Irish American Writers & Artists

August 31, 2012


 Genre: Poetry 

Filed under: Literature — by johnleemedia @ 7:52 pm
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The Third Annual Crossroads Irish-American Writing Contest

The Crossroads Irish-American Festival, through the establishment of a Crossroads Irish-American Writing Contest, wishes to support and develop the voices of Irish-American writing. 

Through this contest, we endeavor to spur and support the development of poetry from new and aspiring writers.

First Place Award: $400.

Additionally, the winner may be invited to participate in the 10th Annual Crossroads Irish-American Festival in March 2013 by reading an excerpt from his/her submission with flight and hotel expenses paid by the Crossroads Irish-American Festival.

Poetry Writing Contest Guidelines:

Size limit: 3-5 poems (10 page maximum).

In 2012, the third year of the writing contest, we welcome the submission of poetry about Irish-America.

1. All work must be original. Please submit previously unpublished work. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable.
2. Submissions in languages other than English are welcome.
3. By submitting the pieces, contest participants agree that the Crossroads Irish-American Festival and the Crossroads Irish-American Writing Contest have the right to publish the winning selections on the website after the contest’s completion. Contest participants also agree that the Crossroads Irish-American Festival and the Crossroads Irish-American Writing Contest possesses “first serial rights” to include submissions in a future print or on-line collection. If your work were to be selected for publication in this way, you will be notified. Should your work be included in such a publication and you wish to publish this same selection elsewhere, we would hope for the courtesy of a credit line.
4. Please place all of the poems in a single file inside one submitted document.
5. Poems must be submitted in Times New Roman, 12 pt. type only.
6. You may enter identifying information in the “cover letter” field, but absolutely do not include author name (or any identifying information about the author). Be sure to include email address on the “cover letter” field.
7. Entrants do not need to identify as Irish or Irish-American.
8. Winners to be notified by email.
9. Submission fee: $20.00. All fees are non-refundable. Online fee payment only.
10. Online submissions only.
11. Submission Deadline: September 30, 2012.

Click here to submit your entry.

For more info, please go to:

August 30, 2012

American Harmony Prize looking for a new musical that dramatizes Irish American Experience

Filed under: Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 11:48 pm


Curtain Call is proud to announce the return of the American Harmony Prize, an annual award that celebrates diverse new works of musical theater. The goal of the American Harmony Prize is to showcase new musicals that explore our country’s many ethnic, religious and gender identifications The sixth annual American Harmony Prize will showcase a new musical that dramatizes an aspect of the experience of Irish Americans.


Irish Americans have been a part of the American Musical Theatre since the legendary George M. Cohan basically invented the modern musical comedy at the turn of the last century. We’ve got John O’Hara to thank for dreaming up the first musical theater antihero — Pal Joey – and the folks behind Finian’s Rainbow for giving the Broadway musical satirical bite! With the Celtic sounds of the Tony winning Once and Off-Broadway’s charming revival of New Girl in Town beguiling midtown Manhattan, we thought the time was right to showcase the work of other writers that are dramatizing the Irish American experience!


In addition to a cash award of $500 prize, provided by the Stamford Gives Back Association, a 60-minute concert reading of highlights from the winning musical will be performed in Curtain Call’s Kweskin Theater on February 182013 at 7:30 pm.


In order to qualify for consideration, a musical cannot have been professionally produced (Equity Dinner, LORT, Production, Special Production, SPT, Stock, etc…) or published. All other forms of developmental performance, including readings, concerts, workshops. festivals and non-professional productions, will not disqualify you – and are, in fact, encouraged!


Submissions will be accepted via mail from Monday, September 17, 2012 until Saturday, October 18, 2013. Submissions postmarked after Saturday, October 15, 2011, will ineligible for consideration. We are not able to receive electronic submissions at this time. Your submission should include:


1. A plot synopsis of 800 words or fewer (or roughly two pages).

2. 10 continuous pages of the libretto (with all dialogue, lyrics and stage directions included).

3. A cd that demonstrates as much of the musical’s score as has been recorded to date.

   (It needn’t be of studio quality.)

