To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the New York State Writers Institute, former New York State Governor Mario Cuomo and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin will join Institute Executive Director William Kennedy and Director Donald Faulkner on stage to reminisce about the Institute’s past, celebrate its present, and discuss its future. A short video about the Institute highlighting memorable guests and events from its 25 year history will also be screened [you can see some early video samples here]. In addition the Institute will announce the first selections in its list of “25 Uniquely New York Books,” as chosen by 25 renowned New York state writers. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Monday, November 16, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. in Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., on the University at Albany’s downtown campus.
In 1984, Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law the legislation creating the Writers Institute, giving it a mandate to provide “a milieu for established and aspiring writers to work together… to increase the artistic imagination.” Since then the Institute has hosted over 1,000 visiting writer appearances, screened over 400 films, and presented dozens of writing workshops, symposia, and special events, making it one of the premier literary arts organizations in the country.
The video presentation will provide an overview of the history of the Institute, its founding, and growth over the past 25 years. Included will be clips of such memorable guests as Margaret Atwood, Shelby Foote, Joyce Carol Oates, David Sedaris, Hunter Thompson, and Kurt Vonnegut.
“As part of our 25th anniversary, we have invited 25 renowned New York writers to choose their favorite book about New York—state or city,” said Institute Director Donald Faulkner. “Books that focus on New York themes and landscapes have impacted readers for generations. We thought it would be appropriate to draw attention to some of these books to provide a glimpse of the enormous literary traditions that this state and its authors have to offer. This is not intended to be a ‘best of’ list, but a distinctive and slightly unconventional guide to reading more deeply into the spirit of the Empire State,” Faulkner explained. The first ten selections will be released on November 16, with the remaining 15 titles announced throughout the next several months.
Mario Cuomo, one of the great orators and intellectuals of 20th century American politics, served as the 52nd Governor of the State of New York from 1983 to 1994. He has also published several notable books, including political diaries, collections of speeches, and two books on Abraham Lincoln— most recently, “Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever” (2004). In advance praise, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. called the book, “A thoughtful and challenging meditation on what Lincoln’s wisdom tells us we Americans should be doing today and tomorrow.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, author of bestsellers about Lyndon Johnson, the Roosevelts, and the Kennedys. Her newest book is “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” which, by many accounts, helped shape President Obama’s political philosophy. A former professor of government at Harvard University, and assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, Doris Kearns Goodwin appears frequently as a political commentator on network and public television. A long-time friend of the Institute, she has made three previous appearances as a Visiting Writer (in 1991, 1995 and 2005). She is currently researching her next book which is set partly in Albany— a new biography of Teddy Roosevelt.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.