SUNY Adirondack offers Writers Project series

Stephen Sexton
February 07, 2023

Prominent poets, editors, writers among speakers coming to college

QUEENSBURY, New York (Feb. 7, 2023) — SUNY Adirondack’s The Writers Project returns for the Spring semester with another impressive lineup of international literary talent.

A regional voice kicks off the series at 3 p.m. Feb. 15, as Diana Bryson Barnes, a broadcast journalist and Spanish instructor at Skidmore College, speaks in SUNY Adirondack’s Visual Arts Gallery, Dearlove Hall. 

Bryson Barnes writes and speaks about injustices at the U.S.-Mexican border and the role women play in easing human suffering along the highly politicized boundary. 

“Diana is a gift to upstate New York, enlightening us with firsthand and journalistic feature stories about life at the American-Mexican border — the vibrancy, the passion, the suffering, the fear, and the incredible hope offered by activists and immigrants working together to improve conditions for the families with mouths to feed who are stuck between two very different cultures and governments,” said Kathleen McCoy, distinguished professor of English at SUNY Adirondack and organizer of The Writers Project.

The series continues Feb. 27 with poet and editor Jiwon Choi; writer and filmmaker Tara Stillions Whitehead on March 27; Stephen Sexton and Leontia Flynn on April 17; and graduating Creative Writing students from SUNY Adirondack on May 1.

The Writers Projects events are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served at the events, which will be held in SUNY Adirondack’s Visual Arts Gallery in Dearlove Hall. Please contact McCoy at with any questions.

About Jiwon Choi
Brooklyn-based Jiwon Choi is editor at Hanging Loose Press and author of two poetry collections, “One Daughter is Worth Ten Sons” and “I Used To Be Korean,” which deal with her identity as a Korean in the diaspora.  

The early childhood educator at the Educational Alliance, where she works with children and teachers to develop curriculum, will speak at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at SUNY Adirondack.  

She is a longtime gardener and coordinator at Pacific Street Brooklyn Bear’s Garden, where she collaborates with local organizations to bring workshops and cultural events into the garden. Her work can be found in publications such as Painted Bride Quarterly, Bombay Gin Literary Journal, Rigorous and Hanging Loose Magazine.

About Tara Stillions Whitehead

Stillions Whitehead will speak at 12:30 p.m. Monday, March 27, in SUNY Adirondack’s Visual Arts Gallery.

The writer’s work has been published in numerous award-winning journals, magazines and anthologies, including cream city review, The Rupture, Fairy Tale Review, Gone Lawn, PRISM international, Chicago Review, Pithead Chapel, Jellyfish Review and Hobart. She is assistant professor of Film, Video and Digital Media Production at Messiah University, where she is also faculty for the renowned Young Writers Workshop.

Her essay, “The Mother Must Die and Other Lies Fairy Tales Told Me,” was designated as a notable essay in the Best American Essays 2022 anthology; her stories were included in Wigleaf’s Top 50 in 2021 and 2022; and she was nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small fictions, the Pushcart Prize and AWP Intro Journals Award.

 She is author of three books: “Blood Histories,” “The Year of the Monster” and the upcoming “They More Than Burned.”

“What a pleasure it will be to hear Whitehead share her work and perspectives on creating,” McCoy said. “Her short fiction encourages us to look with compassion at the monstrous around us.”

About Stephen Sexton and Leontia Flynn
Headlining The Writers Project series at 12:30 p.m. Monday, April 17, via Zoom are Stephen Sexton and Leontia Flynn, Belfast-based poets who teach at the world-renowned Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University Belfast.

Flynn’s first book, “These Days,” won Forward Prize for Best First Collection, was shortlisted for Whitbread Poetry Prize and had Flynn named one of 20 “Next Generation” poets by the UK Poetry Book Society. 

Another of her books, “Drives,” earned her the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and a major Individual Artist’s Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her third collection, "Profit and Loss,” was a Poetry Book Society Choice for Autumn 2011 and nominated for the T. S. Eliot Prize. She was awarded the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry in 2013 and the AWB Vincent American Ireland Fund Literary Award for 2014. 

Her most recent book, “The Radio,” is notable for its ruminations on technology and the angsts of human relationships.

Sexton’s debut collection, “If All The World and Love Were Young,” was a finalist for Swansea University's Dylan Thomas Prize. In it, he writes about “Super Mario Brothers,” exploring one level of the video game in each poem, intertwined with memories of his childhood. 

While pursuing a doctorate, the Irish poet wrote poems that describe paintings. As a joke, he started writing poems about the video game, leading to a complete collection filled with Sexton’s ideas about the longing and grief brought on by the death of his mother and the video game he played as a child became a channel for this elegy.

“I am utterly delighted to host these two exciting and well-reputed poets whom it was my honor to meet and discuss poetry with at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry,” McCoy said. “Their work proves that poetry is nimble enough to address our very modern obsessions with technology, queer relationships, and living with spirit in the old world or the new. Students will be excited to see how technology can become a subject in poetry, and community members will marvel at the dexterous voices of humane and lively voices in the contemporary Northern Irish poetry scene.”