WE CALL THAT FAILURE ART
I said yes to doing this speech tonight for three reasons. The first is, of course, because the emergence of writers of talent, integrity, distinction, wit, vision, and imagination is always a cause for celebration, and, in these dark times, no opportunity to celebrate should be allowed to slip by.
The second reason is that I felt I was long overdue to repay this organization for its great kindness twenty-three years ago, when I got the news that the Whiting Foundation, of which I’d never heard, had decided that I was an Emerging Writer—a Writer, mind you, not an Emerging Playwright, and, even better, an Emerging Writer worthy of a very handsome check. Uncharacteristically for me, I didn’t tell anyone I was a Whiting Foundation Emerging Writer until the news was published in the New York Times. Before that announcement, the award was a magic penny I kept in my pocket to rub several times a day, its potency in making me feel noticed, singular, and hopeful augmented, somehow, by remaining private, something almost exclusively mine.