NYS Writers Institute visiting writers spring 2015

nys writers institute 2015 spring cover composite

The spring lineup for the NYS Writers Institute visiting writers series is out. And, as we've all come to expect, it includes both authors you'll recognize and authors you'll probably soon recognize.

Here's the full lineup, compressed and expanded...

All blurbage via the NYS Writers Institute. The spring schedule for the NYS Writers Institute classic film series is also out.

Compressed schedule

January 29: Katha Pollitt, essayist, critic, and poet

February 3: Peter Carey, novelist

February 6: Jason Osder, Let the Fire Burn film screening and discussion

February 10: Jess Row, novelist and short story writer

February 13: Night Catches Us film screening and discussion with director and screenwriter Tanya Hamilton and producer Ron Simons

February 24: Jennifer Jacquet, environmental scientist and author

March 3: A Celebration of the Activism of Barbara Smith

March 10: Caryl Phillips, novelist, playwright, and essayist

March 12: Kent Russell, essayist and journalist

March 24: American Place Theatre performance of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

March 26: Elisa Albert, novelist and short story writer, and Yelena Akhtiorskaya, novelist

April 9: Mary Norris, proofreader, copy editor, and author

April 13: The 19th Annual Burian Lecture Funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment: Tina Packer, theatre director, actor, and author

April 15: Alice McDermott, novelist and short story writer

April 23: Alicia Suskin Ostriker and Joan Murray, poets

May 1: William A. Wellman Film Festival: William Wellman, Jr., author and actor

Expanded schedule

January 29: Katha Pollitt, essayist, critic, and poet
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375
Reading -- 8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 375
Katha Pollitt, influential voice of American feminism and long-time columnist for The Nation, is the author of a much-talked-about new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights (2014). Publishers Weekly described it as "an impassioned, persuasive case for understanding abortion in its proper context." Pollitt received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Book Awards in 2010, and is a two-time winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary. Her books of poetry include The Mind-Body Problem (2010) and Antarctic Traveller (1983), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

February 3: Peter Carey, novelist
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375
Reading -- 8:00 p.m., Lecture Center 20, Academic Podium
Peter Carey, Australian novelist, is one of only three writers to have received the Man Booker Prize twice (the other writers are J. M. Coetzee and Hillary Mantel). Carey received his first Booker for Oscar and Lucinda (1988), and his second for True History of the Kelly Gang (2000). His new novel is Amnesia (2015), a cyber-terrorism political thriller set in a counter-historical Australia that has endured American interference in its governmental affairs. The Guardian described the book as "fantastical but completely grounded, high-spirited but serious, hectic but never hasty...a deeply engaging book [that] responds to some of the biggest issues of our time."

February 6: Jason Osder LET THE FIRE BURN
Film screening and discussion with director Jason Osder -- 7:00 p.m. [note early start time],
Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Jason Osder (United States, 2013, 88 minutes, b/w and color). Starring Birdie Africa, Ramona Africa, Wilson Goode. This multiple award-winning documentary presents a history of the tragic conflict between the City of Philadelphia and the Black Liberation organization, MOVE in the mid-1980s. The Variety reviewer said, "The brilliantly edited tapestry of actions and reactions exposes a pattern of prejudice and fear capable of infinitely repeating itself." Jason Osder teaches documentary filmmaking at the George Washington University. He is also coauthor of the filmmaking guide, Final Cut Pro Workflows: The Independent Studio Handbook (2007).

February 10: Jess Row, novelist and short story writer
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading -- 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performning Arts Center
Jess Row is the author of the audacious first novel, Your Face in Mine (2014), the tale of a young Jewish man who undergoes "racial reassignment surgery" because he believes that he is a black man trapped in a white man's body. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it, "Furiously smart," and said that it "takes readers on a zesty, twisty, sometimes uncomfortable ride." Novelist Richard Price described the book as "one of the most slyly penetrating novels on race and identity politics I've ever had the pleasure of reading."
Night Catches Us

