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Literary Conversations Visiting Writers Series
Fall 2002 Schedule
Taha Muhammad Ali
Tom Barbash
Zoe Caldwell
Pat Conroy
Clayton Eshleman
Bernardine Evaristo
Richard Ford
Jim Harrison
Gail Jones
William Kennedy
James Lasdun
Ana Menéndez
Raoul Peck
Phil Alden Robinson
Richard Russo
Dennis Smith
Aharon Shabtai
Lynne Tillman
Helen Vendler
Terri-ann White
Colson Whitehead
Click on Event for Further Information
ALL EVENTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
(Sneak Preview: Spring 2003 Visiting Writers Series)
September / October / November / December
Dennis Smith
DENNIS
SMITH

Dennis Smith, bestselling writer and retired New York City firefighter, is the author most recently of Report from Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center (2002), an account of the events of September 11, 2001. Smith, who was present at the scene of the disaster as a volunteer firefighter, combines his own observations with interviews of other emergency service workers who were involved in the initial rescue effort as well as a subsequent search for survivors beneath the rubble. Smith is also the author of A Song for Mary: An Irish American Memory (1999) a lyrical memoir of growing up Irish Catholic and poor in New York City. Smith's first and perhaps best-known book, Report of Engine Co. 82 (1972), recounted his day-to-day life as a member of New York City's busiest fire station. His other novels are The Final Fire (1975), and Glitter and Ash (1980). He is the founding editor of Firehouse Magazine.

SEPTEMBER 17
(Tuesday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar
Assembly Hall, CC


8:00 p.m. Reading
Page Hall

Richard Russo
RICHARD
RUSSO

Novelist Richard Russo is the winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for his novel Empire Falls (2001), a saga set in a former logging and textile town in Maine. The novel features Russo's trademark cast of loveable losers, cranks and misfits. Many of Russo's earlier novels, including Nobody's Fool (1993), The Risk Pool (1988), and Mohawk (1986), chronicle blue collar life in struggling New York mill towns that are indirectly modeled on his boyhood home of Gloversville, Nobody's Fool NY. Russo collaborated on the 1994 film adaptation of Nobody's Fool, which starred Paul Newman, Melanie Griffith, Jessica Tandy and Bruce Willis. Russo's most recent work is The Whore's Child (2002), his first collection of short stories. Russo also cowrote the screenplay of Twilight, the 1998 film starring Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon and Gene Hackman. Russo's Nobody's Fool will open the Institute's Classic Film Series Friday, Sept 20th.

SEPTEMBER 25
(Wednesday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar
Assembly Hall, CC


8:00 p.m. Reading
Page Hall

Bernadine Evaristo
BERNARDINE
EVARISTO

Poet Bernardine Evaristo is the author of two novels in verse, Lara (1997) and The Emperor's Babe (2001). Lara is the story of a girl who, like Evaristo herself, is born to a Nigerian father and British mother in suburban London in the 1960s. The novel was named "Book of the Year" by The Daily Telegraph and New Stateman. Evaristo's recent novel, The Emperor's Babe, is set in London under Roman occupation in the year 211 A.D. It follows the story of Zuleika, a young Sudanese woman who becomes the lover of Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Her poem Britain: A Continuum is the commissioned signature poem for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's millennium brochure 'A View From Britain'.

SEPTEMBER 26
(Thursday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar
Assembly Hall, CC

8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

Taha Muhammad Ali
TAHA
MUHAMMAD ALI

Aharon Shabtai
AHARON
SHABTAI

ISRAELI & PALESTINIAN POETRY: A LITERARY ENCOUNTER
(Moderated by Peter Cole, poet and translator of medieval and contemporary Hebrew and Arabic.)
Taha Muhammad Ali is a leading Palestinian poet and citizen of Israel who lives in Nazareth. He is the author of three volumes of poetry and a collection of short stories in Arabic. His first collection in English, Never Mind: Twenty Poems and a Story, appeared in 2000. Ali's work is rooted in Saffuriya, the Galilean village where he grew up and from which he fled during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Popular among Arab readers of both Israel and Palestine for his politically complex and sensitive work, Ali is a self-taught poet who first began publishing at the age of 52.
Aharon Shabtai is one of the leading Israeli poets of his generation, the author of more than 15 books of poetry. Love and Selected Poems (translated by Peter Cole), his first collection published in English, appeared in 1997. Shabtai is also the foremost translator of Greek drama into Hebrew, and winner of the 1993 Prime Minister's Prize for his translations of Aeschylus, and others. Critically acclaimed in France, Shabtai's poems have appeared in more than a dozen languages. His work was recently featured in The American Poetry Review.

