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Events are free and open to the public and take place on the University at Albany’s uptown campus, unless otherwise noted.

Books are available in advance of events and at the events, from the following bookstores:
Barnes & Noble College Bookstore and The Bookhouse of Stuyvesant Plaza

Michael MayerThe 12th Annual Burian Lecture

February 7 , Thursday
4:15pm Seminar, Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
8:00pm The Burian Lecture, Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Michael Mayer,
leading Broadway theatre director, received a 2007 Tony Award for “Best Director” for Spring Awakening (2006), which also earned “Best Musical.” A boldly original work Spring Awakening is a rock musical set in 19th century Germany. It is based on the controversial 1891 Frank Wedekind play that so daringly depicted teenage sexual discovery that it was banned from the stage for almost 100 years. Mayer has received three previous “Best Director” Tony nominations for the revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge (1998), which received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director; the revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1999); and Thoroughly Modern Millie (2001), which earned a Tony for “Best Musical,” as well as the Drama Desk Award. Other Broadway credits include the Drama Desk winner, Side Man (1998), which was presented as a play-in-progress by the Writers Institute’s Authors Theatre program, and a Drama Desk Outstanding Revival award for Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.
Mayer made his feature film directorial debut with A Home at the End of the World (2004), based on the novel by Michael Cunningham. More recently he directed the family film, Flicka (2006).

February 12 , Tuesday
4:15pm Seminar, Standish Room, Science Library
8:00pm Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Susan Choi,
prize-winning fiction writer, is the author most recently of A Person of Interest (2008), a thriller about a mild-mannered Asian American math professor falsely accused of killing prominent scientists with mail bombs. The novel has been described as a fusion of the Unabomber and Wen Ho Lee investigations. Choi was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for American Woman (2003), a novel based on the 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army. The novel’s central character, Jenny Shimada, is based on the real-life Japanese-American radical, Wendy Yoshimura. The USA Today reviewer said, “Choi gives us an intelligently rendered book that reminds us how fascinating Hearst’s story — and the times that spawned it — really were.” Choi’s first novel was The Foreign Student (1999), winner of the Asian-American Literary Award. She also coedited the anthology, Wonderful Town: New York Stories from ‘The New Yorker’ (2000), with editor-in-chief David Remnick.

February 22 , Friday
4:15pm Seminar, Standish Room, Science Library
7:00pm, Screening of GERTRUDE STEIN documentary with commentary, Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Perry Miller Adato
is a major figure in the art of biographical and historical filmmaking. Her 1970 documentary, GERTRUDE STEIN: WHEN THIS YOU SEE, REMEMBER ME (U.S., 89 minutes, b&w/color, DVD), is one of the key pioneering works of the historical documentary genre. Using revolutionary techniques that have been widely imitated, the film makes use of old photographs, letters, readings, art objects, songs, newsreel footage, and interviews to bring its subject to life. In 1977, Adato became the first woman to receive the prestigious Directors Guild of America Award for her television documentary, GEOGIA O’KEEFFE. Adato went on to receive that same award three more times for EUGENE O’NEILL: A GLORY OF GHOSTS(1986), CARL SANDBURG: ECHOES AND SILENCES (1982), and PICASSO: A PAINTER'S DIARY (1980). Her most recent documentary is ALFRED STIEGLITZ: THE ELOQUENT EYE (2001). The Philadelphia Enquirer has asserted, “.... Among American producers and directors, she leads the league....” During the afternoon seminar Adato will discuss the process of funding and producing a major documentary, using as an example her current project “Paris: The Luminous Years,” a two-part series that celebrates the arts in Paris from 1905–1930. Adato will provide commentary and answer questions following the evening screening of her documentary GERTRUDE STEIN.
Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Documentary Studies Program

February 28 , Thursday
4:15pm Fiction Reading, Humanities 354
8:00pm, Talk/discussion on contemporary literary criticism, Assembly Hall, Campus Center

James Wood,
English-born staff writer and literary critic at The New Yorker and a former book editor at the New Republic, has been called the most influential literary critic of his generation. His third book of criticism is How Fiction Works (2008), a blunt, funny and plainspoken analysis of the art form. Wood became chief literary critic of the Guardian (UK) at the age of 26 in 1992. He champions art over ideology, and aesthetics over politics. Los Angeles Times critic Jeffrey Meyers has said, “. . . James Wood has ignored the opaque aridity of literary theory and insisted on the human relevance of classic and modern literature.” Previous collections of criticism include The Irresponsible Self (2004), and The Broken Estate (1999). The Book Against God, his first novel, appeared in 2003.

