Irish American Writers & Artists

September 10, 2014

Prose, Poetry, and Song Old and New at the 9/3 IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music — by scripts2013 @ 8:36 pm

by Mary Lannon
Photos by Mark William Butler

Instead of or in addition to reading their own work, several presenters read prose from and about others giving a distinct feel to the IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia on Wednesday, September 3rd.

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Tom Mahon

Kicking off what became a theme of the night, Tom Mahon inspired the crowd by reading from Nelson Mandela’s acceptance speech for the presidency of South Africa. He followed that up with his own “Fierce Pride & a Generous Heart” from Delusions, his collection of vignettes. His story told of a young person who vows to care for an elder under very trying conditions, but keeps his or her word because the priest told the young person that he or she will go to heaven for caring for the least of us.  Mahon jokes “never read anything you read after reading from Nelson Mandela.”

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Karen Daly

Next up, board member Karen Daly showed why she is a longtime fan of Pete Hamill, who will receive our Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award on October 20. Reading from Hamill’s, “A Melancholy Fall in the Gardens of Brooklyn”(a 1968 Village Voice column), Daly gave a lovely rendition of a beautiful, evocative, perfect piece of writing.

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Sean Carlson

Sean Carlson offered his own twist on the night’s theme by reading a section of his yet untitled family memoir about his mother, Nuala, a County Kerry native, who accompanied him to the IAW&A Salon. Carlson brought to life the beginnings of change in Ireland during the middle of the 20th century. Captivating the crowd, Carlson shared the tension and wonder surrounding his mother’s birth as the fifteenth of sixteen children and the first born outside the home. To learn more or join his email list, please visit www.seancarlson.net

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John Kearns

Our hard-working host, John Kearns, took a cue from the beginning of the school year, presenting a brand-new excerpt from his multi-generational novel, Worlds.  In the excerpt, Paul Logan, in his first weeks as a teacher in the South Bronx, is attacked by his student Shinone Williams. After Shinone gets a detention, she throws her books at her teacher and grabs him by his throat. Logan manages to get Williams out of the classroom and finds out she will be expelled. Returning to his room, he finds two students fighting over whether it was funny when Logan ducked out of the way of Shinone’s flying books.

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Mary Lannon

Mary Lannon read from the middle of a longish short story, “A Key to Castastrophe Management,” in which a college senior obsesses about the weather, tries to figure out her future, and shows her unfamiliarity with love. Check out Lannon’s web site for her novel: http//www.MirandaJMcCleod.com.

maura Maura Mulligan

The first half ended with the multi-talented Maura Mulligan’s singing a sean nós (old style) song she learned from Donegal singer/composer Dominic Mac Goille Bhríde in July at the South Sligo Summer School. The song, “Tráthnóna Beag Aréir” is a love song in the Irish language (Gaeilge). Mulligan explained that the poet is wishing to experience again the beauty of the previous evening when there was silence in the sky and the lovers drifted together through the bog cotton. This traditional style of singing is generally melodically and rhythmically complex.  Subtleties vary by region, and it is highly individualistic.

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Jack DiMonte

Jack DiMonte led off the second half singing a beautiful rendition of “Summer Wind,” a song about how romance is as fickle as the fleeing summer.  “Summer Wind” began life as a German pop song by Heinz Meier to which American Johnny Mercer later set the now-famous English lyrics that Frank Sinatra immortalized in a 1966 recording.

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John Brennan

A new presenter John Brennan picked up on the theme of the night, beginning by reading Seamus Heaney’s “Digging.” Next, Brennan read “The Green Valley,” a poem he wrote about the ancient Boyne valley (Bru na Boine) and “The Singing Bones” from his book Don’t Die with Regrets, which he wrote for his father Mal. Brennan ended with “The Night Moths,” his tribute poem to W.B .Yeats and a short story, “The Dealing Man.”

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Malachy McCourt

Malachy McCourt finished off the night reading from the Foreword he wrote for Come Here Often? 53 Writers Raise a Glass to Their Favorite Bar, edited by Sean Manning.  He also led the group in singing a Brendan Behan song.

See you at the Cell on September 16th!!

August 28, 2014

Catching Up with Mary Lou Quinlan–interviewed about “The God Box” on Scottish radio

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 12:20 pm

Mary Lou Quinlan, who gave IAW&A Salon attendees the very first glimpse of her performance piece “The God Box,” brought the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  She’s interviewed here by one of Scotland’s top radio personalities. 

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August 27, 2014

What an inspirational eve! 8.19.14 #iawasalon at the Cell

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 11:17 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Alexandra Jakstas

“What an inspirational eve!” -Vivian O’Shaughnessy

“It felt good to perform the monologue for such a supportive audience.” -Mark Donnelly

“Last night was inspiring… I’m honored and grateful to be part of your fantastic community.” -Maura Knowles

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An August Full House at the Cell Theatre

That’s what IAW&A members had to say about the #iawasalon at the Cell, a heady mix of plays, poems, music, fiction, memoir, and collaborations. Host John Kearns made some important announcements: remember to use our hashtag #iawasalon when you’re sharing updates or discussing our salons on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. He thanked Alexandra Jakstas for taking the great pictures you see here.

