Irish American Writers & Artists

June 27, 2013

John Kearns Reads from his Work and Talks Molly Maguires in Dublin

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 8:12 pm
IAW&A Treasurer and Salon Producer John Kearns will be reading from his own works and giving a talk about the Molly Maguires (about whom he wrote the play, Sons of Molly Maguire) in Dublin next week.
 

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Here are the details:
July 2nd @ 1:15 pmReading from his works/interview at the Twisted Pepper Cafe-Bar:
WhereThe Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1, Dublin
 
July 3rd @ 8pm: The Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania: Myth, History, and Mystery
 
John will also be talking about the Molly Maguires and writing on the Myles Dungan History Show show on RTE:   http://www.rte.ie/radio1/the-history-show/
 
And on The Irish History Show with Cathal Brennan on NEAR FM:  https://www.facebook.com/TheIrishHistoryShow?fref=ts  

Podcasts will be available for the radio shows!

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June 23, 2013

Bright Salon Despite Rush-Hour Storm: IAW&A Salon at the Cell, June 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:18 pm

by Karen Daly

Summer schedules, rush hour rain made for a light turnout for Tuesday’s IAW&A salon at the Cell. The bright side was an intimate, relaxed evening that had exceptionally fine work from presenters. And it was truly brightened by the presence of a new comic talent, Bryan Walsh.

Mark Butler left us laughing as he read some lines from his new one act comedy, “The Laundry War” (yes, it’s about a relationship that’s worked out while doing the laundry) and then dashed off to rehearsal. It played this past weekend in the Short Plays & Musical Festival at The Players Theatre on MacDougal Street.

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Mark Butler

More laughs from Sharon Wajswol and her merry cast of seven: Biniam Tekola, Jen Taher, Mark E. Phillips, Phil Kushner, Paul Sheehan, Janine Hegarty, and David Khouri in the “racetrack” scene from the farce Horseplay which Sharon wrote with Joan Bolger-Bobrov.

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Cast of Sharon Wajswol’s Horseplay

The setup: an Irish family and a Jewish family live in a two-story house near the Saratoga racetrack. Both families are in debt: one borrows to stage a play in an attempt to resurrect the acting career of wife Nessa O’Callaghan Flynn. The other borrows from shady relatives for their son’s Bar Mitzvah. Nessa’s brother, a jockey, comes to visit with his horse, which does not yet have a proper racetrack name. When the brother and the Bar Mitzvah boy strike up an unlikely friendship, the jockey names his racehorse Bar Mitzvah Boy. But events get fuzzy on race day, when the Rabbi ends up in the jockey’s seat, and history is made at Saratoga!

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John Kearns

Salon producer and host, John Kearns read an unforgettable excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, about jilted lover Seamus Logan who ran away from Mayo to Connemara in the late 19th century. Stopping to rest at the Doolough Pass, Seamus encounters famine ghosts who tell the tale of the starving people who were forced to walk from Louisburgh, Co. Mayo to Delphi Lodge in Connemara, Co. Galway and the many who died along the roadsides. The patriarch of the Logan family asks the spirits, “Could they not spare 50, 20, 10, even one of your number?”

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Bryan Walsh

New York City, here he comes. Bryan Walsh encountered IAW&A at the Philadelphia Salon, and came to NY to present his work. A stand-up comic and actor with a unique charm, Bryan was born in Cork, grew up in Canada and recently lived in London. As part of his Theatre Studies at McGill University in Montreal, he completed an internship at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He will be appearing at the 2013 Kansas City Irish Festival and we hope to see him at future salons.

Tom Mahon has been reading segments of The Wide Valley about generations of a farm family in upstate New York. On Tuesday night, he presented a multimedia segment about a young boy in the time of the Spanish Influenza that killed 50 million people worldwide in 1918, twice as many who died in WW I.

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Tom Mahon

Bewildered by the epidemic that has killed family, friends and neighbors and shut his school because so many students are sick or have died, he thinks he can “find” the cause on his father’s farm. The boy learns that his best friend has just died, and has questions about death. Tom illustrated the story with evocative period photographs.