February 13: NIGHT CATCHES US, Film screening and discussion with director and screenwriter Tanya Hamilton and producer Ron Simons
7:00 p.m. [note early start time], Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus
Directed by Tanya Hamilton (United States, 2010, 90 minutes, color)
Starring Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Jamara Griffin. A finalist for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, NIGHT CATCHES US is a powerful evocation of the American inner city in 1976. A former Black Panther returns to his old Philadelphia neighborhood, where he confronts the unresolved problems of his past. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, "Tanya Hamilton's first feature as a director, is something to cherish.... She lets her mesmerizing movie sneak up on you and seep in until you feel it in your bones." Tanya Hamilton, director and screenwriter, is a former Fellow at the Sundance Screenwriter and Filmmaker Lab, and was honored for Outstanding Achievement By a Woman in the Film Industry by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists in 2010. Ron Simons, producer of Night Catches Us, is also a three-time Tony Award winning Broadway producer for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Best Musical, 2014), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Best Play, 2013) and Porgy & Bess (Best Revival, 2012).

February 24: Jennifer Jacquet, environmental scientist and author
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading -- 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Jennifer Jacquet is a scholar in the emerging field of environmental social science, the study of how societies deal with large-scale crises such as climate change and overfishing. In her new book, Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool (2015), she argues that shame, used judiciously, is a powerful force of political change and social reform. Leading psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said in advance praise, "This book describes, in sparkling prose, how important a sense of shame is to civilized life, and provides some fascinating insights as to the role of social media in providing a new tool to moderate shameless behavior."

March 3: A CELEBRATION OF THE ACTIVISM OF BARBARA SMITH
Panel Discussion -- 7:00 p.m., 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.

March 10: Caryl Phillips, novelist, playwright, and essayist
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading -- 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Caryl Phillips, British Caribbean writer, is the author of the new novel, The Lost Child (2015). The book intertwines the life of Heathcliff, the dark-skinned orphan of Emily Brontë's classic Victorian novel, Wuthering Heights, with the modern tale of a young woman struggling to raise her sons in the wild moors of northern England after she is cast out by her family for marrying a Caribbean man. Literary critic Pico Iyer said, "With uncanny intimacy, eloquence, and compassion, Caryl Phillips stitches together past and present...." Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and Lannan Literary Award, Phillips is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

March 12: Kent Russell, essayist and journalist
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading -- 8:00 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Kent Russell, a writer of adventurous, first-person journalism, explores the notion of "masculinity" in his new nonfiction collection, I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son (2015), in which he profiles the lives of NHL "enforcers"; a businessman-turned-hermit who lives on a crocodile-infested island; and the scrappy players who inhabit the cloistered world of "Amish baseball." Author Jim Shepard said in advance praise, "For those of us who've been missing Hunter Thompson lately, good news: [Kent Russell] is as close as we're going to get to his second coming when it comes to full-on gonzo passionate observation and self-loathing transmuted into social criticism."

March 24: American Place Theatre performance of INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Performance -- 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m.
Tickets: general public $15 in advance, $20 day of; students/seniors/UA faculty & staff $10 in advance, $15 day of. Box Office: (518) 442-3997; tickets@albany.edu
Commissioned by The New York Historical Society, this "page to stage" work developed by American Place Theatre is a verbatim adaptation of Harriot Jacobs' book of the same name. It is an inspiring tale of resilience and survival that recounts the author's seven years spent hiding out as a fugitive in "The Loophole," a crawl space in her grandmother's attic, in order to protect her children and ensure their eventual freedom. This show is a Literature to Life stage presentation of Young Audiences New York.

March 26: Elisa Albert, novelist and short story writer, and Yelena Akhtiorskaya, novelist
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading -- 8:00 p.m., Campus Center 375
Elisa Albert is the author of the new novel After Birth (2015), a piercingly candid and outrageously funny story of motherhood. Author Lydia Davis called it, "a fast-talking, opinionated, moody, funny, and slightly desperate account of the attempt to recover from having a baby." Albert's previous books include the novel, The Book of Dahlia (2008) and the short story collection, How This Night is Different (2006), winner of the Moment Magazine Emerging Writer Award for Short Fiction.

Yelena Akhtiorskaya is the author of a brilliant debut novel, Panic in a Suitcase (2014), the story of two decades in the life of a Ukrainean immigrant family in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Hailed by the critics as "ingenious" (NPR), "marvelous" (Library Journal) and "hilarious" (Publishers Weekly), Panic in a Suitcase was named a "Notable Book of 2014" by the New York Times and Washington Post.

