As director of the New York State Summers Writer Institute at Skidmore College, Robert Boyers works hard and long to attract a stellar field of writers each summer. Well, maybe not as hard as you might think.
New York State Summers Writer Institute schedule
June 30 — Poetry and fiction reading: Richard Howard (Pulitzer Prize for poetry, “Talking Cures”) and Margot Livesey (fictionist, “Eva Moves the Furniture”).
July 1 — Fiction reading: Elizabeth Benedict (novelist, “Almost”) and Francine Prose (novelist, “A Changed Man”).
July 2 — Fiction and poetry reading: Mary Gordon (official New York State Author, “Pearl”) and Frank Bidart (poet, “Desire”).
July 3 — Nonfiction reading: Honor Moore (author, “The Bishop’s Daughter”) and Phillip Lopate (author, “Waterfront”).
July 4 — Poetry reading: Robert Pinsky (former U.S. Poet Laureate).
July 7 — Poetry and fiction reading: Campbell McGrath (poet, “American Noise”) and Kathryn Harrison (novelist/memoirist, “The Kiss”).
July 8 — Poetry and fiction reading: Mary Kinzie (poet, “Summers of Vietnam”) and Marilynne Robinson (Pulitzer Prize, “Gilead”).
July 9 — Fiction reading: Jim Shepard (“Like You’d Understand, Anyway”) and Sigrid Nunez (“Last of Her Kind”).
July 10 — Fiction and poetry reading: Bonnie Kirschenbaum (novelist, “Hester in the Ruins,” “Pure Poetry”) and Dan Chiasson (poet, “Natural History”).
July 11 — Fiction reading, at Gannett Auditorium: Joyce Carol Oates (National Book Award, “Them,” “We Were the Mulvaneys”).
July 14 — Fiction and poetry reading: Howard Norman (novelist, “The Bird Artist,”) and Jane Shore (“Happy Family”).
July 15 — Fiction reading: William Kennedy (Pulitzer Prize, “Ironweed,”).
July 16 — Fiction reading: Julia Slavin (novelist, “Carnivore Diet”), and Rick Moody (fictionist, “Demonology”).
July 17 — Fiction and poetry reading: Jamaica Kincaid (novelist/memoirist, “Mr. Potter,” “A Small Place”) and Henri Cole (poet, “Middle Earth”).
July 18 — Fiction and nonfiction reading: Ann Beattie (novelist, “Park City”) and Sheila Kohler (novelist, “Bluebird, Or the Invention of Happiness”).
July 21 — Fiction and nonfiction reading: Neil Gordon (“The Company You Keep”) and James Miller (“Democracy is in the Streets”).
July 22 — Fiction and poetry reading: Russell Banks (novelist, “The Darling”) and Chase Twichell (poet, “Dog Language”).
July 23 — Fiction and poetry reading: Mary Gaitskill (“Veronica”) and Peg Boyers (poet, “Hard Break,” “Honey with Tobacco”).
July 24 — Fiction and nonfiction reading: Robert Stone (“Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties”) and Alix Ohlin (novelist, “The Missing Person”).
July 25 — Fiction and poetry reading: James Longenbach (poet, “Draft of a Letter”) and Joanna Scott (fiction, “Liberation: A Novel”).
“I guess we can take some credit, but over the years a lot of these writers have become friends, and for some of them it’s the only time they get to see each other,” said Boyers, an English professor and Tisch Professor of Arts and Letters at Skidmore College. “I think they regard it as an opportunity to see other writers they wouldn’t otherwise see.”
This summer’s session, set for June 30 to July 25, will once again include former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson.
“They met here 20 years ago, and even though they both get around, they rarely cross paths because he lives in Boston and she lives in Iowa City. They became great friends, and they keep coming back here every year because this is where they see each other. They know if they don’t come here, they might not get the opportunity to visit with each other.”
While all the daytime program sessions are filled for the four-week session, the traditional slate of free readings and discussions held most evenings will be open to the public and free of charge.
“We have so many great writers it’s hard to choose one over another,” said Boyers. “Many of them have been here before, but we do have some new people, like Sigrid Nunez, a wonderful novelist, Sheila Kohler and Jim Shepard. It’s another great group of artists.”
Capital Region favorites William Kennedy of Albany and Russell Banks of Saratoga Springs will also offer fiction readings, while Boyers also expects a large turnout for novelist and memoirist Jamaica Kincaid.
The free readings and discussions begin each night at 8 in the Davis Auditorium of Palamountain Hall. In case of an overflow crowd, Boyers said that the evening’s program can be moved into the larger Gannett Auditorium.
Call 580-5590 or visit http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/ for more information.
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