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 Carothers, attended. “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,” said Iadevaia. 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 American poet. 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. x-x-x For More Information: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-2116