Author, teacher, and NCWN member Kevin McIlvoy died suddenly on Friday, September 30. The staff and board of the Network join the many, many others who mourn his passing. The remembrance below is by his friend and former student Katrina Denza.
I met Kevin McIlvoy (Mc) the summer of 2006 at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Mc ran a respectful workshop. He set the ground rules at the start: offer feedback with the writer’s intentions in mind, and kindness mattered. I started Mc’s workshop wondering if I should stop writing altogether and ended with the confidence and determination to continue. For me, Mc’s encouragement was life-changing and invaluable. I am not alone. I know Mc’s kindness has touched the lives of many of my friends and so many hundreds, if not thousands, more. To read tributes from his students and colleagues is to understand just how far-reaching and impactful his literary mentorship was.
Mc’s mastery of language and imagery was impressive. His genius revealed itself in all his lectures and in all his work. Whether poetry or prose, when he read to an audience, his words and cadence were like music. Mc was a storyteller in the truest sense: mesmerizing, symphonic, and profound.
Mc read for us at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities from his beautiful novel At the Gate of All Wonder. The entire audience was under his spell. And afterward, at dinner with Mc, my husband Tom, and my friend Damita, Mc talked of love. Love for his wife, Chris; love for literature; love for his students in his teaching years; and love for the life of words he’d made. It seems wholly appropriate that love permeated our conversation that night as it was led by a man who seemed to fully live by his own words, words he used to sign off on letters, e-mails, and his books: In Joy
Mc was an uncommon example of the highest kind of human.
Rest in Peace, dear Mc.
Katrina Denza’s stories have appeared in Passages North, New Delta Review, and The Emerson Review, among others. For six years, she chaired the Writers-in-Residence Program for the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities.