Author Jeff Sharlet at APL April 22

born in Schenectady County, NY

Sharlet, Jeff_credit_JuliaRabig“Why do we sometimes gravitate toward the unknown when we feel alone? The writing in Jeff Sharlet’s gorgeous new book, ‘This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers,’ takes place between lonely traumas: his father’s heart attack and his own, two years later. As a magazine writer and the author of several books, Sharlet has made a long career of telling stories, but after his heart attack he started to re-evaluate the kinds he thought were worthwhile.”

That’s the opening of the stellar review in the New York Times of Sharlet’s seventh book. “He turned to posting snapshots on Instagram. These were not solipsistic selfies but images of strangers and their lives.” It’s a book framed by insomnia, late-night driving and “the companionship of other darkness-dwellers: night bakers and last-call drinkers, frightened people and frightening people, the homeless and the lost (or merely disoriented), addicts and people on the margins.”

Jeff, who was born in Schenectady County, notes that while most of the book is reported, every now and then, it returns to the personal. He says it’s a very upstate book. Three chapters take place in Schenectady, including the longest narrative text-image sequence and the penultimate scene. There are a few other bits of the Capital District, too. It also takes place in L.A., Moscow, Dublin, and Vermont, but there’s a Schenectady sensibility throughout, he believes.

The Family

The acclaimed author and journalist is noted for The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, his bestselling 2008 book. It explores the most powerful and most weirdly secretive Christian conservative organization in Washington. The book was adapted to a 2019 five-part Netflix documentary series, THE FAMILY.

Jeff Sharlet is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Dartmouth College. His work has earned numerous awards, including the National Magazine Award and the Outspoken Award.

Please join The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library for the National Library Week Distinguished Author Dinner and Lecture on Wednesday, April 22th with author Jeff Sharlet. The dinner begins at five o’clock p.m. at the University Club, 141 Washington Avenue in Albany and costs $30 per person. If you wish to attend, please purchase tickets online.

The lecture by Mr. Sharlet begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington Avenue Branch, 161 Washington Avenue. It is free and open to the public.

APL Foundation Celebrating Literary Legends

Peter Golden, Lyn Lifshin, and Dan Wilcox

Peter Golden
Peter Golden
The Albany [NY] Public Library Foundation will be hosting several events in the upcoming months to celebrate the 2019 Literary Legends, Peter Golden, Lyn Lifshin, and Dan Wilcox.

Save the dates!

Thursday, May 30, 2019 – An Evening With The Authors

An Evening With The Authors is a wine and dessert reception will begin at 6:00 pm, followed by a special toast at 6:30 pm. Following the toast, Literary Legends Dan Wilcox and Peter Golden will hold court until 7:30 pm, reading from their work and talking about their craft with APL Foundation Director Alexis Bhagat.

Peter Golden
Dan Wilcox

The event will take place in the Community Room in the Washington Avenue branch of the Albany Public Library. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at any branch or online at literarylegends.org after April 30th. Proceeds benefit the Albany Public Library Foundation.

Friday, May 31, 2019 – Leaves of Grass Bicentennial Reading

Literary Legend Dan Wilcox and the Poetry Motel Foundation present their annual reading of “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman each year on his birthday, rain or shine. Whitman turns 200 this year, so this should be an extra special reading. The event will take place near the Robert Burns statue in Washington Park at 6:00 pm. It is an outdoor event, so bring your own blankets or chairs. This event is sponsored by the APL Foundation and the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.

Thursday, June 13, 2019 – Lyn Lifshin Not Made Of Glass Film Screening

Lyn Lifshin
Lyn Lifshin

“Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass” (Karista Films, 1987) is a documentary about one of our Literary Legends. Readings of Lifshin’s poems are interspersed with her own and others’ observations about her life and work. The documentary was produced, directed, and edited by Mary Ann Lynch. It is 55 minutes long and will include a Q&A. The screening will take place at the Opalka Gallery, 140 New Scotland Ave. Albany, NY 12208 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

Friday, June 14, 2019 – Poets from Albany Read Their Favorite Lyn Lifshin Poems

Literary Legend Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited 4 anthologies of women writers. For this special reading, local poets will select their favorite Lyn Lifshin poems to read aloud. The reading will take place in the Large Auditorium at the Washington Avenue branch of the Albany Public Library from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. Please contact APL Foundation at 518-427-4367 if you are interested in reading!