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Margaret McCarthy

Margaret McCarthy placed Deirdre, the heroine of Irish myth among us in “NYC Deirdre” from her poetry collection, In the Becoming. McCarthy described the poem as “a bridge; moving the story’s characters in and out of time and place allowed me to develop the material further, into my stage play Deirdre Retrograde.” She seeks to publish the poetry collection as a book, and a full production of the stage play. See more of Margaret’s work at http://www.margaretmccarthy.com and http://www.avisionandaverse.com.

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Mary Lannon

Mary Lannon read from her short story-in-progress, “They Teased Me about Him,” about grad students sharing a Bronx apartment whose superintendent was attracted to the young woman narrator. For several audience members, the story evoked fond memories of the Arthur Avenue neighborhood. And we all want to see how the relationship develops. Mary teaches English at Nassau Community College, is at work on a dystopian novel, and is trying to sell her first novel.

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Seamus Scanlon

Short story writer, playwright and Salon stalwart Seamus Scanlon read a new story called “Country Road.” Despite the sweet title, the story was not bedtime reading for children, as it features rotten teeth, a child pyromaniac, OCD, car theft, baseball bats, and high SAT scores. Seamus thought that the audience wasn’t sure whether to laugh or not but those familiar with a certain kind of black humor got it.

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Stephanie Silber

Stephanie Silber read an excerpt from a short story entitled “Making Stories” in which a blocked writer tries to kick down the doors while absorbing life lessons about love and longing, fidelity, disappointment, and ultimately, compromise, and true connection. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, Stephanie is thrilled to be working again on fiction, and is seeking representation/publication for her work.

Jack DiMonte concluded the evening with two songs. The first was “The People That You Never Get to Love” by Rupert Holmes. In an effort to create a “reasonable facsimile” of an Irish folk song, Jack lead us in a sing-along of the Beatles’ “All My Loving” at a slow ballad tempo. A soothing close to a stimulating evening.

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Jack DiMonte

Don’t forget the next salon is July 2, at the Bar Thalia. John Kearns will be sending good wishes from dear, dirty Dublin.

June 14, 2013

IAW&A General Membership Meeting, Wed. June 19!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 5:22 pm

The time has arrived for our annual gathering o fIAW&A members to highlight accomplishments from the past year and discuss strategy for the year ahead,and to meet and greet one another. The meeting is a great chance for the general membership and Board of Directors to intermingle and also for members to interface with one another. Don’t miss it…but you must RSVP (see below)

 

WHEN: Wed., June 19, 2013, 6-7:30 pm

WHERE: The Irish Consulate, 345 Park Avenue, 17th Fl., Manhattan.

 

As always, there is much to discuss. Among other things, we will divide members into various committees to better determine what we might accomplish in the months ahead. Please come to the meeting with ageneral idea of which committee might be best suited to your particular interests and/or skills. The committees are as follows:

 

Events Committee – helping to plan and organize upcoming events, most notably the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award event, which takes place this year on Monday, October 21, 2013.

 

Communications Committee – If you have thoughts about how to improve our outreach andcommunications with our members via Facebook, blogand website, this is the committee for you. In particular, we are looking for someone to set up a You Tube page for IAW&A and also a webmaster willing to take on the task of keeping our website up to date.

 

The Frank McCourt Scholarship Committee – In Spring 2014 we will launch an important new initiative – the Frank McCourt Scholarship. At a luncheon ceremony we will award a graduating student from Frank McCourt High School with a financial honorarium, in honor of writer Frank McCourt. There is much work to be done raising money for the scholarship fund; interfacing with Frank McCourt High School to establish criteria for the award; and planning the event ceremony.

 

Membership Committee – How do we go about soliciting new members, particularly well-known Irish American artists who should be a member of our organization but are not? If you have ideas or are interested in issues related to bolstering our membership, this is the committee for you.

 

IMPORTANT:

If you will be attending the meeting, please RSVP at:iawritersandartists@gmail.com Remember to bring photo ID to gain access to the Irish Consulate.

