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Skidmore College
Summer Writers Institute

Free Public Readings in July

The New York State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College features FREE public readings each weeknight at 8 PM in July – All events in Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall, unless otherwise noted.  Schedule is subject to changes.   View our Public Reading Schedule here.  

2018 Visiting Writers

Russell Banks is the author of Cloudsplitter, Continental Drift, The Book of Jamaica, and many other works of fiction. Banks’s novels Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter (three Cannes Film Festival awards) have been made into successful feature films. His novel Rule of the Bone was praised by Cornel West as the work of “a great writer wrestling with the hidden secrets and explosive realities of this country.” The Darling is Banks’ political novel. (“Russell Banks’s twentieth-century Liberia is as hellish a place as Joseph Conrad’s nineteenth century Congo. The only creatures that behave with humanity are the apes. A dark and disturbing book,” writes Michael Ondaatje.) Banks’ 2011 novel is Lost Memory of Skin. Janet Maslin in The New York Times: “Destined to be a canonical novel of our time…delivers another of Banks’ wrenching, panoramic visions of American life.”

Ann Beattie is the author of many books, including The New Yorker Stories, Park City, Love Always, Another You, Perfect Recall and Picturing Will. Michiko Kakutani writes of her in The NY Times: “To say that Ann Beattie is a good writer would be an understatement. Her ear is faultless, her eye ruthless as a hawk’s.” Lorrie Moore wrote of her, also in The NY Times, as follows: “One feels amazed at the confidence, steadiness, and quality of her writing.” Among her many awards is the Rea Award for Short Fiction.

Frank Bidart was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in April 2018. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2014 for his book Metaphysical Dog and is the author of many books of poetry, including In The Western Night, Star Dust and Desire. His most recent book (2017) is Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016. Of Bidart’s work Robert Boyers wrote in The Nation (2013): “….journeys in which not less than everything is at stake and the pleasure entailed is the pleasure of submitting to an ordeal from which we emerge at last thrilled, exhausted and longing for more.”

Carl Dennis won the Pulitzer Prize for Practical Gods and is the author of a dozen other volumes of poetry including Ranking The Wishes, The Near World and Meetings With Time. He won the Lilly Prize from POETRY Magazine in 2002. His Selected Poems was published by Penguin in 2004.

Nick Flynn won the PEN/ ALBRAND Award for The Art of the Memoir for his book Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. The Reenactments is another memoiristic book which chronicles Flynn’s experience during the making of the film Being Flynn. A third memoir is The Ticking of the Bomb is the Bomb. Flynn is also the author of three volumes of poetry, including Some Ether (which won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award) and The Captain Asks For a Show of Hands. Elisa Schappell wrote of Suck City in Vanity Fair: “A remarkable feat: a clear-eyed, inventive and astonishingly honest guided tour of hell.”

Rivka Galchen is the author of the novel Atmospheric Disturbances and of a recent book of short stories entitled American Innovations (2014). The New Yorker selected her as one of its notable “20 Under 40” writers in 2010, and in recent years she has appeared frequently in such publications as The New Yorker, Harper’s , and The NY Times Book Review. Of her novel James Wood wrote in The New Yorker: “A relentless exploration of how a man could fail to see clearly the woman he loves… A novel that knows how to move from the comic to the painful.” Laura Miller wrote of the novel in Salon: “At once mournful and playful…a droll, exquisite first novel.” Her most recent book is Little Labours. She teaches at Columbia University.

Louise Glück has won The Pulitzer Prize, The National Book Award and other major prizes for her poetry, which has appeared in many volumes including Meadowlands, Descending Figure, Vita Nova, The Wild Iris, Firstborn, Ararat, and Poems 1962-2012. In recent years she has taught at Yale and at the MFA programs at Boston University and Stanford. Her most recent book is Faithful and Virtuous Night.

Mary Gordon who has been The New York State Author and the winner of the REA Short Story Prize, is the McIntosh Professor of English at Barnard College. She is the author of more than a dozen books of fiction and non-fiction, including Pearl, The Company of Women, Final Payments, The Shadow Man and many others. In 1981, she wrote the foreword to the Harvest edition of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Circling My Mother: A Memoir (2007) , and Reading Jesus are her most recent books of non-fiction. In 2011, she published The Love of My Youth.

