NYS Writers Institute Announces Fall 2012 Schedule of Events

Diverse season of visiting writers and films

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ALBANY, NY (08/30/2012)(readMedia)-- The New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany announces its Fall 2012 schedule of visiting writer appearances and film series screenings. Events take place on the UAlbany uptown and downtown campuses and are free and open to the public (unless otherwise noted).

The Fall 2012 Visiting Writers Series features appearances by the newly appointed New York State Author and Poet; a Nobel Prize winner; a Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer; noted poets from Brazil, Palestine, the Puerto Rican Diaspora, and the Mvskoke/Creek Nation; award-winning science and technology writers; a Civil War historian; a noted film critic; a playwright; and two authors who examine U.S. foreign policy. "We've assembled one of our most diverse seasons in a long while," said director Donald Faulkner. "And we're very excited to be hosting our new state laureates. Along the way, you'll see that we've completely re-designed our film series, with fresh and vital films, few of which have ever been screened in the area. In all, this is a season to remember!"

The complete listing of the Visiting Writers Series and Classic Film Series schedules follows.


September 20 (Thursday): New York State Author Alison Lurie and New York State Poet Marie Howe

Reading - 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Alison Lurie is celebrated for witty novels that examine middle class American life, particularly in small college towns inspired by Ithaca, New York. Her major novels include Truth and Consequences (2005), Foreign Affairs (1984), which received the Pulitzer Prize, The War Between the Tates (1974), and Love and Friendship (1962). Marie Howe's prize-winning poetry seeks answers to perplexing questions about life and death in ordinary moments and day-to-day experiences. Her poetry collections include The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2008), What the Living Do (1997), and The Good Thief (1988), which was selected by Margaret Atwood for the National Poetry Series. She also has received the Lavan Younger Poets Prize of the American Academy of Poets.

September 27 (Thursday): Paul La Farge, novelist, essayist, and short fiction writer

Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Paul La Farge is the author of a much-talked-about new work of fiction and electronic media, Luminous Airplanes (2012), the story of a young man who returns to his family home in the Catskills after his grandfather's death in order to purge the house of "five generations of junk." This highly original work is published both as a conventional print novel and as an ever-expanding, electronic "immersive text."

October 2 (Tuesday): Salgado Maranhão, Brazilian poet, and Alexis Levitin, translator

Reading - 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Salgado Maranhão is a leading contemporary Afro-Brazilian poet, as well as a songwriter for some of Brazil's most prominent musicians. He received Brazil's highest literary award, the Brazilian Academy of Letters Prize, for his collection, The Color of the Word (2011).

Alexis Levitin, Professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh, has published more than twenty-five books of translation from Portuguese. His translation of Maranhão's first collection in English, Blood of the Sun, appears in September 2012.

October 4 (Thursday): Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer

Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Junot Díaz, a major voice of Latino literature, is the author of the new short story collection, This Is How You Lose Her (2012), an exploration of love, passion, and heartbreak. Publishers Weekly said, "Raw and honest, these stories pulsate with raspy ghetto hip-hop and the subtler yet more vital echo of the human heart." Díaz received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007).

October 9 (Tuesday): James Mann, journalist and nonfiction writer

Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

James Mann, born and raised in Albany, NY, is a sought-after authority on the behind-the-scenes deliberations over foreign policy within recent American presidential administrations. His newest book is The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power (2012), an insider's guide to the events, ideas, personalities, and conflicts that have defined Barack Obama's foreign policy. Mann achieved international renown with Rise of the Vulcans (2004), a revelatory and much-cited study of George W. Bush's war cabinet.

October 11 (Thursday): Dorothy Driver, African literature scholar

Reading/Discussion - 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Dorothy Driver is an eminent scholar of South African literature before and after Apartheid. Her new book is Bessie Head (2011), a ground-breaking critical study of Botswana's leading literary figure who was born illegally to a wealthy white South African woman and her black servant.

October 12 (Friday): J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, and Paul Auster, novelist

Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Conversation - 8:00 p.m., Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist, and major American novelist Paul Auster will talk about their friendship and their correspondence with each other, which will be published as Here and Now in 2013. Coetzee, the first to win the Booker Prize twice, is the author of a number of novels regarded as classics of contemporary world literature, including Summertime (2009), Slow Man (2005), Elizabeth Costello (2003), Disgrace (1999), The Master of Petersburg (1994), Life & Times of Michael K (1983), and Waiting for the Barbarians (1980). Paul Auster is known for his dark, intellectual, bestselling novels, including Sunset Park (2010), Oracle Nights (2003), The Book of Illusions (2002), The Music of Chance (1990), and The New York Trilogy (1987). His most recent book is Winter Journal (2012), a reflection on life and death and the events that shook and shaped him. Cosponsored by UAlbany Departments of Africana Studies; English; History; Languages, Literatures and Cultures; Philosophy; Political Science; Women's Studies; the College of Arts & Sciences; Rockefeller College; Office of the President, Provost and Vice President for Research; Alumni Association; University Auxiliary Services; and Student Association

October 16 (Tuesday): Ghassan Zaqtan, Palestinian poet, with Fady Joudah, Palestinian-American poet and translator

Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Reading - 7:00 p.m. [Note early start time], Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Ghassan Zaqtan, poet, novelist, journalist, screenwriter and playwright, is a major Palestinian poet and a leading representative of the avant-garde in Arabic literature. His most recent collection-the first to appear in English-is Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (2012), which was translated by Fady Joudah, a Palestinian-American poet and winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition for his own collection, The Earth in the Attic (2008).

