An excerpt from an interview with Frank McCourt at the New York State Writers Institute in 1997. McCourt had only recently authored Angela's Ashes, which came out in 1996.

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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

Douglas Blackmon, photo by Michael A.Schwarz

Douglas Blackmon
September 24 (Thursday)
Seminar — 3:30 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 7:30 p.m., Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue, Albany

Douglas Blackmon, journalist and historian, received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008). The book reveals how American corporations, particularly U. S. Steel, benefited from wage-free black convict labor for almost a century. Blackmon currently serves as the Atlanta bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal.

Cosponsored by Friends of the Albany Public Library and UAlbany’s History Department | 518-427-4300


Joseph O'Neill, photo by Lisa Ackerman

Joseph O’Neill
September 29 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Joseph O’Neill, born in Ireland and raised in Holland, is the winner of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Netherland, a novel about a multiracial group of immigrant cricket players living in New York City. New Yorker critic James Wood called it “one of the most remarkable postcolonial books I have ever read.” Last spring, President Obama chose Netherland as his first book for pleasure reading since assuming the presidency.

Tom Lewis, photo by Emma Dodge Hanson

Tom Lewis
September 30 (Wednesday)
Reading/Discussion — 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center. Reception and book signing to follow.

Tom Lewis is professor of English at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, and is the author of The Hudson: A History (2005), a grand retelling of the river’s past featuring well- and little-known stories of explorers, traders, soldiers, artists, politicians, writers, industrialists and environmental crusaders. Filmmaker Ken Burns said, “What Tom Lewis has so wonderfully done here is willed to life one of the great rivers in our history, insisting that it offer up its deep secrets and best stories.”

APT logoCosponsored by the New York State Archives Partnership Trust, the New York State Writers Institute, and UAlbany’s Offices of the President and the Provost as part of UAlbany’s Hudson-Fulton-Champlain 400 theme semester


Java Poets Collective Reading
October 4 (Sunday)
Reading — 2 - 4 p.m., Professor Java's Coffee Sanctuary, 217 Wolf Road, Albany

In spring 2006 the Writers Institute offered a workshop in poetry conducted by Cara Benson. Following the conclusion of the workshop the participants continued to meet independently, forming the Java Poets Collective. The group is publishing Java Wednesdays, a chapbook of their work and will launch its release with this reading. Readers include Deb Adler, Joe Capobianco, Maria DeLucia-Evans, Gwen Gould, Scott Hicks, Nick Kling, Cecele Kraus, Suzanne Myers, Terry Royne, Jan Tramontano, Amy White, and Cara Benson.


Rita Moreno

14th Annual Burian Lecture
Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Theatre Department and funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment

Rita Moreno
October 7 (Wednesday)
The Burian Lecture: “Working on Stage, Film and TV” — 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus

Puerto Rico-born performer Rita Moreno is one of only twelve performers to win all four of the most prestigious awards in show business: Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy. Celebrated for her Oscar-winning role as Anita in West Side Story (1962), and for her Tony-winning performance as Googie Gomez in The Ritz (1973), Moreno has recently appeared in television episodes of Law & Order, Ugly Betty, George Lopez, Oz, and Cane. In 2004 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Paul Krugman, photo by Dan Deitch

Paul Krugman
October 9 (Friday)
Reading/Discussion — 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Paul Krugman, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics and columnist for the Op-Ed Page of the New York Times, has been called “the most important political columnist in America” (Washington Monthly), and “the most celebrated economist of his generation” (The Economist). Recent bestsellers include The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 (2008), The Conscience of a Liberal (2007), and The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century (2003).

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s School of Business

Donald Faulkner and William Kennedy

NYS Writers Institute: The First 25 Years
October 10 (Saturday)
Discussion/film clips — 2:00 p.m., Fine Arts Building 126

Writers Institute Executive Director William Kennedy and Director Donald Faulkner present an overview of the Institute’s 25 year history—its formation, memorable guests, and future direction—with video clip highlights of past events.

