About Me

IRENE O’GARDEN has won or been nominated for prizes in nearly every writing category from stage to e-screen, hardcovers, children’s books as well as literary magazines and anthologies.

O’Garden’s critically acclaimed play, Women On Fire, starring Judith Ivey, was twice extended and played to sold-out houses Off Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre. It was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Solo Show, and is published by Samuel French. Two of its monologues are published in Best Women’s Stage Monologues.

Her new play, Little Heart, about artist Corita Kent, won her a Berilla Kerr Playwriting Fellowship and was awarded full development at the New Harmony Play Project.

O’Garden’s lyric essay, “Glad To Be Human,” won The Pushcart Prize. It was originally published in the Tusculum Review. An e-version of the essay is now available from Untreed Reads.

Irene’s writing is anthologized with Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem and others in The Greatness Of Girls (Andrews McMeel) Included is an excerpt from her memoir Fat Girl, which describes how she came to peace with food and body after a decades-long struggle. Harper San Francisco published it in hardcover with her drawings, and Untreed Reads published the e-version as Goodbye Fat Girl.

Risking the Rapids: How My Wilderness Adventure Healed My Childhood is Irene’s newest book (Mango Publishing, 2019), a memoir that opens with the shocking death of her problematic older brother in 2014. Presented in short, punchy, lyrical chapters, Irene’s narrative alternates between her repressed mid-century Midwest Catholic upbringing to the present-day pitching white waters of Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness — immediately grabbing readers where most of us live — in a family. According to Irene, in Risking the Rapids, she is, “At last able to tell the story that made me who I am.”

Nirala Press recently published her book Fulcrum, Selected Poems, which contains her prize-winning poem “Nonfiction.” Her poems and essays have been featured in dozens of literary journals and award-winning anthologies (A Slant of Light, USA Book Award Best Anthology.) She recently won The Scott Meyer Poetry Award for her new poem, “Morning Coffee.”

Poets and Writers has awarded her several grants for poetry performance. O’Garden has also performed at top literary venues, including KGBBowery Poetry ClubNuyorican 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.

Her poetry and essays are found in literary journals and anthologies such as Atlanta ReviewThe Awakenings ReviewBarrow StreetBayouBorderlands: The Texas Poetry ReviewCalifornia QuarterlyCalyx,  College EnglishHawaii Pacific Review, SanskritTusculum ReviewWillow Review, and dozens of others.

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.

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 presented at children’s literature conferences at Vassar and NYU and teaches poetry workshops at New York City schools. Irene is especially pleased to bring the national River Of Words program to Hudson Valley schools under the auspices of The Beacon Institute of Rivers and Estuaries.Irene is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild, The Authors Guild, Actor’s Equity Association, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and The Society of Scribes.

She lives joyfully with John Pielmeier, her husband of forty years. Most known for his play Agnes of God, John also writes movies, miniseries (Pillars Of the Earth) and novels (Hook’s Tale, Scribner.) John’s new stage adaptation of The Exorcist ran in London’s West End and opens this year in New York.


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