Irish American Writers & Artists

April 21, 2014

IAWA Member Kathy Callahan’s Short Film in Ridgewood Guild Film Festival

Filed under: Film,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 2:31 pm

On Thursday evening, April 24, 2014, Kathy Callahan’s short film will be shown as part of The Ridgewood Guild Film Festival.

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Come out and support Kathy and enjoy her film! 

April 17, 2014

IAW&A Salon in DC, “Cultural Bridges”: An Evening of Artistic, Cultural, & Personal Connections, 4/4/14

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 10:00 pm

by John Kearns
Photos by Cat Dwyer

On Friday, April 4, 2014, Irish American Writers and Artists (IAW&A) held its  first “road Salon” in  Washington, DC at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and the evening turned out to be one of true artistic, cultural, and personal connection.   Because UDC is considered a “historically black college,” the event was billed, “Cultural Bridges: DC Salon.”  The Salon was organized by Dr. Cherie Ann Turpin of the English department at UDC and myself, the Salon Producer for the IAW&A.  Travel and hotel expenses for the New York artists were generously provided for the New York artists by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Ireland.

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Arriving at Union Station (left to right): Sheila Walsh, Sarah Fearon, John Kearns, Brendan Costello

DC Salon, 4/4/14

 Dr. Helene Krauthamer

English Professor Helene Krauthamer started off the proceedings by welcoming everyone to the Salon.  Then I was asked to say a few words about the IAW&A and its mission as a secular, progressive, arts organization focusing on the Irish American experience.

Since it was the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, I addressed the theme of “Cultural Bridges” by telling a story about the night when Barack Obama won his first presidential election.  I went out on 125th Street in Harlem, where I live, and took part in the revelry that seemed more like a celebration of a sports teams’ winning a championship than anything to do with politics.  Drivers were beeping car horns. Strangers were high-fiving one another.

As I stood on the corner watching all of the commotion, an older African-American woman stopped next to me said, “This is what Dr. King died for.”

She paused and then added, “It’s time for all of us to stop being afraid of each other.”

So it was time to dispense with any fears and share our artistic work with one another and have fun.  I acted as MC for the New York artists and Dr. Turpin introduced the DC artists.

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Sean Carlson

New Yorker Sean Carlson kicked off the DC salon with two readings that provided a glimpse into his first book — a nonfictional narrative of love and loss through a family story from Ireland to the United Kingdom and the United States. Sharing details about the research process and his travels while writing, Sean read the opening pages of his manuscript and skipped ahead to a particularly memorable scene from London’s Kilburn neighborhood in the 1960s. Learn more and join his email list for updates here: www.seancarlson.net

DC Salon, 4/4/14

Francies Stephenson

Francies Stephenson explained how she comes from a multicultural family background and that she has readily identified with the African-American and Caribbean parts of her identity.  She read about getting to know her other relatives in Barbados and Guyana and the difficulty of leaving both places in her short story, “Board Time 0920”:  http://calligraphypen.tumblr.com/post/74207199024/board-time-0920.

DC Salon, 4/4/14

Brendan Costello, Alexander Turro, and Sheila Walsh

Sheila Walsh presented her short play, “Looking for Brando.” New Yorker Brendan Costello shared the stage with student Alexander Turro who played the part of Jack Kerouac very well.  The play went over quite well despite the spontaneous casting and minimal rehearsal.

DC Salon, 4/4/14

Toinnette Marshall

UDC Senior, research assistant to Dr. Cherie Ann Turpin, and lifelong Washingtonian Toinnette Marshall presented a poem entitled, “The Dream.”  It was inspired by a crazy dream she had that would not leave her mind; so she decided to write about the dream or as much of it that she could remember. She will be graduating in May with a BA in English.

I followed Toinnette’s poem with “Transmigration of Soul,” a poem excerpted from my novel-in-progress, Worlds, and published in the North American Review in 2012.  The poem examines how African music brought to America on slave ships and Irish music brought to America on coffin ships blended together to create the free and lively music of rock ‘n’ roll.

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Camila Fraiz

An aspiring translator and enthusiast for the world of languages, Camila Fraiz shared “Come, My Mulatta”, a Brazilian Samba translated into English by American poet Elizabeth Bishop during her time living in Rio de Janeiro.  “Come, My Mulatta” celebrates women of color.​

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Marie Reilly

DC Salon, 4/4/14

Brian Gaffney

With guitarist Brian Gaffney, Marie Reilly, a Leitrim-style fiddler who comes from eight generations of fiddle players, performed a couple of tunes from her CD, The Anvil, dedicated to the memory of her father.

