A. (1964) in Theatre from the University at Albany. She is a Professor Emerita at Schenectady County Community College, where she served for 21 years as director of the Theatre Program, which she founded and nurtured into one of the most successful two-year theatre programs in New York State. She has also taught theatre courses at the University at Albany, The College of Saint Rose and Hudson Valley Community College. At UAlbany, she sits on the Executive Board of the Emeritus Center, and also serves as that organization’s Hospitality Director. She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the community theatre group, Theater Voices.
In order to advance the study and celebration of theatre in the Capital Region, Grayce and her husband founded the Jarka & Grayce Susan Burian Endowment, which funds the annual Burian Lecture Series of the New York State Writers Institute and the University at Albany Department of Theatre. Beginning in 1997, this yearly event has brought leading scholars and practitioners of the art of the theatre to the UAlbany campus. Past visitors have included Colman Domingo, John Sayles, John Patrick Shanley, Rita Moreno, A. R. Gurney, Michael Mayer, Wallace Shawn, Ruby Dee, Harold Gould, and many others. Tony-winning playwright Christopher Durang is this year’s featured lecturer (March 10, 2014).
The late Jarka Burian, who taught at UAlbany from 1955 to 1993, was the author of numerous scholarly works, including the award-winning book The Scenography of Josef Svoboda, a seminal study of the work of one of the 20th century’s most influential stage designers, and of the landmark study, Modern Czech Theatre: Reflector and Conscience of a Nation (2000).
For more information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620

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Poetic Provocateur: Celebrating Pierre Joris

Elizabeth Floyd Mair of the Times Union interviews Pierre Joris (who visits Wed. 3/5 for 3 events):

Q: You write poetry in English, which — astonishingly — is not your first language, and you advocate moving away from "the prison-house of the mother-tongue" toward the "other tongue," or the recognition that "all languages are foreign." Can you tell me about this?

A: By luck of birth I come from a multilingual culture: Letzeburgesch [Editor's note: Letzeburgesch is a Germanic dialect widely spoken in Luxembourg] was spoken at home and in the street, but education was in German and French, and in high school I added English and Spanish as "foreign" languages.


More about our Celebration of Pierre Joris this coming Wednesday:

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