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Archive of speakers

Here you will find an archive of past speakers The Lewis Frumkes Center for Writing and Culture. Recordings from past events can be found in our YouTube channel


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November 6th, 2023 | 6:00PM | In-person| Avi Loeb

Avi Loeb 

Abraham (Avi) Loeb is the Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University and a bestselling author (in lists of the New York Times,Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, L'Express and more). He received a PhD in Physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel at age 24 (1980-1986), led the first international project supported by the Strategic Defense Initiative (1983-1988), and was subsequently a long-term member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (1988-1993). Loeb has written 9 books, including most recently, Extraterrestrial and Interstellar, as well as over a thousand scientific papers (with h-index of 123 and i10-index of 574) on a wide range of topics, including black holes, the first stars, the search for extraterrestrial life and the future of the Universe. Loeb is the Director of the Institute for Theory and Computation (2007-present) within the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and also serves as the Head of the Galileo Project (2021-present). He had been the longest serving Chair of Harvard's Department of Astronomy (2011-2020) and the Founding Director of Harvard's Black Hole Initiative (2016-2021). He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics. Loeb is a former member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) at the White House, a former chair of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies (2018-2021) and a current member of the Advisory Board for "Einstein: Visualize the Impossible" of the Hebrew University. He also chairs the Advisory Committee for the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative (2016-present) and serves as the Science Theory Director for all Initiatives of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. In 2012, TIME magazine selected Loeb as one of the 25 most influential people in space and in 2020 Loeb was selected among the 14 most inspiring Israelis of the last decade. Click here for Loeb's essays on innovation.  


November 1st, 2023 | 6:00PM | In-person| Susan Issacs

Susan Issacs 

New York Times-bestselling author Susan Isaacs’ female protagonists are her calling card. As Rachel Martin put it on NPR’s Weekend Edition, “The women who inhabit Isaacs’ books are smart, sexy, a little snarky, and filled with some serious chutzpah.” Readers will be thrilled by the return of two favorite characters, former FBI agent Corie Geller and her retired cop dad, in BAD, BAD SEYMOUR BROWN (Atlantic Monthly Press; $28 hardcover, 400 pages; ISBN-13: 978-0-8021-5906-9; publication date: May 2, 2023), in which they are tasked to solve one of the NYPD’s coldest homicide cases before the crime’s sole survivor is killed.

When Corie Geller asked her parents to move from their apartment into the suburban McMansion she shares with her husband and teenage daughter, she assumed they’d fit right in with the placid life she’d opted for when she left the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force of the FBI.

But then her retired NYPD detective father gets a call from good-natured and slightly nerdy film

professor April Brown—one of the victims of a case he was never able to solve. When April was a five- year-old, she’d emerged unscathed from the arson that killed her parents. Now, two decades later, April is asking for help. Someone has made an attempt on her life. It takes only a nanosecond for Corieand her dad to say yes, and they jump into a full-fledged investigation.


October 26th, 2023 | 6:00PM | In-person| Carmela Ciuraru

Carmela Ciuraru 

Carmela Ciuraru is the author of the critically acclaimed books Lives of the Wives: Five Literary Marriages (a New York Times "Editors' Choice" selection) and Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms, both from Harper, and several poetry anthologies. She has been interviewed on The Today Show and by newspapers and radio stations internationally. 


September 20th, 2023 | 6:00PM | In-person| Sabrina Gonzalez Paterski

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski 

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski  (PhD Harvard University, 2019) is a high energy theorist who joined the Perimeter faculty in 2021 after completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Princeton Centre for Theoretical Science. Her research prior to joining PI includes discovering infinite dimensional symmetry enhancements of the S-matrix, a new observable memory effect in gravity, and a framework for generalizing these features of infrared physics to other theories. As the founder and principal investigator of our new Celestial Holography Initiative, she is leading a team of amplitudes, mathematical physics, and quantum gravity researchers in a concerted effort to tackle the problem of uniting our understanding of spacetime with quantum theory by encoding our universe as a hologram.


