URI student's writing earns her a trip to Ireland
KINGSTON, R.I.-September 30, 1999 -- It has been said that the magic
of poetry can take you anywhere, and for Lisa Iadevaia, a junior at the
University of Rhode Island, this sentiment has recently proven true. Iadevaia,
of Burrillville, recently traded in her Rhody blue for a bit of Irish
green when she traveled to Ireland as the recipient of the URI English Department
Aran Islands Poetry and Fiction Contest.
This was the first year that the contest was offered with the prize of
a trip to Ireland and the chance to participate in the second annual Aran
Islands International Poetry & Prose Festival. The Festival was sponsored
and organized by Dan Doyle, founder of the Institute for International Sport,
which is located at URI. URI was also one of the sponsoring institutions
of the Festival and various URI staff members, including President Robert
"The English Department is enormously pleased to sponsor this contest.
It is a wonderful opportunity for those students at URI who are creative
writers to participate in an international poetry festival with world famous
writers," said Dorothy Donnelly, English Department chair and professor.
Contestants could either enter three works of poetry or a short piece
of fiction. Iadevaia submitted three original poems, called "Photographs,"
"The Other Flower," and "Passing Thoughts." The poems,
she said, are reflections of teen nostalgia.
Iadevaia, who cites World War I poets, such as Wilfred Owen and Rupert
Brooks as being her favorites, often reads and writes poetry, but does not
usually enter poetry contests. The phone call she received from Donnelly
a month after submitting her entry came as a complete surprise.
"Professor Donnelly called me and said 'you better sit down for
this.' Then she told me I was going to Ireland. I couldn't believe it,"
While in Ireland, Iadevaia stayed at the University of Ireland in Galway,
and became enthralled with the city.
"Even though it was a city and had typical city housing and zoning,
there were pastures and sheep and cows in people's yards. It was amazing;
there were animals everywhere," Iadevaia exclaimed.
The highlight of the trip for Iadevaia was the Festival, which was held
in an old Celtic fort once frequented by such literary greats as James Joyce,
John Millington Synge, and William Butler Yeats who were inspired by its
rock ledges and peaceful isolation. The Festival sponsored readings from
world renowned writers and poets, such as Rita Dove, former U.S. poet laureate
and Pulitzer Prize winner, and Ciaran Carson. The Festival also offered
a series of lectures by professors at the University of Ireland, Galway
on Joyce, Yeats, and Synge and workshops, in which participants could share
their work with others. Iadevaia attended most of the literary readings
and participated in a Manuscript Poetry workshop hosted by Ted Deppe, an
While at the Festival, Iadevaia met with a variety of interesting people
from all over the world. She was particularly fond of Frank McCourt, the
Irish writer well known for his Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, Angela's
Ashes. Earlier on the trip, Iadevaia had a chance to tour McCourt's
hometown and the setting for Angela's Ashes.
"He is the most humorous man and he has the greatest stories, which
he shares freely. He is kind of like a grandfather figure in a way. It amazes
me that after having such a hard life, he was able to rise above that and
become the person and the writer that he is," said Iadevaia.
Iadevaia was thrilled that she had the opportunity to have this experience.
"This was such an enlightening experience. Being at the Festival
gave me more confidence in my own writing and has inspired me to read and
write more poetry. It's almost hard to put into words...it is something
that you just have to experience and soak up," said Iadevaia.
For More Information: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-2116