April 9: Mary Norris, proofreader, copy editor, and author
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m., Humanities Building Room 354
Reading -- 8:00 p.m., Huxley Auditorium, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany
Mary Norris, celebrated proofreader, copy editor, and author at The New Yorker, is an authoritative figure in an endangered profession. On staff at The New Yorker since 1978, she is the author of the new book, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (2015), which features hilarious meditations on grammar, as well as memorable tussles about usage with such writers as Ian Frazier, Pauline Kael, Philip Roth, and George Saunders. Garrison Keillor said in advance praise, "This is as entertaining as grammar can be. Very very. Read it and savor it."

April 13: The 19th Annual Burian Lecture Funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment: Tina Packer, theatre director, actor, and author
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m, Campus Center Room 375
The Burian Lecture -- 8:00 p.m., Studio Theatre, Performing Arts Center
Tina Packer, one of the world's leading authorities on Shakespeare's work, is the founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. Her new book is Women of Will: The Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays (2015), a fierce and funny exploration of the Bard's female characters and his changing understanding of the feminine. The book grows out of Packer's same-named, two-person lecture and recital highlighting Shakespeare's "strong women," starring Packer and Nigel Gore. Writing in the Wall St. Journal, Terry Teachout praised Packer for "fearlessly impassioned acting that you'll remember for as long as you live."

April 15: Alice McDermott, novelist and short story writer
Reading and McKinney Writing Contest Award Ceremony -- 8:00 p.m., Biotech Auditorium, Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Building, Rensselaer (RPI), Troy (Directions)
Alice McDermott, winner of the National Book Award for the novel, Charming Billy (1998), is the author most recently of the novel, Someone (2013), the story of one woman's "ordinary" life across the decades of the 20th century in an Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn, New York. Someone was named a "Best Book of the Year" by NPR, The New York Times, and the Washington Post. The New York Times described the novel as "A fine-tuned, beautiful book filled with so much universal experience, such haunting imagery, such urgent matters of life and death." McDermott's previous novels include three Pulitzer Prize finalists: That Night (1987), At Weddings and Wakes (1992), and After This (2006).

April 23: Alicia Suskin Ostriker and Joan Murray, poets
Seminar -- 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading -- 8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 375
Alicia Suskin Ostriker, author of fifteen poetry collections, is a two-time finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry for The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998 (1999) and The Crack in Everything (1996). Ostriker is also the author of The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems 1979-2011 (2012). Her new collection is The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog (2014), which poet Mark Doty called a "marvelously idiosyncratic, urgent, no-holds-barred book, a masque and pageant not to be missed."

Joan Murray has been called, "one of the few poets whose work remains accessible to both scholars of poetry and the casual reader" (The Harvard Review). Her new collection is Swimming for the Ark: New & Selected Poems 1990-2015 (2015). Earlier collections include Dancing on the Edge (2002); Looking for the Parade (2000), winner of the National Poetry Series Open Competition; and Queen of the Mist (1999), for which she received a Broadway commission.

May 1: WILLIAM A. WELLMAN FILM FESTIVAL: William Wellman, Jr., author and actor
Reading and discussion on the work of film director William Wellman -- 7:30 p.m., Page Hall,
135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

William Wellman, Jr. is the author of Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel (2015), a biography of his father, director William A. Wellman, a giant of the motion picture industry from the Silent Era to the 1950s. Wellman's 82 films include history's first Academy Award winner for Best Picture, WINGS (1927), as well as such iconic films as A STAR IS BORN (1937), THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943), and THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (1954). Drawing on his father's unpublished letters, diaries, notes and unfinished autobiography, the new book offers the first full portrait of the man. A notable character actor in his own right, Wellman Jr. is also the author of The Man and His Wings (2006), about the making of his father's silent masterpiece.

Comments

Thanks so much for posting this. The fact that we have had practically every living great writer who is writing in the English language parading through Albany year after year for the past 30 years is often taken for granted. This is one of the things that makes this town so gosh darn wonderful.

Yes! Well said, LorreS. Great stuff. I love that I can walk to the events at the downtown campus, but I still miss too many. On the calendar now! Thanks AOA.

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