IAW&A Salon 3/16/15
“Only fitting we’d soar on St. Patrick’s Eve.” Tom Mahon
By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
Tom Mahon, Kevin McPartland, and the full house at the Cell
That’s a perfect summary of the IAW&A Salon on Monday 3/16. The packed house at the Cell seemed to expect an extraordinary night – and they got one. We had a lively mix of fiction, poetry, personal journeys and music. And in the spirit of IAW&A’s mission statement, tonight especially, many members expressed their belief in freedom and acceptance for all people.
We welcomed Gordon Gilbert, in his second Salon appearance, reading from his unfinished novel, Speedway Romance, set in contemporary western New York and in antebellum Louisiana, covering certain events in the life of an abolitionist named John Woodworth. In Gordon’s excerpt, John visits his older brother, a slaveholder with a plantation outside of New Orleans. John has seized an opportunity for a clandestine encounter with a young house servant with whom he has become enthralled. We’re privy to John’s thoughts as he waits impatiently on a path near a river, far from the mansion and others’ prying eyes. Gordon hosts a series of readings celebrating Beat Generation writers at the Cornelia Street Café. Mark your calendars:
April 30th – Lawrence Ferlinghetti; May15th – Lenore Kandel – http://corneliastreetcafe.com/Performances.asp
Vivian O’Shaughnessy, poet, artist, translator, read “Blood on the Tracks” her English version of the original French poem created for the anthology about to be published in France, We Are Charlie Hebdo. (Corps Puce Publishers). It opens:
in search of Pigalle
flocked by what I see not
Brendan Costello Jr.
We heard a moving and insightful new essay by Brendan Costello Jr., IAW&A Board member and creative writing instructor at City College. The parades around St. Patrick’s Day (the one on Fifth Avenue and the St. Pat’s for All parade in Queens) brought back a memory of accompanying his father to the 1994 Gay Pride Parade. Brendan illustrates how we all have multiple identities and affiliations, and ended with a sharp critique of those who would have excluded his father from celebrating his Irish heritage for being gay.
In “The Bluest Eyes,” Tom Mahon told a true story of two men he’d worked for in the 70s. Coming home one bitter cold night, they got stranded in the building vestibule, looking for the keys. A man entered behind them and forced them to the floor. After taking their valuables, he taunted them for being gay, and shot one in the back of the head. The victim, the handsomest and most Irish one, was a major male model in New York at the time. His murderer was never caught. The police weren’t motivated to find the killer of a gay man.
A tragic story, emotionally delivered.
Jeanne D’Brant led us on a vivid journey across the Sahara and the Tenezrouft, the “Land of Thirst” in a chapter from her book Heartlands of Islam. The chapter, titled “The Hajj” offers a glimpse of the dazzling white sands of the Sahara and its fierce warrior cultures, dappled with humorous glimpses of life as a stewardess in the glory days of flight. Jeanne’s rich imagery evokes moments in history, which were forerunners to today’s jihadism. Her work is a voice for tolerance of the complex societies, which have spawned the radicalism that now terrorizes the West and threatens the peaceable Muslim majority with indiscriminate backlash Jeanne Is developing “Becoming Irish,” the story of her journey through her Celtic past and the DNA discoveries of her strong Irish roots.
Mark Butler,Honor Molloy, Noel Lawler, Conor McGlone, and Jordan Ortega
Salon producer, host and expert on the Molly Maguires (among his other talents) John Kearns presented a rewritten scene from his play, Sons of Molly Maguire. In a 19th-century upstate Pennsylvania shebeen, miner John Kilbride urges his friend O’Donnell to embrace non-violent tactics against unjust mine bosses and swears that his son will get an education and not be part of any violence. When a group of disguised Molly Maguires bursts into the bar celebrating their burning of a boss’s barn, Kilbride is shocked to find that his son, Jack, is one of them. John is grateful to the actors who brought the scene to life: Noel Lawler, Honor Molloy, Mark Butler, Jordan Ortega, and Conor McGlone.
Hail to the Chief! Musician, singer, author – and IAW&A President Larry Kirwan read from his new book, A History of Irish Music, which will be published in April. Larry combined passages from his chapter about the iconic Blues guitarist Rory Gallagher with a version of the Black 47 song, “Rory” (from the Green Suede Shoes CD.) Advance copies of A History of Irish Music are now on sale at www.black47.com
Margaret McCarthy read from her manuscript “In the Becoming,” poems based on Ireland’s classic story of Deirdre. The poems give Deirdre a direct voice to tell her story. McCarthy spoke of the story as a metaphor for finding voice, both as a woman and as an artist.
Published in numerous literary journals, she would like to publish this collection as a book. The poems also became poetic monologues in her stage play, Deirdre Retrograde. Her poetry collection Notebooks from Mystery School is coming from Finishing Line Press next month. www.notebooksfrommysteryschool.com
Margaret sends her heartfelt thanks to IAW&A for invaluable camaraderie and support during the book’s productio
Peggy Miley presented a short piece from her one-woman show, Irish Bread and Tea, telling a funny, poignant story of the late-blooming love of an Irish-American couple. Peggy performed her show in LA and last week at the Barrow Group Theatre in NYC. She says that this show gav e her more satisfaction than all her TV and film roles over the years. You can find out about them all, including her recent appearance on an episode of CBS hit comedy Mike & Molly at Peggymiley.com
Jordan Ortega presented an eerie short story titled “Ever Watchful Eyes” about an older man following a young woman late at night. A recent graduate from The City College of New York, Jordan is writing a novel and short stories set it the same fictional universe, and we expect to hear more from him.
Standing ovation for Honor
The Dublin-born, American raised Honor Molloy read “Writhing in America”, an essay about conflicting notions of identity, living and working in an ever-changing Manhattan, and how the IAW&A helped her to thrive once again among the Clan na Gael. In one of the emotional highs of an exciting night, Honor received a standing ovation.
Conor McGlone (center)
Talented City College undergrad Conor McGlone read a short poem, “Venus de Milo,” about a statue that wonders about the sculptor’s muse. And he sang and played what he calls “the skeleton of a pop song about love or, more to the point, unspoken obsession” called “no, I can’t talk.”
As we traditionally close with a song, John Kearns stepped in for Guen Donohoe with his own song, “Save Your Breath.”
“If your advice isn’t free/When you try to change me/Save your breath you might need it someday/’cause going halfway there/Is like going nowhere/And I can’t see it another way …
Some of us had no breath left to save after this night’s extraordinary Salon.
Join us next time at Bar Thalia, Tuesday, April 7 at 6pm — with guest host, Marni Rice!