May 24th, 2023 | TBD | TBD| Karen Lefrak

Karen LeFrak launched her career as a composer around the same time she began introducing children to the worlds of music, dance, and dogs in her four highly-acclaimed children’s books published by Bloomsbury, Random House, and Crown Books – Jake the Philharmonic Dog, Jake the Ballet Dog, Best in Show, and Sleepover at the Museum.

Karen’s music has been streamed over 20 million times since her first recording release in March 2021. Her music has been heard live at such leading venues as NYC’s Lincoln Center, the fabled Mariinsky Theatre, Festival Napa Valley, and the White House – at an International Women’s Day Luncheon. Her compositions have been commissioned and performed worldwide, including by the New York Philharmonic; Beijing Music Festival; American Ballet Theatre; the Mariinsky, Joffrey, and San Francisco Ballets; and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, among many others.

In 2022/23 she celebrates a performance of the multimedia Sleepover at the Museum with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. and the world premiere of her Summer Piano Concerto and a movement of her guitar concerto with the Miami Symphony Orchestra, among other performances.

April 2023 | TBD | TBD| Daphne Merkin

Daphne Merkin  is a novelist and critic who has made a name for herself with her often-unnerving candor and forthright attitude towards issues of family, religion, money, and sex as well as her ability to straddle the High/Low cultural divide.  One of her New Yorker essays, “Trouble in the Tribe”, was chosen for The Best American Essays of 2001, as well as The Best Spiritual Essays. Merkin is the author of Enchantment (1986), which won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for best novel on a Jewish theme and was reissued by Picador (2020), with an introduction by Vivien Gornick.  

She has also published two collections of essays, 2014’s The Fame Lunches, which was named a New York Times Notable Book, and 1997’s Dreaming of Hitler, as well as a memoir about her life-long struggle with depression, This Close to Happy (2017). Her latest book, a novel called 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love, was published in July 2020.

Merkin continues to write cultural criticism and book pieces for a variety of publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, Airmail, and The New York Review of Books. She has taught writing at the 92nd Street Y, Marymount Manhattan College, Hunter College, and at Columbia University’s MFA program.


March 22nd 2023 | Virtual on Zoom |  Frederic Tuten

Frederic Tuten grew up in the Bronx. He has written about art, literature and film in ArtForum, The New York Times, Vogue; was an actor in an Alain Resnais movie; taught with Paul Bowles in Morocco; co-wrote the cult-classic Possession, and along the way, earned three Pushcart Prizes, an O. Henry award, a PhD in American literature, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Award for Distinguished Writing from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and founded the Creative Writing department at City College.He is the author of five novels (The Adventures of Mao on the Long March; Tintin in the New World; Tallien: A Brief Romance; Van Gogh’s Bad Café; The Green Hour), a memoir (My Young Life), two books of short stories; Self Portraits: Fictions and The Bar at Twilight; and on On a Terrace in Tangier, a book of drawings and stories.


On March 22nd at 6:00pm this event will be held virtually on Zoom online video conferencing.
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Webinar ID: 894 7591 5571
Passcode: 974253

February 8th, 2023 |Online/Zoom | Iris Smyles

Iris Smyles is an American novelist, essayist, and columnist. Smyles is the author of the novels Iris Has Free Time (which Forbes called “an instant classic… a smart, funny, wise, and sometimes heartbreaking book about a slowly fizzling love affair with youth,”), Dating Tips for the Unemployed (a semi-finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor), and, most recently, Droll Tales. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vogue, Paris Review Daily, BOMB, The Baffler, and Best American Travel Writing among other publications, and she has written columns for Splice Today and The East Hampton Star.

Email to attend



January 25th, 2023 | 6:00pm | East building Room 1025| Richard Frances

 Dr. Richard J. Frances is a New York-based psychiatrist specialising in addiction/substance abuse, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and psychopharmacology. Previously a clinical professor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and an adjunct professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Dr. Frances received his medical degree from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and has been in practice for over 50 years. He is the founding president of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. Dr. Frances also holds the position of Emeritus President and Medical Director of Silver Hill Hospital.


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