Friday, September 25, 2015

Her All-Time Favorite Short Stories-- Ann Beattie

Ann Beattie, who visits this coming Tuesday, shares some of her all-time favorite short stories in a New York Times "By the Book" interview:

Among them: “Twilight of the Superheroes” and “Your Duck Is My Duck,” by Deborah Eisenberg; “Way Down Deep in the Jungle,” by Thom Jones; “Oxygen,” by Ron Carlson; “Nettles” and “The Albanian Virgin,” by Alice Munro; “The Fat Girl,” by Andre Dubus; “We Didn’t,” by Stuart Dybek; “Tits-Up in a Ditch,” by Annie Proulx; “Bruns,” by Norman Rush; “Escapes,” by Joy Williams; “Yours,” by Mary Robison; “The Dog of the Marriage,” by Amy Hempel; “The Fireman’s Wife,” by Richard Bausch; “The Womanizer,” by Richard Ford; “Helping,” by Robert Stone; “No Place for You, My Love,” by Eudora Welty; “Are These Actual Miles,” by Raymond Carver; “People Like That Are The Only People Here,” by Lorrie Moore; “Last Night,” by James Salter; “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story,” by Russell Banks; “Hunters in the Snow,” by Tobias Wolff; Rebecca Lee’s collection, “Bobcat.”

More in the New York Times:

More about Ann Beattie's 2 events with Peg Boyers this Tuesday, 9/29:

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David Denby's Superlative Review of Detropia in the New Yorker

David Denby reviews Detropia, which will be screened on Friday, 9/25, followed by commentary
and Q&A with director Rachel Grady.

"Detropia, a lyrical film about the destruction of a great American city, is the most moving documentary I’ve seen in years. The city is Detroit, and the film, made by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (who is a native), is both an ardent love letter to past vitality and a grateful salute to those who remain in place—the survivors, utterly without illusions, who refuse to leave. “Detropia” has its share of forlorn images: office buildings with empty eye sockets for windows; idle, rotting factories, with fantastic networks of chutes, pipes, and stacks; a lone lit tavern on a dark block. Yet the filmmakers are so attuned to color and to shape that I was amazed by the handsomeness of what I was seeing. I’m not being perverse: this is a beautiful film."

More in The New Yorker:

More about the event:

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Detroit's Spectacular Decline on Film, Director Q&A

Film director Rachel Grady to speak following screening of her award-winning film DETROPIA, September 25, 2015

Documentary about Detroit was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance

ALBANY, NY (09/10/2015)(readMedia)-- Rachel Grady, codirector of the award-winning film, DETROPIA (2012), a visually-stunning exploration of the disintegration of the city of Detroit that David Denby of the New Yorker called, "the most moving documentary I've seen in years," will speak following a screening of the film on Friday, September 25, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. [note early start time] in Page Hall on the University at Albany downtown campus, 135 Western Avenue, Albany. Free and open to the public, the event is sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute in conjunction with UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice's Crime, Justice, and Social Structure Film Series.


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What is it like to collaborate with Stephen King?

Bestselling horror novelist Peter Straub will interact with audiences via Skype this coming Thursday, September 20th.

Straub will share the stage (on a large screen) with two of his friends at the literary magazine  Conjunctions -- editor and murder mystery author Bradford Morrow, and MacArthur Fellowship-winning poet Ann Lauterbach (who will appear live).

Elizabeth Floyd Mair of the Times Union profiled Straub this past Sunday:

Q: You have written two novels with Stephen King. How does that work? How do you actually write them together? Write alternating chapters? And how does it compare to writing novels on your own?

A: If you must have a collaborator in writing fiction, Stephen King is pretty much your ideal partner. I recommend him, like, highly. The dude is fast, strong, smart and, you know, sort of powerful and sort of humane at the same time, which cannot be said of many. And besides that, he's really funny. Flat-out funny, also grossout funny, a lot of the time.

More in the Times Union:

More about the upcoming event:

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Poetry Prize Named for UAlbany Professor Len Slade

In the Times Union:  Leonard A. Slade Jr., a professor of Africana Studies at the University at Albany, has been honored with a national poetry prize named for him.

The Southern Conference on African American Studies has named its annual poetry prize the Leonard A. Slade Jr. Poetry Prize. It recognizes his literary contributions to The Griot, a journal published by the Houston-based organization since 1979.

The prize will be awarded to the person whom judges decide has published the best poem or poems in the journal that year.

"I'm very humbled," said Slade, who has contributed poetry to The Griot for more than 25 years. He came to UAlbany in 1988 after 22 years on the faculty of Kentucky State University.

