General Society Literature Lecture Series: Risking the Rapids
February 01

General Society Literature Lecture Series: Risking the Rapids

General Society Literature Lecture Series

Risking the Rapids: How My Wilderness Adventure Healed My Childhood

Irene O'Garden

Noted New York writer Irene O'Garden grew up in what seemed like the perfect American Midwestern family. Behind the scenes, however, it was anything but. In Risking the Rapids, Ms. O’Garden's revelatory account describes her life, from her traumatic girlhood to her healing wilderness journey at age 62. Ms. O’Garden's gripping narrative details an extraordinary true story.

Risking the Rapids opens with the shocking death of O’Garden’s problematic older brother in 2014. His early passing prompted her and other family members to seek emotional closure with him and their family past by journeying through the remotest area in the lower forty-eight, Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. What was described as a genial river “float” became a harrowing whitewater experience. That chronicle is woven with the story of her upbringing in a repressed mid-century Midwest Catholic household with six other siblings, a TV-personality father, an icy mother and rivers of martinis.

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. Her critically-acclaimed play Women on Fire, (starring Judith Ivey), played sold-out houses at Off-Broadway’s Cherry Lane Theatre and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award. Ms. O’Garden was awarded The Pushcart Prize for her lyric essay “Glad to Be Human.” Her poems and essays have been featured in dozens of literary journals and award-winning anthologies. For more information please visit

Free Admission. Book-Signing and Reception to follow.

Advance registration is necessary

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.