By Mark William Butler
Photos by Cat Dwyer
It was party time at the IAW&A Salon at The Cell Theatre on Tuesday night, as we poured some drinks and cut some cake in a birthday celebration for our special guests, the Seven Towers Agency (seventowers.ie), as well as our own Tara O’Grady. Seven Towers, an independent, non-profit publishing house based in Dublin, turned seven this year, and we were honored that they chose to celebrate this special occasion with the IAW&A, as we joined forces to present a provocative evening of fiction, memoir, poetry, theater and music. And away we go…
The night kicked off with Mary Tierney presenting a scene she directed from Janet Noble’s latest play, Louise Brooks: For the Hell of It, which was read by Patricia McAneny and Steve Greenstein. The play is based on the life of the legendary silent film actress.
Patricia McAneny and Steve Greenstein
Margaret McCarthy read two poems from her manuscript In the Becoming, based on the story of Deirdre, the heroine of Irish myth. The two poems describe the journey Deirdre initiates, and give her a direct voice to tell her story and serve as a metaphor for finding voice, both as a woman and an artist. The poems/poetic monologues became the basis for McCarthy’s stage play, Deirdre Retrograde, which had a reading at La Mama. She is seeking a full production of the play and would like to publish the poetry collection as a book.
John Kearns then read the ending of his short story, “Flight,” the first tale in his collection, Dreams and Dull Realities. Terrance, a five-year-old boy swinging on his backyard swing set after a morning at kindergarten, imagines he can fly like the birds in his yard and the astronauts he’s seen on TV. He goes as fast and as high as he can on the swing and leaps… only to come painfully back to earth.
Kearns with IAW&A Logo
At this point the stage was turned over to three of our friends from Seven Towers, who continued the craic in style.
Lissa Kiernan read two poems, “Dear Brooklyn” and “New York Blues Rhapsody” from Census 3: The Third Seven Towers Anthology.
She was followed by Doog Wood who read poems from his most recent work and from his first collection, Old Men Forget (7 Towers) and concluded with a poem from Dublin-based poet Ross Hattaway’s new collection Pretending to Be Dead (7 Towers).
John Liam Shea then wrapped up the first half by reading a short passage from his new novel, Cut and Run in The Bronx. The book is both a critical and commercial success, and his hilarious passage dealt with the responsibilities of the NYPD and the responsibilities of a community. The book was released by Seven Towers in November.
John Liam Shea
After a short break (when it was determined that you can wash down birthday cake with Guinness) we resumed the festivities.
Blowing Out the Candle
Pat Fenton read “The Last Winter Dance Party,” part of a short story collection in progress about the fading of innocence in America as the 50’s came to an end in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, the Irish working-class hamlet where he grew up. It is seen through the eyes of the character Billy Coffey, which in real life is actually the author himself.
Pat O’Hara read a scene from his play, Hey, Dogs.
Singer/Songwriter/Birthday Girl Tara O’Grady was proud to announce the release of her third album, A Celt in the Cotton Club. But instead of singing on this night, she returned to reading from her unpublished memoir, Transatlantic Butterflies & the November Moon. The excerpt ponders the past life of trees, personifying each maple and elm, as Tara wonders if it is not heaven, but Central Park, where New Yorkers go to die.
Kira Citron read a first person essay entitled “Her,” which details a day in the life of a PR person and the famous author she has been assigned to escort around NYC one day in the fall of 2004. It was inspired by actual events.
Marni Rice presented work from one of her collaborative projects with Choreographer Xio Evans: They have co-founded The Xio Evans Marni Rice Experimental Dance Theater to create performance works dedicated to issues of social justice. They performed an original creation entitled Missing to an original musical composition by Marni Rice and Dave Rave called “Looks Like Rain.”
Xio Evans and Marni Rice
Tom Mahon read a poetry/prose piece in the form of a fictitious letter written to Jamie Dimon, the President & Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, by an inhabitant of The Wide Valley. The citizen recounts the original JP Morgan’s criteria for lending money, which was solely based on Character. This citizen translates Character to mean Integrity, and the citizen doesn’t see Mr. Dimon’s Character as honorable. When his bank faltered in ’09 it needed almost a Trillion Dollars to survive, which Jamie Dimon used to buy Washington Mutual, the largest consumer bank in the country. That money came from the government and the government is dependent on the people, and this particular, irate citizen of The Wide Valley doesn’t like that one bit.
Guen Donohue then brought the evening to a close by sharing her brand new poem, “It Moves Fast,” and then in keeping with tradition, and her desire to “be Malachy McCourt”, sang us out with the eerie-beauty of an American-Trad Song, “Lord, Blow The Moon Out, Please.” Guenevere wanted to share the poetry of the tune which is a featured melody in Passing Through, the play she is currently acting in at Theatre For The New City. This production also marks Guen’s NYC Directing Debut.
And finally, one for the road… “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
See you next time!