The NYS Writers Institute has announced its Spring 2022 schedule of events featuring more than two dozen literary luminaries and creative artists, a series-within-a-series titled American HerStory, and a film festival coming to the Capital Region.
Previously announced, the season kicks off with Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl hosting a discussion with Alice Green on Tuesday, January 25th. Green, a longtime activist for racial justice and prison reform, will discuss her new memoir, We Who Believe in Freedom: Activism and the Struggle for Social Justice.
On Tuesday, February 1st, the Writers Institute hosts “Schenectady Resurgent: A Conversation with William Patrick and Philip Morris.” Patrick, author of a new book, Metrofix: The Combative Comeback of a Company Town, and Morris, CEO of Proctors and Albany’s Capital Rep (TheREP), will talk about Schenectady’s ongoing revival, the role of the arts in re-energizing downtown neighborhoods in Albany and Schenectady, and how citizens, politicians, and business-owners can create new blueprints for the revitalization of 21st century American cities.
Other notable events announced by the Writers Institute include a Speaker Series event with Huma Abedin, political strategist and vice chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and the author of the new memoir Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds on Thursday, February 17th; a live-streamed event with novelist Colson Whitehead on Wednesday, April 6th; and a special event with Colm Tóibín, widely hailed as a giant of contemporary Irish literature, on Thursday, March 3rd.
The Writers Institute will present the 2nd Annual Albany Film Festival on Saturday, April 2nd, at the University at Albany.
Full Spring 2022 Schedule
American HerStory: Conversations About Women’s Autobiography, on January 25th (Tuesday). Featuring a conversation/Q&A with Alice Green at 7:30 pm, at Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus. Alice Green is a champion of the marginalized and powerless in New York’s Capital Region. Since the 1960s, she has been a leading local activist and organizer addressing a variety of social issues, including racial justice, prison reform, voter equality, and community policing. The founder and executive director of Albany’s Center for Law and Justice, Dr. Green holds multiple degrees from UAlbany, including a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. Her new autobiography is We Who Believe in Freedom: Activism and the Struggle for Social Justice. She will discuss her remarkable life with Paul Grondahl, author of the book’s foreword, and a journalist who has covered her singular career for more than three decades.
Schenectady Resurgent!: A Conversation with William Patrick and Philip Morris on February 1st (Tuesday). A
Cconversation/Q&A at 7 pm, at the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center. William B. Patrick, author of the new book, Metrofix: The Combative Comeback of a Company Town, and Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors and Albany’s Capital Rep (TheREP), will talk about Schenectady’s ongoing revival, the role of the arts in re-energizing downtown neighborhoods in Albany and Schenectady, and how citizens, politicians, and business-owners can create new blueprints for the revitalization of 21st century American cities.
Bill Patrick, writer, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and educator, was the long-time director of the NYS Summer Young Writers Institute for high school students, which he founded in 1998. His books include The Call of Nursing: Voices from the Front Lines of Healthcare; Saving Troy: A Year with Firefighters and Paramedics in a Battered City; and We Didn’t Come Here for This: A Memoir in Poetry.
Philip Morris is the CEO of Proctors, a performing arts center that is central to Schenectady’s redevelopment, as well as a major regional venue for music, theater, dance, films, conventions, and community activities. Education programs at Proctors and TheREP, in partnership with local schools, enrich the lives of more than 75,000 students annually.
The Glorious History of Merchant-Ivory Films on February 4th (Friday). James Ivory will lead a conversation/Q&A with filmmaker Stephen Soucy at 7 pm, at Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus. James Ivory, a towering figure of “arthouse” filmmaking during the past 50 years, is the co-founder of Merchant Ivory Productions. Together with his partner, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Ivory received worldwide acclaim for nuanced adaptations of literary classics, including A Room With A View (1986), Howard’s End (1992), and The Remains of the Day (1993). At age 89, he became the oldest-ever Oscar winner for his screenplay adaptation of Call me by Your Name (2017). He presents his new memoir, Solid Ivory (2021), an irreverent account of his remarkable life and career.