June 13, 2013

IAW&A Salon in Philadelphia: Music, Words, Theatre, and Fun!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:54 pm

by John Kearns
Photos by Cat Dwyer

On Friday, June 7th, the IAW&A Salon took its second road trip, this time to Philadelphia. Despite heavy rains, traffic,  wrong turns, and assorted mishaps, we all made it safely to the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute at Rittenhouse Square in time to enjoy the lovely reception provided by the Irish Consulate and our gracious hosts.

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A welcoming spread at the Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute

As in our first road Salon in Fairfield, Connecticut, I was asked to say a few words about the IAW&A.  I explained that the IAW&A is primarily an arts organization and that our purpose is to promote the art of Irish-Americans living and dead.  We are not associated with any religion, any County, and not even necessarily with Ireland.  The IAW&A focuses on the Irish-American experience, and, although the Irish have a long history in America — including several signers of the Declaration of Independence about 15 blocks from where we were gathered — what we are doing with this organization feels new.  I urged the people in attendance to join us in our groundbreaking endeavors.

I also tried to express the gratitude that I and the other New York artists felt toward Marie Reilly, Siobhan Lyons, and all the organizers of the road Salon for arranging the event and for the warm welcome.

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Pre-Salon Reception

On a personal note, I  added how significant it was for me to take part in this Philadelphia Salon.  I had gone to high school and college in the city of Philadelphia, and worked in the mail room of my father’s reinsurance office just a couple of blocks away.  I remembered walking the streets right outside of the  Catholic Philopatrian Literary Institute struggling with my early efforts to answer the call to be a literary artist and trying to come to terms with what such a vocation means.

Then, it was enough of my yacking, and time to get started with the Salon …

Fiddler Paraic Keane started with a jig called “Humours of Ennistymon.” He followed that with a set of reels, “Bonnie Ann” flowing into “Jinnie Bang the Weaver.” He concluded with a hornpipe set, “Caisllean an Oir agus the New Century.”

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Paraic Keane

Kevin McPartland read the first chapter of his brand-new book, Brownstone Dreams.  In the chapter, Bobby Dutton decides to steal the gun of Vincent Casseo, a local criminal, which Bobby knows is hidden by the schoolyard.  This theft sets off a series of events that gets Bobby deeper and deeper into trouble. This was the world-premier of Kevin’s book, and he sold some copies after the Salon.

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Kevin McPartland with Brownstone Dreams

Maura Mulligan read from her memoir, Call of the Lark.  She read that heart-wrenching excerpt about leaving the family farm at age fourteen to work as a live-in maid . . . “I fixed my eyes on the roadside and put the thoughts that made me feel I was being given away out of my mind.” This led to her telling (not reading) the story of her last night before leaving for America when friends and neighbors came to say a last goodbye and her mother reminding her that in her time this night was called, “The American Wake,” because emigrants never returned.  After the presentations, audience members from the Philadelphia Mayo Society wanted signed copies of the book. They identified with Maura’s experience of leaving home in the 50s.

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Maura Mulligan

After two readings, it was time for me to bring up some actors from Philadelphia’s Inis Nua Theatre.  I introduced Tom Reing who introduced the theatre and the scene from Jared Delaney’s play.

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Tom Reing of Inis Nua Theatre Company

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Inis Nua players

Delaney’s play, “The Hand of Gaul,” was a comical portrayal of the night when a certain French soccer player (whom I won’t name) handed the ball and got away with it, an illegal play that cost Ireland it’s place in the World Cup.

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Mark William Butler

Mark William Butler read a monologue called “Mickey Mouse Is A Mexican,” which is about one New Yorker’s evolving attitude toward the rogue costumed mascots that work the tourists in Times Square.  It’s from his theatrical revue in progress, Talking To Yourself On the Streets of New York.  He then introduced his brother, actor/director Richard P. Butler, who sang a stirring rendition of one of Mark’s original songs, “Holiday Sale”, from his upcoming musical Bad Christmas Sweater.

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Richard Butler

We took a brief break before returning with more music and readings ….