After the music, we took a break and enjoyed snacks and soft drinks provided by the UDC English department.

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Sarah Fearon

Comedian Sarah Fearon started the second half with a five-minute set of material that had the whole audience – young and old, faculty, students, and visitors laughing.

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Keisha Brown

Keisha Brown then took a seat on the stage and read us some of her poetry.

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Brendan Costello

Brendan Costello, a creative writing instructor at The City College of New York, presented the middle section of his story “Circus Brunch at Zapruder’s,” in which the chickens come home to roost for the narrator, who works at a restaurant with a theatrical experience built around the Kennedy assassination.

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Dr. Wilmer Johnson

Dr. Wilmer Johnson, Professor, Health Education Program at UDC and President of the UDC Faculty Association gave an impassioned reading of “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou.   A few of the English majors in the audience mouthed the words to the poem as Dr. Johnson read.

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Dr. Cherie Ann Turpin

IAW&A member Cherie Ann Turpin Associate Professor, shared an excerpt from her essay “Kissing Soul, Tasting Love,” published in Corset Magazine, Issue #3 in 2012, and her poem “Inamorata” from her essay “Left Behind” in Corset Magazine #2 in 2012 (http://www.corsetmagazine.com/).  She writes about Afrofuturism, Gender and Sexualities, African and Irish Diasporas, and Popular Culture (http://about.me/cherieannturpin).  Her current projects include a chapter on Black Feminism and Afrofuturism for a Black Studies anthology, as well as a book-length work on the actor/activist Gabriel Byrne. She will present her essay “Reimagining Gabriel Byrne: Heteronormativity, Irish Diaspora, and Celebrity Culture” at the PCA/ACA National Conference in Chicago on April 17, 2014.  

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Marie Reilly was kind enough to let me play a tune with her

To conclude the IAW&A DC Salon, Marie Reilly returned to the stage and I took out my guitar.  We played the traditional Irish tune, “The Kesh Jig” and some of the students told me they were tempted to get up and dance.

After the Salon, almost all of the presenters and some of the audience members headed over to Murphy’s Pub, where guitarist Brian Gaffney was playing, to celebrate the unqualified success of our first DC Salon.

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(l to r) Marie Reilly, Sarah Fearon, Francies Stephenson, Brendan Costello, Toinnette Marshall, Sean Carlson, Dr. Wilmer Johnson, John Kearns, Sheila Walsh, Dr. Cherie Ann Turpin, and Keisha Brown  

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At Murphy’s Pub

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The gang WITH Cat Dwyer (but WITHOUT her photographic skills) at Union Station

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Two-page spread on the event in the Irish World

April 9, 2014

Lively and Varied April Fools’ IAW&A Salon Not Trivial, April 1, 2014

Filed under: Essay,Literature,Music,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 11:41 pm

by Mary Lannon
Photos by Kathy Callahan

It seemed fitting that at the April Fool’s Day salon at Café Thalia two presenters led us in sing-a-longs of two very silly songs.

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Ryan Winter Cahill ended the first half with a Shel Silverstein ditty called “You’re Always Welcome At Our House” that cheerfully invited all to be murdered.

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Not to be outdone, Malachy McCourt ended the second half with “The River Saile” — “Weela, Wallia Don’t Stick Knives in Babbies’ Heads.”

Cahill began her presentation on a more serious note with “Once I Had a Sweetheart.”  She can be reached at ryan.winter.cahill@gmail.com.

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The evening kicked off with Mary Lannon reading a short piece, “The cat has become my adversary,” and a piece from her completed young adult novel.  Please check out the novel web site and friend her character on Facebook:  www.mirandajmcleod.com.

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Gary Cahill (Ryan’s Dad), perhaps, showing a Cahill sense of humor, read a darkly absurdist ending to his as-yet-unpublished crime short story, “The Cuddle Puddle.”  It explained how a wedding ring stolen from a cremation urn would not be returned to the jar as the ex-killer-for-hire tavern owner requested.  Read other stories and listen to audio at plan-b-magazine.com.

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First-time presenter Tim Dwyer began by singing “Prelude,” a poem of Synge’s that he put to music.  He then read two of his previously published poems that are part of his work in progress, Messages from the Irish Disapora.