Sponsored in conjunction with UAlbany’s Community Day

McMonagle in Teacher Man

A Tribute to Frank McCourt
October 13 (Tuesday)
American Place Theatre performance of Teacher Man
Performance — 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Pre-performance tribute to Frank McCourt at 7:00 p.m.

$15 general public; $12 seniors & faculty/staff; $10 students | Box Office: (518) 442-3997; [email protected]

In tribute to the memory of Frank McCourt, UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center and the Writers Institute present American Place Theatre’s theatrical adaptation of Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man. This witty and heartbreakingly honest memoir records the trials, triumphs and surprises McCourt faced in public high schools around New York City during his 30 year career as a teacher. “I thought I was teaching. I was learning,” the Pulitzer Prize winner says as he and his students take us on a journey laced with humor and fueled by a heart of unlimited circumference. Prior to the performance the Writers Institute will present a tribute to Frank with video clips of his past appearances at the Institute.

Lorrie Moore, photo by Linda Nylind

Richard Russo, photo by Elena Seibert

Lorrie Moore and Richard Russo
October 15 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Lorrie Moore, Glens Falls, NY, native, master of the short story form, and “one of her generation’s wittiest and shrewdest writers” (Newsweek), is beloved by fans for her “wry, crackly voice” and “askew sense of humor” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times). A Gate at the Stairs (2009), her first novel in 15 years, tells of the dislocation of a Midwestern farm girl as she enters college life and adulthood.

Richard Russo, novelist, son of Gloversville, NY, and Pulitzer Prize-winner for Empire Falls (2001), is widely regarded as the most important writer about “Main St., USA” since Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis. His new novel is That Old Cape Magic (2009), the story of a troubled marriage set amid weddings and family reunions on Cape Cod and the Maine coast. Booklist calls it a “wryly funny, introspective novel . . .an impressively expansive analysis of familial dynamics.”

Peter Rogen

SOLD OUT A Celebration of 13th century Persian poet Rumi
October 21 (Wednesday)
Reading/Performance — 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Free, but ticket required. Call PAC Box Office at 442-3997.

“Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes” is a program that presents the poetry of renowned 13th century Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi, accompanied by highly kinetic Sufi dance and medieval Turkish and Persian music. Performers Peter Rogen and Amir Vahab will recite and sing Rumi’s sacred poems in both English and Farsi. The performance has previously been staged at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Cathedral.

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Office of International Education, and Performing Arts Center

Gary Giddins, photo by Herman Leonard

Gary Giddins
October 22 (Thursday)
Reading/Discussion — 7:30 p.m., Carl B. Taylor Auditorium, Schenectady County Community College,
78 Washington Avenue, Schenectady

Gary Giddins, acclaimed music critic and biographer, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Visions of Jazz (1998), which the Washington Post called, “the definitive compendium by the most interesting jazz critic now at work.” His most recent work is Jazz (with Scott DeVeaux, 2009), a vivid history of the musical form over the last hundred years. Giddens is also the author of noteworthy biographies on Bing Crosby, Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong.

Cosponsored by SCCC’s Community and Cultural Events Committee | 518-381-1200

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Harold Holzer
October 26 (Monday)
The Archives Partnership Trust 2009 Empire State Archives and History Award with award-winning authors and historians
7:30 p.m., The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany
Tickets: $10 Call the Egg Box Office at (518) 473-1845

The 2009 Empire State Archives and History Award will be presented to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., award-winning author and Director of the W. E.
B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Trust board member and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer will interview Gates as part of the program.

APT logoContact the Archives Partnership Trust at (518) 486-9349 or visit for more information about a private reception to meet Henry Louis Gates, Jr. An additional fee applies.

James Lasdun, photo by Nina Subin

Rebecca Wolff, photo by Nina Subin

Writers Institute Fellows: James Lasdun, fiction writer, and Rebecca Wolff, poet
October 29 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Campus Center 375
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Campus Center 375

James Lasdun, novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and winner of the first United Kingdom National Short Story Prize (2006), is the author of the new story collection, It’s Beginning to Hurt (2009). Mark Kamine of the Times Literary Supplement called the new book, “touching… revelatory… devastating.”