Get your tickets now for our Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award Benefit and Cocktail Party honoring the legendary writer Pete Hamill, on Monday, October 20, 2014.  Visit http://i-am-wa.org/oneill-award-benefit/this-years-honoree/ to purchase.  And spread the word!

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Maria Deasy and John Cappelletti

The night got off to a fantastic start with John Cappelletti’s short play, “Comrades,” with John and Maria Deasy. On the opening night of his play A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen (played by John) is furious at the critics because their negative reviews (which are factual) may force him to close his theatre. He is considering challenging them to a duel when his wife enters and forces him to face the reality of his own marital doll’s house and make some changes before this door too closes, like the door Nora slammed on opening night.

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Sean Carlson

At recent IAW&A Salons, Sean Carlson has shared glimpses into the manuscript of his first book, a yet-untitled narrative of a family’s experiences with immigration from Ireland to London and the Bronx.  Tonight’s installment was particularly moving as it reflected on the death of a child at birth (“a loss kept quiet”) set against the broader struggles of the era. Sean’s mother Nuala will also be joining us for the next reading at Bar Thalia on Wednesday, September 3. Learn more and subscribe to his email list here: www.seancarlson.net.

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Vivian O’Shaughnessy

Poet, translator and visual artist, Vivian O’Shaughnessy read a poem from her new collaboration with Giovanni Dotoli, “Woman, I Am! (Je La Femme)”, poems about women. Vivian created the cover and drawings for the book. She is often at the IAW&A Salons at The Cell with her sketchpad. You can see her art at vivianoshaughnessy.com.

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Nancy Oda and Karen Daly

Playwright Sheila Walsh directed Nancy Oda and Karen Daly in a ten-minute play, “Cat and Lobster.” Nancy was spot-on as the younger sister who yearns for a long-ago lover and Karen (making her acting debut at the Cell!) played the wiser, older sister. The actresses hit all the right notes in this intimate look at how the sisters use their love of poetry to keep joy and laughter in their lives. This was Sheila’s first shot at directing — she thanks Nancy and Karen for making it great fun and doing such a sensational job. Karen thanks the two pros for teaching her so much.

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Tim Dwyer

Tim Dwyer wowed us by singing Yeats’ “Lake Isle of Innisfree” to a melody Tim composed. Then he shared some of his own poetry from his current manuscript-under-submission, titled Messages from the Irish Diaspora – among them “Walking By The Farm Field” and “After Watching Philomena.”

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Sarah Fearon

Sarah Fearon read new developments of the story “While You Were Out”. A tale about a crew of guys who grew up in Hells Kitchen together who pull off a heist of a Trump Condo via an estate attorney’s office. The basic cast of characters are Big Mike Esq., Johnny Sparks the doorman, Stevie Cane who is now in real estate and Francis Conner who impersonates the heir to the apartment. The recent Salon was an experiment in exploring what hysterical thoughts go through Francis’ mind as he walks through his world.

Maura M. Knowles, an accomplished bi-coastal actor/singer/writer/producer/entrepreneur presented a section from her new play with music, Insult to Injury, based on true events.

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Mark “More Gavel” Butler,  Joe Scalzo,  Julie Currie, Maura Knowles, Ryan Cahill, Guen Donahue, Jack DiMonte

A six-actor comedy with heart, the play examines why we should never give up on angels or anyone with broken wings. Maura’s cast was Mark Butler, Ryan Cahill, Jack DiMonte, Guen Donahue, Joe Scalzo, with stage directions by Julie Currie and talented pianist, Chandra Irawan. Please visit www.mauramknowles.com.

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Mark Donnelly

Using vintage photos as props, Mark Donnelly gave a terrific performance of the opening monologue from his new play, No Dead End. Set in Los Angeles in the 1980s, No Dead End explores the friendship of a film librarian and an aging actor, while addressing the blurring of movie fantasies with reality.

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Brendan Costello

Frequent salon contributor Brendan Costello Jr. read an excerpt of his novel-in-progress (tentatively entitled Winning). The scene involved one of the main characters, a prodigal son and misfit CEO, reminiscing about the first Gulf War and his departed father’s morbid musings, culminating in a visit from an unexpected, but perhaps not unsurprising, guest. (Dunt-dunt-dunnnn!)

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Christy Jones

Christy Jones, returned tonight with another piece of his memoir, Taxi to Broadway (tentative title) in which he details his journey from rural Ireland to pursue his love for theater and American musicals in New York.  Tonight he riffed on that all-American musical, Singin’ in the Rain.

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Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon gave a dramatic reading read from his collection of vignettes called, Delusions. A woman comes to a man’s apartment needing to tell him the worst thing she had ever done. But she can’t, and asks him to tell something he did, but he can’t. Finally, desperate for release from his war memories, he reveals his worst, true nightmare. She tells him a lie, and admits she’s tricked him because she thought he was hiding something. Furious, he slaps her and leaves to start the life he’s wanted for a long time.