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A few laughs during the break

First up during the second half was award-winning, Longford-style fiddler, Marie Reilly, accompanied on guitar by Gabriel Donohue.  In addition to some jigs and reels, Marie played some quadrilles.  Marie comes from eight generations of County Longford fiddlers and always presents music that is beautiful, unusual, and skillfully played.

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Gabriel Donohue and Marie Reilly

Following the music, I read three short pieces. The first was the ending of my short story, “Flight,” from my collection, Dreams and Dull Realities, about a young boy who wants to fly off of his swingset into the sky.  The second was an excerpt from my novel, The World, in which a young artist wanders the streets of Center City Philadelphia, trying to escape the pain of his unrequited summer love, only to be reminded by the back of a girl’s blonde head.  The third was a poem based on a passage from my novel in progress, Worlds, connecting the hangings and last words of Nathan Hale and Robert Emmet.

Memoirist and saxophone player, Jon Gordon, had been kind enough to volunteer to drive Malachy McCourt to Philadelphia and back.  He said he was content to remain in the audience.  However, during the break, I encouraged him to get up and play,  He did a version of “Danny Boy” that amazed the crowd and was a true highlight of the Salon!

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Jon Gordon 

Guenevere Donohue performed an excerpt of her theatre piece, Killer is My Name.  With Irish language/history and keening, this Bronx/NY Story thrilled the assembled with its originality and scope.  Guen has a voice like no other, and her presence in Philly helped rock-out our 1st Salon in the City of Brotherly Love.

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Guenevere Donohue

Dr. Marian Makins took to the stage next with Gabriel Donohue. She began by reciting a monologue in Attic Greek from Sophocles’s tragedy, Ajax.  She then sang beautifully in English and Irish to the accompaniment of Gabriel Donohue’s guitar.

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Marian Makins

Gabriel Donohue concluded the duo’s set by singing and playing a humorous song on his own.

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Gabriel Donohue

Malachy McCourt brought the evening to a rousing conclusion with an hilarious excerpt from his book, A Monk Swimming.  The excerpt tells of how Malachy got revenge on a barkeep who insisted the just-visiting  Malachy check his coat before receiving a drink.  Malachy went out to his car, took off all of his clothes except the overcoat, returned to the bar, and obligingly, checked the coat.

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Malachy in full flight (and fully clothed)

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Dr. Kevin Kearns, Jennifer Kearns Adams, Daisy Kearns, John Kearns

After selling and signing some books, we headed out into the wet night to enjoy the comfort and conviviality of some local Irish pubs.  Check out the presenters’ bios from my previous blog post.

Salon presenters, more road Salons are coming soon — and your turn is coming as well!

***

More fun with our new friends from the City of Brotherly Love:

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June 6, 2013

IAW&A’s Second Anniversary Salon at Bar Thalia, June 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 5:26 pm

by Mark Butler

Photos by John Kearns
It was a beautiful late spring evening this past Tuesday as we gathered for the IAW&A Salon at Café Thalia on the Upper West Side to share stories, sing songs, and have a few laughs.  John Kearns manned the microphone as our amiable emcee for the proceedings. And away we go…

