Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mentors Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives

"A mesmerizing book of essays by famous pens who themselves were once helped -- or hurt -- by established talents as they tried to climb their way up the literary ladder. [Mentors, Muses & Monsters] beautifully captures the experience of being a literary aspirant -- wide-eyed, enchanted by words, and eager for the tutelage of a mentor -- one who's already scaled the temple wall and emerged, shining, in a turret." -- The Christian Science Monitor

The featured text of the Summer Young Writers Institute at Skidmore this year will be Summer Institute faculty member Elizabeth Benedict's Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives, reissued in a new paperback edition by SUNY Press in February 2012.

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At home with Toni Morrison this week

The AP features an intimate chat with Toni Morrison that ran earlier this week:

"It's Saturday and the 81-year-old Morrison is in a relaxed, informal mood, wearing a gray blouse and slacks and dark slippers, a purple bandanna tied over her gray corn rows, her laugh easy and husky with a pinch of "Can-you-believe-this?" You might mistake her for an ordinary neighbor ready for gardening until you see the pictures of her with James Baldwin, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Elie Wiesel among others, or learn that the low, wooden table by her chair was a prop from the film version of Beloved, her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel."  More.

The Nobel laureate was a UAlbany writer in residence at the Institute's inception and shared space in our offices in the mid-1980s.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Sneak Preview: 2012 Summer Instititute Reading Schedule

The New York State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College announces its summer 2012 schedule of free public readings:

All Events begin at 8 PM in Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall, 815 North Broadway Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

July 2: Phillip Lopate (non-fiction) & Elizabeth Benedict (fiction)

July 3: Louise Gluck (poetry) & Caryl Phillips (fiction)

July 4: Allan Gurganus (fiction) & Campbell McGrath (poetry)

July 5: Paul Auster (fiction) & Siri Hustvedt (fiction)

July 6: Joanna Scott (fiction) & James Longenbach (poetry)

July 9: Frank Bidart (poetry) & Claire Messud (fiction)

July 10: Jorie Graham (poetry) & Victoria Redel (fiction)

July 11: Rosanna Warren (poetry) & Margot Livesey (fiction)

July 12: Russell Banks (fiction) & Chase Twichell (poetry)

July 13: Joyce Carol Oates (fiction)

July 16: Mark Strand (poetry) & Honor Moore (non-fiction)

July 17: Charles Simic (poetry) & Danzy Senna (fiction)

July 18: William Kennedy (fiction)

July 19: Ann Beattie (fiction) & Peg Boyers (poetry)

July 20: Amy Hempel (fiction) & Richard Howard (poetry)

July 23: Darin Strauss (non-fiction) & Binnie Kirshenbaum (fiction)

July 24: Jamaica Kincaid (fiction) & Henri Cole (poetry)

July 25: Mary Gaitskill (fiction) & Tom Healy (poetry)

July 26: Rick Moody (fiction) & Francine Prose (fiction

July 27: SPECIAL Panel Discussion: Writers On The Presidential Election

       With Katha Pollitt, Jim Miller & Robert Boyers

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Paul Grondahl on Harry Staley in the Times Union

Harry Staley, stooped and gaunt, gripped a metal walker and shuffled to a podium to read his poetry in the Writers Institute offices at the University at Albany.
The audience of about 40, friends and former students, held its collective breath.

Read more in the Times Union.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

In case you missed Harry Staley on Wednesday....

The extraordinary 88-year-old Harry Staley delivered a bravura performance on Wednesday, May 2, at the Writers Institute with a reading of his new collected poetry, Truant Pastures, from SUNY Press.
In advance praise, literature scholar Todd F. Davis said, “The portrait of the speaker in the majority of these poems is one of a man conflicted in his religious faith, in his faith in his fellow human community, in the wars that religion has persuaded his fellow humans to take part in…. Staley demonstrates an understanding that is deeply spiritual, yet does not yield to easy, forgiving answers.”

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Czech Treasure: The Jarka M. Burian Collection at Ohio State

Institute friends Grayce Burian and her husband, the late Jarka Burian, a distinguished member of the UAlbany Theatre faculty, are the subjects of an article in the current issue of  Folio, the newsletter of The Ohio State University Libraries. An excerpt follows:

The Czech Collections at the Theatre Research Institute
by Nena Couch

"The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute is an active participant in a variety of international initiatives and partnerships involving Czech theatre…"

"One of the Institute’s major Czech treasures is the Jarka M. Burian collection which offers a tremendous resource for researchers in Czech theatre, containing his research papers, posters, programs, photographs, taped interviews with Czech theatre artists, books, and other materials. The Burian collection also documents major cultural and political events, including the Soviet bloc invasion in 1968, which Jarka and Grayce Burian experienced during their many research trips to Prague. Many individual theatre artists including playwright Václav Havel (later President of the Czech Republic), and the majority of scenographers whose design work is held at the Lawrence and Lee Institute are documented in the Burian papers."

"The Burian collection provides a focus of international engagement. During fall 2010, the Institute hosted visiting Fulbright Fellow Barbora Príhodová, Ph.D. student at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Príhodová’s Fulbright project was part of her doctoral dissertation work on scenographer Josef Svoboda. While it may seem counter-intuitive, it was in fact necessary for Czech scholar Príhodová to come to Columbus to research Czech scenographer Svoboda in order to, as she noted, 'benefit from Jarka Burian’s unique heritage as well as the rich American academic culture.' …"

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