4. One sample of the sheet music for a song from the show’s piano / vocal score.

5. A self-addressed, stamped envelope if you wish to have your materials returned.

   (If not, they will be recycled after the judging.)


Note: there is no submission / reading fee.


Submissions should be mailed to:


Curtain Call, Inc.

1349 Newfield Avenue

Stamford, CT 06905

Attn. American Harmony Prize


Short-listed applicants will be asked to submit additional materials after Friday, November 16, 2012. Additional materials postmarked after Saturday, November 24, 2012, will ineligible for final consideration. The winner of the 2012 American Harmony Prize will be announced mid-January, 2013, at  

Kirwan Rocks Stephen Foster in new musical “Hard Times”

“Hard Times” Headlines 1st Irish Theatre Festival, a Month of New Irish Theatre in NYC

Hard Times is a soulful musical of clashing Irish and Afro- American cultures, written by IAW&A Board member Larry Kirwan of Black 47. Through a re-imagining of Stephen Foster’s songs, Kirwan conjures the creation of tap dance and explores the troubled life of the “father of American Music” against the backdrop of New York City’s Civil War draft riots.

The venue will be familiar to IAW&A Salon goers–The Cell Theatre on West 23rd Street, NYC

By Larry Kirwan
Songs by Stephen Foster and Larry Kirwan

Sept 13 – 30
13-15 at 8pm
19 at 3pm
21, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29 at 8pm
30 at 3pm

Opening: Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Closing: Sunday, September 30th, 2012

for more info and to order tickets, go to

August 29, 2012

Dan Barry wins the 2012 PEN/ESPN Award for Sports Literary Writing

Filed under: Essay,Events,Literature — by johnleemedia @ 6:10 pm
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IAW&A Advisory Board member is honored for his book “Bottom of the 33rd.”

Aug 29, 2012 – PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, today announced the winners and runners-up of the 2012 PEN Awards, the most comprehensive literary awards program in the country. This year marks PEN’s 90th anniversary. For more than 50 of those years, PEN’s Literary Awards program has honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature.

This year’s recipient of the PEN/ESPN Award for a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2011 is Dan Barry for his work “Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game”. This year’s judges included Marshall Jon Fisher, Rob Fleder, and Mark Mulvoy.

1981 Pawtucket Red Sox team photo
Courtesy of the Pawtucket Red Sox

Award winners and runners-up will be honored at the 2012 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City.

Congrats, Dan!


August 27, 2012

SRO at the Salon at The Cell

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 2:12 pm
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A standing room only crowded greeted first time presenter Sanem Ozdural at the IAW&A Salon on Tuesday night. Sanem, a New Yorker by way of New Orleans, England and Turkey opened the evening with her debut novel LiGa, a story of a bridge tournament in which the players are, literally, gambling with their lives.  Set in the near future, a secretive organization, LiGa, has developed the technology to transfer the regenerative power of a body’s cell from one person to another. The tournament ends when one or more of the players reaches the point at which their cells no longer degenerate, thus conferring a form of immortality. In the reading we were introduced to the colorful cast of players, which included, among others, a formula one driver, a judge, and a Jesuit priest. Great beginning to a great evening.

Mary Carter

Singer, songwriter Tara O’Grady read a piece from her memoir Transatlantic Butterflies and the November Moon. In a flashback, Tara transported the listeners to a night in Donegal, where she stood under a moon similar to the one her mother stood under the night before she migrated to America. Tara finished her presentation with a beautiful song, taken from the book’s title, “November Moon.” The lyrics were taken from a poem she wrote while gazing at the moon in Donegal.  If you have an opportunity to hear this wonderful singer perform, you should. You can find the song on Tara’s second album Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Three women presenting entirely different works followed Tara. First, Mary Tierney, with actor Ron Ryan, delivered a powerful performance of the first in a series of Haiku Plays, by Chris Force, which came out of her time at TimeBanksNYC (TBNYC). I’m looking forward to hearing and watching this first rate actor perform more of Force’s work in the near future. Another first time presenter, Mary Carter, who is a novelist, writing coach at The Manhattan Writers Den, and actress stepped up to the mic. Mary has written six novels and three novellas for Kensington Books, and is currently working on her seventh novel and fourth novella, both of which will be published in 2013. A very talented writer and reader, Mary read from her sixth novel, The Things I Do For You. And then Honor Molloy stepped up and presented “Backassed,” a small tale of humiliation, East Village, 1980s-style. This brief memoir tracks the end of a relationship, and the end of an era. Packed with emotion, Honor’s readings are always a tour de force and Tuesday night’s performance was no exception.