OCTOBER 1
(Tuesday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar
CC 375


8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

Phil Alden Robinson PHIL ALDEN
ROBINSON

Writer/Director Phil Alden Robinson has directed The Sum of All Fears (2002), "Band of Brothers" (2001, mini TV series), Freedom Song (2000, TV), Field of Dreams (1989), Sneakers (1992), and In the Mood (1987, aka The Woo Woo Kid) . He is the co-chair of the Writers Guild of America Screenwriters Council. Robinson will present film commentary immediately following the screening of Sneakers.

OCTOBER 3
(Thursday)

4:15 Seminar
Standish Room

SNEAKERS
7:00 p.m.
w/Film Commentary
Page Hall
Raoul Peck
RAOUL
PECK

Lumumba Though born in Haiti, Raoul Peck grew up in Zaire and experienced its birth-pangs as a nation firsthand. Peck also served recently as Haiti's Minister of Culture, and is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the organization, Human Rights Watch. Director of LUMUMBA, he will present film commentary and answer questions immediately following the screening. Peck will also discuss his film work and the art and culture of Haiti at the 4:00 Seminar.

OCTOBER 11
(Friday)

4:00 p.m. Seminar
W Seminar Rm, NL

7:00 LUMUMBA
w/Film Commentary
Page Hall
Colson Whitehead COLSON WHITEHEAD

Colson Whitehead's multilayered second novel, John Henry Days (2001) juxtaposes the stories of two African-American men: John Henry, the 19th century railroad worker and folk hero, and J. Sutter, a modern-day hack journalist assigned to cover a John Henry Day festival. The book received the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, established to honor American authors aged 35 or younger, and was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Whitehead's debut novel, The Intuitionist (1998), received the QPB New Voices Award and was an Ernest Hemingway/PEN Award finalist. Whitehead is also the recipient of a 2000 Whiting Writers' Award for writers of exceptional promise.

OCTOBER 17
(Thursday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar

8:00 p.m. Reading
Both Recital Hall, PAC

William Kennedy WILLIAM
KENNEDY

Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy, whose work paints pictures of the city of Albany and its inhabitants over a broad span of history, will present a talk:


"State and Pearl Streets:
The Corner Where History Meets the Imagination"


in conjunction with the Art Museum's exhibition
"State Street Stories: 350 Years of Albany's Heritage"

Reservations Required. Please call 518-442-4035.
OCTOBER 20
(Sunday)


2:00 p.m. Talk
Art Museum
FA

Tom Barbash
TOM
BARBASH

Novelist Tom Barbash's fiction has appeared in Tin House, Story, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Indiana Review. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is a former Wallace Stegner and Scowcroft Fellow at Stanford University. He also served as the Creative Writing Program's Jones Lecturer, was a student of Tobias Wolff, and has won the Nelson Algren Award for Short Fiction and the James Michener Award for The Last Good Chance (2002). After finishing Haverford College, he worked as a reporter for several years at the Syracuse Post Standard. He is also the author, with Howard Lutnick, of On Top of the World, the story of Cantor Fitzgerald and September 11.

OCTOBER 21
(Monday)

4:15 p.m. Reading & Signing
HU 354


Clayton Eshleman
CLAYTON
ESHLEMAN

Poet, translator, and editor Clayton Eshleman, much of whose work is characterized by intense self-investigation, is the author of twelve books of poetry. Eshleman is also one of America's most distinguished translators of poetry. His translations have included works by César Vellejo, Aimé Cesairé, Pablo Neruda, Antonin Artaud, Vladimir Holan and Michel Deguy. Among other awards, Eshelman received the first National Book Award given for poetry translation, as well as the PEN Translation Award and National Translation Center Award. Eshleman is the founding editor of two influential literary magazines, Caterpillar and Sulfur. His most recent book is Companion Spider (2002), a collection of essays about poets, translation and writing poetry. Eshleman will read from and discuss his work in translating Cesar Vallejo. He will also join award-winning translators Pierre Joris and Lydia Davis, both members of the UAlbany English Department faculty, for an informal seminar on translation at 4:15 p.m.

