NYS Writers Institute fall 2012

nys writers institute fall 2012 book covers

A few of the recent books from a few of the writers on this fall's slate.

The fall lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. As usual, it's full of notable/interesting/award-winning writers.

A handful of the names that caught our eye on first pass: Junot Diaz, James Mann, J. M. Coetzee, David Quammen, Steveny Levy, J. Hoberman, and newly-designated State Author Alison Lurie and State Poet Marie Howe.

Here's the full lineup...

All blurbage via the NYS Writers Institute

September 20: New York State Author Alison Lurie and New York State Poet Marie Howe
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus
Alison Lurie is celebrated for witty novels that examine middle class American life, particularly in small college towns inspired by Ithaca, New York. Her major novels include Truth and Consequences (2005), Foreign Affairs (1984), which received the Pulitzer Prize, The War Between the Tates (1974), and Love and Friendship (1962). Marie Howe's prize-winning poetry seeks answers to perplexing questions about life and death in ordinary moments and day-to-day experiences. Her poetry collections include The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2008), What the Living Do (1997), and The Good Thief (1988), which was selected by Margaret Atwood for the National Poetry Series. She also has received the Lavan Younger Poets Prize of the American Academy of Poets.

September 27: Paul La Farge, novelist, essayist, and short fiction writer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Paul La Farge is the author of a much-talked-about new work of fiction and electronic media, Luminous Airplanes (2012), the story of a young man who returns to his family home in the Catskills after his grandfather's death in order to purge the house of "five generations of junk." This highly original work is published both as a conventional print novel and as an ever-expanding, electronic "immersive text."

October 2: Salgado Maranhão, Brazilian poet, and Alexis Levitin, translator
Reading - 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
Salgado Maranhão is a leading contemporary Afro-Brazilian poet, as well as a songwriter for some of Brazil's most prominent musicians. He received Brazil's highest literary award, the Brazilian Academy of Letters Prize, for his collection, The Color of the Word (2011).

Alexis Levitin, Professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh, has published more than twenty-five books of translation from Portuguese. His translation of Maranhão's first collection in English, Blood of the Sun, appears in September 2012.

October 4: Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Junot Díaz, a major voice of Latino literature, is the author of the new short story collection, This Is How You Lose Her (2012), an exploration of love, passion, and heartbreak. Publishers Weekly said, "Raw and honest, these stories pulsate with raspy ghetto hip-hop and the subtler yet more vital echo of the human heart." Díaz received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007).

October 9: James Mann, journalist and nonfiction writer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

James Mann, born and raised in Albany, NY, is a sought-after authority on the behind-the-scenes deliberations over foreign policy within recent American presidential administrations. His newest book is The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power (2012), an insider's guide to the events, ideas, personalities, and conflicts that have defined Barack Obama's foreign policy. Mann achieved international renown with Rise of the Vulcans (2004), a revelatory and much-cited study of George W. Bush's war cabinet.

October 11: Dorothy Driver, African literature scholar
Reading/Discussion - 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
Dorothy Driver is an eminent scholar of South African literature before and after Apartheid. Her new book is Bessie Head (2011), a ground-breaking critical study of Botswana's leading literary figure who was born illegally to a wealthy white South African woman and her black servant.

October 12: J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, and Paul Auster, novelist
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
Conversation - 8:00 p.m., Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist, and major American novelist Paul Auster will talk about their friendship and their correspondence with each other, which will be published as Here and Now in 2013. Coetzee, the first to win the Booker Prize twice, is the author of a number of novels regarded as classics of contemporary world literature, including Summertime (2009), Slow Man (2005), Elizabeth Costello (2003), Disgrace (1999), The Master of Petersburg (1994), Life & Times of Michael K (1983), and Waiting for the Barbarians (1980). Paul Auster is known for his dark, intellectual, bestselling novels, including Sunset Park (2010), Oracle Nights (2003), The Book of Illusions (2002), The Music of Chance (1990), and The New York Trilogy (1987). His most recent book is Winter Journal (2012), a reflection on life and death and the events that shook and shaped him. Cosponsored by UAlbany Departments of Africana Studies; English; History; Languages, Literatures and Cultures; Philosophy; Political Science; Women's Studies; the College of Arts & Sciences; Rockefeller College; Office of the President, Provost and Vice President for Research; University Auxiliary Services; and Student Association

October 16: Ghassan Zaqtan, Palestinian poet, with Fady Joudah, Palestinian-American poet and translator
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus
Reading - 7:00 p.m. [Note early start time], Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Ghassan Zaqtan, poet, novelist, journalist, screenwriter and playwright, is a major Palestinian poet and a leading representative of the avant-garde in Arabic literature. His most recent collection-the first to appear in English-is Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (2012), which was translated by Fady Joudah, a Palestinian-American poet and winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition for his own collection, The Earth in the Attic (2008).

Note: This event has been rescheduled from April 10, 2012.

