Skip to Main Content
Skidmore College
New York State Summer Writers Institute

2021 Visiting Writers and Public Readings 

Public readings for the summer of 2021 will be offered online and announced in the spring. 

Visiting writers include:

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.”

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.”

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.”

James Wood has been a staff writer and book critic at The New Yorker since 2007. In 2009, he won the National Magazine Award for reviews and criticism. He was the chief literary critic at the Guardian, in London, from 1992 to 1995, and a senior editor at The New Republic from 1995 to 2007. His critical essays are collected in The Broken Estate: Essays on Literature and Belief; The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays. He is also the author of the novel The Book Against God and a study of technique in the novel, How Fiction Works. His

Previous visiting writers include Louise Glück, Mary Gordon, Tom Healy, Margo Jefferson, William Kennedy, Binnie Kirshenbaum, John McWhorter, James Miller, Michael Ondaatje, Caryl Phillips, Robert Pinsky, Katha Pollitt, Francine Prose and Victoria Redel.

Jamaica KincaidJamaica Kincaid with student