Friday, March 24, 2017

Unspeakably in love with books

"As a child I was unspeakably in love with books. My dad had built two massive shelves that ran the width of our knotty pine-paneled living room. These were laden with the many high quality volumes of great works sent regularly to my mother by a man who either was or fancied himself to be her suitor — an untold story unto itself. I was too young to appreciate either the distinction between the two or the peculiarity of my father having built the shelves for the books the supposed suitor sent."
Read the full column in the Times Union:
Come hear Jo Page speak about her new memoir, Preaching in My Yes Dress: Confessions of a Reluctant Pastor," this coming Tuesday, March 28. She'll share the stage with her teacher, UAlbany Professor Emeritus and novelist, 
March 28 (Tuesday):  Eugene Mirabelli, novelist, and Jo Page, memoir writer and journalist
Reading — 4:15 p.m., University Hall Room 110, Collins Circle, Uptown Campus

Jo Page, essayist, newspaper columnist, and ordained Lutheran minister, is the author of the new memoir, Preaching in My Yes Dress: Confessions of a Reluctant Pastor (2016), a candid, moving, and humorous account of her spiritual journey. Bestselling novelist Margot Livesey said the book is “all the things you hope a good memoir will be: profound, witty, deeply serious, wonderfully original, and utterly absorbing.” For 20 years the author of the "Reckonings" column for Metroland, Albany’s former newsweekly, Page now writes a column for the Albany Times Union. Read more
Eugene Mirabelli, Professor Emeritus of English at UAlbany, received the prestigious Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) Gold Medal for his 2012 novel, Renato the Painter: An Account of His Youth & His 70th Year in His Own Words, the story of an artist who lives life with gusto and practices his art in defiance of critical and public neglect. Author and NPR reviewer Andrei Codrescu described the book as “…a fresco of Sicilian-American-New England life….” Mirabelli’s new book is the sequel, Renato After Alba: His Rage Against Life, Love & Loss in His Own Words (2016), an account of Renato’s experience of widowerhood at the age of 83. Publishers Weekly said, “The reader feels such affection for Renato… you can forgive him anything.” Read more

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Derek Walcott, in memoriam (1930-2017)

The Writers Institute mourns the passing of poet and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott who visited us in

See video from his Albany visit here:

See more about his Albany visit here:

Read the New York Times obituary here:

Derek Walcott, whose intricately metaphorical poetry captured the physical beauty of the Caribbean, the harsh legacy of colonialism and the complexities of living and writing in two cultural worlds, bringing him a Nobel Prize in Literature, died early Friday morning at his home near Gros Islet in St. Lucia. He was 87.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dael Orlandersmith Rescheduled to May 1st!

Please note that Dael Orlandersmith, Obie-winning playwright and Pulitzer Prize finalist in Drama, has rescheduled her appearances to Monday, May 1st (she was originally scheduled to appear March 20th).

Orlandersmith will deliver the annual Burian Lecture about her life in the theater and her powerful new play, “Until the Flood,” about explosive events and racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri. Her work frequently explores the struggles of African Americans in urbans settings, and life in the rough East Harlem neighborhood of her childhood. Cosponsored by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment and UAlbany’s Theatre Program

May 1 (Monday):  The 21st Annual Burian Lecture— Dael Orlandersmith, award-winning playwright 

Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

The Burian Lecture — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Paul Grondahl to host Diane Ackerman, Tuesday 3/7

Paul Grondahl, the newly-named director of the Writers Institute, will host his first events on Tuesday, March 7th. Please join us in giving him a warm welcome.

Grondahl earned a master’s degree in English at UAlbany in 1984. An award-winning journalist and biographer, he has been a staff writer at the Albany Times Union for more than 30 years.  His projects on domestic violence, death and dying, mental illness in state prisons and the problems facing sub-Saharan Africa have won local, state and national journalism prizes.



NYS Writers Institute, Tuesday, March 7, 2017
4:15 p.m. Seminar  University Hall Room 110, Collins Circle, Uptown Campus

8:00 p.m. Reading  Clark Auditorium, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Downtown Albany

Diane Ackerman, renowned for her explorations of the natural world in nonfiction and poetry, received the National Outdoor Book Award and PEN’s Henry Thoreau Prize for her 2015 book The Human Age, about new efforts to save the planet. Her other works include A Natural History of the Senses (1990); the memoir and Pulitzer finalist One Hundred Names for Love (2011), and The Zookeeper’s Wife (2007), the true story of a Warsaw zookeeper’s family that saved 300 Jews during the Holocaust, which will be released as a film starring Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain on March 31st. A trailer for the new film will be screened at the 8PM event.

For more about the Visiting Writers Series:  

For more information, contact the NYS Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or visit us online at

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