October 18: David Quammen, nature writer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

David Quammen is one of America's leading nature writers and three-time winner of the National Magazine Award. His new book is Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (2012), about his travels in the remote corners of the globe with field researchers investigating disease outbreaks in rats, monkeys, bats, pigs, and other species, with the potential to "spillover" to humans. A widely-travelled contributing writer for National Geographic, Quammen also wrote the column, "Natural Acts," for Outside magazine for 15 years. Cosponsored by UAlbany's School of Public Health

October 26: Performing Voices of the Puerto Rican Diaspora
Conversations with Diasporican Writers: 2:15 - 3:45 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Moderator: Tomás Urayoán Noel, University at Albany
Guest Writers: Magdalena Gómez, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and Edwin Torres
Diasporican Café: Performing Voices of the Puerto Rican Diaspora: 5:30 - 7:45 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom, Uptown Campus
Guest Writers: Giannina Braschi, Magdalena Gómez, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and Edwin Torres

Five internationally known U.S. Puerto Rican writer-performers will discuss their work in an afternoon panel discussion and present readings/performances in the evening. Both events are part of the 20th Anniversary Conference of the Puerto Rican Studies Association, which is being held at UAlbany October 24 - 27. For more information on the Conference go to: http://www.puertoricanstudies.org.

November 1: Joy Harjo, Native American poet and musician
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Joy Harjo is an award-winning poet and musician of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. Her poetry collections include How We Became Human (2002), The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (1994), and In Mad Love and War (1990), which received the American Book Award. Her new book is the memoir, Crazy Brave (2012), about her journey from a troubled childhood and teenage motherhood to her accomplishments in the arts. Cosponsored by SUNY Press in conjunction with the annual John G. Neihardt Lecture

November 7: American Place Theatre Performance of The Things They Carried
Performance - 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
Pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m.

$15 general public / $12 faculty-staff & seniors / $10 students Box Office: (518) 442-3997
Tim O'Brien's masterwork of contemporary literature about the Vietnam War is taken from book to stage by American Place Theatre, the award-winning New York City based company. The verbatim adaptation of this compassionate tale of the American soldier includes five of the short stories from O'Brien's book.

Presented by the Performing Arts Center as part of the New York State Presenters Network Presenter-Artist Partnership Project with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Support also provided by University Auxiliary Services and Holiday Inn Express. This performance is part of The Big Read program led by the Albany City School District through the Albany Fund for Education and the Albany Public Library. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in Partnership with Arts Midwest.

November 12: AUTHORS THEATRE: Denis Johnson, playwright, poet, and fiction writer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Staged Reading - 7:00 p.m., [Note early start time] Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Denis Johnson received the National Book Award for his 2007 novel, Tree of Smoke. His 1992 short story collection Jesus' Son was adapted as a same-titled movie. The Writers Institute and Fence magazine will present a staged reading of Denis Johnson's new play "Des Moines," followed by commentary and Q&A with the playwright. Set in a seedy apartment on the edge of Des Moines, Iowa, the play features an unlikely assortment of people who come together for an impromptu party.

November 15: David W. Blight, historian, scholar, and author
Presentation - 7:30 p.m., Clark Auditorium, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany
David W. Blight will present a lecture, "America Divided, Then and Now: The Civil War in our National and Local Imagination" as the featured speaker for the 2012 Researching New York Conference. One of the foremost authorities on the U.S. Civil War, Blight is Professor of American History at Yale University.

Sponsored by UAlbany's Department of History, the NYS Archives Partnership Trust, the NYS Museum, and the NYS Writers Institute. For additional information on all Researching New York conference events go to: http://nystatehistory.org/researchny

November 16: Steven Levy, technology writer
Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Steven Levy, "America's premier technology journalist" (Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Washington Post), is the author most recently of In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (2011). Levy achieved international renown for his now-classic 1984 book, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. He is currently a Senior Writer for Wired. Cosponsored by UAlbany's College of Computing and Information

November 19: Trita Parsi, international affairs scholar and author
Talk/Discussion - 8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus
Trita Parsi, scholar and advocate of diplomatic approaches to conflicts in the Middle East, will deliver a talk entitled "U.S. and Iran: Between War and Diplomacy." His most recent book is Single Roll of the Dice-Obama's Diplomacy with Iran (2012).

Cosponsored by Women Against War and the Fellowship of Reconciliation

December 7: J. Hoberman, film critic
Reading/Discussion - 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
J. Hoberman is one of the most influential American film critics of recent decades. His new book is Film After Film (2012), which argues among other things that the future of film is animation and digital-image-making, ending "the need for an actual world, let alone a camera." Hoberman was senior film critic at the Village Voice from 1988 to 2012. A portion of the Writers Institute's fall 2012 Classic Film Series is based on Hoberman's list of his favorite films (see Classic Film Series listings).

The fall slate for the institute's classic film series is also out.


This is really fantastic--we're much more spoiled in this area with lectures and talks than I imagined when moving here.

The Auster/Coetzee talk and The Things They Carried performance should both be particularly interesting.

A great line-up of writers as usual, but as a community resident, I'm sorry the majority of the writers are scheduled to speak at the uptown campus, not Page Hall. Maybe the idea is to attract more undergraduates to these events, but parking is not great (or free) for the public at the uptown campus and I think that does deter people from the community attending UAlbany cultural events. My taxes help pay for this school so I'd guess I'd like to see some parking accommodation for the public for evening activities.

What chrisck said.

I just joked that the event was free but the parking ticket was $60.

More good lit stuff downtown, please! Folks come to town to go to readings, spend money at local restaurants and shops. There is nothing on the uptown campus but some strangely inappropriate architecture.

That said, the lineup is wonderful! Looking forward to Joy Harjo.


It's a 5 minute ride uptown! Don't want to deal with parking? Take the bus! Isn't that what everyone commenting is always talking about - using public transit? Now you have the chance to enjoy some great visiting speakers, at a local, public universtity - FOR FREE - and you complain abut the parking!?

Sometimes I think people just have way too much time on their hands to complain about things that aren't perfect...

People would complain about parking if the events were held at Page Hall, too.

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