OCTOBER 22
(Tuesday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar
East Seminar Room
New Library


8:00 p.m. Reading
Assembly Hall, CC

Zoe Caldwell ZOE
CALDWELL

Zoe Caldwell is one of the foremost actors and directors in contemporary theatre. Australian by birth, Caldwell was named to the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. She is the winner of Tony Awards for her roles in Slapstick Tragedy (1966), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1968), Medea (1982), and as Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's Master Class (1996). She has been featured on numerous television productions for the BBC-TV and CBC-TVand in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo. Caldwell is also the author of the recent memoir, I Will Be Cleopatra: An Actress's Journey (2001). In it she describes what it has been like to work with such performers s Charles Laughton, Albert Finney, Edith Evans, Paul Robeson, Laurence Olivier and Tennessee Williams. The Writers Institute will screen Sarah, a CBC television production about the life of 19th century actress Sarah Bernhardt, with Caldwell in the title role, on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Page Hall.

OCTOBER 29
(Tuesday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar

8:00 p.m. Reading
Both Recital Hall, PAC

Jim Harrison
JIM
HARRISON

Poet, novelist and screenwriter Jim Harrison is celebrated for his fiction that features larger-than-life characters and plots rooted in American mythology. His most recent book is Off to the Side: A Memoir (November 2002), which chronicles his formation and growth as a writer. He is also the author of The Beast That God Forgot to Invent (2001), three novellas that examine the underlying wildness of civilized human beings, and The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand (2001), a collection of food essays and meditations on life that appeared in Esquire, Smart and Men's Journal. Several novels and novellas by Harrison have been made into movies, including Carried Away (1996, based on novel Farmer), Legends of the Fall (1995), Revenge (1990) and Dalva (1988, made for TV) Harrison has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship and two awards from the National Literary Anthology. He also won the Spirit of the West Award from the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association.

OCTOBER 30
(Wednesday)


4:15 p.m. Seminar
Standish Room
New Library

8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

James Lasdun JAMES
LASDUN

Writer-in-Residence

James Lasdun is a fiction writer, poet, and screenwriter whose first short story collection, The Silver Age (1985), published in the U.S. as Delirium Eclipse and Other Stories, earned the Dylan Thomas Award. Lasdun's new first novel, The Horned Man (2002), appeared to critical raves on both sides of the Atlantic. As a poet, Lasdun received the Eric Gregory Award of the United Kingdom's Society of Authors for his first collection, A Jump Start (1988). His most recent collection Landscape with Chainsaw (2001), was short-listed for the T. S. Eliot Prize. As a screenwriter, Lasdun received the Screenwriting Award at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival for the film, Sunday, which he co-wrote with director Jonathan Nassiter. His short story "The Slege" also provided the basis for Besieged (1998), directed by Bernard Bertolucci. He has taught poetry and fiction writing at Princeton University, New York University, and Columbia University, and is a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in poetry. James Lasdun will conduct a fiction workshop during the fall 2002 semester. A film presentation of Besieged, will be shown the following night, Friday, at 7:00 p.m. in Page Hall.

NOVEMBER 7
(Thursday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar
Assembly Hall, CC


8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

Gail Jones
GAIL JONES

Gail Jones is the author of The House of Breathing (1992); Fetish Lives (1997) and Black Mirrors (2002). She is currently in residence at the Center for Australian Studies at Harvard University. She will read from her collection of short stories.


