New York State Writers Institute | WAMC

New York State Writers Institute

The NYS Writers Institute’s 3rd Annual Albany Book Festival will be held September 10th through the 24th with all events taking place online, free, and open to the public.

The festival will feature engrossing conversations with amazing featured authors, including National Book Award winner Colum McCann; National Book Award finalist Edwidge Danticat; Noam Chomsky, one of the most cited scholars in modern history; Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking;" and many more.

This year’s lineup reinforces the institute’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and offering voices across the spectrum. The Virtual Writers Institute will present their fall programming online on the NYS Writers Institute’s YouTube channel and at albanybookfestival.com.

To tell us more, we welcome Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl.

Alice Green, outside the Center For Law  & Justice in Albany
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Weeks before the city became the site of sometimes violent protests between demonstrators and police, the Center For Law And Justice in Albany released a report calling attention to systemic racism. Now it plans a community/government symposium this fall.

Scott Simon, beloved host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition” since it first aired in 1985, and one of the best-known voices on American radio, will present his new middle grade book, "Sunnyside Plaza" in an event presented by New York State Writers Institute at UAlbany's Page Hall on March 10 at 7:30 p.m.

The book tells the story of a developmentally disabled adult woman who seeks to solve the mystery of a number of suspicious deaths in her group home.

Legendary rapper Rakim visits the Albany Public Library Howe Branch and the University at Albany as part of the Creative Life series, on Monday, October 28, 2019.
Patrick Dodson

William Michael Griffin Jr., better known by his stage name Rakim, is “near-universally acknowledged as one of the greatest MCs – perhaps the greatest – of all time within the hip-hop community” He began his career as the emcee of the rap duo Eric B. & Rakim.

Where many MCs of the time developed their technique through improvisational battles, Rakim was among the first to demonstrate the possibilities of sitting down and writing intricately crafted lyrics packed with clever word choices and metaphors.

His new book: "Sweat The Technique: Revelations On Creativity From The Lyrical Genius" follows his career from his beginnings as a teenage rapper on Long Island and offers insight into how he thinks about words, music, writing and rhyming as it teaches writers of all levels how to hone their craft.

Joe Donahue spoke with Rakim on stage on October 28th as part of UAlbany’s Creative Life series. The Creative Life is created and produced by the New York State Writers Institute, University Art Museum, and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in collaboration with WAMC.

High wire artist Philippe Petit visits the University at Albany as part of The Creative Life: A Conversation Series at UAlbany on Thursday, October 3, 2019.
Patrick Dodson

Philippe Petit has performed on the high wire more than 80 times around the world; he is also a magician, street juggler, visual artist, builder, lecturer, writer and subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary "Man on Wire."

Petit’s first “coup” was walking between the towers of Notre Dame in Paris in 1971. He followed with a walk between the pylons of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, setting the stage for “the artistic crime of the century,” his Twin Towers walk a quarter of a mile above the sidewalks of New York in 1974.

We spoke with Petit on stage on October 3 as part of UAlbany’s Creative Life series. The Creative Life is created and produced by the New York State Writers Institute, University Art Museum, and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in collaboration with WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

MacArthur Genius and Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize and the Andrew Carnegie Medal, among others.

Desmond will be at UAlbany’s Page Hall on Thursday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. for an event sponsored by the Changing the Conversation Committee, a partnership of CatholicCharities, Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Unity House, and the New York State Writers Institute.

Paul Reiser and Joe Donahue on stage at Page Hall in Albany New York
Patrick Dodson

Comedian, actor, television writer, author and musician Paul Reiser co-starred as Paul Buchman in the decade-defining 1990s comedy, "Mad About You." Other starring roles include Michael Taylor in 60 episodes of "My Two Dads," Doug Getty in "Red Oaks," and Dr. Sam Owens in "Stranger Things." His films include: "Diner," "Beverly Hills Cop" 1 & 2, "Aliens" and "Whiplash."

Reiser is also the author of three bestsellers about family life, including "Couplehood," "Babyhood" and "Familyhood." This Creative Life conversation was recorded on April 4, 2019.

Robert Boyers’ new book is "The Tyranny of Virtue." It is a collection of essays about the decline of civility and academic freedom promoted by, as Boyers sees it, excesses of political correctness at America’s universities.

Boyers, who defines himself as a liberal, decries the intolerance of his fellow liberals for political and intellectual diversity.

Robert Boyers is the editor of "Salmagundi," a professor of English at Skidmore College, and the director of the New York State Summer Writers Institute. He will be speaking at a New York State Writers Institute event on Thursday afternoon at UAlbany.

