ALBANY As the weather cools down the local literary world is heating up, as renowned writers make their way to the University at Albany.
The New York State Writers Institute recently announced its fall semester Visiting Writers Series and Classic Film Series, which kicked off Wednesday, Sept. 11, with fiction writer and essayist Jonathan Lethem and extends until the final event on Dec. 3 with author Ayana Mathis. All of the events are free and open to the public, with most writer events held at UAlbany’s Uptown Campus and most films being shown at the university’s Downtown Campus in Page Hall.
“The Visiting Writers Series brings many of the best contemporary writers around to Albany for free visits with the audiences and readings. We do these afternoon sessions, too, where the writers talk about their work and answer questions,” institute Director Don Faulkner said. “We got a lot of firepower here, but it covers a broad range from history to poetry to fiction writing, even to political writing and biography.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist William Kennedy founded the state Writers Institute, hosted at UAlbany, in 1983; the following year Gov. Mario Cuomo signed legislation creating the institute as a state-supported cultural program. Since 1984, Faulkner said the program has been “going at a pretty high pitch,” with more than 1,000 writers sharing their work.
“The institute has been doing this for nearly 30 years and it is really a mainstay of the art scene in the Capital Region and Upstate New York,” Faulkner said.
Over the years the program has grown and hosted more events while continuing to attract renowned and prestigious writers.
“The quality has always been part of the profile and we have always worked at the highest level,” Faulkner said. “The standard is high and we work to maintain it and make it a valuable experience for our audience and writers they want to know about.”