Stephen Soucy, UAlbany alumnus, filmmaker, and theatrical producer, wrote and directed the soon-to-be-released documentary film, Merchant Ivory (2022). Other current projects include the Broadway-bound Romy and Michele: The Musical, based on the hit 1997 film starring Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino, and a short film, The Dress, based on a short story by David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl.
American HerStory: Conversations About Women’s Autobiography on February 15th (Tuesday). Emily Bernard will lead a craft talk at 4:30 pm, at the Boardroom (1st Floor), Campus Center West Addition, and a reading/Q&A at 7:30 pm, at the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center.
Emily Bernard is the author of a celebrated work of autobiography, Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time and Mine (2019) — a collection she conceived while recovering in the hospital from a random stabbing by a white man at a New Haven coffee shop. An NPR “Best Book of the Year,” the book was also chosen by NPR correspondent Maureen Corrigan as one of her “10 Unputdownable Reads of the Year.”
UAlbany Speaker Series on February 17th (Thursday). Huma Abedin will lead a conversation/Q&A at 7 pm, at the Campus Center Ballroom. Huma Abedin, political strategist and vice chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, is the author of the new memoir Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds (2021). Abedin tells the story of her Indian and Pakistani family, her Muslim faith, her Saudi Arabian childhood, her 1996 White House internship with then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, and her subsequent career as personal aide, trusted advisor, Middle East expert, and chief of staff for the former New York Senator.
Burian Lecture on Life in the Performing Arts on February 21st (Monday). José Rivera will lead the 25th Annual Burian Lecture at 7:30 pm, at the Studio Theatre, Performing Arts Center. José Rivera, playwright and screenwriter, is the winner of Obie Awards for the plays Marisol and References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot. His 26 plays include Cloud Tectonics, Boleros for the Disenchanted, Sueño, School of the Americas, Brainpeople, The Kiss of the Spiderwoman (translation), and Each Day Dies with Sleep. He is the first Puerto Rican screenwriter to receive an Oscar nomination — for The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), based on the life of Che Guevara. Other screenplays include Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (2012) and The 33 (2015). A former student of Gabriel García Márquez, Rivera wrote 18 episodes of the forthcoming Netflix series based on One Hundred Years of Solitude.
2022 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Celebration on February 23rd (Wednesday). Anthony Ray Hinton, Activist for Human Rights and Prison Reform will lead a celebration at 7 pm, at the Campus Center Ballroom. Anthony Ray Hinton spent 30 years on death row in Alabama for a crime he did not commit. A passionate speaker for social justice, Hinton was freed in 1995 with the help of renowned legal advocate Bryan Stevenson. His story is told in Stevenson’s bestselling 2014 book Just Mercy, and in the 2019 major motion picture of the same name. Hinton’s own book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice, was an Oprah Book Club Summer 2018 selection, and recounts Hinton’s struggles to stay true to himself and prove his innocence. Click here for more info and to register.
American HerStory: Conversations About Women’s Autobiography on February 24th (Thursday). Liara Roux will lead a craft talk at 4:30 pm, at the Boardroom (1st Floor), Campus Center West Addition, and conversation/Q&A at 7:30 pm, at the Boardroom (1st Floor), Campus Center West Addition. Liara Roux is a writer, sex worker, and political activist who fights for human rights for sex workers, freedom of online expression, and the decriminalization of consensual adult activity. Together with peers in the industry, Roux helped launch the first National Sex Worker Lobby Day on Capitol Hill in 2018. Roux’s critically acclaimed memoir is Whore of New York: A Confession (2021).
For the full schedule of Gender and Sexuality Month events, click here.
Celebrating Irish Literature on March 3rd (Thursday). Colm Tóibín will lead a conversation with UAlbany’s Lynne Tillman at 7:30 pm, at the Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus. Colm Tóibín is widely hailed as a giant of contemporary Irish literature. His new novel is The Magician (2021), about the life of major 20th century fiction writer and 1929 Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann, author of Death in Venice (1912), and The Magic Mountain (1924). The novel follows Mann from his provincial German childhood, and his struggles to conceal his artistic aspirations and homosexuality from his conservative family, through the upheavals of World War I, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Cold War. Tóibin last visited UAlbany in 2016 in association with a screening of Brooklyn, based on his novel of the same name, and widely acclaimed as a Top 10 film of that year.