More in Paul Grondahl's interview in the Times Union:

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Debra Pane, Author and Teacher, Discusses School-to-Prison Pipeline

Debra Mayes Pane will deliver the keynote address of the UAlbany "Continuing Critical Conversations through Transformative Teaching and Learning" Speakers Series at 2PM on Friday, Sept. 18th in the Standish Room of the Science Library on the University at Albany uptown campus.

The event is free and open to the public (space permitting).

Pane is the author of Transforming the School to Prison Pipeline:  Lessons from the Classroom (2013, with Tonette S. Rocco). She is also founder and director of E-SToPP-- Eradicating the School-to-Prison Pipeline Foundation.

Sponsored by a University at Albany collaborative of faculty and staff from the School of Education, Departments of Africana Studies, Anthropology, Economics, Educational & Counseling Psychology, Educational Theory and Practice,  Music and Theater, Philosophy, Political Science, Public Health, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, The Justice and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century Project (School of Criminal Justice), The Office of Sustainability, The University Libraries, The Institute for Teaching, Learning & Academic Leadership, The Office of Intercultural Student Engagement, UAS, UUP Albany, and The Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
For more information, contact Deborah LaFond,

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Dr. Robert Putnam, Author of Bowling Alone, at UAlbany Tomorrow

The UAlbany School of Public Health in Rensselaer will host bestselling author Dr. Robert Putnam tomorrow. The event is free and open to the public.

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Harvard University’s Dr. Robert Putnam, the author of Our Kids:  The American Dream in Crisis, will speak at the School of Public Health on Wednesday evening, September 16th, at 5:00 p.m. in the main auditorium.  Dr. Putnam will sign copies of his books (including his equally well-known Bowling Alone) following his talk.  This event is part of the School of Public Health’s “All School Read” program which began last spring when students chose Our Kids to read over the summer and explore the issues when they returned to classes this fall.  Join us for a lively conversation about the growing inequality of opportunity in the U.S.  Light refreshments will be served.  Haven’t read the book?  You are welcome to come and join the discussion of the timely public health issues raised by Dr. Putnam.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase at a 20% discount from The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza.  Members of book groups and all interested individuals are welcome to attend.  Directions to the School of Public Health are here:

For more information contact the School of Public Health:  University At Albany Foundation, 1 University Pl, Rensselaer, NY 12144

(518) 402-0283

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Writer's Path from UAlbany to Acclaim

Tom Junod, who visits on Thursday 9/10 and Friday 9/11, is profiled and interviewed by Paul Grondahl in today’s Times Union.

Junod recalls his professors at UAlbany, including Fred LeBrun, Eugene Mirabelli, Warren Roberts and Judith Barlow.

Tom Junod's jagged path from UAlbany to journalistic acclaim
By Paul Grondahl
Updated 6:44 am, Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The only journalism course that Tom Junod — one of the nation's most acclaimed journalists as a two-time National Magazine Award winner and 10-time finalist — ever took was Fred LeBrun's Journalism 101 course his senior year at the University at Albany.

His jagged career path offers an object lesson in perseverance, lucky breaks, the drive of an underdog — and the gift of great teachers who didn't try to fit his square peg of creativity into a round hole.

More about Tom Junod’s events tomorrow and Friday:
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, 4:15 p.m. Seminar, Standish Room, Science Library Uptown Campus
Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, 7:00 p.m. Reading in observance of 9/11, New York State Museum, Huxley Theater, Downtown Albany

Tom Junod, journalist, UAlbany graduate, winner of two National Magazine Awards, and the record holder for nominations for that award (11 times), will present a seminar on magazine writing on Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 4:15 p.m. in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the UAlbany uptown campus, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany. The following day, Friday, September 11, 2015 at 7:00 p.m., in observance of 9/11 at the New York State Museum’s Huxley Theatre in downtown Albany, Junod will read from and discuss his famous article, “The Falling Man,” a 2003 meditation on AP photographer Richard Drew’s iconic image of a 9/11 victim plunging to his death. Free and open to the public, the events are cosponsored by the University at Albany, New York State Museum, and New York State Writers Institute.

For more information contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at

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Friday, September 4, 2015

On 9/11, Tom Junod discusses his classic Esquire piece, "The Falling Man"

Friday, September 11, 2015

7:00 p.m. Reading in observance of 9/11 | The New York State Museum, Huxley Theatre, Albany

For Esquire’s 75th Anniversary in 2008, the editors of the magazine selected his 9/11 story “The Falling Man” as one of the seven top stories in Esquire’s history. Many of the stories he has written over the last two decades are still avidly read. On September 11 of each year, when Esquire posts “The Falling Man” online, the story gets hundreds of thousands of readers.

