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Skidmore College

NYS Summer Writers Institute brings big names to Skidmore

June 28, 2019
by Hadia Bakkar '20

The New York State Summer Writers Institute returns to Skidmore College for its 32nd season July 1-26, bringing major writers from across the nation to Saratoga Springs.

The summer institute, which is an extension of the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany, provides opportunities for students of all ages and financial backgrounds to learn from award-winning novelists, poets and nonfiction authors. The intensive four-week program consists of workshops and lessons catered to college-level, professional and rising writers.

Students of the institute have access to celebrated authors’ creative wisdom, expertise and experience, as well as direct feedback on their own works in progress.

The institute also features free public readings at 8 p.m. every weekday until July 26 in Palamountain Hall’s Davis Auditorium, unless otherwise noted, as well as interactive discussions. The expansion of those panel discussions, which will be held one night a week and cover topics ranging from the scholarly — like “Reading Like a Writer” — to the political — such as “The Fate of Liberalism and Democracy in the Age of Trump” — will make this year’s event even more special, said Robert Boyers, a professor of English at Skidmore and director of the summer institute.

“This is the first time we’ve included so many panels and thus provided opportunities for audience members to ask questions and interact with the writers speaking at these sessions,” said Boyers. “We imagine that these interactions will be lively, given that our topics are challenging, sometimes controversial, and also given that our speakers are not known for caution or timidity.”

Critic and memoir writer Margo Jefferson

Margo Jefferson is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for criticism and previously served as book and arts critic for Newsweek and the New York Times. Her memoir, "Negroland," received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography.

Among the visiting writers this year are Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Critics Circle Award and National Book Award recipients, poet laureates and Guggenheim fellows, including novelists Paul Auster, Russell Banks, Siri Hustvedt, William Kennedy and Jamaica Kincaid; poets Frank Bidart, Louise Glück, Tom Healy, Robert Pinsky and Charles Simic; critic and memoirist Margo Jefferson; biographer and poet Honor Moore; novelist, short-story writer, poet and critic Joyce Carol Oates; fiction and nonfiction writers Caryl Phillips and Francine Prose; and novelist and essayist Danzy Senna.

Skidmore English professors April Bernard and Peg Boyers will also take part.

For more information on the summer institute at Skidmore, visit the New York State Writers Institute website.

About the Author

Hadia Bakkar

Hadia Bakkar is a political science major with a media and film studies minor originally from Damascus, Syria. With a passion for storytelling, Bakkar is interested in the intersection of politics and media production. Currently serving as the opinion editor for the Skidmore News, Bakkar hopes to pursue a future career in journalism, be it print or radio broadcasting.

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