Tom Mahon got things going by reading his short story called, “What We Can’t Live Without,” in which an old farmer’s wife dies suddenly and he’s left alone at his own choosing.  He walks his fields and the rooms of their home and realizes he’s never known his wife or their kids or himself.  He’s known his stubbornness, his work, his need to make things grow, when those same traits drive him to an extraordinary event.  One night he wakes to experience his spirit as a living, thinking, feeling entity completely independent of himself.  That changes his life and he leaves the farm he’s needed and loved.
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Tom Mahon
Robert Haydon Jones then read from “The Blindness of Yearning,” a story about Gloria, who has been an outcast ever since she got fat in high school.  She was widowed while pregnant with her first child and has lived alone with Jerome for eight years.  Now she has met a man who says he likes being with her and Jerome.  There’s something not quite right about this guy — but Gloria is so needy — she’s willing to look the other way.
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Robert Haydon Jones
Ray Lindie followed with a reading from his novella, called Lone Hero, that deals with a Vietnam veteran who has a difficult time readjusting to civilian life, and wonders who he has become.  Ray described his presentation as “shot down but still alive after taking a few deep breaths for oxygen to his brain.”
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Ray Lindie
Nancy Oda then offered a taste of the upcoming Bloomsday by reading the Gerty MacDowell episode.  Nancy commented that “Joyce is a genius in manipulating language to show the interior mindscape of the character.  Thus, for this episode he writes in the style of a romance novel that a teenage girl with burgeoning sexual urges would avidly read.”
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Nancy Oda
IAW&A board member Mary Pat Kelly treated us to a passage from Of Irish Blood, the sequel to her historical novel Galway Bay which is based on her own family history.  Of Irish Blood covers from 1900-1930 and features Nora Kelly, grand-daughter of Honora Kelly, heroine of Galway Bay. Nora spent time in Paris.  In the section that Mary Pat read, Nora’s new friends Maud Gonne and Countess Constance Markievicz try to recruit her to the cause of Irish freedom on the eve of World War I.
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Mary Pat Kelly
Richard Butler brought the house down with two songs: “Those Were The Good Old Days” from Damn Yankees (music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross) and “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles (music and lyrics by Jerry Herman).
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Richard Butler
We  adjourned for a short break involving cold beverages and lively conversation.
Upon our return, Tim O’Mara read from his Barry-nominated debut mystery, Sacrifice Fly.  O’Mara spoke of his parents and shared his personal formula for motivating Irish American men to write:  anger and a publisher’s advance.
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Tim O’Mara and Malachy McCourt
Salon Producer and IAW&A Treasurer John Kearns  read next from the final section of his novel The World.  In the passage, the 16-year-old Artist wanders the streets, alleys, record shops, and arcades of autumnal Center City Philadelphia, trying to escape the pain of the unrequited love he has for Claire Larkin.  When he sees a blonde girl who reminds him of Claire, he recalls the last time he had seen her, saying goodbye to her friends and leaving the swim team banquet with her mother.

A native of Co. Galway, Philomena Connors’ first reading at The Salon was a memoir piece about her father, “the Doc.” A poignant story about growing up in the 1970s, when Ireland was slowly beginning to open up to some progressive ideas with “the Doc” as a forerunner of these in the eyes of his  young daughter. Philomena began writing in recent years and thinks this could become a complete novel if she would just sit down and write it.
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Philomena Connors
Mark William Butler performed a monologue about dirty clothing and bodily fluids from his one-act screwball comedy, “The Laundry War,” which will be in The Players Theatre Short Play and Musical Festival in NYC from June 20-23.
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Mark Butler
Sarah Fearon considered taking the pressure for laughs off by just presenting as a poet. Instead, she shared some new comedic material in progress, including her hysterical theories on memoirs, cruises, recycling, trying to keep up with current catch phrases, and people who are on a Bravo TV documentary in their own mind. She may be launching a new dating site based on matching people by their dysfunctions, not their alleged assets. She ended with a short poem titled, “LUCK,” with life as a parallel to a card game.
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Sarah Fearon
The festivities were brought to a close by the man himself, Malachy McCourt, who shared a moving story about his childhood and the death of his brother Oliver, when sympathetic friends showed their compassion toward Malachy and his brother Frank in a unique way – by letting them score lots of goals in the soccer game after the funeral.  He then sang us into the starry night with a powerful anti-war song from the Napoleonic era… “My Son Tim”.

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Malachy McCourt

And finally, one for the road… “Don’t wait.  The time will never be just right.” – Napoleon Hill

June 1, 2013

Spreading the word about Pete Seeger event!

Filed under: Music — by johnleemedia @ 8:59 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

One of the most memorable moments in the history of the IAW&A’s  Eugene O’Neill Awards, was when Pete Seeger and his banjo took the stage last fall in honor of our award winner Judy Collins.

We all became folkies for that night, so in support of this great friend of the organization, we pass along news of this benefit concert Pete Seeger is chairing in support of the upcoming “Folk City” exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.  For tickets, click HERE.

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