Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt

Past Event: Tuesday, November 21, 2006

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Literary Arts

Sponsored by Teutsch Partners, LLC.

Frank McCourt’s quiet life as a retired schoolteacher was transformed by the thunderous success of his first memoir, Angela’s Ashes (1996), the heart-wrenching yet uplifting story of his beggar-poor childhood in Limerick, Ireland.

The book sold millions of copies worldwide and won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for biography. In recounting his family’s desperate poverty, McCourt “redeems the pain of his early years with wit and compassion and grace” (New York Times). Wit illuminates McCourt’s subsequent memoirs as well. ‘Tis (1999) and Teacher Man (2005) trace McCourt’s arrival in New York as a penniless young man and his travails and triumphs in high school classrooms. With humor and heart McCourt recounts his twenty-year tenure teaching creative writing at the progressive Stuyvesant High School, after learning classroom survival skills at a tough vocational school. While beguiling defiant students at McKee Technical High School with storytelling and unconventional assignments—including an excuse note from Adam to God—McCourt strove to impart a larger lesson. Writing is less about putting words on paper and more about observing and imagining: “Every moment of your life, you’re writing. Even in your dreams you’re writing.”

In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize and being made into a major film, Angela’s Ashes was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award. McCourt lives in Connecticut.

Excerpt from Teacher Man (2005)
In 1974, my third year at Stuyvesant High School, I am invited to be the new Creative Writing instructor. Roger Goodman says, You can do it.

I know nothing about writing or the teaching of it. Roger says don’t worry. Across this country there are hundreds of teachers and professors teaching writing and most have never published a word.

And look at you, says Bill Ince, Roger’s successor. You’ve had pieces published here and there. I tell him a few pieces in the The Village VoiceNewsday and a defunct magazine in Dublin hardly qualifies me to teach writing. It will be common knowledge soon that in the matter of teaching writing I don’t know my arse from my elbow. But I remember a remark of my mother’s: God help us, but sometimes you have to chance your arm.

I can never bring myself to say I teach creative writing or poetry or literature, especially since I am always learning myself. Instead I say I conduct a course, or I run a class.

I have the usual five classes a day, three “regular” English, two Creative Writing. I have a homeroom of thirty-seven students, with the clerical work that entails. Each term I am given a different Building Assignment: patrolling hallways and stairwells; checking boys’ lavatories for smoking; substituting for absent teachers; watching for drug traffic; discouraging high jinks of any kind; supervising student cafeterias; supervising the school lobby to ensure that everyone, coming or going, has an official pass. Where three thousand bright teenagers are gathered under one roof you can’t be too careful. They are always up to something. It’s their job.

Selected Work
Teacher Man (2005)
‘Tis (1999)
Angela’s Ashes (1996)

Simon & Schuster Author Page
Academy of Achievement Interview
New York State Writers Institute

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


SAL is for everyone. We want all audience members to be able to experience our lectures and readings regardless of accessibility concerns. Accessibility services at our venues are provided at no cost to ticket holders. If you find you need to sit closer to the stage to accommodate your needs but find the cost of a Patron ticket prohibitive, then please contact us—we will seat you where you need to be, regardless of cost.

Open Captioning occurs at every event that takes place at Benaroya Hall. It is also always available upon request for all events in our other halls, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for Open Captioning services, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

Assisted Listening Devices, including Hearing Loop Assisted Listening Systems, are available at all of our venues, with the exception of Broadway Performance Hall. If you would like more information, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

ASL-Interpretated Events are always available upon request, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

Wheelchair Accessible Ticketing is available in all sections at our venues, and and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. If you would like more information, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10.

For any further questions or requests, or to offer Seattle Arts & Lectures feedback on how we can be more accessible and inclusive, please reach out to our Patron Services Manager at or 206.621.2230×10.