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John Kearns

Salon producer and host John Kearns read a poetic rant about the anger among the three parties that struggled in Belfast during the Troubles, posing the question, “How can we Irish/we Orange/we British forgive?” John plans to work this piece into his generational novel in progress, Worlds.

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Maura Knowles and Jack DiMonte

Jack DiMonte performed a comic monologue from the play, Men Suck (in which he proved that they do!), playing a man trying to pick up a woman in a bar at closing time. Maura Knowles joined him as the woman to whom his overtures were directed and though silent but for one line, she responded with perfect on-the-spot improvised reactions to his overtures. Jack, a wonderful singer, showed his versatility tonight, as he also had roles in Maura’s play, among them an Irish priest.

Capping off the evening, Ryan Winter Cahill serenaded the audience with “Someone’s Been Sending Me Flowers” by Sheldon Harnick, lamenting over a secret (and overly-enthusiastic) admirer.

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Ryan Cahill

The witty song was performed to perfection by the musical theatre actress.

Come see for yourself what our members and Salongoers are talking about on Wednesday, September 3, 7pm at Bar Thalia!

August 13, 2014

No Summer Slowdown at #iawasalon: 8/6/14 IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia

Filed under: Essay,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 4:14 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by John Kearns 

No summer doldrums for the diverse and talented artists at the lively IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia on August 6. In fact, the night had a number of firsts. First hosting gig by the gracious Maria Deasy; the “world premier” of songs from two musicians, John Skocik and Andrew Koss; first comedy performance by musician/writer Jon Gordon; (perhaps) the first Israeli-born presenter; a seven-person ensemble for Maura Knowles’ piece, surely a first for the Bar Thalia space and the introduction of our Salon hashtag.

If you’re sharing updates or discussing our salons on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, please add the hashtag #iawasalon.

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Maria Deasy

The evening’s host Maria Deasy is an actress, singer, and writer who has starred Off-Broadway and in film. She plays Jackie Moss in Hooroo Jackson’s new movie Aimy In A Cage starring Paz de la Huerta and Crispin Glover, due out this fall. Look for her as “Gwen Sherbondy” in Momsters – When Moms Go Bad hosted by Roseanne Barr. Yes, she is the Momster. Visit www.mariadeasy.com.

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Sean Carlson, his fiancee, Cathlin Olszewski, and his manuscript

Sean Carlson kicked off our evening with another glimpse into the manuscript of his first book, yet untitled — a captivating narrative of a family’s immigration from Ireland to London and the Bronx. This latest reading brought us back in time to Co. Kerry when dances were held outdoors at a local crossroads, leading to “a love marriage in an era of matchmaking.” Sean will continue sharing his work at our salons over the coming months. Learn more and join his email list for updates here: www.seancarlson.net.

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Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon read a dramatic short story from his collection of vignettes Tomorrow Never Came. It’s about how people live and die, often unexpectedly. Tom’s selection tonight was “Friendly Fire.” On a lieutenant’s last night in-country before going home after a year in the infantry, he gives a cigarette to a friendly local soldier. The soldier resents the American going home, leaving him and his friends to fight a war America started. They have both lost people and seen so many wounded and dead. The soldier lifts his weapon on the defenseless lieutenant who’s drunk far more than he should have, and shoots and kills him on his last night.

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Guenevere Donohue and Jon Gordon

In a stunning collaboration, Guenevere Donohue shared an original song from her theatre piece about her father, Killer Is My Name. The song, “Revered,” was rich, sweet, and had a profound effect on the audience. Guen was thrilled to be accompanied by the fantastic jazz sax man, Jon Gordon.

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Jon Gordon

Next Jon Gordon decided to change up the mood with two brilliant and funny pieces by IAW&A Hall of Famer George Carlin, “Advertising”, as well as his rewording of “America the Beautiful”. The late comedian was a native of the Upper West Side, so Jon – and the salongoers – enjoyed hearing his work at the Thalia. Jon’s a memoirist, world-class musician, and as we’ve now seen, a good comedian.

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John Kearns

John Kearns read a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, featuring two of the main characters in his four-generation family portrait. When Janey Logan finds that the A&P has sent her son, Paul, home on his bicycle on a rainy day with a jar of mayonnaise in only a single brown paper bag, she takes Paul back to the store and makes a scene to humiliate the manager into giving her a new jar — in a double bag. “And she didn’t even like mayonnaise.” John has been working his way through the seven deadly sins and though tonight’s excerpt was about “Anger,” he had the audience laughing in recognition.

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Maura Knowles cast:  Maura as Mo, the cast featured Luis Villabon, Joe Scalzo, Kathy Callahan, Mark Butler, Marni Rice and Julie Currie reading stage directions

Actor/singer/writer Maura (Mo) Knowles presented a section of an autobiographical new play with music, Insult to Injury that she is creating with composer Nathania Wibowo. In addition to Maura as Mo, the cast featured Luis Villabon, Joe Scalzo, Kathy Callahan, Mark Butler, Marni Rice and Julie Currie reading stage directions. Maura, who lives in NY and LA, has been shooting a new web series, Common Ground and was recently cast in the feature film, I Love Hate currently in development in NY. www.mauramknowles.com She thanks IAW&A for including her in a thrilling line-up.

