Mary O’Donoghue, 2023 Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair of Irish Studies, Kicks Off Villanova’s Literary Festival
To celebrate the kick-off of the 25th annual Literary Festival at Villanova, I attended the Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair of Irish Studies Mary O’Donoghue’s poetry reading. The event began with a couple speeches of appreciation from Jennifer A. Joyce, PhD, Associate Director, Center for Irish Studies; Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD; and Geraldine Byrne Naso, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, who personally congratulated O’Donoghue on her new post.
O’Donoghue’s reading invited people to sit and listen. The slightly warm yet cozy atmosphere of the President’s Lounge truly made the poetry reading seem like a personal performance. As an English major myself, I had high hopes for this event, and I was not disappointed. O’Donoghue’s poetry is deeply artistic and emotion-packed. She read a total of three poems, but one struck me most. Her villanelle, “My Daughter in Winter Costume,” inspired by the sculpture, Daughter in Winter Costume (1922) by John Storrs, uses biting language to give the stoic sculpture a personal dimension. In the formulaic villanelle style, the poem continually repeats the same lines, yet O’Donoghue delivered a different mood each time.
The event concluded with a Q&A session with O’Donoghue who explained a bit of her writing process and struggles as a poet. Overall, the kick-off was enriching and a delightful way to spend my evening. Be sure to join us for the next Literary Festival event on Thursday, March 16, at 7 p.m. in Falvey Library’s Speakers’ Corner featuring a reading and talk by Tsering Yangzom Lama.
Isabel Choi ’26 is a Communication & Marketing Assistant at Falvey Library.