I have told and written stories for as long as I can remember. They usually make people laugh, though later, they may realize how serious, even painful, some stories might be.
As a college teacher, writing and teaching writing are deep rhythms in my life. I am in awe at how writing enables my students, and me, to grow, to make sense of the paths we have chosen, will choose, or those we just find ourselves on.
Most of my creative writing has been about the rigid but confusing universe in which I grew up as an Irish and Italian Catholic girl in the exciting, though sometimes disconcerting, urban and intellectual atmosphere of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the ’60s and ’70s. My first full-length novel—Dodging Satan: My Irish/Italian, Sometimes Awesome, but Mostly Creepy, Childhood—draws on this material.
Dodging Satan has won a number of Independent Publishers awards in humor and religious writing, including the 2016 Foreword Review Gold Medal in Humor and the 2017 Illumination Book Bronze Medal in Catholic books. Other medals are listed on the front page.
My new writing continues to feature Bridget Flaherty but is now focusing primarily on gender and social class. You can read one of these recent pieces, ‘Mikimoto Mama’ published in July 2019 in Green Hills Literary Lantern. Other short pieces have appeared in various journals such as Witness, South Carolina Review, and Italian Americana, among others.
I’m deeply honored to have been chosen as the 2019 Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Award winner, named for the first woman in history to receive a PhD and given by the Sons and Daughters of Italy’s New York State Grand Lodge Foundation. The Cornaro Award recognizes outstanding Italian-American scholars for contributions to their profession and their communities. Please click here for more on this Award.
At Purchase College, SUNY, where I am Professor of Literature and Writing, I teach writing at all levels and Irish and Italian-American literature. My academic books include The Culture of Reading and the Teaching of English (Modern Language Association Mina Shaughnessy Award) and Reading Our Histories, Understanding Our Culture, among others. I’ve co-edited MLA volumes on Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture and Teaching James Joyce’s Ulysses and written many essays on ways of teaching college students to love reading and writing.