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Next Mary Pat Kelly reported the wonderful news that her novel will be published next St. Patrick’s Day.  The historical novel recounts Maude Gonne’s adventures in Paris.

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Our host John Kearns went next reading from his novel in progress, Worlds, in which Sarsfield Logan, S.J. proposes to his Jesuit superiors that his school, Xavier High School, work with a local charity, the “Italian University,” run by Irish-American socialite Annie Leary. He visits the school and wants to help the poor immigrant children to attend Xavier. However, he’s disappointed in his superiors who are willing to send tutors but not scholarships to help the children.  More information is at www.kearnscafe.com.

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After the break came Sarah Fearon who had the crowd laughing with her “notes.”

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Tom Mahon shared another excerpt from his novel in progress, Mastery.

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The new month inspired Jack Di Monte to sing two songs about April – “April In Paris” by Vernon Duke and Yip Harburg, and “I’ll Remember April” by Gene De Paul and Don Raye. He was thinking “swing” and “bossa nova” in his head as he sang them and hoped that came across to the audience.

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Chris Bradley told a moving story about an insurance defense attorney who still carries wounds from the Gulf War during 1991. The man he described looks in the mirror every day, 20 years out, and still sees the 19 year old boy in the uniform he wore who killed an Iraqi Soldier in a fox hole after the cease fire. While Bradley did serve in the Army during that war the story is a work of fiction. Bradley closed by requesting we be careful where we send our soldiers to defend us.”

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Singer John Skocik, lead singer and song writer for the band, Girl to Gorilla, wowed the crowd with one of his orginal songs on acoustic guitar.

See you at the Cell at 3 pm for our Transatlantic IAW&A Salon with 7 Towers Agency in Dublin!

March 25, 2014

Forty Shades of Green Shine on at the IAW&A Salon on Tuesday March 18, 2014

Filed under: Essay,Literature,Music,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 4:20 am

by Kathy Callahan, LCSW
Photos by Cat Dwyer kath

Kathleen Donohoe

The IAW&A Salon on Tuesday, March 18th, at the Cell was a evening of great talent, exciting debut presentations, and inspiring stories of writers and their books finding publishers.  And, despite occurring just after Paddy’s Day, the Salon had a full house!

The ever generous writer and IAW&A Co-Director Kathleen Donohoe kicked off the evening with a poignant reading from her novel, The Ashes of Fiery Weather, which is about the inextricable link among six generations of women from a Brooklyn, NY family of firefighters. The title comes from the Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Our Stars Come from Ireland.” Everyone in the IAW&A is thrilled to hear that Kathleen’s novel sold to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt just seven days before St. Patrick’s Day 2014 and will be published in the Fall of 2015.  Congratulations. Kathleen! padraig

Padraig E. Murphy

“Thank you for the opportunity to present a bit of my book at IAWA Salon in New York City, said Padraig Murphy, a first time presenter.  Padraig read an excerpt from his novel, Seanchai - The Storyteller.  Padraig’s story is set near the fictitious village of Ballyholt, located at the western end of the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry. His main character, Brendan Cormac, is a gifted storyteller and Irish linguist. Brendan has an uncanny knack for telling stories that have a special impact to his listeners. Padraig resides in Florida and Roscommon, Ireland. gary

Gary Cahill

Crime fiction writer Gary Cahill returned to the IAW&A Salon after a short absence with readings from his sad, disturbing, and darkly funny unpublished short storyThe Cuddle Puddle”, reflecting on the ashes of a Hell’s Kitchen-ite residing on a dive joint back bar and how he wound up in that funeral urn in the first place — another of Gary’s happy romps along the legendary west side. Visit http://www.plan-b-magazine.com/ and use the search box to find Gary’s short stories and podcast audio (“Sirens”, and more to come soon).

