Gracie Mansion, for any New Yorker, is a mystical place. It is the official residence of the Mayor and it is iconic, like the Metropolitan Museum or Yankee Stadium. So, it was with great pleasure that I made the long walk there from the subway for the 2013 NYC Literary Honors award ceremony.
Started last year by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the award honors literary legends whose body of work guarantees their permanent spot on the bookshelf at Barnes & Noble. This year there were 7 winners. Fiction writer and pioneering black author, Toni Morrison, non-fiction essayist Calvin Trillin (who always cracks me up when I read him in The New Yorker), humor writer and cartoonist Jules Feiffer, poet John Ashberry, children’s author Jon Scieszka, book agents Morton Janklow and Lynn Nesbit
and one New York City high school student.
This year that student is my niece. Alice Markham Cantor is a senior at Beacon High School in Manhattan and has been writing since she was 5. She is a Scholastic Magazine award winning writer of poetry and has been published on the Huffington Post and AOL.com.
Over 200 attendees sipped white wine and listened to readings in a large tent set up on the lawn of the Mansion. It was a heady experience for a young writer and Alice hobnobbed like a pro with the Mayor and later with Tom Wolfe (Bonfire of the Vanities).
The Mayor was very interested in what college she plans on attending in the fall and made public in his speech that Alice has yet to choose from Wesleyan, Oberlin and Vassar. Later, as Alice hung around the tent, dozens of strangers and well-wishers approached her to congratulate her and (since they were know-it-all New Yorkers) to tell her which college THEY think she should attend.