FREE: NYS Writers Institute’s 2018 Schedule of Events

January 30th, 2018, 11:00 am by Greg
William Kennedy

NYS Writers Institute pays tribute to its founder, William Kennedy

Photograph by Sophie Brill

This year marks a double-barreled celebration – the 35th anniversary of the New York State Writers Institute, as well as the 90th birthday of Pulitzer Prize winning author William Kennedy, who founded the Institute.

So the 2018 schedule of events for the NYS Writers Institute is its most varied in years, featuring reading, panel discussions, films, comedy, theater and more. And it’s all free, except where noted.

It all begins tonight (Tuesday, January 30). Here’s the spring semester’s complete schedule of events:

READING: Gish Jen
Tonight (Tuesday, January 30)
4:15pm craft talk @ UAlbany Science Library’s Standish Room, Albany
7:30pm presentation/Q&A @ New York State Museum’s Huxley Theater, Albany
The prize-winning chronicler of the Chinese-American experience in fiction reads from her new work, “The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap,” exploring stark differences between Eastern and Western ideas of the “self.”

EVENT: A Celebration of William Kennedy’s 90th Birthday and the 35th Anniversary of the New York State Writers Institute
January 31 (Wednesday)
7pm @ Albany City Hall, Albany
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and the City of Albany celebrate William Kennedy’s transformative impact on the city’s life, lore and literary culture. Kennedy’s “Albany cycle” of novels has helped to establish the city as an internationally recognized capital of the literary imagination. And the New York State Writers Institute, founded by Kennedy in 1983, is responsible for making Albany a famous crossroads on the map of world literature for visiting writers in all genres and fields.

FILM/TALK: “Lupe Under the Sun”
February 2 (Friday)
7pm @ UAlbany’s Page Hall, Albany
Rodrigo Reyes’ debut fiction feature won the two top prizes — Best Film and Best Narrative Feature — at the 2017 Brooklyn Film Festival. A first-of-its-kind dramatic film that uses non-actors who are real farm workers, the movie follows the grinding routine of an aging Mexican migrant worker in southern California as he comes to terms with his past. With commentary by writer/director Rodrigo Reyes.

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BookBeat: “Liner Notes” by Loudon Wainwright III

October 27th, 2017, 1:00 pm by Greg

Review by Greg Haymes

In concert at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre on Saturday night (October 25), Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III will certainly sing about himself and his family, as he’s done on more than two dozen albums for most of his nearly 50-year career. In fact, you could say that singing about failed and flawed family relationships is his career.

Now the self-lacerating singer-songwriter has found a new outlet – the memoir. In “Liner Notes” – newly published by Blue Rider Press – LW3 cuts close to the bone, often uncomfortably so, as he details his repeated failures as a father and a husband.

It’s a candid no-holds-barred look at his life, as you might imagine from the book’s full title, “Liner Notes: Loudon Wainwright III on Parents & Children, Exes & Excess, Death & Decay, & a Few of My Other Favorite Things.”

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FEST: Basilica Soundscape in Hudson This Weekend

September 12th, 2017, 12:00 pm by Greg

The 2017 edition of Basilica Soundscape fest is coming up this weekend at Hudson’s Basilica Hudson. On Friday (September 15), the fest will feature headliners Jlin, Thou, serpentwithfeet, Moor Mother and more; and Saturday’s line-up includes Zola Jesus, John Maus, Protomartyr, Priests, Yvette and more. Performances take place on two stages throughout the former glue factory, and set times don’t overlap. Yeah!

In addition, the festival will close on Sunday with “The Triptych.” Here are some details from the Basilica website:

Alongside our annual brunch and Mini-Farm & Flea marketplace of Hudson Valley makers, farmers, artists and chefs, this year will feature local artists coming together in performance, prayer, protest and peace. Inspired and named after the middle track on Max Roach’s groundbreaking 1960 record We Insist! (Freedom Now), the event is FREE and has been organized by Joey De Jesus and Shanekia McIntosh.

All-fest weekend passes are $75; students & seniors $60. Single day tickets are $40; students & seniors $35. Overnight camping is also available.

Here’s the complete schedule for Basilica Soundscape 2017:

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RIP: John Ashbery, 1927-2017

September 5th, 2017, 2:30 pm by Greg

In 1976, the poet John Ashbery became the only writer to win the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in the same year, for his collection “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.”