March 3 (Monday)
8:00pm Ceremony/Reading, Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

The New York State Writers Institute will award the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction Writers and the Walt Whitman Citation of Merit for Poets for 2008-2010 to authors whose career achievements make them deserving of New York State's highest literary honors. The recipients will read from their work following the award ceremony.

Marie HoweAward-winning poets

March 11 , Tuesday
4:15pm Seminar, Standish Room, Science Library
8:00pm Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Marie Howe
writes “a poetry of intimacy, witness, honesty, and relation” (The Boston Globe). Her newest collection is The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2008), an exploration of ordinary, yet nevertheless miraculous, day-to-day moments—hurrying through errands, attending a dying mother, helping a child on the playground. Howe was selected by Stanley Kunitz for the Lavan Younger Poets Prize in 1988. Kunitz said, “Her long, deep-breathing lines address the mysteries of flesh and spirit, in terms accessible only to a woman who is very much of our time and yet still in touch with the sacred.” Her first book of poems, The Good Thief (1989), was chosen by Margaret Atwood to be the winner of the National Poetry Series. Atwood said, “Marie Howe’s poetry doesn’t fool around . . . these poems are intensely felt, sparely expressed, and difficult to forget....” Howe is also the author of What the Living Do: Poems (1997), and co-editor of In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic (1994).

Campbell McGrath Campbell McGrath
is a prize-winning poet admired for accessible verse that explores the cultural and natural landscapes of the United States. Much of his work has been characterized as a witty and wise indictment of American consumerism. Outside magazine has called him, “An acrobatic, exuberant poet, part Walt Whitman, part Tom Waits.... a writer who could help save poetry from academia and get the rest of us reading it again.” Library Journal has said, “McGrath sings American in a voice at once electric and eclectic, plumbing the best and worst of our society.” McGrath’s latest poetry collection is Seven Notebooks (2008), a season-by-season accounting of a year in the life of its narrator, from spring in Chicago to summer at the Jersey shore to winter in Miami Beach. Publishers Weekly calls it, “... a big, ambitious, optimistic volume.” Previous collections include Florida Poems (2002), Road Atlas (1999), Spring Comes to Chicago (1996), and American Noise (1993). He is a three-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Prize, and a 1999 recipient of a MacArthur ‘genius grant.’

March 13 , Thursday
7:00pm Reading/Talk, Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center (Note early start time)
Sponsored by the University Art Museum with support from the UAlbany Alumni Association

Gregory Maguire,
the much acclaimed Albany-born author, revisionist fairy tale writer, and UAlbany graduate, is best-known for Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995). “An amazing novel,” said John Updike in The New Yorker. Adapted as a Broadway musical in 2003, Wicked received 10 Tony nominations. Maguire’s newest book is What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy (2007), a children’s novel about an orphaned male fairy, hatched in a discarded tuna can, who embarks on a quest of self-discovery. The Washington Post praised the author’s “dancing, silken prose,” and Kirkus Reviews called it “a winner for Maguire’s fans of all ages.” Other fairy tale “revisions” include Son of a Witch (2005), an Oz sequel; Mirror, Mirror (2003), based on Snow White; and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999), a Cinderella tale. A scholar of children’s literature, Maguire currently serves as codirector of the not-for-profit arts foundation, Children’s Literature New England, Inc.
A book signing will be held at the University Art Museum following the reading.

Daniel CassidyIrish-American writers

March 17 , Monday
8:00pm Reading/Discussion, Clark Auditorium, Cultural Education Center, Albany

Daniel Cassidy,
founder and co-director of the Irish Studies Program at New College in San Francisco, is the author of the new book, How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads (2007). In a series of essays, Cassidy demonstrates that many of the words of “unknown origin” that define colloquial American English—including “jazz,” “dude,” “poker,” “slum,” “sucker,” and “scam”—all derive from the Irish language. The Belfast Telegraph called How the Irish Invented Slang, a “stunningly original book” and said that as Cassidy “cites example after example of Irish words infiltrating the street vernacular of the U.S., the plausibility of his argument tends to overwhelm scepticism.”