Gary Ryan

From generations of Mississippians, through Harvard, with a few detours through McSorley’s Old Ale House, poet and writer Gary Ryan dropped in and added his varied talents to the evening’s events. Gary’s writings are often about Mississippi and its environs, from the present day, and from the past.  Gary began with a poem, a conversation with a girl in a driving rain, which was followed by a story about a Confederate soldier tasked with digging five graves. Excellent work.

The second half of the evening opened with a dynamic act. Marni Rice, Chanteuse-Accordionist & Theatre Artist, who has performed her show in Canada, France, Japan, Gabon and the Cameroon, presented an excerpt from her solo play “Tales from Paris/Contes de Paris,” an autobiographical story about an American woman who goes to Paris with $100, a handful of songs and an accordion to discover the city of lights. Combining song, story & character she spins the tale of being a street musician whose survival is dependent upon the assistance granted by the kindness of strangers. An exciting, passionate performance by a multi-talented artist. More about Marni and her music.

Stephanie Silber

Stephanie Silber followed a tough act but was up to task deftly reading her well-crafted short story, “Houdini,” an oblique contemplation of gun violence as seen through the prism of a slice of American life: an aging woman, her silent, smoldering, live-at-home adult son, and their trip to the mall, which culminates in the escape of the son’s emotionally damaged dog, Houdini.  What happens when the beast within every human heart finally slips its chains?

Niamh Hyland, who recently appeared at Lincoln Center’s OurLand Fest and sang Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More,” wowed the audience with a reprise of her performance. Singing a cappella, Niamh’s bravura performance was one of the evening’s many great highlights. I hope she comes back soon.

Brendan Connellan

Brendan Connellan, whose readings are becoming an audience favorite, read from his dark Wall Street novel, Biggie Big Shot, which touched on the inconvenient feelings of we human beings, the acute need for speed when firing somebody before they go and break stuff and a digression on the merits of Bruce Springsteen as the axe was being sharpened. Fun and Games!

Kathleen Walker

Kathleen Walder read a poem inspired by her earliest memory “Silent Screams.” A great healing and release process occurs when I am able to write about, and then share, painful, old experiences with others. At the end of the evening Kathleen commented, “This evening and the entire experience is tremendously freeing. It helps me open up my writing. I am so grateful that the IAWA salons exist.” We’re grateful she’s a part of our group.  

And then, a big ending: Harpist, songwriter Russell Patrick Brown performed a work titled “Little Animals,” which was inspired by a cat he ran over, which now shall live on forever in his angelic song played with harp, accompanied by, as Russell calls it, “his dulcet vocal tones.” Russell is a well-known New York town bard, a few parts American, and shockingly, even a little Irish. Why shockingly? You’ll have to hear him. No tiptoeing through the tulips for Russell, a storyteller, harpist, pianist, singer, dancer, aerialist and most modest man. Great act. 

Salons are normally held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. The next salon will be at the Thalia Café, located at Broadway and 95thStreet, on September 4 at 7PM.

For more information on the Irish American Writers and Artists and their salon series contact Charles R. Hale

 Photos by Cathleen “Cat” Dwyer

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August 17, 2012

Seamus Scanlon Book Launch, Sept. 6 in NYC

Filed under: Events,Literature — by johnleemedia @ 2:11 pm
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The launch of ‘As Close As You’ll Ever Be’ by IAW&A member Seamus Scanlon, will be on Sept. 6,  from 6 to 8  pm,  at the Mysterious Bookshop at  58 Warren Street in New York City.