Lynne Tillman, UAlbany English Professor and Writer-in-Residence is a two-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for her essay collection, What Would Lynne Tillman Do? (2014), and for her novel, No Lease on Life (1998). Vulture named her 2006 novel, American Genius, A Comedy, “1 of the 100 Most Important Books of the 2000s . . . So Far.”
Uplifting Black Authors and Black Lead Characters on March 8th (Tuesday). Fabian Ferguson will lead a Pajama Storytime at 7 pm, at Christ’s Church, 181 Western Ave. (near Quail St.), Albany. Fabian Ferguson, who received his B.S. in Marketing and Management from the UAlbany School of Business in 2007, is an acclaimed children’s book author, entrepreneur, and publisher. His company, F. Ferguson Books, is “devoted to uplifting Black authors and Black lead characters.” His books include In the Mirror (2021), about children learning to appreciate the uniqueness of their own faces; Jackie Wins Them All (2020) about a gifted and competitive 6th grader; and Daddy’s Arms (2018). Ferguson will spend the day at local elementary schools and will meet with UAlbany Business School students in the afternoon. Major support and funding provided by the Carl E. Touhey Foundation.
Science Writing at its Finest on March 10th (Thursday). Rachel Gross will lead a Craft Talk on Science Writing at 4:30 pm, at D’Ambra Auditorium, Life Sciences Research Building, LSRB 2095, and a presentation/Q&A at 7:30 pm, D’Ambra Auditorium, Life Sciences Research Building, LSRB 2095. Rachel Gross, award-winning science journalist, is the author of Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage (2021), a brilliant account of recent discoveries by a new generation of women scientists regarding the wonders of the female body. A former Knight Journalism Fellow at MIT, Gross served until recently as Digital Editor of Smithsonian magazine.
Dramatizing Albany Politics: Polly Noonan and Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd on March 21st (Monday). Sharr White on The True will lead a conversation/Q&A with Cap Rep’s Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill and Paul Grondahl at 7 pm, at Capital Repertory Theatre, 251 N Pearl St, Albany. Sharr White is the author of The True, a new play that explores the bounds of love, loyalty, and female power in the male-dominated world of Albany “machine politics.” The play portrays political operative Polly Noonan and her relationship with Albany’s “mayor for life,” Erastus Corning 2nd, as they wage a battle for control of the city’s Democratic Party against upstarts and progressives in the 1970s. Directed by Scott Elliott, the 2018 off-Broadway premiere of The True starred Edie Falco as Polly Noonan. White’s Broadway plays include The Snow Geese (2013), starring Mary-Louise Parker, and The Other Place (2012), starring Laurie Metcalf and Daniel Stern.
Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, Producing Artistic Director of Capital Rep since 1995, has worked on and off Broadway and in numerous regional theatres, directing more than 100 productions. She is the recipient of the Norman E. Rice Award for Excellence in Arts Education, Distinguished Leadership Award from the National Chamber of Commerce, and was named a Woman of Excellence by the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce. (Show Dates: Friday, Apr 1, 2022 – Sunday, Apr 24, 2022) Tickets for performances of The True at theREP are available online.
American HerStory: Conversations About Women’s Autobiography on March 24th (Thursday). Judith Heumann will lead a virtual conversation with James Odato at 7 pm. Judith Heumann, star of the Oscar-nominated 2020 documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is widely hailed as “The Mother” of the Disability Rights Movement. Heumann contracted polio at age 18 months and has used a wheelchair for most of her life. Over the course of half a century, she served as an organizer of various campaigns, protests, and sit-ins that culminated eventually in landmark legislation to protect the rights of the disabled. Assistant Secretary of Education in the Clinton Administration (1993-2001) and Special Advisor to President Barack Obama’s State Department (2010-17), Heumann is the author of two new memoirs Being Heumann (2020), and the YA autobiography, Rolling Warrior (2021).