Here's the article (readers will need to subscribe for access):

More about Junod's events (including his visit to UAlbany the day before, 9/10, which is also free and open to the general public:

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Tom Junod opens the Visiting Writers Series

One of America's most honored practitioners of magazine journalism, Tom Junod will return to his alma mater, the University at Albany, to meet with students and the general public on Thursday, September 10th. He'll speak again as part of a 9/11 memorial on Friday at the NYS Museum.

More about his events:

Here are some of Junod's articles in the Longform Archive:

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Fall Series!

       The Writers Institute Fall 2015 schedule of events offers a rich variety of genres, from poetry to science writing to fiction to history to memoir to filmmaking and theatre. The upcoming series will even include a food writer—New York Times columnist and bestselling cookbook author Mark Bittman, whose work has been described by PBS as a “bible of basic cooking for millions of Americans.”

       The series will showcase two extraordinary former students at UAlbany—journalist Tom Junod, who holds the all-time record for National Magazine Award nominations (eleven!), and Edward Burns, director, actor, and one of the most prolific and influential independent filmmakers currently at work. Burns will present his new memoir, Independent Ed (2015), about which Matt Lauer of Today said, “Every young, hungry, creative person should view this as a textbook.... It’s a how-to.”
       Other guests will include Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Rachel Grady; young adult novelist Jason Reynolds, winner of the American Library Association's Coretta Scott King Award; major American short story writer Ann Beattie; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Adam Johnson; bestselling horror novelist Peter Straub; National Book Award finalist Mary Gaitskill; "Best New Documentary Filmmaker" at the Tribeca Film Festival, Sean Dunne; trail-blazing neuroscience writer Casey Schwartz; Vonnegut biographer Ginger Strand; and major American dramatist Tina Howe.

For more on the Visiting Writers Series, visit:

For more on the Classic Film Series, visit:

      We hope to see you soon!

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Kennedy Remembers Doctorow in the Times Union

In Wednesday's Times Union, William Kennedy remembers his friend, E. L. Doctorow, who passed away on July 21, 2015:

"I feel something has gone out of American life with Ed gone and the other great writers we've lost," Kennedy said, mentioning the death of James Salter last month, Peter Matthiessen last year and Norman Mailer and Joe Heller in years past.

"In a certain sense, those were the guys I was talking to when I was writing," he said. "We were having long conversations with each other and the world in our novels."

More in the TU (new subscribers may need to sign up for TU+):

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

E. L. Doctorow (1931-2015)

The New York State Writers Institute mourns the loss of E. L. Doctorow, novelist and editor. As an editor at The Dial Press, Doctorow acquired William Kennedy's first novel, The Ink Truck, in 1968.

Doctorow served as New York State Author under the Institute's sponsorship from 1989 to 1991.

Kennedy's 50 year friendship with Doctorow is detailed in a 2014 Times Union article by E. L. Doctorow at the time of his last visit to Albany in March 2014:

The New York Times obituary is here:

Doctorow's State Author page:

YouTube footage from Doctorow's visit here in 2014:

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Monday, July 13, 2015

William Kennedy and Amy Hempel read at Skidmore

William Kennedy and Amy Hempel read tonight in the Davis Auditorium of Palamountain Hall at Skidmore College, 8PM, Monday, July 13th, as part of the 29th annual New York State Summer Writers Institute reading series.

The event is free and open to the public.

For directions:

For more about the reading series, which runs through July 24:

Upcoming authors include:

JULY 14: Ann Beattie and Tom Healy.
JULY 15: Rick Moody and Lloyd Schwartz.
JULY 16: Nick Flynn and Adam Braver.
JULY 17: Robert Pinsky and Peg Boyers
JULY 20: Cristina Garcia and Wayne Koestenbaum
JULY 21: Russell Banks and Chase Twichell.JULY 22: Laura Kipnis and Jim Miller.
JULY 23: Jamaica Kincaid and Henri Cole.
JULY 24: Paul Harding and Binnie Kirshenbaum.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Apply to the NYS Summer Writers Institute!

The New York State Summer Writers Institute will begin its 28th season at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.  A few spaces remain for workshop participants.

To apply:

Students may enroll for two weeks (June 29 - July 10 or July 13-24) or for the entire four-week session (June 29-July 24).

Since its inaugural season in 1987, the New York State Summer Writers Institute has drawn students from across the United States as well as from Australia, Brazil, France, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, South Korea and Singapore. Students have ranged from 20 to 99 years of age. The Institute is intended principally for students who have had at least one or two previous workshop experiences. It is definitely not for high school students or for freshman college students. The Institute offers courses for undergraduate and graduate credit, as well as noncredit courses. Approximately 50 percent of the program participants are undergraduate or graduate students.