In addition to numerous other awards, he was the poet laureate of New York State from 2001-2003.

On Sunday (September 3), Ashbery died at his home in Hudson. He was 90 years old.

Cabinet of Wonders: A Variety Show of Books & Song

August 29th, 2017, 12:00 pm by Greg

The New Yorker has called it “a vaudeville night that combines music and literature, resulting in one of the finest nights of entertainment this city has to offer.”

And now Wesley Stace’s Cabinet of Wonders is leaving the Big Apple to make a rare Hudson Valley appearance at Club Helsinki in Hudson at 8pm on Wednesday, October 11 to benefit the Shaker Museum at Mount Lebanon.

Host and curator Wesley Stace is not only the author of four acclaimed novels, but also the singer-songwriter of more than a dozen dozen released under his nom-de-song John Wesley Harding.

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BOOK REVIEW: Eugene Mirabelli’s “Renato After Alba” [Get Visual]

August 11th, 2017, 10:00 am by Sara

By David Brickman

Eugene Mirabelli, the author of “Renato After Alba” and several other books of fiction, is among the two or three best novelists living in Delmar. If you think that is damning with faint praise, think again – the others from there that I know personally and have read (Paul Castellani and David Vigoda) are also terrific. Could it be something in the water?

Renato After Alba, which was recently published by McPherson & Company and has received several independent publisher awards this year, is a bittersweet elegy of a novel. In it, Mirabelli gives us a new glimpse into the heart and soul of Renato Stillamare, an orphan of unknown origin adopted into a colorful Sicilian-American family who he introduced to us as the narrator of “The Goddess in Love with a Horse” and who became the protagonist, as a mature but vital, and rather conflicted gallery artist in “Renato the Painter.”

Now we have Renato as an older man, struggling to make sense of the sudden loss of his wife, Alba. Mirabelli employs the skills of descriptive narrative with aplomb, but the depth and breadth of this short book (188 loosely filled pages) is a special achievement, made more effective by its ostensibly narrow focus into the thoughts and feelings of one man for one year.

Click to read the rest at Get Visual.

BOOK REVIEW: JoAnn Stevelos’ “Dream Alibis”

July 5th, 2017, 4:00 pm by Sara

Review by Sara Ayers

Children learn the history of their families through stories, told over and over: “That’s how your parents met.” “That’s how we lost the house.” “That’s why I left your dad.” But as time passes and the child grows up, the stories inevitably become more nuanced, as the child detective gains both more details and and better insight into human motives. Perspectives shift and actions acquire more gradations. JoAnn Stevelos’ new book Dream Alibis delves into this phenomenon in a subtle journey that explores the bonds that both unite and divide families.

In the prologue, she lays out her themes – dreams as an alternative to reality and alibis as a skirting of guilt – and then launches into 13 short poems, illustrated by Ryder Cooley’s plaintive drawings, that fearlessly examine tiny junctures of grief and self-deception, now viewed from a wiser, more mature distance. Stevelos has a knack for distilling these crystalline moments of loss, sometimes surreal, sometimes achingly straight forward.

“Walk Along the Edges” is a dream-like telling of a pregnancy and birth, complete with squabbling siblings, a shirking lover and red pine trees as a supporting character. In “Bells,” a breezy account of a rainy day spent looking at old photographs abruptly comes to a rueful conclusion:

…our two grins as wide
as wide as the bells ringing inside me
whenever you come near

Bells ringing so loud
that I will never believe
you can’t hear them too.

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BookBeat: Roger Noyes Moves from the Stage to the Page

May 12th, 2017, 1:30 pm by Greg

If you’re a Greater Nippertown music fan, chances are good that you’re familiar with guitarist Roger Noyes, who plays in such bands as the Arch Stanton Quartet and the Jazz Caravan.

Well, Noyes is also an author, and he’s celebrating the publication of his first book, “Clara D. Noyes, R.N.: Life of a Global Nursing Leader” (Northshire Press), a biography of an important nursing leader in the early twentieth century who helped prepare and enroll 20,000 American Red Cross nurses for service to sick and dying American soldiers during World War I. Clara D. Noyes was also the author’s great-great aunt.

The publication party, reading and book-signing will take place from 7-9pm on Saturday (May 13) at Restaurant Navona in Albany. The book is also now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets.

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