Real Good for FREE: NYS Writers Institute’s Visiting Writers Series

Katha Pollitt, Peter Carey and Tina Packer
Katha Pollitt, Peter Carey and Tina Packer

The the winter/spring 2015 Visiting Writers Series sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute kicks off on Thursday (January 29) with a reading by The Nation columnist Katha Pollitt.

All of the events are FREE except for the American Place Theatre production of “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.”

Books are available in advance of events and at the events, from the following bookstores:
the University Bookstore at UAlbany and the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza.

Here’s the upcoming schedule of Visiting Writers Series events:

Thursday (January 29)
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Campus Center Room 375
Reading: 8pm @ UAlbany Campus Center Room 375
The essayist, critic and poet is an influential voice of American feminism and long-time columnist for The Nation, as well as the author of a much-talked-about new book, “Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.” Pollitt received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Book Awards in 2010, and is a two-time winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary. Her books of poetry include “The Mind-Body Problem” (2010) and “Antarctic Traveller” (1983), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Tuesday, February 3
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Campus Center Room 375
Reading: 8pm @ UAlbany Lecture Center 20
The Australian novelist is one of only three writers to have received the Man Booker Prize twice – for “Oscar and Lucinda” (1988) and “True History of the Kelly Gang” (2000). His new novel is “Amnesia,” a cyber-terrorism political thriller set in a counter-historical Australia that has endured American interference in its governmental affairs.

Friday, February 6
Film screening and discussion with director Jason Osder: 7pm @ UAlbany’s Page Hall
The award-winning documentary examines the history of the escalating conflict between the City of Philadelphia and the Black Liberation organization, MOVE, in the mid-1980s.
Osder teaches documentary filmmaking at the George Washington University and is also the co-author of the filmmaking guide, “Final Cut Pro Workflows: The Independent Studio Handbook.”

Tuesday, February 10
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Science Library’s Standish Room
Reading: 8pm @ UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s Recital Hall
The short story writer is also the author of the audacious first novel, “Your Face in Mine,” the tale of a young Jewish man who undergoes racial reassignment surgery because he believes that he is a black man trapped in a white man’s body.

February 13 (Friday)
Film screening and discussion with director/screenwriter Tanya Hamilton and producer Ron Simons: 7pm @ UAlbany’s Page Hall
A finalist for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the 2010 film evokes the American inner city of 1976, as a former Black Panther returns to his old Philadelphia neighborhood to confront the unresolved problems of his past. Starring Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington and Jamara Griffin.

Tuesday, February 24
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Science Library’s Standish Room
Reading: 8pm @ UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s Recital Hall
The author is a scholar in the emerging field of environmental social science, and in her new book, “Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool,” she argues that shame, used judiciously, is a powerful force of political change and social reform.

Tuesday, March 3
Panel Discussion: 7pm @ UAlbany Downtown Campus’ Milne 200
Pioneering activist Barbara Smith – Public Service Professor in the School of Social Welfare at UAlbany and a former member of Albany’s Common Council – discusses the new book, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith,” edited by Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks. Combining historical documents with new interviews to uncover the deep roots of today’s “identity politics,” the book serves as an essential primer for practicing solidarity and resistance.

Tuesday, March 10
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Science Library’s Standish Room
Reading: 8pm @ UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s Recital Hall
The British Caribbean novelist, playwright and essayist is the author of the new novel, “The Lost Child,” which intertwines the life of Heathcliff (the dark-skinned orphan of Emily Brontë’s classic Victorian novel, “Wuthering Heights”) with the modern tale of a young woman struggling to raise her sons in the wild moors of northern England after she is cast out by her family for marrying a Caribbean man.

Thursday, March 12
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Science Library’s Standish Room
Reading: 8pm @ UAlbany Science Library’s Standish Room
The essayist and journalist explores the notion of masculinity in his new non-fiction collection, “I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son,” in which he profiles the lives of NHL enforcers; a businessman-turned-hermit who lives on a crocodile-infested island; and the scrappy players who inhabit the cloistered world of Amish baseball.

Tuesday, March 24
Performance: 7:30pm @ UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s Recital Hall
Pre-performance discussion: 7pm
Tickets: $15 in advance; $20 at the door; students & seniors $10 in advance; $15 at the door
The “page to stage” work developed by American Place Theatre is a verbatim adaptation of Harriot Jacobs’ book of the same name, an inspiring tale of resilience and survival that recounts the author’s seven years spent hiding out as a fugitive in “The Loophole,” a crawl space in her grandmother’s attic, in order to protect her children and ensure their eventual freedom.

Thursday, March 26
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Science Library’s Standish Room
Reading: 8pm @ UAlbany Campus Center’s Room 375
Elisa Albert is the author of the new novel “After Birth,” a piercingly candid and outrageously funny story of motherhood. Yelena Akhtiorskaya is the author of a brilliant debut novel, “Panic in a Suitcase,” the story of two decades in the life of a Ukrainian immigrant family in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

Thursday, April 9
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Humanities Building’s Room 354
Reading: 8pm @ NYS Museum’s Huxley Auditorium, Albany
The celebrated proofreader, copy editor and author at The New Yorker is an authoritative figure in an endangered profession. On staff at The New Yorker since 1978, she is the author of the new book, “Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen,” which features hilarious meditations on grammar, as well as memorable tussles about usage with such writers as Ian Frazier, Pauline Kael, Philip Roth and George Saunders.

Monday, April 13
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Campus Center’s Room 375
Lecture: 8pm @ UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s Studio Theatre
Tina Packer, one of the world’s leading authorities on Shakespeare’s work, is the founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. Her new book is “Women of Will: The Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays,” a fierce and funny exploration of the Bard’s female characters and his changing understanding of the feminine. The book grows out of Packer’s same-named, two-person lecture and recital highlighting Shakespeare’s strong women, starring Packer and Nigel Gore.

Wednesday, April 15
Reading and McKinney Writing Contest Award Ceremony: 8pm @ RPI Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Building’s Biotech Auditorium, Troy
Alice McDermott, winner of the National Book Award for 1998’s “Charming Billy,” is the author most recently of the novel, “Someone,” the story of one woman’s ordinary life across the decades of the 20th century in an Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn. “Someone” was named a “Best Book of the Year” by NPR, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Thursday, April 23
Seminar: 4:15pm @ UAlbany Science Library’s Standish Room
Reading: 8pm @ UAlbany Campus Center’s Room 375
Alicia Suskin Ostriker, author of 15 poetry collections, is a two-time finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry for 1999’s “The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968–1998” and 1996’s “The Crack in Everything.” Her new collection is “The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog.” Joan Murray has been called “one of the few poets whose work remains accessible to both scholars of poetry and the casual reader” (The Harvard Review), and her new collection is “Swimming for the Ark: New & Selected Poems 1990-2015.”

Friday, May 1
Reading and discussion of the work of film director William Wellman: 7:30pm @ UAlbany’s Page Hall
William Wellman, Jr. is the author of “Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel,” a biography of his father, director William A. Wellman, a giant of the motion picture industry from the silent era to the 1950s. Wellman’s 82 films include history’s first Academy Award winner for Best Picture, “Wings” (1927), as well as such iconic films as “A Star Is Born” (1937), “The Ox-Bow Incident” (1943) and “The High and the Mighty” (1954). Drawing on his father’s unpublished letters, diaries, notes and unfinished autobiography, the new book offers the first full portrait of the man.


New Music & Cultural Symposium @ UAlbany Performing Arts Center, Albany, 1/22-24/15
Music at Noon @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, select Thursdays
Beat the Snow Winter Concert Series @ Schenectady Public Library, Schenectady, Sundays

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