There is a need for ceremony. Today I saw new writers inducted into the world via the PEN New England Literary Awards with a rare sense of homage to the written words. I wish all of our parents had been there, to see how a world might receive a writer’s words, an act of defiance against the dark. All of us mad scribblers, we chafe against one another, hustling, jostling for place, while others remove themselves from the fray. Envy always bites just a little when someone else wins a prize; we could all be contenders. Today, though, I saw a brave young woman from Zimbabwe walk up to the podium to receive her prize and read to us, proving beyond a doubt, for at least a moment, that words are right in the world. I felt proud, and thought, this how we should be received, us foolish people who try to form words and tell a story, and somehow sometimes, amaze with the result. That one win means we all win.

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