NOVEMBER 8
(Friday)

12:20 p.m. Reading
A&S 112


ANA
MENÉNDEZ

Ana Menéndez is the author of a debut collection of interrelated short stories, In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd (2001). The title story of the collection was selected for the Pushcart Prize. The daughter of Cuban exiles, Menéndez spent six years as a journalist, first at The Miami Herald, for which she covered the Miami neighborhood of Little Havana, then at The Orange County Register in California. Menéndez graduated from the Creative Writing Program at New York University where she was a New York Times fellow. Her stories, sad and humorous by turns, examine how coming to the United States has changed the lives of Cuban immigrants.

NOVEMBER 12
(Tuesday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar

8:00 p.m. Reading
Both Assembly Hall, CC

Terri-Ann White
TERRI-ANN
WHITE

Terri-ann White is a Western Australian fiction writer who directs a cross-disciplinary research center at the University of WA. She has published widely, and her books include Night and Day (1994), Finding Theodore and Brina (2001) as well as a number of edited volumes. She recently published a book of collaborative writing, Speedfactory (2002), with McKenzie Wark, John Kinsella and Bernard Cohen.

NOVEMBER 18
(Monday)

4:00 p.m. Reading
Humanities 354

Lynne Tillman
LYNNE
TILLMAN

Lynne Tillman is an Associate professor and Writer-in-Residence in the Department of English at UAlbany and teaches fiction. Her most recent novel, No Lease on Life (Harvest Books, 1999), was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The novel recounts one oppressively hot day in the life of a woman living in New York City's East Village. Tillman's other novels include Love Sentence (1999, a novella), Cast in Doubt (1992), Motion Sickness (1991), and Haunted Houses (1987). Tillman is also the author of Bookstore: The Life and Times of Jeannette Watson and Books & Co (Harcourt, 1999). Featuring a preface by Woody Allen, Bookstore is the nonfiction account of a beloved literary landmark on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Tillman is also well-known in the art world for her witty "Madame Realism" columns, which have appeared in the journal Art in America since 1986.

NOVEMBER 19
(Tuesday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar
East Seminar Room
New Library

8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

Helen Vendler
HELEN
VENDLER

Helen Vendler is widely regarded as America's foremost poetry critic. The A. Kingsley Porter Professor of English and American Literature at Harvard University, Vendler is a leading scholar of American, English, and both Eastern and Western European poetry. The author of many books, she received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Part of Nature, Part of Us: Modern American Poets (1980). She was nominated for the same award in 1983 for The Odes of John Keats, and she was a finalist in 1997 for the Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Her most recent book is Seamus Heaney (1998), the definitive study of the Irish Nobel Laureate's work. Vendler will present a lecture on Yeats and lyric poetry.

NOVEMBER 20
(Wednesday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar
Standish Room
New Library

8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

Richard Ford RICHARD
FORD

Richard Ford is a master storyteller whose work explores the challenges of marriage, love, and intimacy. His most recent collection of stories is A Multitude of Sins (2002), which deals with love relationships in peril. Ford's 1986 novel, The Sportswriter, is widely regarded as one of the most important works of fiction of the last decade. Time named it one of the five best books of 1986. Independence Day (1995), the sequel to The Sportswriter, earned Ford both the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2001, Ford received the PEN/Malamud Award for his important contributions to the art of short fiction. Ford's stories have been published in Esquire, The Paris Review, and The New Yorker.

DECEMBER 3
(Tuesday)

4:15 p.m. Seminar
Assembly Hall, CC


8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

Pat Conroy
PAT
CONROY

Pat Conroy, one of the major American novelists of the last quarter century, is the author of five critically-acclaimed bestselling books, including Beach Music (1995), The Prince of Tides (1986), The Lords of Discipline (1980), The Great Santini (1976), and The Water is Wide (1972). All except for Beach Music provided the basis for major motion pictures. Conroy's fiction is known for richly poetic prose and sensitive, often humorous examinations of painful experiences that the author acknowledges to be autobiographical. The Great Santini, for example, examines Conroy's complex relationship with his father. Conroy's latest nonfiction book, My Losing Season (October 2002), focuses on the author's senior year as a varsity basketball player at the Citadel, the South's bastion of military tradition.

DECEMBER 12
(Thursday)

4:15 Seminar
Standish Room
New Library

8:00 p.m. Reading
Page Hall

DCSIMG