Note: This event has been rescheduled from April 10, 2012.

October 18 (Thursday): David Quammen, nature writer

Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

David Quammen is one of America's leading nature writers and three-time winner of the National Magazine Award. His new book is Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (2012), about his travels in the remote corners of the globe with field researchers investigating disease outbreaks in rats, monkeys, bats, pigs, and other species, with the potential to "spillover" to humans. A widely-travelled contributing writer for National Geographic, Quammen also wrote the column, "Natural Acts," for Outside magazine for 15 years. Cosponsored by UAlbany's School of Public Health

October 26 (Friday): Performing Voices of the Puerto Rican Diaspora

Conversations with Diasporican Writers: 2:15 – 3:45 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Moderator: Tomás Urayoán Noel, University at Albany

Guest Writers: Magdalena Gómez, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and Edwin Torres

Diasporican Café: Performing Voices of the Puerto Rican Diaspora: 5:30 – 7:45 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom, Uptown Campus

Guest Writers: Giannina Braschi, Magdalena Gómez, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, and Edwin Torres

Five internationally known U.S. Puerto Rican writer-performers will discuss their work in an afternoon panel discussion and present readings/performances in the evening. Both events are part of the 20th Anniversary Conference of the Puerto Rican Studies Association, which is being held at UAlbany October 24 – 27. For more information on the Conference go to: http://www.puertoricanstudies.org.

November 1 (Thursday): Joy Harjo, Native American poet and musician

Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Reading - 8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Joy Harjo is an award-winning poet and musician of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. Her poetry collections include How We Became Human (2002), The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (1994), and In Mad Love and War (1990), which received the American Book Award. Her new book is the memoir, Crazy Brave (2012), about her journey from a troubled childhood and teenage motherhood to her accomplishments in the arts. Cosponsored by SUNY Press in conjunction with the annual John G. Neihardt Lecture

November 7 (Wednesday): American Place Theatre Performance of The Things They Carried

Performance - 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m.

$15 general public / $12 faculty-staff & seniors / $10 students Box Office: (518) 442-3997

Tim O'Brien's masterwork of contemporary literature about the Vietnam War is taken from book to stage by American Place Theatre, the award-winning New York City based company. The verbatim adaptation of this compassionate tale of the American soldier includes five of the short stories from O'Brien's book.

Presented by the Performing Arts Center as part of the New York State Presenters Network Presenter-Artist Partnership Project with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Support also provided by University Auxiliary Services and Holiday Inn Express. This performance is part of The Big Read program led by the Albany City School District through the Albany Fund for Education and the Albany Public Library. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in Partnership with Arts Midwest.

November 12 (Monday): AUTHORS THEATRE: Denis Johnson, playwright, poet, and fiction writer

Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Staged Reading - 7:00 p.m., [Note early start time] Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Denis Johnson received the National Book Award for his 2007 novel, Tree of Smoke. His 1992 short story collection Jesus' Son was adapted as a same-titled movie. The Writers Institute and Fence magazine will present a staged reading of Denis Johnson's new play "Des Moines," followed by commentary and Q&A with the playwright. Set in a seedy apartment on the edge of Des Moines, Iowa, the play features an unlikely assortment of people who come together for an impromptu party.

November 15 (Thursday): David W. Blight, historian, scholar, and author

Presentation - 7:30 p.m., Clark Auditorium, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany

David W. Blight will present a lecture, "America Divided, Then and Now: The Civil War in our National and Local Imagination" as the featured speaker for the 2012 Researching New York Conference. One of the foremost authorities on the U.S. Civil War, Blight is Professor of American History at Yale University.

Sponsored by UAlbany's Department of History, the NYS Archives Partnership Trust, the NYS Museum, and the NYS Writers Institute. For additional information on all Researching New York conference events go to: http://nystatehistory.org/researchny

November 16 (Friday): Steven Levy, technology writer

Seminar - 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Reading - 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus

Steven Levy, "America's premier technology journalist" (Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Washington Post), is the author most recently of In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (2011). Levy achieved international renown for his now-classic 1984 book, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. He is currently a Senior Writer for Wired. Cosponsored by UAlbany's College of Computing and Information

November 19 (Monday): Trita Parsi, international affairs scholar and author

Talk/Discussion - 8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Trita Parsi, scholar and advocate of diplomatic approaches to conflicts in the Middle East, will deliver a talk entitled "U.S. and Iran: Between War and Diplomacy." His most recent book is Single Roll of the Dice-Obama's Diplomacy with Iran (2012).

