Herbert H. & Sonia P. Reuner Library Writers Series

The SUNY Ulster Herbert H. & Sofia P. Reuner Library Writers Series is a special program sponsored by The Ulster Community College Foundation, begun in 1998, that brings renowned writers to campus every fall. This is a truly unique opportunity for SUNY Ulster students and community members to hear award winning authors read from their work.

Each guest writer presents a reading of their work, open to the public, in the evening. If possible, a question and answer session in the college lounge during the day, open to students and the public, will also be scheduled.


Herbert H. & Sofia P. Reuner Library Writers Series

Thursday, November 17, 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Author reading, interview, Q & A, book signing


Sapphire is the author of two bestselling novels, Push and The Kid.  Push was made into the Academy Award-winning major motion film, Precious. The film adaptation received the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress.  Sapphire is also the author of two collections of poetry.

Sapphire’s poetry, fiction, and essays, have appeared in The Black Scholar, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Teacher’s Voice, The New Yorker, Spin, and Bomb. She has taught literature, fiction, and poetry, workshops at SUNY Purchase, Trinity College, and the Writer’s Voice in New York City and graduate writing workshops at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Brooklyn College, and at the New School University.

Sapphire’s presentation, poetry, novels, and the film Precious, all speak to issues of overcoming adversity and empowerment.

Past Guests of the Library Writers Series:

Fall 2015: Abigail Thomas and Kim Wozencraft
Fall 2014: Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Fall 2013: Diane Ackerman
Fall 2012: Cancelled due to weather
Fall 2011: Jaimy Gordon
Fall 2010: Da Chen
Fall 2009: Michael Cunningham
Fall 2008: David Rakoff
Fall 2007: Francine Prose 
Fall 2006: Carolyn Forché
Fall 2005: Billy Collins
Fall 2004: Joyce Carol Oates
Fall 2003: Gail Godwin
Fall 2001: Tess Gallagher
Fall 2000: Philip Levine
Fall 1999: Gerald Stern
Fall 1998: Gioia Timpanelli  


Saïd Sayrafiezadeh 

Thursday, November 6, 2014 
11:45 am - 1 pm 
College Lounge, Vanderlyn Hall

Author Saïd Sayrafiezadeh was born in Brooklyn and raised in Pittsburgh. Most recently, he wrote the story collection, Brief Encounters With the Enemy, shortlisted for the 2014 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Fiction Prize, and the critically acclaimed memoir When Skateboards Will Be Free, selected as one of the 10 best books of the year by Dwight Garner of The New York Times. He is the recipient of a 2010 Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction and a 2012 fiction fellowship from the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Said Sayrafiezadeh

Sayrafiezadeh teaches creative writing at Hunter College and New York University, where he received a 2013 Outstanding Teaching Award.

Thomas Impola, Associate Professor of English at SUNY Ulster, will interview the author and moderate the audience discussion.

Click here for more information.

This event is co-sponsored by Macdonald DeWitt Library and the Ulster Community College Foundation, Inc.



Diane Ackerman
November 5, 2013

Bestselling Author, Poet & Naturalist

Diane Ackerman is the author of two dozen highly acclaimed works of nonfiction and poetry, including the bestselling A Natural History of the Senses.  Her most recent book, the memoir One Hundred Names for Love, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National book Critics Circle Award, and the Books for a Better Life Award.  Her nonfiction book, The Zookeeper’s Wife, is about one of the most successful hideouts of World War II – a tale of people, animals, and subversive acts of compassion.

photo of Diane Ackerman


Jaimy Gordon
November 9, 2011

Author of the 2010 National Book Award-winning novel Lord of Misrule Jaimy Gordon graduated from Antioch College, and received her Doctor of Arts from Brown University. Gordon's second novel, She Drove Without Stopping, brought her an Academy-Institute Award. Her third novel, Bogeywoman, made the Los Angeles Times Best Books List for 2000. Gordon currently teaches at Western Michigan University and in the Prague Summer Program for Writers.


