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“Five Questions” Video Series Focuses on Arts, Humanities

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Stony Brook’s video series “5 Questions With …” has released four new video interviews highlighting the importance of the arts and humanities in higher education.

This month’s luminaries include distinguished poet Billy Collins, Native American performer Ty Defoe, award-winning actor Julian Sands and acclaimed novelist Meg Wolitzer. they are featured in thoughtful, compelling interviews, available on a browsable website as well as a YouTube playlist.

The ongoing series, part of the “In The Know” offerings created by SBU’s Office of Marketing and Communications,  spotlights the university’s role in global thought leadership. Interview subjects are affiliated with or have visited the campus for student and community enrichment events and activities.


More on this month’s luminaries:

  • Billy Collins is on the faculty of the MFA in Creative Writing & Literature program at Stony Brook Southampton. He is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including the recent Aimless Love. Others include  Horoscopes for the Dead, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Nine Horses, Ballistics  and  Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of three anthologies:  Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Everyday, and  Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Bird Poems. His poems have been published in a variety of periodicals including  The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and  The American Scholar, and he appears regularly in  The Best American Poetry. A Guggenheim Fellow and a New York Public Library Literary Lion, he is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College, City University of New York, and a Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College. He served as New York State Poet (2004-5) and United States Poet Laureate (2001-2003). He was recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 
  • Ty Defoe is a Native American performer and educator from the Oneida/Ojibwe Nations of Wisconsin. He performed in Stony Brook University’s first Native American Heritage Awareness Program in 2016, which highlighted the diverse, rich history and culture of Native Americans and contemporary issues facing Native people today. Ty is a two-spirit trans-activist, writer, and musician, known for his cultural education and hoop and shape-shifting eagle dancing. His multidisciplinary work explores the structure, function, and mutability of identities. Ty is a Dramatist Guild member and a mentor at the Alaskan Cultural Heritage Center Playwright Initiative. He won a Grammy Award in 2011 for Come to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing Songs and other notable awards from the Indigenous Heritage Festival, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Johnny Mercer Foundation, and CAP21. He travels across the United States, leading educational workshops and raising awareness on themes ranging from American Indian history, ethnomusicology, food security, and climate change.
  • Julian Sands is an acclaimed British actor from Yorkshire, England. He performed the one-man show A Celebration of Harold Pinter directed by John Malkovich at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center in 2015. Reading primarily from Pinter’s Various Voices, a collection of Pinter’s prose and poetry, Sands became the voice of Harold Pinter, the Nobel-prize winning playwright dubbed by Newsweek as “the most fascinating, enigmatic and accomplished dramatist in the English language.” The performance explored the lesser-known Pinter as poet to discern the private person within the artist. Over the years, Sands has appeared in many films, including the Merchant-Ivory movie A Room with a View (1985); Gothic (1986); Vibes (1988); Impromptu (1991); Steven Spielberg’s Arachnophobia (1990); and Stephen King’s Rose Red (2002). One of his latest roles was for the TV drama Gotham, in which he plays Dr. Gerard Crane, father of Batman villain the Scarecrow. Sands also appears occasionally on the British stage.
  • Meg Wolitzer is a member of the MFA faculty at Stony Brook Southampton and a novelist whose recent work includes The Interestings, named a best book of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Time, and The Chicago Tribune, and a notable book by The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post. Among her other books are The Ten-Year Nap, The Uncoupling, The Position, and The Wife, as well as the YA novel Belzhar. Wolitzer’s short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. She has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Skidmore College, and the 92nd Street Y. In 2013, along with singer-songwriter Suzzy Roche, Meg Wolitzer was a guest artist at the Princeton Atelier at Princeton University.

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