For questions and concerns, please call, fax, mail, or email:

Program Coordinator, Office of the Dean of Special Programs
Christine R. Merrill
518-580-5593 phone

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2015 NYS Summer Writers Institute Reading Series

The Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore in Saratoga will run from July 29 through July 24.

All readings are at 8PM in Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall, Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

For more information:   518-580-5000,

Picture:  Claire Messud
JUNE 29: Non-fiction reading by Phillip Lopate and fiction reading by Linda Spalding.
JUNE 30: Fiction reading by Francine Prose and fiction reading by Caryl Phillips.
JULY 1: Fiction reading by Michael Ondaajte and poetry reading by Campbell McGrath.
JULY 2: Poetry reading by Charles Simic and fiction reading by Howard Norman.
JULY 3: Fiction reading by Claire Messud and fiction reading by Elizabeth Benedict.
JULY 6: Poetry reading by Carolyn Forche and fiction reading by Victoria Redel.
JULY 7: Poetry reading by Frank Bidart and fiction reading by Rivka Galchen.
JULY 8: Fiction reading by Mary Gaitskill and non-fiction reading by Honor Moore.
JULY 9: Fiction reading by Joseph O'Neill and fiction reading by Joanna Scott.
JULY 10: Fiction reading by Joyce Carol Oates.
JULY 13: Fiction reading by Amy Hempel and fiction reading by William Kennedy.
JULY 14: Fiction reading by Ann Beattie and poetry reading by Tom Healy.
JULY 15: Fiction reading by Rick Moody and poetry reading by Lloyd Schwartz.
JULY 16: Non-fiction reading by Nick Flynn and fiction reading by Adam Braver.
JULY 17: Poetry reading by Robert Pinsky poetry reading by Peg Boyers.
JULY 20: Fiction reading by Cristina Garcia and poetry reading by Wayne Koestenbaum.
JULY 21:Fiction reading by Russell Banks and poetry reading by Chase Twichell.
JULY 22: Non-fiction reading by Laura Kipnis and non-fiction reading by Jim Miller.
JULY 23: Fiction reading by Jamaica Kincaid and poetry reading by Henri Cole.
JULY 24: Fiction reading by Paul Harding and fiction reading by Binnie Kirshenbaum.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

UAlbany launched Pulitzer drama winner Stephen Adly Guirgis

Paul Grondahl interviews Stephen Adly Guirgis in the Times Union:

Guirgis, 50, and his unlikely career trajectory could be viewed as a kind of patron saint for late bloomers, slackers and second chances.

"I wasn't a great student, but it took me more than six years because I kept changing my major," Guirgis said Tuesday by phone from his apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "In my last two years, I became a theater major and things really started to click. At the time, Albany was known as a business school and we were kind of like a weird group, but we were always doing something, creating shows, and we stuck together."

More in the Times Union:

More about Guirgis's 2010 visit to the Writers Institute:

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

UAlbany Grad Stephen Guirgis Wins Pulitzer

Stephen Adly Guirgis, who graduated from the University at Albany in 1990 with a major in Theatre, is the 2015 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his new play "Between Riverside and Crazy."

The Pulitzer jury called the work, "a nuanced, beautifully written play about a retired police officer faced with eviction that uses dark comedy to confront questions of life and death."

Guirgis visited the New York State Writers Institute on April 12, 2010.

More about his visit here:

An interview with Guirgis posted on the Institute's YouTube page:

Guirgis studied theatre with NYS Writers Institute Fellow and UAlbany Professor W. Langdon Brown and with the late Jarka Burian of the Theatre Department who-- together with his wife Grayce Burian-- established and endowed the Institute's annual Burian Lecture on the art of the theatre.

More on the Burian Lecture here:

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Joan Murray in the Times Union

Poet Joan Murray discusses her friendship with poet Alicia Ostriker in the Times Union. The two poets will visit together on Thursday, April 23rd:

"I've known Alicia since we were both young poets in the second wave feminist movement in the '70s. We were attracted to each other's work, because we were both young moms writing about motherhood and war. We've kept up a literary friendship since then, staying in touch and seeing each other now and then. Alicia is fun, but she's also famous and brilliant in a down-to-earth way."

"While our poems are different, we're both dramatic, and we can riff like the old masters when we want to. We both deal with serious social and political issues. We also write about God, though we're not believers. (Alicia has a whole book talking with him.) And we're both risk-takers: I have that book in the voice of the Niagara woman, and Alicia's new book is in the voices of an old woman, a tulip and a dog."