William Kennedy is the author of Ironweed (Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award), Quinn’s Book, Legs, The Ink Truck, Very Old Bones, Roscoe and The Flaming Corsage. Kennedy, who also wrote the film version of Ironweed (1987) and co-scripted The Cotton Club with Francis Ford Coppola (1986), is the winner of a MacArthur Award, a Brandeis Creative Arts Award, an a New York Arts Award. He is the founding director of the New York State Writers Institute at SUNY Albany. His latest novel is Chango’s Beads And 2-Tone Shoes. The New York Times Book Review, front page: “Proves he can play with both hands and improvise on a theme without losing the beat…a masterwork.”

Jamaica Kincaid is the author of many books, including Mr. Potter (described by Robert Boyers as “a perfect, perfectly heartbreaking novel”), Lucy, At The Bottom of the River, Annie John, My Brother, A Small Place, Autobiography of My Mother, and other books. Her most recent novel is See Now Then. Kincaid is described as follows in The New York Times: “She has the gift of endowing common experience with a mythic ferocity... She is one of our most scouringly vivid writers.”

Joyce Carol Oates is a National Book Award winning novelist, short-story writer, poet, and critic, who has produced more than 30 novels and many books of stories, among them Blonde, We Were the Mulvaneys, Zombie, Foxfire, American Appetites, Bellefleur, The Wheel of Love, and A Garden of Earthly Delights. Walter Clemons wrote of her in Newsweek, “Like the most important writers…she has an absolute identification with her material: the spirit of a society at a crucial point in its history.” Oates, who has had two national bestsellers (Blonde and We Were the Mulvaneys), now teaches creative writing at NYU after many years as the Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. Her recent books include A Widow’s Story: A Memoir, Missing Mom and High Lonesome.

Joseph O’Neill is the author of six novels, the most recent of which is The Dog, described in The NY Times Book Review as a work of “nightmarish subtlety” which features “an Arab intuition of Western desire” written with “consummate elegance.” O’Neill’s previous novel, Netherland, was one of the most celebrated books of the past decade, described by Dwight Garner in The NY Times as follows: “The wittiest, angriest, most exacting and most desolate work of fiction we’ve yet had about life in New York and London after the World Trade Center fell…On a macro level it’s about nearly everything: family, politics, identity…O’Neill seems incapable of composing a boring sentence or thinking an uninteresting thought… The book has more life inside it than ten very good novels.” O’Neill’s non-fiction is collected in the volume Blood-Dark Track.

Caryl Phillips teaches at Yale University and is the author of many books of fiction and non-fiction. Dancing In The Dark (2005) was a finalist for the National Book Award (“a devastating novel,” wrote Donna Seaman in a starred review for Booklist: ”Given the drama and beauty of his writing and the freshness of his insights into both personal and social conundrums regarding race and identity, Phillips is in a league with Toni Morrison and V.S. Naipaul”). Winner of the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Phillips is the author of such works as Cambridge, The Nature of Blood, The Final Passage, A Distant Shore, and The Atlantic Sound.

Robert Pinsky was the Poet-Laureate of the US and is the author of many books of poetry and prose. His books of poetry include The Figured Wheel, Jersey Rain, The Want Bone, Gulf Music and (2016) At The Foundling Hospital. Louise Gluck writes of his work: “Robert Pinsky has what I think Shakespeare must have had: dexterity combined with worldliness, the magician’s dazzling quickness fused with subtle intelligence….Like the Elizabethans, he is in his practice a tinkerer: restless, endlessly curious; these qualities have produced an art whose scope and complexity and grandeur are rarely equaled by any of his contemporaries.”

Francine Prose is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction, including Guided Tours of Hell, Primitive People, and Bigfoot Dreams. Her novel, Blue Angel, was hailed in Publishers Weekly as “a peerlessly accomplished performance…timelessly funny,” and in Mademoiselle as a “funny yet devastating novel that will rock literary and academic worlds alike.” Prose is a contributing editor of Harper’s and writes for The New Yorker, Gentleman’s Quarterly, and Atlantic Monthly. Recent books include The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women& The Artists They Inspired, Caravaggio, and A Changed Man. Other recent titles include the novels Goldengrove and Lovers At The Chameleon Club. Her recent non-fiction books include Reading Like A Writer, and Anne Frank.

Charles Simic, a former Poet Laureate of the United States, won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for The World Doesn’t End, and is the author of many books, including Jackstraws, Night Picnic, Hotel Insomnia, A Wedding in Hell, Walking The Black Cat, Unending Blues, and Dismantling The Silence. His non-fiction books include The Uncertain Certainty, Orphan Factory, and a memoir titled A Fly In The Soup. He writes regularly on poetry and other matters for the New York Review of Books.

April Bernard and Nick Flynn at Q & A  photo by Jim McLaughlin
April Bernard and Nick Flynn at Q & A – photo by Jim McLaughlin