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Stephanie Silber

Stephanie Silber read from her second novel, The Dark Side of Time, a psychological thriller/horror mashup.  Aspiring actor Sunny has moved from Brooklyn to the ‘burbs with her husband and toddler to a fixer-upper cottage with the obligatory dark history. The mysterious Shepherd, a former Green Beret who quotes poetry and materializes at will, is caretaker at the church complex next door, living in the recently vacated convent.  In this excerpt, Sunny has been offered the role of a lifetime; mulling it, she is transported by Shepherd into a vision of stardom that causes her to make a fateful decision. Themes explore the possibility of worlds beyond our own, and how such parallel universes may affect our human experience. carmel

Carmel Harrington

Carmel Harrington, Irish romance novelist and author of Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, told the amusing and amazing tale of how she drafted a novel during a Florida vacation, rewrote it later, published it herself, and saw it become the number 1 E-book in Ireland.  Beyond Grace’s Rainbow was picked up by Harper Collins and we were happy to have Carmel visit us during her whirlwind U.S. Saint Patrick’s Day book tour.  Carmel read the intriguing prologue to her novel.   actors

Caroline Winterson and  Bernard Smith

The indomitable Honor Molloy brought together Dublin actors Bernard Smith and Caroline Winterson to present a scene from her play, Crackskull Row. They artfully played Basher and Dolly Moorigan, speaking in the rhythms and musicality of old Dublin, capturing the humor, the tumbling syllables, and the sudden rage. On the night on which Nelson’s Pillar was blown up, Basher brings home Nelson’s sword, taking it as a sign that he can start his life anew. ryan

Ryan Winter Cahill

Ryan Winter Cahill, daughter of writer Gary Cahill, made her IAW&A Salon debut, singing her own rendition of the Irish Rovers classic, “Bridget Flynn,” giving it a witty, poignant and ringing bell-tone reading.  Ms. Cahill, a student of musical theater training and experience, enjoys performing cabaret, light opera, small stage, and Off-Broadway productions. (She longs to tread the boards again and is available to sing her songs at parties, gatherings and clubs.crowd

Full house on March 18th!

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Eamon Loinsigh

Eamon Loingsigh read from Light of the Diddicoy, which was just released on St. Patrick’s Day 2014.   Told through the eyes of young Irish immigrant Liam Garrity, Light of the Diddicoy is the saga of Irish gangs on the Brooklyn waterfront in the early part of the 20th century and Liam’s experiences on the mean streets and docks of Brooklyn’s Irish town. seanhicks

Sean Hickey

Sean Hickey, in his first appearance at an IAW&A Salon, presented two pieces: one was a vignette entitled “Young Man in Hospital Bed,” in  which a boy who has had a serious accident is lying drugged and delirious in a hospital bed, pondering his fate.  The second was an excerpt from a novel in progress (or on pause, if you prefer) called The 10,000 Dreams of Nollinger Hartway.  In this selection, our titular hero, who in his waking life is plagued with thoughts of committing adultery, dreams that he is swimming in a vast sea towards something of great importance, but he can’t remember what it is, and the mermaid temptresses that beset him prevent him from reaching his far-off, forgotten goal. kearns

John Kearns

John Kearns read a poem called, “Saint Paddy’s Day Past: The Flight of the Soccer Goddess,” which was adapted from his short story, “Making a Visit.”  In the poem, the narrator describes an ecstatic moment late on Saint Patrick’s Day when a young woman in a Glasgow Celtic jersey stepdanced on the bar while the crowd sang along with the jukebox.  Two days later the narrator had the much more sobering experience of getting laid off.  “Ecstatic, indeed!” says regular salon attendee, Kathy L. Callahan. larry

Larry Kirwan

Truth be told I could listen to Larry Kirwan read, sing or talk about anything all day long. The Black 47 founder, author, playwright, said more than a few words on Tuesday night, about the sheer power of building and nurturing a thriving and enlivening community of artists and writers through the IAW&A Salon. He recalled the annual October Eugene O’Neill gala party honoring the lifetime achievement of a great writer or artist.  Transport is playing through April 6 at Irish Repertory Theatre.  Director Tony Walton joins co-authors Thomas Keneally author, A Great Shame and Larry Kirwan, author Green Suede Shoes at Irish Repertory Theatre in January 2014. http://www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/01-2014/schindlers-list-author-thomas-keneally-and-the-cas_67090.html

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Sean Carlson

Having made his salon debut last month, Sean Carlson shared a glimpse into the background behind his travels while researching and writing his first book, a nonfictional narrative of love and loss through a family story from Ireland to London and the Bronx. Given the proximity to St. Patrick’s Day, he then read his New York Daily News essay on the experience of exile, “An Irish journey, shared by all”: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/irish-journey-shared-article-1.1289971

Bernard Smith closed out the evening with two songs.  The first song was an original composition called, “The Day Before”. It’s a kind of letter to his Father with his passing, a tribute.  At the end of the song Bernard borrowed a line from a beautiful Irish traditional air called “My Lagan Love” which he so vividly remembers his father singing so well in many a parlor and kitchen of a Sunday morning in and around Dublin.

