Writers Institute Fall Season Begins with Rap, Memoir, Film

The Writers Institute invites you to our upcoming Fall 2017 events. We look forward to seeing you! Events are free and open to the public. We kick off our new season with UAlbany alum and soon-to-be movie star Awkwafina.

Click here for a full schedule.


August 31 (Thursday): Awkwafina, rap artist and actress
Conversation — 4:15 p.m., Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center
Awkwafina (AKA Nora Lum) is a multi-talented rap artist, comedian, actress, and author who graduated from UAlbany with a B.A. in Journalism in 2011. She will appear in the upcoming film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, and play a member of the all-female heist team in OCEAN’S EIGHT, alongside Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter. Formerly a host of MTV’s Girl Code Live, she has also published Awkwafina’s NYC (2015), a travel guide to the hidden gems of the city. Steve Barnes, one of Awkwafina’s former professors at UAlbany, and senior writer, restaurant critic, and author of the “Table Hopping” blog for the Times Union will conduct an on-stage interview with her. Read more
Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Student Association and University Auxiliary Services


Telling Your Story: The Art of Memoir
September 7 (Thursday): James Hart, writer, poet, and activist
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 7:00 p.m. [note early start time], Huxley Theatre,
NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany
James Hart
 is the author of a powerful new memoir Lucky Jim (2017), an account of his violent childhood, marriage to pop singer superstar Carly Simon, coming to terms with his gay sexuality, and his drug and alcohol addiction and subsequent recovery. William Kennedy said, “Jim writes with candor and clarity, drenching it…with woe and wit and wonderful revelation.” Hart will be joined by several community writers and UAlbany students, who will read short passages of autobiography to further explore the art of memoir. The evening will be hosted by celebrated memoir coach, Marion Roach Smith, author of The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life (2011). Read more
Cosponsored by the New York State Office of Cultural Education and the Friends of the New York State Library


September 8 (Friday): BACKPACK FULL OF CASH 
Film screening with commentary by director/producer Sarah Mondale and producer/editorVera Aronow — 7:00 p.m. [note early start time], Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue,
Downtown Campus

Directed by Sarah Mondale (United States, 2017, 96 minutes, color)
Narrated by Matt Damon, this feature-length documentary explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville, and other cities, it takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, exploring the world of education “reform” and its effects on public education.

Sarah Mondale is president and co-director of Stone Lantern Films, and a former public school teacher in New York. She directed and co-produced the award-winning PBS series School: The Story of American Public Education(2001); the PBS primetime films Marcel Proust: A Writer’s Life and Asylum, which was nominated for an Emmy award. She also co-directed and co-produced Megamall (2010), which has screened at festivals in the U.S. and abroad.

Vera Aronow is an accomplished producer and director. Recent works include co-directing and producing the feature-length documentary, Megamall (2010), about suburban development in the age of sprawl, produced with Stone Lantern Films and now available on Video On Demand. Read more
Sponsored with UAlbany’s Dept.of History and Documentary Studies Program; United University Professions, and School of Education