More in the Times Union interview with Elizabeth Floyd Mair:

More about the upcoming visit:

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mary Norris, Queen of Proofreaders, in the New York Times

Mary Norris, who visits us on Thursday, April 9, is reviewed in the New York Times:  

Ms. Norris looks not only for errors that have slipped through the many layers of security, but also for subtle dissonances in sense and style — words that are slightly off, imprecise or muddy phrases, anachronistic colloquialisms, technically correct commas that might make a sentence sound better if omitted, or vice versa.
“It’s like those mechanics that only work on cars that go 200 miles an hour,” said David Remnick, The New Yorker’s editor. “They can see every little precise thing that can go wrong that might get you killed.”


More about her upcoming visit:

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Writer Richard Russo on Public Funding for Education

“I’m a product of public education, government-backed student loans, and publicly funded institutions like the Gloversville Free Library. If you’ve lost faith in them, you’ve lost faith in basic democratic principles.”

--Richard Russo, Gloversville novelist, quoted in the New York Times in an article by Steven Greenhouse about a campaign to renovate the Gloversville Library, March 24, 2105

More about Richard Russo:

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The Paris Review: James Lasdun, Lydia Davis

Two NYS Writers Institute Writing Fellows are featured prominently in the Spring 2015 issue of The Paris Review.

James Lasdun has a 70-page novella, Feathered Glory:

Lydia Davis is interviewed:

Other featured authors who have appeared as part of the Institute's Visiting Writers Series include Major Jackson, Charles Simic and Stephen Dunn.

And, incidentally, the Capital Region's own Bernie Conners, former publisher of The Paris Review, has a new memoir, Cruising with Kate: A Parvenu in Xanadu (2015). Read Paul Grondahl's interview in the Times Union:

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Alice McDermott: Giving Voice to the Unheard

Elizabeth Floyd Mair of the Times Union interviews Alice McDermott who will appear at RPI to discuss her new book Someone on April 15, cosponsored by the NYS Writers Institute's Visiting Writers Series, and who will be the first author featured in the new Times Union Book Club.

Q: How much revision and crafting of the sentences goes into your writing?

A: A great deal. For me, story arises out of the sentences: rhythm, word choice, detail. I don't begin with story and then try to find the words — I begin with words and try to find the story. Strange, right?

More in the Times Union:

More about the Times Union Book Club:

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Elisa Albert's "After Birth" in the NY Times

Elisa Albert shares the stage with Yelena Akhtiorskaya on Thursday, March 26.

More about their events:

Merritt Tierce reviews Elisa Albert's new novel After Birth in the New York Times Book Review:

"Albert has inherited the house Grace Paley built, with its narrow doorways just wide enough for wit and tragedy and blistering, exasperated love. And no one is better suited to manage that ­estate, to keep it unapologetically going, to keep its rooms of inquiry open. Paley found the seam where the important and the madcap are stitched together on the ­underside of life, and here is Albert working that same territory. Her Ari is bold enough to put motherhood up on a pedestal because its sanctity is as undeniable as it is dangerous. But she also wants to be sure you know the pedestal is made of ­excrement and tears and vomit and breast milk and the very selves of a billion unknown women."

"No doubt After Birth will be ­shunted into one of the lesser subcanons of ­contemporary literature, like 'women’s fiction,' but it ought to be as essential as The Red Badge of Courage. Just ­because so much of mothering happens inside a house doesn’t mean it’s not a war: a battle for sovereignty over your heart, your mind, your life — and one you can’t bear for the other side to lose."

More in the New York Times:

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Times Union Book Club with NYS Writers Institute!

The Times Union is launching a new book club in partnership with the New York State Writers Institute.

Alice McDermott's novel Someone (2014) will be the first featured book. Someone tells the story of one woman's "ordinary" life across the decades of the 20th century in an Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn. McDermott received the 1998 National Book Award for her novel, Charming Billy.

To register for the Book Club go to

The following events will take place in association with the Book Club:

Book Club discussion hosted by Times Union staff
• When: 7 p.m. April 8
• Where: Times Union, 645 Albany Shaker Road, Colonie
• Note: Copies of "Someone" can be purchased at the Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland or at Market Block Books in Troy.

Reading, Q&A , book- signing and McKinney Writing Contest award ceremony
• When: 8 p.m. April 15
• Where: Biotech Auditorium, Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Building at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.
• Note: The event is free and open to the public, and cosponsored by the New York State Writers Institute in conjunction with Rensselaer's 74th Annual McKinney Writing Contest and Reading.

Q&A and meet-and-greet with McDermott
• What: In conjunction with the institute, McDermott will answer questions and sign books at an event for Times Union Plus members (those with print or digital subscriptions). Light refreshments will be served.
• When: 11 a.m. April 16
• Where: Times Union, 645 Albany Shaker Road, Colonie
• Note: The event is free. Register at to attend.