There will be wine, food, crime and reading.  For details, go to

The buzz around Scanlon’s play, “Dancing at Lunacy,” which shared a double bill with Larry Kirwan’s “Blood” at The Cell Theatre in March was picked up in his hometown paper the Galway Independent, which wrote:

“A Galway writer is garnering international acclaim for his first play, ‘Dancing at Lunacy’, which is currently running in New York.

“Seamus Scanlon has been a New York resident for seven years, but originally hails from Old Mervue and is a graduate of NUI Galway. He is an award-winning short-story writer and his work has been published in the Irish Times’ ‘Flash Fiction’ section. He was awarded the Over The Edge new writer of the year award in 2010.

“‘Dancing at Lunacy’, which is set in Belfast in the midst of the troubles, is running at the ‘off-off-Broadway’ Cell Theatre, as part of its ‘Irish Cell’ programme from 1 to 30 March. 

“The Huffington Post, which is rated as the 24th most viewed website in the United States with average of 37 million viewers per month, described the play as “a powerful piece” in a review last week.” (for the full article go to this LINK)

For more on Scanlon and his approach to writing, read his post called “Why I Write.”


August 16, 2012

IAW&A Members in the News

Filed under: Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 7:27 pm

IAW&A Members in the News

Great article about Tara O’Grady in this week’s Irish Echo by Liz Noonan. Liz is also the director of programming at WFUV, where Tara will be appearing live on the program “Ceol na nGael,” Sunday beginning at 1pm.

Kate McLeod, an IAW&A member, will be performing a monologue that she wrote at the Ancram Opera House Saturday at 8PM as part of The End of Times Salon, in Columbia County, NY.

August 15, 2012

“Hard Times” in Video

Filed under: Events,Film,Television,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 2:35 pm
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“Hard Times” is a soulful musical of clashing Irish and Afro-American cultures, written by Irish American Writers and Artist’s director Larry Kirwan, also the lead singer of the band Black 47.
Through a re-imagining of Stephen Foster’s songs, Larry conjures the creation of tap dance and explores the troubled life of the “father of American Music” against the backdrop of New York City’s Civil War draft riots.
Charles R. Hale created a short video highlighting the music and photos of that troubling time

August 10, 2012

Bar Thalia Packed for August Salon

Filed under: Events,Literature,Television — by johnleemedia @ 3:50 pm

by Charles Hale

Every seat was taken at Tuesday night’s Thalia Café for a special evening of the Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon series. Over the past year it had become evident that there were a number of members who are writers, some published, some unpublished, whom, for one reason or the other, hadn’t presented at a salon. Perhaps some were reluctant or slightly intimidated by the high level of talent that frequents the salons, others might have felt a little nervous presenting their own work before a group and then there were those who just needed a little shove. A few weeks ago we announced that this past Tuesday’s salon would be dedicated to first time presenters. Seven of the evening’s twelve presenters heeded the call. And what a great night it was. As emcee and an audience member I was delighted to hear one fine reading after another. The level of writing was quite high and if there were cases of the jitters, I didn’t notice.

Jim Rodgers
Jim Rodgers who has been reading from his novel Long Night’s End, led off the evening. The scene began with Johnny Gunn and his over-the-hill rock band playing for the “kids” on the Lower East Side and finishing back in Sunnyside in the early hours of the morning. There, Johnny’s childhood friend, Jimmy, begins to crash as the raw memories of the sunny day, his fire brigade, and his own personal loss finally overwhelm him. Johnny and his friends circle the wagons and vow to keep the demons from snatching Jimmy away. The scene suggests that the struggle between those demons and the boys of Sunnyside will reach titanic proportions.

Mary Carroll

Two first time readers followed Jim. Peter McDermott, Associate Editor and columnist for the Irish Echo, whose fine writing many of us follow each week, read a wonderful extract from “The Sisters,” the first story in Joyce’s Dubliners, (1914). An earlier version of the short story was published in the Irish Homestead Journal on Aug. 13, 1904. 


