Literary Lottery: Chinua Achebe

Marymount’s Literary Lottery gives Upper School students the chance to see some of the world’s finest authors and poets in person at events in New York City, primarily at the 92nd Street Y. The lottery, run by writer-in-residence Cathy Blackburn, is made possible through the Maggie Murray Fund and has allowed students to see such distinguished writers as Richard Wilbur and Toni Morrison. Mrs. Blackburn says of the program, “It’s a great way to introduce girls to outstanding poets and writers, so they can see these authors as models and think ‘That could be me.’”

AchebeThe most recent event, attended by six lucky Upper School students, was a conversation on October 19 between Chinua Achebe, the Nobel-Prize-winning author of, among other books, Things Fall Apart, and K. Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. Mr. Achebe spoke about the difficulties and inspirations of life as a writer. Caitlin V., Class IX, remembers most vividly a question from the audience: “The question was where can young people who aspire to become writers find inspiration? His answer was that the inspiration is in you, and that gave me confidence to write and believe what I feel.” Adrienne C., Class IX, found that hearing Mr. Achebe speak was “very inspiring”: “Not only was it a great opportunity to see such a wonderful writer, but it made his work come alive.”

The Literary Lottery will continue to offer opportunities for Upper School students to see celebrated authors in person throughout the year. As a program that both introduces students to writers from all over the world and inspires them to see in themselves the potential for similar achievements, the Lottery is a valued means of extending the curriculum beyond the classroom.