Jaimy Gordon

National Book Award-Winning Author Jaimy Gordon to Read at SUNY Ulster .. McPherson & Co. of Kingston Published Lord of Misrule ... With her reading on Nov. 9, 2011 at SUNY Ulster, 2010 National Book Award winner Jaimy Gordon will come full circle with a local publisher who helped launch her writing career and encouraged her for years to complete her surprise winning novel, Lord of Misrule.

The Kalamazoo, Michigan author and writing professor at Western Michigan University went from being virtually unknown in the mainstream literary world to win one of the highest honors in American fiction with her sixth novel that depicts an entire world of run-down second-rate racetracks with vivid descriptions of horses.


Jaimy Gordon by Alan Ritch

"People in our country are fascinated with fame and celebrity and radical turns of luck like mine," she says. "In our culture, the average person identifies with the underdog who has had a huge stroke of luck, even if it's deserved."

Gordon's local appearance comes through a long-time friendship with Bruce McPherson of McPherson & Co. of Kingston who published her first underground fantasy classic, Shamp of the City-Solo, when she was still a graduate student, after the two met while taking a poetry class together at Brown in Providence, R.I.

"Jaimy has an extraordinary command of language and metaphors, and her ability to paint a scene is breathtaking," Bruce McPherson said. "She can capture character in a voice like very few writers. She has both comic and tragic sensibility and can work both sides of the road."

Seeing its potential for mainstream literary acclaim, McPherson pushed Gordon every summer for nearly 10 years, after first reading Lord of Misrule in 1999, to finish it and then entered it into the National Book Award competition.

"Bruce McPherson was there at the very beginning of my career when I had no career, and then again, partly by chance, partly by his own unaccountable expectations, last year, when my career seemed to be slumping towards its end," she says. "He just about trapped me into finishing Lord of Misrule."

Winning the National Book Award for the horse racing novel was a complete long shot. As McPherson recalls, "No one expected her to win. When she was shortlisted, we were astounded and overjoyed. It was unprecedented. To actually win was out of the question."

Gordon is candid about her lack of savvy in managing her writing career, being easily distracted from her writing by her outside interests, such as opera and classical music, and not working as hard as she should have to stay in front of the public.

She offers this advice to young writers and others on finding happiness in the arts, whether or not they find fame: "Keep at it. Practice pays off. You do get to be a better writer and others will see that. Do things you are genuinely interested in and be generous to other people."

Gordon's second novel, She Drove Without Stopping, brought her an Academy-Institute Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her third novel, Bogeywoman, made the Los Angeles Times Best Books List for 2000. She is currently working on a novel to be published by Pantheon Books Pantheon Books about a young American Jewish food writer married to a German photographer who discovers six Jews hiding in a cave since they never came back from a picnic in 1936.


Da Chen
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
10:30 a.m.: Question and Answer Session
7:00 p.m.: Author's Reading
Vanderlyn Hall, Student Lounge

Da Chen grew up in the deep south of China.  He arrived in America at the age of 23 with $30 in his pocket, his bamboo flute and a heart filled with hope.  He attended Columbia University School of Law on a full scholarship.  His books are translated into eleven languages.  He currently lives with his family in upstate New York. 

Da Chen 
Da Chen

He is best known for his memoirs Colors of the Mountain and Sounds of the River.  He is the recipient of the 2007 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. His books are translated into eleven languages.  He currently lives with his family in upstate New York.      

Both the 10:30 am and the 7:00 pm events will be held in the Vanderlyn Hall Student Lounge, on the College’s Stone Ridge campus, and are free and open to the public.


Michael Cunningham

Pulitzer Prize-winning author ( The Hours )
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
1 p.m. Question and Answer Session
7:00 p.m. Author's Reading
Vanderlyn Hall, Student Lounge

Michael Cunningham is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Michener Fellowship from the University of Iowa. His novel A Home at the End of the World met wide acclaim in 1990. A film version of The Hours featured Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep.

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham

His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review and other publications.

Both events will be held in the Vanderlyn Hall Student Lounge, on the College’s Stone Ridge campus, are free and open to the public.






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