Virginia Eubanks on Automating Inequality October 2

Automating Inequality systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America.

The Author Talk for Tuesday, October 2 at the Albany Public Library will be by Virginia Eubanks. She will be talking about In Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. Eubanks “ably demonstrates why everyone should be very, very worried about the present and future of poverty management,” according to NY Daily News.

Here’s the book blurb:
Since the dawn of the digital age, decision-making in finance, employment, politics, health and human services has undergone revolutionary change. Today, automated systems–rather than humans–control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed resources, and who is investigated for fraud. While we all live under this new regime of data, the most invasive and punitive systems are aimed at the poor.

Automating Inequality systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile.

Check out the New York Times Review of the book; a story about the book on NPR All Things Considered; an interview with Virginia on PBS’s “The Open Mind”; and the All Over Albany story from book launch in Troy.

Virginia Eubanks is an associate professor of political science at the University at Albany who has worked in community technology and economic justice for 20 years. She is also the author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age; and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith.

Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in The American Prospect, The Nation, Harper’s and Wired. For two decades, Eubanks has worked in community technology and economic justice movements. Today, she is a founding member of the Our Data Bodies Project and a Fellow at New America. She lives in Troy, NY.

Author talks and book reviews are sponsored by the Friends of the Albany Public Library every Tuesday that the library is open at the Washington Avenue branch of the APL, 162 Washington Avenue, in the main auditorium at noon.

TWO absentee ballots for Albany’s May 15 vote

Each absentee ballot must be returned separately to the organization responsible

As someone who has used an absentee ballot for the school district vote, I was intrigued and disappointed by this from the Albany school district:

“Voters wishing to cast absentee ballots in the City School District of Albany’s May 15 budget vote and Board of Education elections will receive two separate absentee ballots — one from the school district for the budget and related propositions, and one from the Albany County Board of Elections for the board candidates.

“The state moved the district’s board elections from November to May last summer to align Albany with the vast majority of public school districts statewide, which annually hold their board elections and budget vote together on the third Tuesday in May.” This, I thought, was a very good thing, and long overdue.

“The state legislation as it is currently written requires the county to be responsible for the board elections, as it has been traditionally when school board members were elected in November in conjunction with the general election. The district is responsible for the budget vote and related propositions as in past years.

Please note that each absentee ballot must be returned separately to the organization responsible.

“…The absentee ballot for the school budget vote and related propositions… will contain the following propositions:
Proposition #1 — 2018-19 school budget vote
Proposition #2 — Proposal to establish a Capital Reserve Fund
Proposition #3 — 2018-19 Albany Public Library budget vote (this item is unrelated to the school district)”

Incidentally, the League of Women Voters of Albany County has announced a Candidate Forum for the Albany School board election on May 14 at 7 p.m. at Myers Middle School, 100 Elbel off Whitehall Road. It is cosponsored by CANA, Citizen Action NY and the NAACP. Nell Stokes is the moderator.

I hope that there can be a legislative fix for the voting glitch before the balloting in May 2019. The turnout for these important votes are notoriously low, and I’m in favor of things that will make the franchise easier.
Albany County Board of Elections will deal with “absentee ballots for the board elections. Four candidates are vying for three open seats on the school board.”

Meet Candidates for Albany School Board April 9

The vote will take place May 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Meet school board candidates Damarise Alexander-Mann, Ellen Roach, and Tabetha Wilson Monday, April 9 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at 32 Colonial Avenue, Albany. Your presence is welcome.
Please note that the school board election has been moved to May, to match when Albanians vote on the school budget, finally bringing the city in sync with the rest of the state.

There are three seats open: two full four-year terms and one partial one-year term, resulting from Kenny Bruce’s resignation in 2017. Tabetha Wilson, whom the board appointed last year to fill that vacancy, is running. Ellen Roach is running for re-election. President

Sue Adler is not running for re-election.

The Albany school budget vote, Board of Education elections, and Albany Public Library budget vote will take place May 15. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at these locations, which may be different from those for the general election.