Governor Mario Cuomo, authors William Kennedy and E.L. Doctorow at New York State Author/Poet Award Ceremony, 1989. Photo courtesy New York State Writers Institute
New York State Writers Institute
Founded in 1983, the New York Writers
Institute in Albany is among America's premiere sites for
celebrating the art of the written word. Its programs provide
the broadest possible educational base for students of
writing, access to some of the greatest living authors for
serious readers of literature, enthusiastic audiences in
excellent venues for visiting writers, and important cultural
initiatives for the public.
At the heart of the Writers Institute is its Visiting
Writers Series, bringing 30 to 35 novelists, poets, playwrights,
screenwriters, and nonfiction writers to Albany each year from all
over the world. Of the nearly 500 artists who have participated in
the program since Saul Bellow's 1984 inaugural reading have been
winners of six Nobel Prizes in literature, 47 Pulitzers, 58
National Book awards, numerous Motion Picture Academy awards, as
well as 78 members in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The
institute's classic film series features the work of distinguished
filmmakers and screenwriters. These have included James Ivory,
Ismail Merchant, Neil Jordan, Elmore Leonard, Costa-Gavras, and
Robert Wise, who also participated in the attended the series.
Other programs include residencies, a young writers institute, and
an biannual state recognition program that awards a fiction writer
with the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit and a poet with the Walt
Whitman Citation of Merit.
The institute was initiated by novelist William
Kennedy, after receiving the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in
1983. The fellowship entitled Kennedy to designate $15,000 per year
for three years to the institution of his choice. Kennedy gave the
money to the State University of New York at Albany for the purpose
of establishing the Writers Institute. The following year, the
state made the institute a state-sponsored organization.
Documentation includes a project report, awards
brochures, the institute's newsletter, film and nonfiction
symposium programs, a video, two audio tapes from public radio
shows, and promotional material.
Originally submitted by: Michael R. McNulty, Representative (21st District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.