“T’was an honor to share the stage with everyone last night.”

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Lissa Kiernan

After the break, Lissa Kiernan made good on her promise to read her early, funny poems, though she snuck in a few sucker punches. After all, as her friend and mentor, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, in attendance, pointed out: “it wouldn’t be a true Irish event without a bit of woe and darkness in amongst the light!” Lissa was also joined by friends from her workplace, World Monuments Fund, poet Alexandra van de Kamp, a fellow teaching artist from The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative, and a lovely couple—the writer Gail Hovey and artist Pat Hickman—who hoofed it in all the way from Haverstraw! Find out more about Lissa’s new release, Two Faint Lines in the Violet, at twofaintlines.com, and come out to support her at KGB Bar on September 16, 7 PM, in a fundraiser for the wonderful New York Writer’s Coalition.

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Marcia Loughran

Marcia Loughran read a rant about Brooklyn and three poems with summer/road trip themes.  She was excited to be back at the Salon and impressed with the terrific crowd.

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John Skocik

John Skocik, lead singer and songwriter from Girl to Gorilla, got us singin’ and rockin’ to his songs, including the “world premier” of his brand-new “Crying in the Rain;” “I Really Want to Break Your Heart” and “Jenny Doesn’t Live with Me Anymore.” John’s performances always enliven the night.

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Brian Mallon

Brian Mallon read two excerpts from his newly completed novel, Shane O’Neill.

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Yona Gonik

Yona Gonik has been attending IAW&A Salons when her schedule allows and tonight we were happy to welcome her as a first-time presenter. Yona read a section of her memoir-in-progress focusing on different “domestic jobs for fancy New Yorkers” she had upon arriving from Israel. Her work is a “satire shooting in all directions [denominations, classes] not sparing even blue collar workers, and hopefully leading to grace and compassion.” Yona adds that the Salon is “one of the only things in NY that interests me wholeheartedly…”

christyChristy Jones

Christy Jones, returned tonight with another piece of his memoir, Taxi to Broadway (tentative title). Christy appreciates our encouraging reception to his work-in-progress. And we’d like to hear more of his journey from rural Ireland to pursue his love for theater and American musicals in NY and included time in the US National Guard; the Stella Adler Theatre Studio; Off Broadway, Regional Theatre and finally Broadway in the Brian Friel play Philadelphia, Here I Come!

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Andrew Koss and Maxine Linehan

The wonderful duo of singer Maxine Linehan and guitarist Andrew Koss ended the night on an upbeat note, with the song “The Only Home I Know” from Shenandoah A Musical by James Lee Barrett, Peter Udell, and Philip Rose. Then Maxine and Andrew debuted Andrew’s original new song “I Think of You,” which, says Sean Carlson, “‪… couldn’t put better words around living in New York…” Learn about her upcoming performances and new album at www.maxinelinehan.com

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Tom Wesselmann, Still Life

Next #iawasalon will be on Tuesday, August 19 at The Cell.  See you there! 

July 22, 2014

IAW&A Member Guen Donohue in Shakespeare Scene Night

Filed under: Literature,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 8:55 pm

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Shake Scenes

Directed by Geoffrey Owens

At Grace and St. Paul’s Church
123 West 71st – New York

Friday 25th July and 26th of July – 8pm

Suggested Donation $10 to benefit our fall production of  The Taming Of The Shrew

Cast:

Taylor Ryski

Jeffrey Young

Yurika Foster

Fabio Motta

Guenenevere Donohue

Geoffrey Owens

Ibeth Massari

July 21, 2014

IAW&A Salon at the Cell, 7/15: Poetry Book Launch, Plays, Music, and Superb Writing

Filed under: American Politics,Essay,Events,Literature,Music — by scripts2013 @ 4:19 am

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By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

We promised another night filled with talent, creativity and an enthusiastic audience and the mid-July IAW&A Salon, hosted by John Kearns, did not disappoint. Tuesday’s program included four theater pieces, possibly a Salon record, but not a surprise, considering the appeal of The Cell’s intimate performance space. Tuesday’s program demonstrated how new members enliven and expand the mix and how they are welcomed by the group. So, bring your friends to an IAW&A Salon. They won’t be disappointed.

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Pat Fenton

The first theater piece was from Pat Fenton. A proud son of the Irish working-class tenements of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, Pat is a terrific journalist whose writing has been influenced by Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin. Pat read from An Afternoon with Breslin, Amen, his one-man play about the many moods of one of America’s most famous journalists. Pat hopes to complete the work by the fall. Meantime, please don’t send him your complaints about something that upset you (or one of your relatives) about a Breslin column. He’s heard them all.

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Daniel MacGowan, John Kearns

Next up was Sheila Walsh’s ten minute play, Waiting for Brando, a poignant and darkly hilarious look at Jack Kerouac at the height of his fame. On an afternoon in 1957, Kerouac and his neighbor Billy wait for the phone call that tells them if Marlon Brando will star in the movie version of On the Road. Great performances by Daniel McGowan as Kerouac and John Kearns as Billy. 