Cosponsored by Women Against War and the Fellowship of Reconciliation

December 7 (Friday): J. Hoberman, film critic

Reading/Discussion - 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

J. Hoberman is one of the most influential American film critics of recent decades. His new book is Film After Film (2012), which argues among other things that the future of film is animation and digital-image-making, ending "the need for an actual world, let alone a camera." Hoberman was senior film critic at the Village Voice from 1988 to 2012. A portion of the Writers Institute's fall 2012 Classic Film Series is based on Hoberman's list of his favorite films (see Classic Film Series listings).


The Writers Institute's Fall Classic Film Series features two thematic series within the series: The Future of Film series; and Justice & Multiculturalism in the 21st Century film series.

The selections for The Future of Film are based on film critic J. Hoberman's list of global cinema's quintessential twenty-first century motion pictures. Hoberman, who will appear at the Writers Institute on December 7 (see listing), offers his selections in his book Film After Film (2012), an exploration of the future of the film industry in the advent of new digital image-making technologies and new social realities.

September 21 (Friday): LONESOME

Film Screening - 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Paul Fejos (United States, 1928, 69 minutes, b/w and hand-tinted color)

Silent with sound elements and live accompaniment by Mike Schiffer

As a prologue to The Future of Film series we offer a silent film that, in its own day, wrestled with issues that confront film in the 21st century: new technologies, new definitions of art and entertainment, and a rapidly changing society. A spectacular example of silent film attempting to reinvent itself prior to the advent of sound, this rediscovered gem follows the misadventures of a lonely boy and girl who fall in love in an amusement park. The film will be preceded by a "futuristic" comic short, ELECTRIC HOUSE starring Buster Keaton (1922, 19 minutes).

October 5 (Friday): AVALON

Film Screening - 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Mamoru Oshii (Japan and Poland, 2001, 107 minutes, color and b/w)

In Polish with English subtitles

Japan's Mamoru Oshii pioneered the concept of a computer-generated world on film with his 1995 anime feature, GHOST IN THE SHELL, a major inspiration for 1999's THE MATRIX. With AVALON, Oshii creates what Hoberman calls, "a new sort of cyborg entity, namely a digital-photographic fusion."

November 2 (Friday): GOODBYE, DRAGON INN [BU SAN]

Film Screening - 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan, 2002, 82 minutes, color)

In Mandarin with English subtitles

Set in a run-down Taipei movie palace on its final day of business, GOODBYE, DRAGON INN is both a tribute to the art of film and an elegy for the end of cinema as we know it. At the time of its U.S. release, J. Hoberman called it, "a movie of elegant understatement and considerable formal intelligence."


Film Screening - 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey, 2011, 150 minutes, color)

In Turkish with English subtitles

The search for a missing corpse in the Turkish countryside becomes an epistemological quest in Ceylan's recent masterpiece, winner of the prestigious Grand Prix at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. J. Hoberman, in his final review for the Village Voice, said the film "...knocked me out, seemed even stronger on second viewing, and left me curious to see it again." Cosponsored by the Turkish Cultural Center Albany

Justice & Multiculturalism in the 21st Century is a multifaceted project aimed at engaging conversations about the intersection of social justice and criminal justice in an increasingly diverse society. UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice and the Writers Institute are partnering to present six films over the next year that will explore these issues. Topics that will be explored during the fall 2012 series are genocide, capital punishment, and terrorism. Each screening will be followed by a discussion. For additional information on the Justice & Multiculturalism in the 21st Century project go to: http://www.albany.edu/justiceinstitute/.

September 28 (Friday): KINYARWANDA

Film Screening - 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Written and directed by Alrick Brown (United States, Rwanda, France, 2011, 100 minutes, color)

In English and Kinyarwanda with English subtitles

Winner of the World Cinema Audience award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, KINYARWANDA is based on the heroic true story of local Muslim clergy who risked their lives to save both Tutsi and pacifist Hutu-Christians as well as Muslims-during the Rwandan genocide.

NOTE: The film's producer Darren Dean and leading actress Hadidja Zaninka will answer questions immediately after the screening.


Film Screening - 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Liz Garbus (United States, 2007, 94 minutes, color)

A spare and unsentimental documentary about the first African American woman to be put to death in modern times, EXECUTION follows the clemency appeal of mentally-impaired death row inmate Wanda Jean Allen.

November 30 (Friday): DAY NIGHT DAY NIGHT (also a Future of Film Series selection)

Film screening - 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Written and directed by Julia Loktev (United States, 2002, 88 minutes, color)

A 19-year-old American girl of unknown beliefs or political affiliations undertakes a series of meticulous preparations to blow herself up in New York City's Times Square. This unusual and absorbing film received the Prix Regards Jeune (Directors' Fortnight) at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

For additional information contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.