Rebecca Wolff, National Poetry Series winner, and founding editor and publisher of FENCE magazine and FENCE Books, is the author of The King (2009), a new collection of poetry that probes the complex, sometimes conflicting emotions attending pregnancy and motherhood. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “the speaker can be breathtakingly brave in her confessions….”

Sarah Thornton, photo by Mark James

Sarah Thornton
November 5 (Thursday)
Reading — 7:00 p.m., Art Museum, Fine Arts Building

Sarah Thornton, British-Canadian journalist, has achieved international acclaim for her nonfiction work, Seven Days in the Art World (2008), a fly-on-the-wall account of life among the makers, buyers, curators and marketers of contemporary High Art. Publishers Weekly called it, “an elegant, evocative, sardonic view into some of the art world’s most prestigious institutions.”

Cosponsored by the University at Albany’s Art Museum as part of its Art & Culture Talks series

The Man with the Golden Arm


November 6 (Friday)

Russell BanksDon DeLilloFilm Screening and commentary by authors Russell Banks and Don DeLillo

Directed by Otto Preminger
Starring Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak
(United States, 1955, 119 minutes, b/w)

To celebrate Nelson Algren's centenary the Writers Institute offers a rare glimpse into the life and work of a great American novelist by two equally great novelists he inspired, Don DeLillo, who joins the Writers Institute in a rare public appearance, and Russell Banks, recent State Author. DeLillo and Banks will speak about their mentor after the screening of this gritty tale of jazz, heroin, hep-cats and low-lifes in post-war Chicago, Algren's famously-named "city on the make." Frank Sinatra plays against type and turns in what is often considered to be his best performance on screen.


Mario Cuomo

Doris Kearns Goodwin

New York State Writers Institute 25th Anniversary Celebration with
Mario Cuomo and Doris Kearns Goodwin

November 16 (Monday)
8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

In 1984, Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law the legislation creating the Writers Institute. Since then the Institute has hosted over 1,000 visiting writer appearances, screened over 400 films, and presented dozens of writing workshops, symposia, and special events, making it one of the premier literary arts organizations in the country. Mario Cuomo and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, along with other guests, will join us for an evening of reminiscence and celebration. We will also screen a film highlighting memorable guests and events from our 25 year history.

Mario Cuomo, one of the great orators and intellectuals of 20th century American politics, served as the 52nd Governor of the State of New York from 1983 to 1994. He has also published several notable books, including political diaries, collections of speeches, and two books on Abraham Lincoln— most recently, Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever (2004).

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, author of bestsellers about Lyndon Johnson, the Roosevelts, and the Kennedys. Her newest book is Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, a book which, by many accounts, helped shape President Obama’s political philosophy. The Atlantic Monthly said of Team of Rivals, “[Goodwin] has written an enormous book possessed of a friendly grandeur and, against all odds, a considerable freshness.”

Fred Lebrun

November 19 (Thursday)
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Fred LeBrun, one of the defining voices of the Albany Times Union for more than forty years, has served the newspaper as suburban beat reporter, city editor, arts editor, restaurant critic and metro columnist. LeBrun is also famous in the Capital Region for his “Hudson River Chronicles,” recounting an 18-day adventure downriver from Mount Marcy to New York Harbor in 1998— an event that is still commemorated by a richly documented website (

Sponsored in conjunction with the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain 400

Kate Walbert


Kate Walbert
December 3 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Science Library 340
Reading — 7:30 p.m., Clifton Park–Halfmoon Public Library, 475 Moe Road, Clifton Park

Kate Walbert, fiction writer, was a National Book Award finalist for Our Kind (2004), a “novel in stories” about the lives and struggles of divorced “country club housewives” living in the 1950s. Her new novel is A Short History of Women (2009), the story of five generations of women from the 19th to 21st centuries. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it “perfectly calibrated, intricately structured, and gripping from page one.”

Cosponsored by the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library | 518-371-8622

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