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Lissa Kiernan

Lissa Kiernan delivered on her promise to present a kick-ass kick-off reading for her hot-off-the-press first poetry collection Two Faint Lines in the Violet (Negative Capability Press), praised by Annie Finch as “ . . . ahead of its time, a tragic and lucid banner leading us into the 21st century when poets will increasingly be called on to remind us that we are human animals whose fate is held in the earth.” Learn more and order your copy at: twofaintlines.com or come and get a signed copy at the Salon at Bar Thalia on August 6. The IAW&A Salon is proud and honored that Lissa chose to launch her collection of poetry with us.

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Sean Carlson

Having shared his beautiful NY Daily News and Irish Times essays earlier in the year, Sean Carlson returned to the Salon to read from the final manuscript of his first book — a nonfictional narrative of emigration through a family story from Ireland to London and the Bronx. Tonight he transported us to a farmhouse at the bottom of a lane outside a small village in Co. Kerry. We could almost feel the warmth of the turf fire burning in the hearth as the story begins. Sean will continue reading from his to-be-titled book at our IAW&A Salons over the coming months. Learn more and join his email list here: www.seancarlson.net

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 Maura Knowles

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Sean Irawan

At a May Salon, Mary Pat Kelly debuted songs from her musical Special Intentions, based on her novel of the same name, the story of her six years in the convent in the 1960s. Mary Pat has written the book, lyrics and music. Tonight she was able to present another song thanks to the wonderful musical theater actress Maura Knowles and the great pianist, Sean Irawan. We look forward to more from these talented collaborators.

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Barry Sacker, John Cappelletti

Actor, director, playwright and teacher John Cappelletti presented his short play, We the People, which was first performed at the Hudson Guild Theatre last year. The drama featured acting pro Barry Sacker in the leading role of Brock who convinces Francis, a team member played by John, not to leave an organization that is planning a most unusual event to eliminate gun violence in America. John is glad to have opportunity to showcase his work.

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Chris Bradley, Mary Pat Kelly

Chris Bradley shared a portion of a contemporaneous historical fiction that he is researching and writing about the plight of homeless Veterans. Each night in this country, 60,000 Veterans sleep in shelters or on the streets. Chris is conducting in-depth interviews with a cross-section of these men and women who live in NYC. Chris will fictionalize and weave the stories together into an entertaining, educational novel. He plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from the book’s sales to fight homelessness. He expects to complete the work in the next few months and welcomes inquiries about how you can help the men and women who volunteered to defend every one of us. Reach Chris at cjbradleyesq@gmail.com.

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Megan O’Donnell

An award-winning writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, Megan O’Donnell is also an actor, activist, and visual artist and new member of IAW&A. At Tuesday’s Salon, she read a selection of poems on numerous subjects, including motherhood, sexuality, writing, and self-harm as well as an emulation of one of her favorite poets, Emily Dickinson. Although Megan’s poetry is not available online, you can read some of her non-fiction at http://elitedaily.com/author/modonnell/.

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Christy Jones

Christy Jones, who read at the July Salon at the Bar Thalia, returned tonight with another piece of his memoir, Taxi to Broadway (tentative title). Tonight’s chapter was a vivid recollection of his childhood on a farm near the Dublin airport runway. Christy appreciates our encouraging reception to his work-in-progress. And we’d like to hear more of his journey from rural Ireland to pursue his love for theater and American musicals in NY and included time in the US National Guard; the Stella Adler Theatre Studio; Off Broadway, Regional Theatre and finally Broadway in the Brian Friel play Philadelphia, Here I Come!

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John Kearns

John Kearns was happy to present a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress about four generations of an Irish American family, Worlds. The excerpt showed John’s knowledge of both Roman mythology (Ovid’s story of Mercury and Aglauros, set in 1950s West Philadelphia) and his skill in depicting teenage crushes. In his story, 7th-grader Janey Dougherty becomes infatuated with a high school boy she meets after the May Procession at St. Francis de Sales School. Janey is excited when the boy knocks on her front door only to find out that he is interested in seeing her more extroverted sister, Lisa.

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Mark William Butler

Ever the good sport, Mark William Butler channeled his inner Sinatra to close the night with the Johnny Mercer classic, “Summer Wind.”

Please note next Salon will be on Wednesday, August 6 at 7pm at Bar Thalia.

July 9, 2014

IAW&A Salon Fireworks at Bar Thalia on July 2, 2014

Filed under: Essay,Literature,Music,Social Activism — by scripts2013 @ 10:53 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Jon Gordon, Sarah Fearon, John Kearns

As a warmup to Independence Day, IAW&A had its own fireworks at the July 2 Salon at the Bar Thalia hosted by John Kearns. Poet Marcia Loughran credits IAW&A with providing lightning and flash floods for the occasion. The real excitement came from our unique mix of talent, creativity, and warm enthusiasm.

