April 1, 2011

I just returned from San Francisco where I read my essay, “Perpetual Hunger,” which received a prize in the First Annual Crossroads Irish-American Festival Writing Contest. The festival is an eight-year-old annual cultural arts and literary event celebrating the Irish Diaspora throughout the Americas in creative performance, vibrant conversation and debate, music, film, readings, storytelling, and theater.

The March 15 ceremony was in St. Patrick’s, an old cathedral in downtown built by Irish immigrants. It was an honor to have been the first winner in what promises to be a fine prize in years to come.

Judges included authors and scholars Michael Patrick McDonald, author of the fine memoir All Souls: A Family Story From Southie and Easter Rising: A Memoir of Roots and Rebellion; Patricia Monaghan, author of Red-Haired Girl From The Bog: The Landscape of Celtic Myth and Spirit; James Silas Rogers, editor of the New Hibernia Review: A Quarterly Record of Irish Studies; and Maureen Waters, author of Crossing Highbridge: A Memoir of Irish America.

Prize Director Hillary Flynn said that memoir has been a traditional strength in Irish-American expression. “From Maureen Howard to Frank McCourt, Michael Patrick MacDonald to Maureen Waters, skillful hands have mapped important aspects of Irish-American experience,” Flynn said. “Through this contest, we endeavor to spur and support the development of memoir from new and aspiring writers, wishing to add their voice to this growing repository of tradition.”

After San Francisco, my family and I drove up north to wine country to see my sister Melanie’s children, my kids’ cousins, which was a lot of fun. My niece and nephew are fine artists!