More about the Book Club:

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New Event-- Bill Nye the Science Guy!

Bill Nye "The Science Guy"March 25 (Wednesday)
Reading — 5:00 p.m., SEFCU Arena
For FREE tickets, see below

Bill Nye “The Science Guy,”
celebrated public television personality, is a pioneer in the field of science education and a leading defender of science in the public arena. His television series, Bill Nye the Science Guy, ran on PBS stations nationwide from 1993 to 1998, and continues to be widely distributed in syndication. Exactly 100 episodes addressed topics as diverse as garbage and music, comets and caves, and chemistry and communication. The show received 18 Emmy Awards, with Nye himself taking seven for his various roles as writer, performer and producer. Nye is the author of the new book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (November, 2014), edited by Corey S. Powell. A wide-ranging presentation of the evidence that supports the theory of evolution, the new book grew out of a much-publicized debate between Nye and leading Creationist Ken Ham at the Creation Museum in Petersburg Kentucky in February 2014. Narrated with Nye’s trademark clarity, simplicity, enthusiasm and sense of fun, Undeniable demonstrates how organisms evolved and continue to evolve, with examples drawn from agriculture, dog breeding, human courtship, and the fossil record. 

Sponsored by the University at Albany Student Association in partnership with the New York State Writers Institute
Tickets will be made available as follows:  On Friday, March 13 and then again on Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24, tickets will be available for the general public in the Campus Center West Lounge from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., with a  4 ticket maximum. On Wednesday, March 25, tickets will be available to the general public in the Campus Center West Lounge from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. If any tickets are remaining, they will be distributed in Physical Education (PE) building lobby across from SEFCU Arena beginning at 3 p.m.
For more information contact the Student Association at 518-442-5640.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

"Gorgeously crafted and emotionally shattering."

Here is the Kirkus Reviews capsule review of The Lost Child (2015) by Caryl Phillips, who visits the Writers Institute tomorrow, Tuesday, March 10:

"Award-winning novelist, essayist and playwright Phillips (Color Me English, 2011, etc.) responds to Wuthering Heights. A difficult daughter and an unhappy wife, Monica Johnson is contrary, self-destructive and—finally—mad. That Monica, in her broad outlines, resembles Cathy Earnshaw is no accident. Her story—as well as that of her husband and their sons—is interwoven with scenes inspired by Wuthering Heights and the life of its author. This is not to say that Monica is Cathy, transplanted from the moors to Oxford in the late 1950s. This is not a retelling. The interplay between this novel and Emily Brontë’s masterpiece is much more interesting than that. For example, Phillips imagines Heathcliff before Mr. Earnshaw takes him to the Heights. This boy is the son of a slave, a woman who worked a sugar plantation before being transported to England. Phillips isn’t the first to read Brontë’s “dark-skinned” antihero as black, but he also connects the boy to Monica’s husband, Julius—a man who gives up academic life in order to take up the cause of anti-colonialism in his West Indian home country—and to their neglected, dispossessed sons. The thematic links between the modern story and Wuthering Heights only become clear over time, and—even then—they’re too rich and subtle to work as simple allegory. Empire and race are among Phillips’ concerns, but he also offers heartbreaking depictions of alienation and the fragility of human relationships. While it would be easy to identify Heathcliff as the lost child of the title, it could also refer to Monica’s younger son—or her older boy. But Monica is lost, too. And then there’s Brontë, drifting further and further into her invented world as she dies. What Phillips seems to be saying, in the end, is that the lost child could be any of us—perhaps even that the lost child is all of us. Gorgeously crafted and emotionally shattering."


More about the visit:

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Ill-Tempered White Dudes & Their Loss of Power

Journalist Kent Russell, who visits us on Thursday 3/12, talks to the Times Union's Elizabeth Floyd Mair about his new book, I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son (2015).

Q: Did the essays in this book start out as separate essays, or was the idea to write a book-length exploration of masculinity?

A: [S]ubconsciously, I was always chasing the same subject matter: ill-tempered white dudes and their strategies for coping with the loss of power. Subconsciously, I was always writing the book.

