Toni Morrison Tribute kicks off

ALBANY — The NYS Writers Institute hosts “A Tribute to Toni Morrison” at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at Page Hall on the UAlbany downtown campus, 135 Western Avenue, Albany.

The event will include a screening of the 2019 documentary “The Pieces I Am” and a panel discussion about her life and legacy. The event is free and open to the public.

“Toni Morrison spent five years as a faculty member at the University at Albany in the 1980s, where she forged a special connection to the NYS Writers Institute,” said Paul Grondahl, director of the NYS Writers Institute. He interviewed Morrison when he was a Times Union reporter in 1987.

Grondahl will moderate the discussion following the documentary screening. Speakers will include:

- Janell Hobson, professor and chair of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UAlbany;

- Kyra Gaunt, assistant professor of music and theatre at UAlbany;

- Suzanne Lance, retired associate director of the Writers Institute and former assistant to Toni Morrison at UAlbany; and,

- Maureen McCoy, professor emerita of English at Cornell University, novelist and former Schweitzer Fellow under Toni Morrison at UAlbany.

The Nobel Prize-winning author died at age 88 on Aug. 5, 2019, in New York City. In the 1980s, she shared office space and collaborated frequently with Writers Institute founder William Kennedy.

Morrison addressed a packed audience at UAlbany in 1984, just the second featured writer in the Institute’s history. She also wrote parts of “Beloved,” one of the most acclaimed novels in all of American literature, while at UAlbany, and the news of her Pulitzer Prize in 1988 came with a phone call to the Institute’s office.

Read more and watch “The Pieces I Am” trailer at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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