Philippe Petit has performed on the high wire more than 80 times around the world; he is also a magician, street juggler, visual artist, builder, lecturer, writer and subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary, "Man on Wire" and the feature film "The Walk."

Petit’s first “coup” was walking between the towers of Notre Dame in Paris in 1971. He followed with a walk between the pylons of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, setting the stage for “the artistic crime of the century,” his Twin Towers walk a quarter of a mile above the sidewalks of New York in 1974.

Joe Donahue will be talking with Petit on stage at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s Recital Hall on Thursday, October 3 at 7 p.m. discussing his creative inspiration, craft and career with a question and answer session with the audience will follow. It is part of the UAlbany’s Creative Life series.

Preceding The Creative Life event, Petit will perform a demonstration of his rope-walking artistry and join attendees at a reception at 6 p.m.

The 2nd Annual Albany Book Festival at the University at Albany will take place Saturday, September 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Events are free and open to the public and there will be books for sale.

The festival will include more than 100 authors and poets, including several nationally-known and best-selling writers, exhibits, writing workshops, and children's activities.

Dan Rather in a trench coat, dark red tie, holding a pen and a reporter's notebook
Ben Baker

Dan Rather, eminent newsman and the voice of a generation, will visit the University at Albany this Friday, September 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the SEFCU Arena on the University at Albany Uptown Campus.

With a storied career that has spanned more than six decades, Dan Rather is one of the world’s best-known journalists. He has interviewed every president since Eisenhower and covered almost every important dateline around the world. Rather joined CBS News in 1962, and in 1981 he assumed the position of Anchor and Managing Editor of the" CBS Evening News," which he held for twenty-four years. His reporting helped turn "60 Minutes" into an institution, launched "48 Hours" as a newsmagazine program, and shaped countless specials and documentaries.

Upon leaving CBS, Rather created the Emmy Award–winning "Dan Rather Reports" on HDNet. He is founder, president, and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company that specializes in high-quality nonfiction content across a range of traditional and digital channels.

Rather's recent New York Times bestseller, "What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism," offers a collection of original essays about the world we live in, what our core ideals have been and should be, and what it means to be an American.

Toni Morrison, right, and William Kennedy at the University at Albany.
UAlbany

Nobel Prize-winning novelist, essayist and social critic Toni Morrison has died. And she is being remembered warmly in Albany thanks to the years she spent at the University at Albany.

Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review, was in Albany, New York in April for an event with the New York State Writers Institute.

Paul has been a contributor to Time magazine and a columnist for Worth. She also originated and wrote the Studied column in The New York Times Sunday Styles section. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Economist, Vogue, Slate and more.

Her memoir, "My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues," tells the story of "Bob," Paul's book of books, a journal she started when she was 17 years old exchange student living in France, recording every book she has read since the summer of 1988. She first wrote about Bob in a 2012 essay in The New York Times.

Book cover for "Passage" and photo of Khary Lazarre-White
Author photo by Emmanuel Andre

Khary Lazarre-White, author, activist and attorney, is the executive director and cofounder of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (Bro/Sis), a nationally renowned, Harlem-based youth services organization.

His first novel, "Passage," is the story of Warrior, a young man navigating the snowy winter streets of Harlem and Brooklyn in 1993. Warrior is surrounded by deep family love and a sustaining connection to his history, bonds that arm him as he confronts the urban forces that surround him--both supernatural and human including some that seek his very destruction.

He will be in Albany, New York for a pair of New York State Writers Institute events with Reif Larsen on Thursday, April 11.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” explores the history of the women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971. The documentary takes its audience from the founding of the National Organization for Women to the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation - telling a proud and reflective story about feminist accomplishments and missteps.

The film combines dramatizations, performance, and archival footage, along with interviews with women who fought for their own equality, and in the process created a world-wide revolution.

The New York State Writers Institute will present a screening of “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” tonight at 7:30 at Page Hall on UAlbany’s Downtown Campus. A q&a with director and award-winning documentary producer Mary Dore will follow the screening and she joins us.

Created and produced by the New York State Writers Institute, University Art Museum, and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in collaboration with WAMC Northeast Public Radio, the Creative Life series features leading figures from a variety of artistic disciplines in conversation with Joe Donahue about their creative inspiration, craft, and careers.

On Friday, March 1 at 8 p.m., Joe will be joined by Susan Orlean, author of the current New York Times bestseller, "The Library Book." A staff writer at The New Yorker for a quarter century, Orlean is the author of seven books, including "The Orchid Thief," an international bestseller that became the hit film "Adaptation."

On Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m., Orlean and co-host Sarah Thyre will present a live taping of their Earwolf podcast, "Crybabies" in the Sosnoff Theater at the Bard Fisher Center with guests Michael Ian Black, Karen Chee, and Gary Shteyngart.