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Bernard Smith

The title of this blog post was inspired by Great Readings and Performances at the Salon while calling to mind ‘Johnny Cash Singing ’40 Shades of Green’ Live in Dublin Ireland, 1993.

Here are some samples:

Johnny Cash live in Dublin Ireland performing ’40 Shades of Green’ with Carter Family, Kris Kristofferson as the audience sings along.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj8-Ifl5UGc

Get Rhythm When You Get the Blues http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XX7qpR4Mr-I http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=by8aFVCmaG4

Accompanied by Carter Family, Kris Kristoforson and a rousing audience sing a long. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj8-Ifl5UGc

See you at our next IAW&A at Bar Thalia at 6 pm (yes, 6 pm) on April 1st!  No foolin’!

March 21, 2014

First IAW&A Salon in Washington, DC April 4th at University of DC

Filed under: Essay,Literature,Music,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 6:49 pm

Irish American Writers and Artists will have its first Salon in Washington, DC on April 4 at 6:30 pm at the University of the District of Columbia.

Organized by IAW&A Salon Producer John Kearns and UDC Professor Cherie Ann Turpin, the Salon promises to be an artistic exchange among New York Irish-American artists and Washington African-American artists.

New York presenters are Brendan Costello, Sarah Fearon, Sean Carlson, Sheila Walsh, and champion fiddler, Marie Reilly.

Sarah Fearon, graduated from the High School of Performing Arts, and New York University, and is happy to serve as a Co-Director on the board of the Irish American Writers and Artists. Some film credits include Reversal of Fortune, Liebestraum and the Martin Scorsese picture The Departed. She has been a stunt person, and a regular performer at Gotham Comedy Club, The Metropolitan Room, Stand Up New York and Thalia at Symphony Space. Recently selected for the Brooklyn Reading Works evening “Funny Pages” held at the Stone House in Park Slope, and has a short film in progress about one of her comedic characters, Snazzy Peabody, a real estate legend in her own mind. This past fall she had photos in the Rockaway Artist Alliance exhibition titled Calm, Storm, Rebirth. On her last visit to Washington DC it was to represent the environmental group “Mission of Mermaids” Sarah is currently working as an agent with The Corcoran Group real estate firm in New York City. Sarah.Fearon@corcoran.com 917-687-8432

Sean Carlson: After six years managing global communications and public affairs at Google, Sean Carlson set off  independently to complete his first book, a nonfictional narrative of love and loss following a family story from Ireland to the United Kingdom and the United States. His essays have appeared in the New York Daily Newsthe Irish TimesUSA Today, and elsewhere. In addition to other writing projects while navigating the publishing process, he provides communications consulting and leads trainings, able to join us while in DC for a program with the International Center for Journalists.

Sheila Walsh was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and graduated from Boston University. The first part of her career was as an actress. When Sheila married, she ‘retired’ from acting. Wanting to keep her hand in the theatre, she started writing plays. The semi-success of her first play suggested to Walsh that she might be a playwright at heart, so she continued to write. Her plays include: Within the Year, Tea With Mommy and Jack, Two Sides of the Story (an evening of monologues), O the Days!, The Suburbs of Her Mind (about her sister’s death from Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease, a form of Mad Cow disease), Bosoms on Table and Caught. Her award-winning one act play: Molly and James was the seed for the play Himself! (nominated for Carbonelli award,) the musical Himself and Nora evolved from this piece. Himself and Nora was produced at the Old Globe and the James Joyce Center-Dublin. It received a National Endowment for the Arts Award. Ms. Walsh’s latest play is Mr. Tweedy’s Neighbors. She is a member of the Dramatist Guild, Irish American Writers and Artists and Screen Actors Guild.

Brendan Costello Jr. teaches creative writing at The City College of New York, where he earned his MFA.  His fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Salon.comep;phany magazine, Promethean, and smokebox.net. He is also the producer and co-host of “The Largest Minority” on WBAI radio.

UDC presenters include Kenji Jasper, Wilmer Johnson, Elsie Johnson, Toinnette Marshall, Camila Fraiz.  Location: UDC, 4200 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008,  Building 41, Room A03.

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March 20, 2014

IAW&A Night at “Transport” at the Irish Rep, March 27th!

