FFAPL Literary Legends Gala 2021

Eugene Mirabelli, Lydia Davis

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library is having its Literary Legends Gala 2021 on Saturday, October 16 from 6 to 8 pm. It will be held at the Pine Hills branch of the Albany Public Library, 517 Western Avenue. The first six annual galas were in person. The one in 2020 was, no surprise, virtual. This year’s event will be a hybrid because that’s what 2021 looks like.

The FFAPL “provides critical financial support to the Albany Public Library in order to help the Library provide education, literacy, career development, cultural enrichment, and lifelong learning.” These include supporting specific Library programs and projects, beyond the budget and scope of APL.

Our guests

The honorees are Lydia Davis and Eugene Mirabelli, each a professor emeritus at SUNY-Albany.

Lydia is a short story writer, novelist, and translator. “Her honors and awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, as well as the Man Booker International Prize.” I bought her Collected Works (2009) in 2013 when she was honored by the Friends, a predecessor of FFAPL.

I attended Gene’s book launch for Renato! earlier this month. It is revised and reassembled from three of his earlier works. At the reading, he read from chapter 3 of what was part of The Goddess in Love with a Horse. It was so engaging that I bought the collection. Thirty years ago, I met Gene a few times, then hadn’t crossed paths with him until this year. He is just as engaging now as then.

The event

The gala features an online auction, already started and going on through October 16. And you don’t have to be in the Albany, NY area to participate. Here’s the link.

Tickets: ONLY A LIMITED NUMBER OF IN-PERSON TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE. All In-Person Tickets are “Honorary Committee” tickets at $125 each. All in-person attendees must show proof of vaccination. Virtual tickets are pay-what-you-wish, with a recommended donation of $25.

Two nearby banks have given the event organizers permission to use their parking lots for the event, Citizens Bank, 501 Western Avenue (enter from the West Lawrence St. side), and Trustco Bank, 1084 Madison Avenue, both nearby.

Being for the benefit of…

Yes, THAT Paul Simon

I shall have gone to three benefit events in a two-week period in October. None of them, unsurprisingly, were in person. Two of the three I HAD attended in person LAST year. But that was so long ago.

Wizard’s Wardrobe

The Wizard’s Wardrobe is a program in Albany’s South End. “Children spend time with a special tutor just for them — to read, write, and explore the wonderful world of books.” It was started by two members of my church, Deb and Eric Fagans. They were inspired by the TED talk Once Upon a School.

The program grew out of the relationship our church had developed with the Giffen Elementary School in the South End of the city of Albany. Several of our members tutored at Giffen and held an annual Book and Author event there.

The benefit on Monday, October 5 featured Katherine Paterson, Newbery Medal-winning author of The Bridge to Terabithia. She read as did local authors Margaret Miki Conn, Lorraine Garnett, and Marion Roach Smith. The Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York performed The eyez in the wall, written and directed by Aaron Moore. The ASL Interpretation was provided by Marian Eaton. The Master of Ceremonies was Rex Smith, Editor of the Times Union newspaper.

There was a ZOOM afterparty following the presentation. I knew about half of the participants personally. One of the attendees was Gregory Maguire, a local author who’s done well. He wrote the book Wicked, upon which the musical was based. What’s the correct protocol for departing a gathering online?

Green The Senate, Save the Planet

Paul Simon hosted an event to support seven US Senate candidates on Thursday, October 8. The singer wrote, “In a year that has been incredibly challenging, often overwhelming, and too often heartbreaking, it is easy to become discouraged. But future generations are counting on us, and I urge you to channel your energy in these final days before Election Day to help secure a pro-environment majority in the Senate.”

Simon began the program by singing American Tune. Then there were videos, including from the sponsor Give Green and from former Presidential candidate and rich guy Tom Steyer. Some of the candidates gave brief video presentations.

Then Simon interviewed three of them: Steve Bullock (MT), Jamie Harrison (SC), and Theresa Greenfield (IA). Paul was an unsure questioner, seeking to ask certain things and at the same time wanting the candidates not to be hemmed in by his queries. Still, the candidates acquitted themselves well.

After another video, Paul sang The Boxer, Homeward Bound, Sound of Silence, and Here Comes the Sun. He was accompanied by a guy named Mark Stewart. He was wearing a mask, but I think he’s this guy.

Literary Legends@Home

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library are having its annual Literary Legends Gala on Saturday, October 17 from 7 to 10 pm. Each year, the group “selects a new outstanding person of letters in our community, and invites the community to celebrate them with a cocktail reception in their honor.” Well, not in person THIS year.

The FFAPL is honoring the writer Elisa Albert. Past honorees have included William Kennedy, Paul Grondahl, Amy Biancolli, Gregory Maguire, Barbara Smith, Marion Roach Smith, Dr. Leonard Slade, Athena Lord, Frankie Bailey, Alice Green, Peter Golden, Lyn Lifshin, and Dan Wilcox. (The second time Gregory and Marion appear in this post.)

The gala is the primary fundraising effort of the FFAPL, which “provides critical financial support to the Albany Public Library in order to help the Library provide education, literacy, career development, cultural enrichment, and lifelong learning.” It can provide mini-grants for the library to offer programming that the APL cannot. One can buy tickets here.

BTW, on October 20 at 12:15 pm, there will be a ZOOM review of the book Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide by Richard Dawkins. The reviewer will be Carl Strock, a former columnist for the Daily Gazette, Schenectady. It is free but one must preregister here.