Esmeralda Santiago, a founding mother of Nuyorican literature, was part of the University at Albany’s: The Creative Life: Conversation Series in the Fall of last year.

The eldest in a family of 11 children, Santiago came to the States from Puerto Rico at the age of 13. After eight years of part-time study in community colleges, she transferred to Harvard where she graduated magna cum laude. Santiago’s bestselling 1993 memoir, "When I Was Puerto Rican," was named one of the “Best Memoirs of a Generation” by Oprah’s Book Club. Her second memoir, "Almost a Woman" was adapted for Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. Her epic 2011 novel, "Conquistadora," set in 19th century Puerto Rico, was hailed as a “triumph” in The Washington Post.

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center and University Art Museum in conjunction with WAMC produced with major support from the University at Albany Foundation.

This conversation was recorded on November 8th, 2018 at the University at Albany Campus Center Ballroom.

Thumbnail images of artwork by Jean Shin
http://www.jeanshin.com/

Jean Shin, sculptor and public installation artist, was part of the University at Albany’s: The Creative Life: Conversation Series in the Fall of last year.

Shin is nationally recognized for her monumental installations that transform everyday objects into expressions of identity and community. For each project, she amasses vast collections of a particular object (prescription pill bottles, sports trophies, sweaters) which are often sourced through donations from individuals in a participating community. These intimate objects then become the materials for sculptures, videos and site-specific installations. Her work has been widely exhibited in over 150 major museums and cultural institutions.

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center and University Art Museum in conjunction with WAMC produced with major support from the University at Albany Foundation.

This conversation was recorded on November 1, 2018 at the University at Albany Performing Arts Center.

Bibbe Hansen, pop cultural icon, performance artist, musician, and actress known for her work with Andy Warhol was part of the University at Albany’s: The Creative Life: Conversation Series with me in the Fall of last year.

Born to the bohemian poet Audrey Ostin Hansen and Fluxus artist Al Hansen in 1952, she was introduced to Andy Warhol in 1964 when her father took her to the popular bohemian artist hangout, Stark’s coffee shop, in New York City.

She became the youngest of the Warhol Superstars at just 12-years old starring in his films Prison and Restaurant. She also sat for two Screen Tests for Warhol the following year.

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center and University Art Museum in conjunction with WAMC produced with major support from the University at Albany Foundation.

This conversation was recorded on September 5, 2018 at the University Art Museum on UAlbany’s Uptown campus. This semester’s Creative Life events will feature author Susan Orlean on March 1 and comedian and actor Paul Reiser on April 4.

Author, historian and Pulitzer Prize-winner Doris Kearns Goodwin has a new book out today and will be in our region later this month for a pair of events to discuss her latest work, "Leadership: In Turbulent Times."

The book chronicles the journeys of four of our nation’s presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. Through those histories, Goodwin explores questions of natural leadership ability versus developed ability; the relationship between ambition and adversity on leader ship growth; and how leaders both perceive themselves and are perceived by others.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, as a high-end Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the hurricane hit the island with the destructive force of a "50- to 60-mile-wide tornado.” Destroying the island’s power grid, and decimating the territory’s agricultural industries, the storm left a shattered infrastructure, a crippled economy, and numerous public health emergencies.

Tonight, a distinguished panel from diverse fields will address questions regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis and its lessons for the future in an event presented by The New York State Writers Institute and cosponsored by the Journalism Program of the University at Albany Department of Communication. The event, entitled "The Lessons of Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico: The Hurricane, the Response, Preparing for Future Disasters," is free and open to the public and will take place at Page Hall on UAlbany’s Downtown Campus at 7:30 p.m.

One of the panelists is Robert Griffin - founding dean of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany, the first college of its kind in the nation.

Dean Griffin has a long career in homeland security at the Federal and local levels of government. He served as the acting undersecretary for Science and Technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the deputy undersecretary for Science and Technology, and director of the Science and Technology Directorate’s First Responders Group.

Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
NYSWI

The New York State Writers Institute has received two large gifts expected to secure its future.

Aly Raisman is one of the most decorated gymnasts in the world, winning six Olympic medals as captain of the U.S. women's gymnastics team. Now she is using her platform to promote body positivity, being an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, and pushing for systematic change within the world of women's gymnastics.

Her new book is "Fierce: How Competing For Myself Changed Everything."

Aly Raisman will be speaking at UAlbany SEFCU Arena December 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Esmeralda Santiago is a renowned writer of the Puerto Rican experience and a founding mother of Nuyorican literature.