More in the Times Union:

More about Russell's upcoming visit:

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

RESCHEDULED: Tonight's Event with Barbara Smith, Due to Weather

Tonight’s event with Barbara Smith and Susan Arbetter will be RESCHEDULED to Tuesday, March 31st , same time (7PM, note early start time) and same location (Milne 200, Downtown Campus).
Barbara Smith, pioneering activist, will discuss the new book, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (2014). The book, edited by Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, combines historical documents with new interviews to uncover the deep roots of today’s “identity politics” and serves as an essential primer for practicing solidarity and resistance. Smith, organizer, writer, and publisher, has played key roles in multiple social justice movements. She is Public Service Professor in the School of Social Welfare at UAlbany, and a former member of Albany’s Common Council.
Cosponsored by SUNY Press and Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy
If you would like to attend the rescheduled event, please RSVP to Rockefeller College Director of Communications, as space is limited:

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Monday, February 23, 2015

On Shame: Jennifer Jacquet, Author and Scientist

Elizabeth Floyd Mair interview's Jennifer Jacquet, who visits tomorrow, in the Times Union:

"In her new book, "Is Shame Necessary?" (Pantheon, February 2015), environmental social scientist Jennifer Jacquet focuses on the role of shame in placing limits on the more egregious behavior of large corporations and powerful groups. She argues that shame can be a powerful force for social change and political change."

More about Jacquet's visit:

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Remembering Poet Philip Levine (1928-2015)

The New York State Writers Institute mourns the passing of Philip Levine who died on February 14, 2015.

Levine's poetry is grounded in the harsh reality of contemporary life. He describes his poetry as an attempt to create "a voice for the voiceless."

Watch our 26-minute episode about Levine on The Writer, our former collaboration with PBS affiliate WMHT:

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

A searing directorial debut-- Jason Osder

Jason Osder, who visits UAlbany on Friday, is profiled in Filmmaker magazine:
Osder’s searing directorial debut, Let the Fire Burn, which premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, is an archival footage marvel. With no narration and sparse title cards, it dives into the maelstrom that was the Philadelphia Police Department’s tragic raid on the black separatist group MOVE’s West Philadelphia compound in 1985, during which the home, where 13 men, women and children lived, was shot upon 10,000 times, doused with unspeakable amounts of water and then finally firebombed. Almost everyone inside died, and nearly 70 other homes in the surrounding working-class black community were destroyed.

More in Filmmaker magazine:

More about Osder's visit tomorrow:

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Let the Fire Burn reviewed in the L. A. Times

L. A. Times critic Kenneth Turan reviews Let the Fire Burn (2013), by Jason Osder who visits UAlbany for a screening and Q&A tomorrow, Friday 2/6 at 7PM in Page Hall.

"Let the Fire Burn" is a brooding, disturbing documentary about an inferno that becomes an enigma. It earns its considerable impact by telling an unnerving story and leaving it, in ways both daring and effective, fundamentally unresolved.

The events detailed here are some of the most unsettling in modern American urban history. On May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia police, stymied in a standoff that stemmed from a bitter conflict with a radical group called MOVE that had sputtered on and off for more than a decade, dropped an incendiary device on the row house that was the group's headquarters.

More in the L. A. Times:

More about our event with Jason Osder:

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Through Australian Eyes: Peter Carey

Peter Carey, who visits UAlbany today, is interviewed about his new cyber-thriller, Amnesia, by Elizabeth Floyd Mair of the Times Union:

Q: How much was the story inspired by figures like Assange [a fellow Australian] and Edward Snowden?

A: I had lunch with Sonny Mehta, my editor and publisher, and we were talking about Assange. At that stage, Knopf had just bought the rights to Assange's biography and had just found in me someone who was passionate on the subject. At a certain point he said, by the by, "I don't suppose you want to write the book."

For me, there were all sorts of reasons not to do this, not least that I am a novelist and don't have that sort of skill. The conversation lasted, perhaps, two minutes and disappeared like smoke. I didn't think Sonny was entirely serious. He now says he was.

More in the Times Union:

More about Peter Carey's visit today:

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Turbo-charged, hyperkinetic: Peter Carey

Australian cyber-thriller Amnesia (2015, U.S. edition) by Australian-American novelist Peter Carey, who visits the Writers Institute this coming Tuesday 2/3, is reviewed in The Guardian:

"Peter Carey's fiction is turbo-charged, hyperenergetic.... Like many of Carey’s books, Amnesia generates an aura of the fantastical but is completely grounded; it is high-spirited but serious, hectic but never hasty.... a deeply engaging book. It responds to some of the biggest issues of our time, and reminds us that no other contemporary novelist is better able to mix farce with ferocity, or to better effect."

More about Peter Carey's visit:

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Celebrating Motherhood as a Choice-- Katha Pollitt

Connie Schultz of the Washington Post reviews Katha Pollitt's new book on abortion: Pro. Pollitt visits the Institute on Jan. 29th.