Filed under: Music,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 9:59 pm

Transport_flyer

IAW&A Members, join us for another discounted night at the theatre — at the Irish Rep’s production of Transport, book by Thomas Keneally, music & lyrics by IAW&A Vice President Larry Kirwan.  

After the show, there will be a talkback with composer Larry Kirwan.  

Where: Irish Repertory Theatre 132 West 22nd Street

When: Thursday, March 27th, 7 pm

Tickets: $40 (normally $65) with discount code IAWA40.  Visit http://www.irishrep.org/transport.html or call 212-727-2737.  

See you there!

March 13, 2014

IAW&A VP Larry Kirwan and Black ’47 on Jimmy Fallon on Saint Patrick’s Day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:54 pm

Leader of Black ’47 and IAW&A Vice President Larry Kirwan amd the band will be on Jimmy Fallon on Saint Patrick’s Night!

If you are near a TV (you’ll probably be resting up for the IAW&A Salon at the Cell on March 18th), tune into NBC (Channel 4 in NYC) for the show!

Black ’47  will also perform the same night at BB King’s on 42nd Street where the show will be broadcast live by SiriusXM.

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Black ’47 will do its final show in New York exactly 25 years after its first gig in the Bronx in November 1989.

Co-Director Kathleen Donohoe’s “The Ashes of Fiery Weather” to be Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!

Filed under: Literature — by scripts2013 @ 4:52 pm

IAW&A Co-Director Kathleen Donohoe’s The Ashes of Fiery Weather, the story of six generations of women in a family of firefighters, spanning from famine-era Ireland to Brooklyn a decade after 9/11, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the fall of 2015.

Kathleen has read excerpts from the novel at past IAW&A Salons, including our first IAW&A Road Salon in Fairfield, CT.

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You can read about the news in today’s Publisher’s Lunch from Publisher’s Marketplace.

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Join us in congratulating Kathleen on the sale of her book!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, Kathleen!

March 10, 2014

Stephen Rea Reads from Joyce’s “Ulysses” at Fairfield University on March 19th

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:35 pm

On Wednesday, March 19th at 7:30 pm, Oscar-nominee Stephen Rea will read from Joyce’s Ulysses at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University.

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Tickets: $15 at www.quickcenter.com or 203-254-4010.

 

Rousing Start to the “Irish Season”: The IAW&A Salon on March 4th

Filed under: Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 2:57 am

By Mark William Butler
Photos by Alexandra Jakstas

What might be affectionately known as “The Irish Season” got off to a rousing start for the IAW&A on Tuesday, March 4, as the organization held the first of its two monthly Salons at Bar Thalia.  Even as the bone-chilling winter winds continued to whip up trouble outside, they were no match for the warm creative spirit that dominated the evening’s festivities, which included a world-class Irish tenor, the next generation of a renowned storytelling family, and an eastern expansion of the Irish border – to China!  And away we go!

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Sarah Fearon

Serving as the host was the always charming and witty writer/comedian Sarah Fearon, and she set the tone early by sharing the first of a collection of literary St. Patrick’s Day cards that had been sent to her over the years by her father, IAWA counsel Stephen J. Fearon.  The leadoff writer for this impressive lineup was Seamus Heaney, who would then be followed throughout the course of the night by J.M. Synge, Patrick Kavanagh, and IAWA Eugene O’Neill award recipient William Kennedy.

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Gillian McCourt

Next, the audience was treated to some delightful poetry by ten-year-old Gillian McCourt (you may have heard of her granddad), who seems poised to continue the outstanding literary tradition of her celebrated family.  Gillian’s poems included “The Blank Page”, an insightful observation of the act of writing itself, and “The Ear Infection”, a very funny imagining of a visit to a doctor’s office.  Gillian confided that she was happy to be able to share her work with new friends, and was thankful to see that they seemed to enjoy it.  Enjoy it they did, and those friends join The Salon in wishing Gillian a very happy birthday later this month.

Here is a video of Gillian’s performance, shot by her father, Conor McCourt: http://youtu.be/_L1CuiswVBY

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Ed Grimm

The crowd then welcomed newcomer Ed Grimm as he shared some of his poetry, which included subject matter as varied as cats, New York City, and war.  It was an intriguing and entertaining mix.