Santiago’s bestselling 1993 memoir, "When I was Puerto Rican" was named one of the “Best Memoirs of a Generation” by Oprah’s Book Club. In 2018, it was one of five finalists for the “One Book, One New York” community-wide reading project. Her second memoir, "Almost a Woman" received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and was adapted for Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. Her epic 2011 novel, "Conquistadora" received many praises in The Washington Post.

She will be in Albany, New York at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 8 at the University at Albany Campus Center Ballroom as part of The Creative Life Conversation Series.

The Creative Life series, a major arts initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center and University Art Museum in conjunction with regional public radio station WAMC, brings leading figures from writing, music, dance, choreography, visual arts, architecture, theatre, and filmmaking to the University for conversation with Donahue about their creative inspiration, craft, and careers.

Jean Shin, sculptor and public installation artist, will visit the University at Albany for a conversation with WAMC’s Joe Donahue as part of The Creative Life: Conversation Series at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 1 at the University at Albany Performing Arts Center.

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the New York State Writers Institute, UAlbany Performing Arts Center and University Art Museum in conjunction with WAMC, produced with major support from the University at Albany Foundation.

Jean Shin is nationally recognized for her monumental installations that transform everyday objects into elegant expressions of identity and community. For each project, she amasses vast collections of a particular object—prescription pill bottles, sports trophies, sweaters—which are often sourced through donations from individuals in a participating community.

Adam Nadal

Ping Chong + Company will present their non-fiction, documentary style production - “Beyond Sacred: Voices of Muslim Identity” on October 14 and 15 at UAlbany Performing Arts Center on the main campus of the University at Albany.

Written by Chong, Sara Zatz, and Ryan Conarro in collaboration with the performers, the work illuminates the daily experiences of five young Muslim Americans who have come of age in a post-9/11 society and are building their lives in a time of continued fear and violence towards Muslims. The cast members are from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds and reflect a wide range of Muslim identities, including: those who have converted to Islam, those who were raised Muslim but have since left the faith, those who identify as “culturally” Muslim and those who are observant on a daily basis.

We welcome Maha Syed, featured in “Beyond Sacred;” Sara Zatz, the co-author & co-director of “Beyond Sacred;” and Paul Grondahl, Director of the New York State Writers Institute.

In fewer than three hundred words, Khizr Khan electrified viewers around the world when he took the stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. And when he offered to lend Donald Trump his own much-read and dog-eared pocket Constitution, his gesture perfectly encapsulated the feelings of millions by challenging Trump's call to stop Muslims from entering the U.S.

In response, Trump questioned the Khan's motives and religion, even though they are Gold Star parents whose son was killed in Iraq. Today, Donald Trump is president and Khizr Khan is the author of a new book, "An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice" – just out in paperback. He has also written a book for young readers entitled, "This Is Our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father."

Khan was in Albany, New York to participate in New York State Writers Institute's Albany Book Festival at the University at Albany.

This Saturday, September 29, The New York State Writers Institute presents The Albany Book Festival. A fun way to celebrate authors, books and readers, the Albany Book Festival will run between 10a.m. and 4p.m. at UAlbany's uptown campus. Kicking off with a dance party, the Albany Book Festival presents conversations on genres such as food, mystery, history, and memoirs of new Americans.

The festival will feature renowned authors Doris Kearns Goodwin, Walter Mosley, Khizr Khan, Gregory Maguire and many more.

Joining us today is Director of New York State Writers Institute Paul Grondahl and Co-Director of Grassroot Givers Mary Partridge-Brown.

Actor Sean Penn will speak at UAlbany’s Writers Institute Friday amid national backlash over comments he made about the MeToo movement.

On a summer day in New York Jonathan Santlofer discovers his wife, Joy, gasping for breath on their living room couch. After a frenzied 911 call, an ambulance race across Manhattan, and hours pacing in a hospital waiting room, a doctor finally delivers the fateful news.

Consumed by grief, Jonathan desperately tries to pursue life as he always had--writing, social engagements, and working on his art--but finds it nearly impossible to admit his deep feelings of loss to anyone, not even his to beloved daughter, Doria, or to himself.

Jonathan Santlofer is a writer and artist. His debut novel, "The Death Artist," was an international bestseller, translated into seventeen languages, and is currently in development for screen adaptation. His fourth novel, "Anatomy of Fear," won the Nero Award for best novel of 2009. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. He is also the creator and editor of several anthologies including "It Occurs to Me That I Am America," a collection of original stories and art. His paintings and drawings are included in many public and private collections.

Jonathan will be a featured speaker at the Albany Book Festival on Saturday, September 29th @ 1-1:15. His talk is titled “How We Grieve.” And then on Sunday, September 30, Yaddo Presents Jonathan Santlofer at the Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs at 5 p.m.

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