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Tom Mahon

IAW&A Salon regular Tom Mahon read a parable from his collection called Allusions. This vignette tells of allusions that especially affect men who stop using their brains. Not that IAW&A men are in that category. Women are usually spared similar problems, except for those affected by the men’s allusions. Salongoers responded to Tom’s wit and confident delivery.

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Michelle Fulves

Mary Pat Kelly brought two newcomers, both exceptional presenters. First Michele Fulves read a moving piece of memoir, The Girl Who Didn’t Want to Be There. As a recalcitrant adolescent, she traveled to Italy with her family to meet her grandfather, Fiorangelo, who was forced to return to his village in Benevento, Italy, without his children. Straddling past and present, Michele discovers the secret message in his final wish to reunite with his son before he dies. A frequent reader at the Upper Westside’s Red Harlem Readers, Michele has written and performed two solo shows in local venues. Roadside Angels, her first show about redefining success, was the happy result of a mid-life crisis. Her current show, The Price of Courage, explores the risks, rewards and unintended consequences of blowing the whistle. Michele plans to tour it throughout the city next spring and we hope that the IAW&A Salon will be on her agenda.

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Jane Altman

Actress Jane Altman shared a parable (second of the night) called “The Glowstones”, which “was in my mind in its entirety when I woke up one Wednesday morning — all I had to do was write it down.” Jane has been acting since she was 15 and went to her first summer stock company. Experienced in the classics and contemporary theatre as well as Gilbert & Sullivan, she’s also done corporate and medical/pharmaceutical narration. Jane plans to return and share some of her writing, and, of course, whatever wonderful story is in her mind in the morning. She enjoyed our welcoming group that was “so responsive to a complete stranger.”  You’re not a stranger for long at the IAW&A Salon.

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Megan O’Donnell

In her second IAW&A Salon appearance, Megan O’Donnell read six short poems that showed her range and talent, prompting several audience members to call her “the real deal.” Among them were “Window Shopping,”  “Amsterdam Avenue” and “Bone to-Bone.” Megan graduated this year from City College, where Brendan Costello was her professor.  She’s an actor, activist, and award-winning writer.

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Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill read from his brick-tough crime fiction short story “Corner of River and Rain”, wherein a couple of Hell’s Kitchen “debt collectors” take out frustration andpersonal loss on two loud-mouth real estate speculators lame enough to celebrate big- money success at the expense of other peoples’ lives, and run into — you guessed it — the wrong guys. Antics ensue, if being prodded along a dark street toward a rendezvous with the Hudson could be considered “antics.” Find the story in its first-published form free online at Short Story Me Genre Fiction, in the “crime” file — http://www.short-story.me/crime-stories/194-corner-of-river-and-rain.html.

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Sarah Fearon made some announcements

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Marcia Loughran

Marcia Loughran is a part-time nurse practitioner, part-time poet, working on a manuscript after completing her MFA at the Bennington Writing Seminars. Marcia read three poems covering topics from fishing to Queens, among them “Ode to Queens” and “What We Look for Out the Window in winter.” She is pleased to be back at the IAW&A Salon, even in “biblical weather” and we are pleased to have her unique voice. She plans to return soon, as her Irish relatives are arriving imminently and she needs a place to take them

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Maureen Hossbacher taking to the mic on the eve of her birthday

To mark her birthday, Maureen Hossbacher entertained us with a hilarious parody, written by Pam Peterson, of the song “Memory” from the musical Cats. Maureen has a great voice and presence, and the song especially resonated for some of us.

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John Munnelly

Award winning song writer/singer John Munnelly (www.johnmunnellymusic.com) sang three songs and shared a bit of his creative process with the song “Julius Caesar”. At a creative retreat, John intended to read Shakespeare’s plays, including Julius Caesar. Before he had a chance to read the play, “along came this song.” John knew about Caesar’s life “from, yes, my good Irish education.” He is still tweaking parts of the song to deal with what happens after Caesar crossed the Rubicon but John thinks that what we heard is likely close to the final version. Then he had us singing about love, love, love, with his song “Peace.”  Though written and recorded some time ago, “Peace” was selected as one of ten  finalists in the annual International Peace Award & Song Contest in Tipperary. John has just gone there to take part (and win) the contest. We’re rootin’ for you, John.  You can hear a recording with choir, strings and band at sonicbids.com/band/johnmunnelly/audio/

In case you haven’t had enough soccer, you can watch Jon’s Dublin- based project, “King of Cambridge” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9brCB-5A6Y

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Brendan Costello

Frequent presenter Brendan Costello Jr. read an essay-in-progress about Kara Walker’s just-closed art exhibit in the former Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. The installation features a huge sugar-coated sphinx with exaggerated African features, and several small “sugar boys” made of resin and burnt sugar. Ostensibly about the people affected by the exploitative and harsh process of sugar production and refinement, the work’s context and symbolism produce a wide range of responses and interpretations. An expanded, processed and refined (though non-caloric) version of Brendan’s piece will appear in next month’s Openlettersmonthly.com.

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Chris Bradley and Mary Pat Kelly

Chris Bradley shared an intimate story about a man who spent a night in Rye, New York, with the most beautiful, strong woman he had ever seen. It included the man’s observations about the woman, the pain she had obviously endured and his hope she would just let him love her, forever.