Schultz writes:  Katha Pollitt may not appreciate my starting this review with her description of her own experience of motherhood, but this is my attempt to broaden her audience beyond the predictable cast for her small, powerful book. “People think of pregnant women as weak and vulnerable, but when I was pregnant with my daughter I felt as if I could put my hand in fire and it would only glow,” she writes in “Pro.” “I never felt alone: There were two of us, right there. I didn’t think of my child as an embryo or fetus. . . . I thought of her first as a funny little sea creature of indeterminate sex, and later, yes, as a baby, even though she was only a baby in my thoughts.”

To state what should be obvious, Pollitt, like most other women who support abortion rights, celebrates motherhood as a choice. The poet and columnist for the Nation is also one of the most eloquent champions for women’s reproductive freedom, and her latest book is a manifesto.

More in the Washington Post:

More about Pollitt's upcoming visit:

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Women Should Be 52% of Everything-- Katha Pollitt

Katha Pollitt, who opens our Visiting Writers Series on January 29th is a regular visitor to the NYS Summer Writers Institute in Saratoga.

Her last visit to UAlbany, however, was in 1992. Here are some quotes from her interview on that occasion with the late Tom Smith:

"I would be in favor of equal representation of women in Congress even if women voted identically with men on every issue, because it's a fairness issue. I would be in favor of women being 52% of everything as well, from police officers, to doctors, to college professors and in government too. That's an equality and justice issue."

"I think people are shaped by economic, social and cultural forces. I don't believe in the essentials of virtue, but it is interesting that there is the [widespread] notion that women are more virtuous. This belief that women are more virtuous than men never leads to the obvious question-- why aren't they in charge then?"

More about Pollitt's upcoming visit:

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Katha Pollitt in the Times Union

Katha Pollitt, one of the most influential feminist writers and thinkers of the present generation, opens our Visiting Writers Series on Thursday, January 29.

Pollitt is interviewed in the  Times Union by Elizabeth Floyd Mair, about her new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights [2014].

Q: Tell me about how you want to reframe the discussion [of abortion]?

A: I want to put women, in their full humanity, back at the center. Right now, the discussion is all about the fertilized egg/embryo/fetus. I want us to see the abortion decision as part of normal life in a female body — one in three women will have had at least one by menopause. I want us to see abortion rights and access as a good thing for society. What is the point of forcing women to bear children against their will? Children should be born when their parents are in a good position to raise them, and our whole society benefits when women and men can realize their dreams.

More in the TU:

More about Pollitt's upcoming visit:

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The National Book Critics Circle Awards and Us

The National Book Critics Circle Awards are remarkably relevant for the NYS Writers Institute this year.

Toni Morrison, who was in residency here at the time of the Institute's founding, will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

Institute Writing Fellow Lynne Tillman is a finalist in the category of Criticism for her collection, What Would Lynne Tillman Do?

Ian S. MacNiven, who visited on Nov. 25, 2014, to present his new book Literchoor Is My Beat: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions, and John Lahr, who visited Oct. 1, 2014 with his new book, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, are both finalists for the award in Biography.

MacNiven receives his nomination for a book that escaped the radar of the mainstream media (but not us!).

Other finalists in various categories who have visited the Institute in recent years include Gary Shteyngart (Autobiography for Little Failure), Marilynne Robinson (Fiction for Lila), Chang-rae Lee (Fiction for On Such a Full Sea), and Elizabeth Kolbert (General Nonfiction for The Sixth Extinction).

Full list here:

Picture: Ian MacNiven

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

William Wellman Film Festival in the Times Union

Amy Biancolli blogs our upcoming William A. Wellman Film Festival in the Times Union:

A mini-festival of five movies from the long-running, wide-ranging career of Hollywood heydey director William A. Wellman forms the core of this spring’s classic film series offered by the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany, which has announced its slate of free movies and related events for the upcoming season.

The run of Wellman films opens with rat-a-tat gangster saga “The Public Enemy” on Friday, Jan. 30, and concludes on Friday, May 1, with a reading and discussion by the director’s son, William Wellman Jr., an actor and author of the forthcoming biography “Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel.” “Wings,” Wellman’s soaring, silent 1927 Oscar winner (the first ever) depicting World War I fighter pilots, will screen on Friday, April 24. Also in the festival: “The Public Enemy,” “Nothing Sacred” and “Beau Geste.”

Besides the helpings of Wellman, other films in the springtime lineup at Page Hall include Tanya Hamilton’s 2010 Black Panther drama “Night Catches Us,” Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing” (screened in conjunction with an April 13 Writers Institute appearance by Shakespeare & Company founder Tina Packer) and the classic 1939 iteration of Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” from another legendary Hollywood Bill, William Wyler.

In the TU:

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