Mary Carroll was next up, recalling her days as an actor through the eyes of an old red plush theatre seat, which carried with it from Broadway to a regional theatre some of the great moments of American theatre history, thus the title of her work “Aisle 2, H4, Orchestra.” The work focused on a rehearsal period for Carson McCullers’ The Member Of The Wedding, which was particularly fractious, at least from the “eyes” of H4. Well read with a “voice made for radio.”

John Kearns
Multi-talented John Kearns, who has presented at many salons, read two love poems, “I Would Have” and “A Presence Like Absinthe“ (in Write On Maui ezine) followed by a poem about the relationship between the artist and audience, “Intheternal Frenzy.” He concluded with “Aboard The Aran Searbird: Leaving Inishmore” (in Feile-Festa Literary Arts Journal) a poem about departing by boat from the largest of the Aran Islands. John will be attending his cousin’s wedding in Mayo next week and will doubtless be scribbling something during his travels.

Mary Lannon

First time reader Mary Lannon read from her novel-in-progress, An Explanation of the Fundamentals of the Derivation of Dilapidated Brown Station Wagon Theory (aka How I Became a Scientist and Discovered the Truth about Parallel Universes) by Miranda J. McCleod. (I’m not making up that title.) The audience responded with laughter to this twist on the coming-of-age tale that recounts a young mad scientist’s journey through her Irish Catholic upbringing in small town America.

Guenevere Donohue closed out the first half of the evening performing monologues from two different characters of her play, The Poecock. Set at an Asylum in Wales in 1921, and based on the accounts of Guen’s grandmother Bridget Shea, the story chronicles a difficult friendship between an English patient and her nurse struggling to survive horrendous conditions for both the committed, and the Celt support staff. As always, Guenevere’s skill as an actor were so apt to the task and heart of her words.

After an intermission that was filled with conversation and laughter, five first-time presenters followed: Karen Daly read a crisp, true story called “Sister Marlene” (emphatically not about a nun) in which the appearance of a mysterious woman disturbs the relaxed mood of a writing class. Karen noted her great interest is in New York City Irish history, and is currently researching the 2013 edition of her self-published Irish American Images Calendar. (The beautiful 2012 edition hangs on the wall next to my desk.)

Michele Cetera, an oncology nurse and writer, presented a short story “Hectic Day.’’ Her story tells of a woman who thinks of her breast cancer as an “inconvenience” and how she and her husband come to terms with her illness. This is an insightful story, dealing with the thoughts of a nurse, a patient and a spouse who are dealing with cancer. It also touches on how, occasionally, we get caught up in our own busy lives and “inconveniences” and fail to appreciate the gift of “the everyday.” A compelling read.

The evening’s next reader was Philomena Forde. Introducing Phil, I suggested that she must be a confident writer. Who else would write about a memoir of a childhood in Limerick given the McCourt brothers’ propensity for such a thing? But Phil, who said she felt a bit intimidated by the “wonderful quality of presentations, fantastic writers and readers,” was marvelous reading from her book The Lost Blue Shoe.
The final first-timers were Lori Messing McGarry and Ian Bateson. Lori read from her novel-in-progress “Sacred Smoke“, a story about the plight of a young Roma Gypsy girl in contemporary Greece. The balance between Western ideals and ancient traditions was presented in a dramatic scene with an Orthodox Priest and a Gypsy Fortune Teller who struggle against prejudices to protect the girl. Ian followed with a witty story about an apartment-hunting ordeal in New York City. What New Yorker wouldn’t relate to this humorous tale of woe?

Tom Mahon, a frequent salon presenter, followed with another real estate story, “For Sale by Owner.” In Tom’s story, a woman who is attempting to sell her home to a woman who reminds her of her younger self, relives an experience of a past betrayal. As much as she needs to sell the house, she doesn’t want that woman to buy it and experience the degrading betrayal that she has. As always, very well read and well received.

Great night filled with fine readings and lots of buzz. Salons are held on the first and third Tuesday of the month. The next salon will be at The Cell, 338 W23rd, August 21, 7PM. For more information on the salon or joining the Irish American Writers and Artists contact Charles Hale

August 2, 2012

Summer Salon!

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 2:07 am
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The next Salon will be at the Bar Thalia on August 7, 95th & Broadway starting at 7 pm

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