Peter QuinnPeter Quinn, author of the introduction to Cassidy’s book, is also the author of the new book, Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America (2007). Paying homage in its title to a notable pair of 20th century Irish-American archetypes—actor James Cagney and corrupt New York City mayor James J. Walker—the book presents portraits of legendary and unknown Irish-Americans, including writers, politicians, cops, and priests. The Washington Post Book World called it an “exceptionally thoughtful and interesting inquiry into Irish America.” A former speechwriter for New York State Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, Quinn received the American Book Award for Banished Children of Eve: A Novel of Civil War New York (1994). He is also the author of the detective novel, Hour of the Cat (2005). Cosponsored by Friends of the New York State Library

April 1 , Tuesday
4:15pm Seminar, Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00pm Reading, Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Li-Young Lee
was born to Chinese parents in Jakarta, Indonesia. His father, who had been Mao Zedong’s personal physician, fled China to escape persecution for Christian beliefs. The family emigrated to the United States in 1964. Strongly influenced by T’ang Dynasty poetry—as well as the poetry of the King James Bible—Lee’s work is often characterized by simplicity and silence. Of his newest collection, Behind My Eyes (2008), Publishers Weekly in a starred review said, “ . . . every line bears the weight of long meditation, sometimes even of wisdom,” and Booklist called it a “lithe and powerful new collection.” The book is accompanied by an audio CD. Lee’s awards include a 2003 Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets; the William Carlos Williams Award for the collection Book of My Nights (2001); the American Book Award for the memoir, The Winged Seed (1995); the Lamont Poetry Prize for The City in Which I Love You (1990); and the Delmore Schwartz Award for Rose (1986). He is also a recipient of the Lannan Literary and Whiting Writer’s Awards.

April 10 , Thursday
4:15pm Seminar, Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00pm Reading, Performing Arts Center

Richard Price
is one of America’s leading novelists, an author whose hard-boiled, provocative and often violent books transcend genre and earn superlative praise. Price is also one of the most sought-after writers of streetwise plots and dialogue for the motion picture industry. His newest novel of crime and urban survival is Lush Life (2008), about the desperate fates of working class people left stranded by gentrification on New York’s Lower East Side. In advance praise, Russell Banks said, “With Lush Life Richard Price has become our post-modern American Balzac. [He] writes the language we hear and speak better than any novelist around, living or dead....” Earlier novels, many of them adapted for the screen, include Samaritan (2003), Freedomland (1998), Clockers (1992), Bloodbrothers (1976), and The Wanderers (1974). Screen and TV writing credits include four episodes of HBO’s “The Wire,” FREEDOMLAND (2006), SHAFT (2000), RANSOM (1996), NIGHT IN THE CITY (1992), SEA OF LOVE(1989), and THE COLOR OF MONEY (1986), which received a “Best Screenplay” Oscar nomination.

Nancy LewisThe "BIG READ" Project
April 11, Friday
7:00pm filmscreening of THE AGE OF INNOCENCE with commentary immediately following

Nancy Lewis is an American studies scholar who collaborated frequently with her late husband, R. W. B. Lewis, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the landmark biography, Edith Wharton (1975). Together, the Lewises co-edited The Letters of Edith Wharton (1989), a collection of nearly 400 pieces of correspondence that show the great American novelist “at her epistolary best.” Writing in the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani called it a “meticulously edited volume” that adds “depth and chiaroscuro” to the known details of Wharton’s life.
"The Big Read" project encourages every member of the Capital Region to read a single book. This year’s selection is Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. "The Big Read" is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.

Dava SobelAuthors Theatre
DAVA SOBEL'S And the Sun Stood Still

April 14 , Monday
7:00pm Staged Reading, Performing Arts Center (Note early start time)

The Writers Institute will offer a staged reading of Dava Sobel’s new play-in-progress, And the Sun Stood Still. The play presents the brilliant Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, in his struggle to understand and describe the solar system. Copernicus’s master work, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, caused a firestorm of controversy in its own day, particularly among religious authorities who believed, based on statements in Scripture, that the Earth stood—fixed and immoveable—at the center of the Universe. The play was originally commissioned by the Manhattan Theatre Club with funds provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Dava Sobel, bestselling science writer and former science reporter for the New York Times, is renowned for her ability to present arcane subjects in riveting and readable prose. She is the author most recently of The Planets (2005), an entertaining history of the individual members of our “solar family” as they have been explained by science, mythology, visual art, and popular culture throughout the ages. Her other books include Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love (1999), a number one New York Times nonfiction bestseller, and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and the 1995 surprise bestseller, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time.

April 16 , Wednesday
4:00pm Seminar, Heffner Alimni House, 1301 Peoples Avenue, Rensselaer (RPI), Troy
8:00pm Reading and McKinney Award Ceremony, Darrin Communication Center 308, Rensselaer, (RPI), Troy

Russell Banks,
the author of eleven novels and five short story collections, recently served as New York State Author (2004–7). He has been called, “...a writer we, as readers and writers, can actually learn from, whose books help and urge us to change” (Fred Pfeil, Voice Literary Supplement). His newest novel, The Reserve, is set in the Adirondacks in 1936-37, at the height of the Great Depression. Winner of numerous awards, Banks is a leading voice of working class experience in modern letters. He is a past recipient of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the John Dos Passos Award, and the O. Henry Memorial Award. He received the American Book Award for The Book of Jamaica (1980). His novels, Continental Drift (1986), and Cloudsplitter (1998), were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Two other novels, Affliction (1990) and The Sweet Hereafter (1991) were adapted as major motion pictures. His recent novel, The Darling (2004), was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award.
Cosponsored in conjunction with Rensselaer’s 67th McKinney Writing Contest and Reading

