I love words. I love their sounds, their meanings, and their impact.

I constantly explore ways to share such pleasures through writing poetry, essays, and theatre pieces, by using my trained voice and body as a performer and using my trained hands as a professional calligrapher. Each of these arts helps clarify and amplify meaning, which is my ultimate joy.

As Zatz, one of my characters says, 

"A day without words is like . . . ."

We are in troubling times. But rather than a great recession or depression let’s recognize we have entered The Great Compassion

“For many years now, the poet, playwright, and memoirist Irene O’Garden has been a hero to me. I think of her as a walking, writing, beam of light.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of Eat, Pray, Love 

My Latest Book

Featuring the Pushcart Prize-Winning Essay

In this collection of essays, Irene O’Garden explores a wide range of practical reasons to celebrate life―just look closely around you. In one essay, she describes the simple pleasure that comes from clearing clutter off a desk―in another, the thrill of visiting the Statue of Liberty. The book’s grand finale is the Pushcart Prize-winning essay, “Glad To Be Human.” If you enjoy Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Anne Lamott, or books such as Risking the Rapids, The Book of Joy, The Book of Delights, and The Gratitude Diaries, you’ll love O’Garden’s Glad to Be Human.

“Irene O’Garden’s memoir is riveting, fiercely honest, and graced with poetic insight.”  ―Victoria Riskin, Former President, Writers Guild of America; Author of Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir

A Wilderness Adventure

A Journey of Healing

I grew up in a repressed mid-century Midwest household with six other siblings, a TV-personality father, an icy mother and rivers of martinis. The shocking death of my problematic older brother in 2014 prompted me (at age 62) and other relatives to seek closure on a journey through the remotest spot in the lower forty-eight, Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. What was described as a genial river “float” became a harrowing whitewater experience. That story, braided with the narrative of my corrosive upbringing and subsequent healing, is told in “Risking The Rapids: How My Wilderness Adventure Healed My Childhood.” 

Award-Winning Author

Poets and Writers has awarded Irene O’Garden several grants for poetry performance. She has also performed at top literary venues, including KGB, Bowery Poetry Club, Nuyorican Poetry Café, The Player’s Club, The National Arts Club, and in London and Jerusalem. She’s a regular contributor to 650—Where Writers Read, in Manhattan, Sarah Lawrence College and New Rochelle.

For her work in children’s literature, Irene received the Alice Curtis Desmond Award. She also won the Gold Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Book Award for The Scrubbly Bubbly Car Wash (Harper). Her first children’s book, Maybe My Baby, (Harper) has sold over 90,000 copies. Her latest children’s book, Forest, What Would You Like?  was published by Holiday House.

Irene has been awarded several residences at artists’ colonies throughout the country, most recently at The Millay Colony. In 1987, she created a performing literary magazine called The Art Garden. After producing, hosting and writing for it for 25 years, she put the garden to bed.

Great Things Ahead

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