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Bookmark and ShareA celebration of William Kennedy's 90th Birthday and the 35th Anniversary of the NYS Writers Institute
William Kennedy, 1950 and today
William Kennedy in 1950 and more recently

7 p.m. Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Albany City Hall, 24 Eagle Street

Media coverage for William Kennedy's 90th:
-- A Celebration of William Kennedy’s 90th birthday and the 35th anniversary of the New York State Writers Institute The Spotlight, Jan. 12, 2018
-- William Kennedy planted seeds of literature here Times Union, Jan. 22, 2018
-- 90 and 35: Literary years to celebrate for UAlbany UAlbany News, Jan. 23, 2018
-- Events recognize author William Kennedy at age 90 Times Union, Jan. 27, 2018
-- A celebration of William Kennedy's 90th birthday WAMC-Northeast Public Radio, Feb. 1, 2018
-- O William Kennedy! is 90: Tributes, Irish pride abound as beloved author celebrated in Albany Times Union, Feb. 1, 2018

William Kennedy's remarks at Albany City Hall, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018

A public reception for William Kennedy will be held at Albany City Hall to celebrate his 90th birthday, his transformative impact on the city's life, lore, and literary culture, and his founding of the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany.

The program will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 31, at Albany City Hall, 24 Eagle Street, downtown Albany. Free and open to the public, the event will feature remarks by Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl, Mayor Kathy Sheehan and other political and civic leaders, a video tribute by notable authors and friends, a reading from Kennedy's book Roscoe by members of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, musical selections sung by Albany Pro Musica, and remarks by Kennedy.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and native son Kennedy turned 90 on January 16. His "Albany cycle" of novels – Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, and Ironweed -- helped to establish the city as an internationally recognized capital of the literary imagination. Upon winning a MacArthur Fellowship "genius grant" in 1983, Kennedy earmarked a portion of the grant money to establish the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany.

The following year, Governor Mario M. Cuomo signed into law legislation that codified the Institute's mandate to provide "a milieu for established and aspiring writers to work together to increase the freedom of the artistic imagination." Kennedy has welcomed nearly all of the roughly 2,000 writers who have come to the Writers Institute since its founding. In that time, the Writers Institute has developed a strong national reputation and outstanding community engagement.

The NYS Writers Institute recently created an endowment fund in Kennedy's name to help sustain the mission of the non-profit institution. "We are honoring both Bill's vision and the legacy of our enduring literary organization," said Grondahl. Donations made be made via the UAlbany Fund.

Additional events to celebrate Kennedy and the NYS Writers Institute will be held throughout the year, include a live recording of the Person Place Thing podcast with host and UAlbany alumnus Randy Cohen on Wednesday, February 21, and a rousing "This Is Your Life, William Kennedy" program on Friday, May 4. For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at