Skip to Main Content
Skidmore College
Summer Writers Institute

2019 Visiting Writers

Paul Austeris one of the most celebrated writers in the country, author of many novels, including The New York Trilogy, Invisible, Sunset Park, and Man In the Dark, several of these translated into 35 languages. His work is described in the London Sunday Times as follows: “Always riveting…The combination of scrupulous style, psychological depth, story value, and parable like undertones is masterly.” A reviewer for the Washington Post Book World writes: “A philosophical novelist but also one of our most playful, a lover of narrative labyrinths on a par with Borges.”

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.”

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.

Tom Healy His first collection of poetry, What the Right Hand Knows (2009), was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award in Poetry. Healy has been a leader in the arts, international affairs, and philanthropy throughout his career. Active in the New York City arts scene, Healy operated a gallery in Chelsea with Pat Hearn and Matthew Marks from 1994 until 2000. He has been executive director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. He currently serves as chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, which oversees the Fulbright program worldwide. He was appointed to the Fulbright board by President Barack Obama. He has taught at the Pratt Institute, New York University, and the New School, as well as the New York State Writers Institute, the Port Townsend Writers Conference, and the John Ashbery School of Poetics. He has a regular column in the Huffington Post and is a contributing editor to BOMB MagazineCreative Time Reports, and

Siri Hustvedtis the author of five novels, including The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl and What I Loved. She is also the author of several works of non-fiction, including The Shaking Woman (Or A History of My Nerves). Of her work Oliver Sacks has written: “Siri Hustvedt, one of our finest novelists, has long been a brilliant explorer of brain and mind,” while Salmon Rushdie describes her as “a rare artist, a writer of high intelligence, profound sensuality and a less easily definable capacity for which the only word is wisdom.” Of the novel What I Loved Janet Burroway wrote in the New York Times: “a page turner written at full intellectual stretch, serious but witty, large minded and morally engaged.” Siri Hustvedt has taught at Columbia University, Yale University and NYU, and in the spring of 2011 delivered the 39th annual Sigmund Freud Lecture in Vienna.

Margo Jefferson is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for criticism, previously served as book and arts critic for Newsweek and the New York Times. Her writing has appeared in, among other publications, VogueNew York MagazineThe Nation, and Guernica. Her memoir, Negroland, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. She is also the author of On Michael Jackson and is a professor of writing at Columbia University School of the Arts.

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.”

Honor Moore is the author of an acclaimed biography entitled The White Blackbird and of the controversial memoir The Bishop’s Daughter. She has also written three volumes of poems, including Darling, The Red Shoes, and Memoir. Jorie Graham: “Honor Moore has written a searing exploration of exposure.” Boston Review: “Moore has a unique ability to infuse her poems with real body heat, emotional electricity, and the divine grief at the center of desire.”

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.

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.

Danzy Senna is an American novelist and essayist. Her first novel, Caucasia (1998), has been translated into multiple languages and has won several awards, including the Book of the Month Club's Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and won the Alex Award from the American Library Association. The novel was also a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was named a Los Angeles Times "Best Book of the Year". The winner of a Whiting Award, Senna is the author of five books and numerous essays centering on issues of gender, race and motherhood; her most recent work is the novel New People (2017). Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue and the New York Times. She is a professor of English at the University of Southern California.

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.

 Joanna Scott signs book for student – photo by Jim McLaughlin
 Joanna Scott signs book for student  – photo by Jim McLaughlin