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Ira Goldstein

The following presenter, Ira Goldstein, explained that when Sarah Fearon invited him to read for the Irish Salon his first reaction was, “But I’m not Irish!”  “It’s all right”, replied the ever-resourceful Sarah, “I’ll introduce you as Ira O’Goldstein!”  This led to the newly-minted honorary Irishman exploring all of his Hibernian connections, which inspired the first poem he shared.  Mr. O’Goldstein also read a humorous tribute to his home borough of Staten Island.

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Brendan Costello

Writer Brendan Costello then guided us through a fascinating multi-media tour of his trip to New Orleans during the first Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina.  Brendan’s sharp, compassionate observations on the state of the city after the disaster were brought to visual life by his collection of candid, colorful photographs.

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Karl Scully

The last presentation before the break was a special one indeed, as Irish tenor Karl Scully, fresh off his bravura performance at the St. Pat’s Day Parade for All Benefit at The Irish Arts Center the previous Friday, repeated it for the lucky crowd on this night as he sang three songs, including the hilarious “McBreen’s Heifer,” “Knocknashee,” and the timeless “Danny Boy”.

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Karl’s soaring performance had the room buzzing during the break, as the enthusiastic audience commandeered the bar and did a little table hopping; mixing and mingling with their comrades and colleagues.

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Sheila Walsh and Tom Mahon

Playwright Sheila Walsh launched the second half of the evening as she was joined onstage by writer/actor Tom Mahon to read from Ms. Walsh’s play O The Days! – a  raucous and poignant coming of age story about a whip-smart teenager who longs to find her father but finds herself instead.

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Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon himself then read a chapter from his novel American Mastery, where Charlie and Ray Fenton are in Tokyo with twelve hours to kill, and nearly get killed themselves.  They are waiting for the early morning flight home to attend to their father, whose heart attack has ruined their celebration of a business triumph – their partnership with a company to make and sell Kelly’s products all over Asia.  With the pall of death now hanging over them, they decide to go to Ginza, the nightclub section of Tokyo, and when leaving are surrounded by four thugs demanding their money.  Before Charlie even realizes the reality of the situation, Raymond has already kicked the knife from one thug’s hand and his other foot has kicked him to the ground where he smashes his head.  Charlie fouls himself, hardly believing his brother has killed a man in front of his eyes. “Better he than us,” Raymond says, then teaches Charlie how to defend himself if attacked.

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John Kearns

Novelist and Salon producer John Kearns then joined the proceedings by reading an excerpt from his novel-in-progress, Worlds.  In this excerpt, Janey and James Logan have taken their children to Center City Philadelphia in the early 1970s to see the Light Show at Wanamaker’s Department Store and the Enchanted Colonial Village at Lit Brothers’ Department Store.  After Paul gets lost in a reverie about the colonial blacksmith from the Enchanted Village coming to life and walking through modern Philadelphia, he realizes that his little sister with whom he had been fighting most of the evening was not enjoying herself and expresses kindness toward her.

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Sue Wan Sun and Daisy Kearns

The Salon then welcomed two first-time presenters, who once again demonstrated that the Irish spirit knows no boundaries.  Sue Wan Sun, expressing her gratitude for an Irish-American family who helped her when she first came to the US from China, read James Joyce’s “Ecce Puer” (“Behold the Boy”) about the near-simultaneous birth of his grandson and death of his father.  She followed that with the anonymous 13th century poem, “Ancient Irish Hospitality.”  Daisy Kearns then took the stage, proclaiming “I’m Chinese and I’m Irish and I’m proud,” before performing a dynamic rendition of Yeats’s “Brown Penny.”

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John Skocik

Singer/actor John Skocik then rocked the house with several of his original songs, including the riotous show-stopper, “Don’t Fall in Love With a Woman Who Don’t Give a Damn About You”.

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Malachy McCourt

The night was then wrapped up in style by Gillian’s grandpa, and the dadai of The Salon, Malachy McCourt, who shared his hilarious observations on two beloved and iconic Irish symbols, St. Patrick and “Danny Boy”, pointing out with no small amount of irony that St. Patrick was a Roman Saxon and the composer of “Danny Boy” never even set foot in Ireland.  He also shared his belief that poems should be “dancing and singing in the mind”, and then proceeded to dance and sing his way through Yeats’s “Host in the Air” before he brought the house down with the classic tune, “Fine Girl You Are.”

And finally, one for the road, from the man himself… “Imagination in the child is powerful.  Reading and laughter and love are essential in our lives.” – MALACHY McCOURT

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