Patricia Monaghan (1946-2012)served on the interdisciplinary faculty at DePaul University, where she taught science and literature. A widely-published author, she has won the Pushcart Prize and the Friends of Literature award for her work. She is the author of four books of poetry, including Dancing with Chaos, which explores chaos theory through poetic images; Homefront, which explores the lasting impact of war on families of psychologically-wounded veterans; and the forthcoming Mary: A Novel in Verse, which is a feminist retelling of the story of the Blessed Virgin.
She was a frequent collaborator with musicians who have set her work to music, most recently folk composer Michael Smith, whose Celtic-inspired art-song settings of Patricia’s poetry have been released on the CD, Songs of the Kerry Madwoman, while the Alaskan group the Derry Aires did a two-CD compilation of Patricia’s poetry under the title, Seasons of the Witch, also the title of a book of Patricia’s poems.
In nonfiction, Patricia was an active scholar and author. She wrote two encyclopediae of mythology: The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines and The Encyclopedia of Celtic Myth and Folklore, and edited a three-volume sequence of books called Goddesses in World Culture. Her most recent nonfiction book, The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog , explores ecology, myth and folklore in Ireland.
Her most recent book is Grace of Ancient Land, a sequence of poems about Wisconsin’s Driftless Area where BEI is based, released by the Voices from the American Land project.
Michael McDermott is a semi-retired physician and social activist. He has lived at Brigit Rest in Black Earth, Wisconsin for over 15 years. During this time he has worked to develop Brigit Rest into a retreat for artists and activists based on a reverence for the land and as a setting for Celtic influenced spirituality. He has provided Brigit Rest as home for the Black Earth Institute.
Michael is the managing editor of About Place Journal, the literary journal of Black Earth Institute; co-edited with Patricia Monaghan the anthology, Brigit: Sun of Womanhood; and has published many articles on the clinical as well as the social aspects of asthma in our society.
In his work as a physician in the South Bronx at Lincoln Hospital and for almost 30 years at Cook County Hospital on Chicago’s West side. he sought to identify with the life of the patients, staff and colleagues in a way that went beyond the technical excellence of medicine. His work included Director of the Adult Emergency Department and founder and leader of the adult asthma clinic, where he still works part-time. His research has stressed the practical and realistic solutions to complex problems.
As a social activist, Michael McDermott has been involved in the key issues of the last 40 years, including civil rights, labor causes, opposition to war, woman’s struggle for equality, and protection of the earth from environmental degradation and destruction. He also spent time in Nicaragua teaching medicine and helping people in the town of Esteli to plan and build a health clinic, returning to Chicago to raise money to assist in successfully build the clinic. He is committed to bringing a spiritual awareness to the pressing need to change society. He sees the profound importance of placing his work within the experience and suffering of ordinary people.