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Plenary Speakers

dana gioia

Dana Gioia

Poet Laureate of California

American poet, writer, and critic, Dana Gioia served as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003-2009. Born in Hawthorne, California to working class parents of Italian and Mexican descent, Gioia attended Harvard and Stanford Universities. He has published five books of poetry and three volumes of poetry criticism as well as opera libretti, translations, and over two dozen literary anthologies. His third poetry collection, Interrogations at Noon, won the 2002 American Book Award. Currently Gioia holds the position of Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at USC.


Ron Hansen

Novelist,Gerard Manley Hopkins Professor in the Arts and Humanities, Santa Clara University

An American novelist, essayist and professor, Hansen was born in Omaha, Nebraska and educated at Creighton University, the University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop, and Stanford University. His works include The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (1983), Mariette in Ecstasy, (1991), Atticus (1996), and Exiles (2008). Hansen frequently writes about the Old West, mixing history with morality and drama. Catholic themes of unconditional love, redemption and resurrection also recur in his novels and stories. Currently, Hansen is the Gerard Manley Hopkins Professor in the Arts and Humanities, Santa Clara University, where he teaches courses in writing and literature. In January 2007, Hansen was ordained as a permanent deacon of the Catholic Church.

Alice McDermott

Alice McDermott

Novelist, Professor at John Hopkins University

Alice McDermott was born in Brooklyn and raised in New York. McDermott received degrees from the State University of New York at Oswego and the University of New Hampshire. She is the author of several novels, including Someone; After This; Child of My Heart; Charming Billy; and At Weddings and Wakes. In 1998, Charming Billy won the National Book Award, and That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. McDermott is Johns Hopkins University's Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities lives with her family outside of Washington, DC.

Mary Gordon

Mary Gordon

Writer, Professor of English at Barnard

Mary Gordon’s first novel, Final Payments, was published in 1978 to tremendous critical acclaim. This was followed quickly by The Company of Women in 1981. 1985 brought Men and Angels, a novel about a working mother who develops a dangerous relationship to the woman who cares for her children. She followed that up with a collection of short stories entitled Temporary Shelter in 1987, and The Other Side, a novel, in 1989. Gordon was an English professor at her alma mater Barnard, and after two years as an adjunct she accepted the Millicent Macintosh Chair of English. She won the O.B. Hardison award for the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies for her biography of Joan of Arc for Penguin Books' Lives series. In 2007, The Stories of Mary Gordon, including new and old stories, received The Story Prize. In 2010 came Reading Jesus: A Writer’s Encounter with the Gospels, which was dedicated to Gordon’s son. In 2008, one of Eliot Spitzer’s last acts as governor was to name Gordon the New York State writer, a title she holds to the present.


Micheal O’Siadhail


A full-time writer, Micheal O’Siadhail has published sixteen collections of poetry. He was awarded an Irish American Cultural Institute prize for poetry in 1982 and in 1998 the Marten Toonder prize for Literature. His Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books 2013) gathers together forty years’ of O’Siadhail’s work, and his most recent book, One Crimson Thread (Bloodaxe Books 2015), is a poignant series of love poems dedicated to his wife, Brid, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease. He has been a lecturer at Trinity College Dublin and a professor at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Among his many academic works are Learning Irish (Yale University Press 1988) and Modern Irish (Cambridge University Press 1989). He was a member of the Arts Council of the Republic of Ireland (1988-93) and of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Relations (1989 -97), a founder member of Aosdána (Academy of distinguished Irish artists) and a former editor of Poetry Ireland Review. He was the founding chairman of ILE (Ireland Literature Exchange).

Phillip metres

Philip Metres

Writer, Professor of English at John Carroll University

Philip Metres is the author of Pictures at an Exhibition (2016), Sand Opera (2015), A Concordance of Leaves (2013), and To See the Earth (2008), etc. A recipient of the Lannan, two NEAs and two Arab American Book Awards, he is professor of English at John Carroll University. Philip Metres received the inaugural George S. Hunt, SJ Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Arts, & Letters in 2015.

James martin

Fr. James Martin

Writer, Editor of America magazine

Rev. James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine, and bestselling author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and Between Heaven and Mirth. Father Martin has written for many publications, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and he is a regular commentator in the national and international media. He has appeared on all the major radio and television networks, as well as in venues ranging from NPR’s Fresh Air, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, and PBS’s NewsHour to Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Before entering the Jesuits in 1988, Father Martin graduated from the Wharton School of Business and worked for General Electric for six years.

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Writer, Professor at Fordham Universityangela o'donnell

O'Donnell is the Associate Director of Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies and teaches courses in English and in American Catholic Studies. She is also a regular columnist for America magazine. O’Donnell has published five collections of poems: Still Pilgrim (2017), Lovers’ Almanac (2015), Waking My Mother (2013), Saint Sinatra (2011), Moving House (2009), and two chapbooks MINE (2007) and Waiting for Ecstasy (2009). Other titles include The Province of Joy (2012), a book of hours based on the prayer life of Flannery O’Connor; Mortal Blessings (2014), a memoir and meditation on everyday sacraments; and Flannery O’Connor: Fiction Fired by Faith (2015), a brief biography and introduction to O’Connor’s work. In addition to writing poems, O’Donnell writes essays that engage literature and art in the context of the Catholic intellectual tradition. Her essays and reviews have appeared in journals such as America, Commonweal, Mezzo Cammin, Studies in Philology, Spiritus,and Christianity & Literature and have been included in a variety of collections and anthologies, including The Catholic Studies Reader (Fordham UP, 2011) and Teaching the Tradition (Oxford UP, 2012).

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