James Odato, independent scholar and former reporter for the Times Union, is the author of the new biography, This Brain Had a Mouth: Lucy Gwin and the Voice of Disability Nation (2021). Gwin (1943-2014), a resident of Rochester, NY, suffered a traumatic brain injury at age 40 after a head-on collision with a drunk driver. In 1990, she founded Mouth magazine, one of the most radical and significant disability rights publications, producing more than 100 issues.
Albany Film Festival on April 2 (Saturday). Visit the Albany Film Festival website for more information.
Authors Theatre on April 4th (Monday). Donnetta Lavinia Grays will lead a staged reading at 7:30 pm, at Arena Theatre, Performing Arts Center. Playwright-actor-director Donnetta Lavinia Grays presents her play-in-progress, Kudzu Calling, a celebration of Black Southern love that is at once familial, spiritual, and queer. Commissioned by Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Kudzu Calling seeks to “expand and complicate the Southern narrative for the American stage.” Grays, a native of South Carolina, describes it as “my love letter to the place that made me.” She has received the Whiting Award for Drama and the Helen Merrill Playwright Award, and her plays have been produced at the Denver Center Theatre Company and Baltimore Center Stage. The off-Broadway debut of her solo show Where We Stand received Lortel Award and Drama League Award nominations. The reading of this new work will feature UAlbany students, working alongside professional actors, and include a conversation with the artists following the staged reading.
80th Annual Mckinney Awards on April 6th (Wednesday). Colson Whitehead will lead a virtual reading and McKinney Writing Contest Awards 8 pm. Colson Whitehead, one of the leading fiction writers of his generation, is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Underground Railroad (an Oprah’s Book Club selection and winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize), The Nickel Boys (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and one collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. His newest novel, Harlem Shuffle, was published in 2021. He is the only author to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for two consecutive works. He was named New York’s State Author (2018-2021) by proclamation of the Governor, under the auspices of the New York State Writers Institute. Click here for more information and to register for the live-streamed event.
How to be Anti-Racist on April 12th (Tuesday). Tiffany Jewell will lead a craft talk at 4:30 pm, at Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition, and a conversation/Q&A at 7:30 pm, at Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition. Tiffany Jewell is the author of the #1 New York Times Young Adult bestseller, This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work (paperback, 2020), a how-to manual and guided journal featuring more than 50 educational activities. Jewell is a Black biracial writer and Montessori educator, as well as a founding board member and former president of the national organization, Montessori for Social Justice. This is her first book for children and young adults.
Finding Love in Upstate New York on April 21st (Thursday). Gary Shteyngart will lead a craft talk at 4:30 pm, at Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition, and a conversation/Q&A at 7:30 pm, at Campus Center West Auditorium. Gary Shteyngart, major American novelist, is the author most recently of Our Country Friends: A Novel (2021), a story of various relationships and romances that unfold over the course of six months among a group of friends who take refuge in the rolling hills of Upstate New York during the pandemic. The book was named a “Best Book of the Year” by the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Good Housekeeping and TIME. Earlier bestselling novels include Lake Success, Super Sad True Love Story, Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook.
Literature in Performance on April 30th (Saturday). The performance will begin at 7:30 pm, at Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center. Advance tickets are available for $15 general public, $10 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff. Day of show tickets: $20 general public, $15 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff. The hit public radio and podcast series returns to Albany with a program of dazzling and original short fiction performed by actors of stage and screen. In honor of their 35th anniversary, Selected Shorts commissioned 35 brand-new stories by literary luminaries, and they’re bringing a special selection to the University at Albany in celebration of this unique and delightful series. For more information, contact the PAC Box Office: (518) 442-3997.
All events subject to change and interested attendees are encouraged to sign up for email updates to stay informed. The email signup form, along with full schedule details, is online.
For additional information contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or visit their website.