April 24 , Thursday
4:15pm Seminar, Campus Center 375
8:00pm Reading, Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Frank Bidart,
more than any contemporary American poet, is associated with the revelations of troubled minds, and with risk-taking adventures into the realm of vision and spirit. In 2007, Bidart received Yale University’s Bollingen Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry. In making the award, the judges said, “Bidart’s poems—eerie, probing, sometimes shocking, always subtle—venture into psychic terrain left largely unmapped in contemporary poetry.” His newest collection, Watching the Spring Festival: Poems (2008), explores “the difficulties of finding transformation.” Known as a master of the long, or book-length poem, Bidart here writes in the short lyric form for the first time. Recent collections include Star Dust (2005), Music Like Dirt (2002), and Desire (1997), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award. His prizes include the Wallace Stevens Award, the Shelley Award, and the Paris Review’s first Bernard F. Conners Prize. In 2003, Bidart was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

April 29, Tuesday
8:00pm Reading, Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
For the first time ever PEN World Voices and the Writers Institute will join together to present an exciting line up of writers from around the globe. The Institute will play host to a selection of writers who will participate in the 2008 PEN World Voices: The New York Festival of International Literature, sponsored by the PEN American Center. Dedicated to promoting intercultural understanding, tolerance, and freedom of expression, the PEN American Center is the largest of the 141 centers of International PEN, the world's oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary arts organization. Last year's perticipants in the PEN Festival included Chinua Achebe, Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, and Saadi Youssef, among many others. This year's featured writers will represent more than 30 countries.

FENCE Spring/Summer 2008 Launch Reading
May 1, Thursday
8:00pm Reading, Standish Room, Science Library

Contributors from the Spring/Summer 2008 issue of FENCE magazine will read from their poetry and fiction to celebrate the release of Spring/Summer 2008 issue. Marking its 10th year of publication, FENCE is a biannual journal of poetry, fiction, criticism, and art. Widely respected, the journal is known for including writing from the "experimental" community along with the work of "mainstream" authors and juxtaposing the work of lesser known and/or unknown writers with some of the most well known and respected writers of our time.

May 6 , Tuesday
4:15pm Seminar, Science Library 340
8:00pm Reading, Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Nicholas Delbanco,
author of more than twenty books, has been called “ fine a pure prose stylist as any writer living” (Chicago Tribune Book World). John Updike has said that Delbanco, “wrestles with the abundance of his gifts as a novelist the way other men wrestle with their deficiencies.” His newest book is The Count of Concord (2008), a fictionalized biography of the real-life Count Rumford, born Benjamin Thompson in Woburn, Massachusetts in 1753. A boy genius and inventor, Rumford declared himself a loyalist during the American Revolution, fled the newborn United States, and eventually became a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. Andrea Barrett praised the book saying, “. . . this brilliantly written novel—by turns wrenching, antic, and deep—marvelously illuminates a complicated scientist’s life and times.” Delbanco’s previous novels include The Vagabonds (2004), What Remains (2000), The Sherbrooke Trilogy (1977-1980), and The Martlet’s Tale (1966). Recent nonfiction includes Anywhere Out of the World: Essays on Travel, Writing, and Death (2005) and The Sincerest Form: Writing Fiction by Imitation (2004).

May 8 , Thursday
4:15pm Seminar, Science Library 340
8:00pm Reading, Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Cristina Garcia,
prize-winning Cuban-American novelist and former Miami Bureau Chief for Time, is the author most recently of A Handbook to Luck (2007). The novel tells the stories of three immigrants from countries in conflict—Enrique of Cuba, Marta of El Salvador, and Leila of Iran—whose fortunes intersect, unpredictably, in the casinos of Las Vegas. People magazine said, “Garcia expertly braids each of the stories together, tenderly tracing the passage of these 1960s children into 1980s adults as they begin to discover the often unavoidable gap ‘between what you planned and what actually happened.’” Garcia’s previous novels include Monkey Hunting (2003), a novel of the Chinese Cuban experience; The Agüero Sisters (1997), winner of the Kafka Prize; and Dreaming in Cuban (1992), a finalist for the National Book Award. She is also editor of Bordering Fires: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicano Literature (2006) and Cubanismo: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature (2003). Garcia is also a past recipient of the Whiting Writer’s Award.

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