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Christy Jones

Irish-born New Yorker, Christy Jones, whom Malachy McCourt introduced to the IAW&A Salon, read a piece many audience members related to – about the need to make a living while pursuing creative dreams. Christy worked as a cabdriver to support his family while pursuing his dream of being an actor and studying at the famed Stella Adler studio.

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John Kearns

John Kearns read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, in which Seamus Logan travels to 19th century America in steerage and entertains a young boy with stories. When a fellow passenger objects to all of the fairies and ghosts in the yarns, Seamus tells the tale of the Donegal Doubter. Ignoring the warning from neighbors that his new home was haunted, the Donegal Doubter moved into the house only to have his own boots get up and tramp around the house on their own and finally kick him in the rear end until he was forced to leave.

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Malachy McCourt

Though Malachy McCourt jokes about being “a man of good taste”, tonight he displayed great taste and sensitivity in choosing to read a story about his “big brave father” taking him to drink water from the loveliest well in Ireland. The story is from his bestselling memoir, A Monk Swimming.  Malachy closed the evening with a Limerick song, “Bonnie Isle.”

We can’t promise lightning or floods but we can guarantee more talent, creativity and enthusiasm at the salon at the Cell on July 15 at 7pm.  Join us and see for yourself.

July 8, 2014

IAW&A Poised to Expand as Larry Kirwan Takes over as President, IAW&A’s General Membership Meeting, 6/30/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 5:09 pm

by Karen Daly

The Irish American Writers & Artists annual membership meeting on June 30 at the Irish Consulate in NYC marked several transitions in our five-year history.

We welcomed our new president Larry Kirwan and sent our thanks and appreciation to his predecessor and IAW&A co-founder, T.J. English for his service and leadership as both president and treasurer.

Deputy Consul General Peter Ryan has been a generous supporter of IAW&A from the beginning and has been especially helpful in organizing the “road” salons to Fairfield, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Now Peter will take up the newly created post of Consul General in Hong Kong. Mary Pat Kelly presented Peter Ryan with a first-edition of a Seamus Heaney poetry collection, purchased by Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy on behalf of the IAW&A.  Members of the Board thanked Peter on behalf of the membership, and he in turn gave a gracious goodbye speech.

We sent our thanks and appreciation to Consul General Noel Kilkenny and Hanora Kilkenny who have hosted the IAW&A at their residence and who will now be assigned to Greece.

President Larry Kirwan talked about his aims for the IAW&A, the importance of our mission as a progressive-minded group and his awe of the magic that happens at the IAW&A Salons. Among his goals: chapters in other cities, (board-member Eamonn Wall of St. Louis is reaching out to the Midwest and to Irish Studies communities),  an occasional salon just for musicians and more road salons.  Members suggested having additional “transatlantic” salons with Irish groups, based on our successful cyber- salon with Dublin poets. Larry challenged each person to bring in a new member  – an easy prospect now that the membership fee is $50/$25 for students.

Vice-President Mary Pat Kelly reported on the great success of the first Frank McCourt Literary Prizes (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) presented in June to members of the first graduating class of NYC’s Frank McCourt High School — Kate Nelson, Anastasia Warren, and Sebastian Montjuich. Plans are being made to fundraise for subsequent McCourt Prizes.

Speaking of awards, Malachy McCourt treated us to the story of his long acquaintance with Pete Hamill, designated to receive our 2014 Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award in October.

Treasurer and Salon Producer John Kearns reported on our finances, which are strong.  John pointed out that funds need to be replenished because of money spent on the Frank McCourt Literary Prizes and the smaller-than-usual profit made by last year’s O’Neill Awards.  The O’Neill Award is the IAW&A’s major fundraiser of the year and John urged everyone to help make this year’s award to Pete Hamill a success.  Plans are in the works for road Salons in Breezy Point, Danbury, CT, IBAM Chicago, and Saint Louis. Secretary and force behind the popular “Weekly” newsletter, Mark Butler suggested that IAW&A support a NYC library advocacy group.

Sarah Fearon introduced the committees and asked for volunteers in Events, O’Neill Award, and Communications.

Other recent changes — Mark Butler, Eamonn Wall and Karen Daly have joined the Board and Dan Cassidy, T.J. English and Tim O’Brien have stepped down.

Finally, Larry and the Board look forward to an exciting year of expansion, enhanced communications and a promised new website.

Once again, we thank the Consulate and Peter Ryan and his associate Mary Deady for their hospitality.

July 1, 2014

Honor Molloy Hosts IAW&A Salon of Newcomers and Stalwarts, June 10th at the Cell

Filed under: Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:18 pm

By Mary Lannon with thanks to Honor Molloy

Tuesday night’s well attended IAW&A Salon hosted by the gracious and winning Honor Molloy featured a slate of new performers that along with a few stalwarts made for a lovely evening at the cell.

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Ed McCann

First, first-time presenter, Ed McCann read from his luminous memoir, Finding George.  His work has appeared in national magazines and literary journals. An award-winning television writer / producer, he’s also a longtime contributing editor at Country Living magazine.  This Saturday at 2pm, along with his partner Richard Kolath, he will launch Writers Read, a new literary endeavor that promotes established and emerging writers and celebrates the spoken word.

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Mark William Butler

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Kelsey Walston

Next, Mark William Butler presented a song from his horror movie Christmas musical, Bad Christmas Sweater.  The song, “He Will Know” was performed beautifully by a IAW&A Salon first-timer, the talented actress Kelsey Walston.  With a little luck, the play will be providing audiences with a warm, fuzzy, and freaky feeling sometime this holiday season. Butler  is a playwright and composer who has had over 30 plays and revues produced in what he is now forced to admit has become a long career.

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Yvonne Cassidy

Another first-time salon presenter, Irish author Yvonne Cassidy, read from her third novel, How Many Letters Are In Goodbye? This was the first reading from the novel, which was published by Hachette Ireland on June 5thHow Many Letters Are In Goodbye? is the story of Rhea Farrell, a young Irish girl, homeless on the streets of New York, trying to find out more about her mother who died when Rhea was only three. Cassidy, who has been living in New York since 2011, read the first letter from the book and was happy to leave the evening selling all the advance copies she’d brought with her! For more info or to see a video of the reading: www.yvonnecassidy.com.

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Bernard Smith

Dublin-born musician Bernard Smith first sang “Travel On,” an original song, that he wrote after a series of events that at the time he considered catastrophic.  But when he stopped to listen to the rhythm of his own heart, he realized all of the seemingly life changing problems were just small transient ones that he could let go of. His second song, “Down in the City,” was written by Irish folk artist Sony Condell as an homage to him and because it’s a beautiful song.

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Kevin Holohan, Joe Goodrich, and Honor Molloy

Completing the first half, the multi-talented Honor Molloy presented a brief segment from The Three Christs – a new music theatre work she’s working on with composer/performer Corey Dargel. Kevin Holohan read stage directions and Joe Goodrich played Dr. Zeel—psychiatrist to the Jaysoo Trio.  Molloy is a playwright and author of the stunning novel, Smarty Girl.

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Kevin Holohan

Opening the second half, Kevin Holohan read two short pieces. The first was a short story about a rite of passage of a young boy in Dublin trying to gain peer acceptance of his first foray into serious swearing. The second was a short excerpt from his first novel The Brothers’ Lot, a phantasmagoric wishful vision of justice as it should have been, cataloging the physical implosion of every Church-run institution in Ireland where abuse of children took place, a piece lent added resonance and poignancy by the recent renewed media attention around mother and child homes in Ireland. http://www.akashicbooks.com/catalog/the-brothers-lot/ 

kearnsJohn Kearns

John Kearns read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, an “overture” to the book’s first section dealing with the Deadly Sin/Lively Virtue of Lust/Chastity.  The overture juxtaposes fragments and sentences related to Lust or Chastity from the episodes that follow in the novel about four generations of the Irish-American Logan family.  It also interspersed bits and pieces from mythology, biblical stories, and literary classics.  Later this month, Kearns will be reading with one of our favorite salon participants—Maura Mulligan—in County Mayo—his grandparents’ old stomping grounds.

tonyTony DeMarco

Tony DeMarco hails from an Irish-Italian family in East Flatbush. He’s been performing and teaching the Irish fiddle for over 30 years, and is acknowledged as a master of the New York/Sligo fiddle style.  DeMarco also invited the audience to the second annual New York Trad Fest to be held on October 18th at Connolly’s Pub and October 19th at the Irish Arts Center this year.  In addition, the Trad Fest will include a panel discussion hosted by Dr. Mick Moloney at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House at 12:30 pm on October 18th.

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Gerry Walsh

Gerry Walsh, acting on advice from Malachy McCourt, did not read but talked about his short-story collection, In The Company of Old Men, a reminiscence of laughter, fun, love, horror and aversion, tales from growing up and working around an assortment of colorful characters, sane, half-insane or one step from the Gates of Hell. Walsh spoke about growing up with death and honoring those who come before you by telling their stories.

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Marni Rice

Closing out the evening Marni Rice sang two original songs from her EP Songs for A Small Chamber, accompanying herself on accordion. Rice’s original performance works in French & English (text, music & storytelling) have been produced at Theatre festivals in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Central Africa. Currently, she’s working on Magdala: Stories from the Net and the Sea; a co-creation by the Xio Evans Marni Rice Experimental Dance Theatre.

See you at Bar Thalia on Wednesday, July 2nd at 7 pm!

June 26, 2014

THE IAW&A GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING, Monday, June 30, 6 PM

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 8:11 am

It’s almost here!

And we hope you can make it! Mingle with your fellow members and let your voice be heard – maybe even volunteer for a committee!

And help us to honor and bid farewell to Irish Deputy Consul General Peter Ryan, who is leaving to take up the newly created post of Consul General in Hong Kong.

The meeting is Monday, June 30th at 6:00pm at The Irish Consulate, 345 Park Avenue (at 51st Street), 17th floor.

And yes, there will be refreshments!

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