by Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
The Irish American Writers & Artists honored the memory of the great Seamus Heaney in the way we know best – by reading his poems at the Salon on Tuesday, September 3rd at Bar Thalia. Members, including Mark Butler, John Kearns, and Bernadette Cullen read a selection of his works throughout the evening.
Guenevere Donohue gave her tribute in song. Guen, with that lovely voice, sang “The Parting Glass.” She described the feeling perfectly, calling it a night of “…profound gratitude for the words and works Mr. Heaney has graced us with…”
In addition to Mr. Heaney’s poems, members read original poetry. We had a short film by a new member and we had several explorations of motherhood. Lest you think we were too solemn, there were plenty of laughs from amusing songs by Jack DiMonte and John Skocik, including John’s adorable new song about his baby; a tale of a real life mobster, and two funny women, Sheila Walsh reading a piece of her play about a divorced woman with an aging mother and Honor Molloy with piece from her autobiographical novel, Smarty Girl.
Jim Callaghan presented a humorous, sad story called “Lunch with Big Joe” about the day his publisher told him that he had to meet one of the most feared Mafia bosses in Italy and New York. Jim described how the Koch administration rewarded the mobster with a lucrative contract to run a homeless shelter at his motel. This story will be included in an introduction to a collection of Jim’s writings for New York City newspapers spanning 1978 to 2013.
Jim has been an investigative reporter and columnist for New York newspapers, including the New York Observer, Newsday, the Irish Echo, the Village Voice and the Wall Street Journal. He has also taught college writing and hosted a cable call-in show from 1990 to 2000 in Staten Island.
Vivian O`Shaughnessy read her brief “Funky Sonnet from Us” that has included in London`s Southbank Centre Poetry Library rare book collection. A poet and visual artist, Vivian’s Dada Art Activity book has been added to the collections of Louvre Education, Bibliotheque Nationale of France, MOMA, Morgan Library and New York Public Library. She will be a participant poet at Festival International de la Poesie a Paris 2013 on October 15-19. Vivian’s art has been displayed at the Cell Theater. See her work at www.vivianoshaughnessy.com.
John Kearns was grateful to have Honor Molloy join him at the mic for his “Poem for Mom.” Written for reading aloud at the W.B. Yeats Society series at the Irish Times bar on Capitol Hill, John’s poem features two voices: the narrator’s declaiming a Miltonian elegy for his deceased mother and in a fine counterpoint, the mother’s poking holes in the narrator’s seriousness and pretension.
John Kearns and Honor Molloy
Going from mom to little girl, Honor Molloy read a charming, hilarious outtake from her autobiographical novel Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage. In this passage, “the Fil-ums,” little Noleen O’Feeney nabs some extra work in a movie called Where’s Jack and stirs up trouble. Bestselling author Peter Quinn has praised Honor’s heroine as “…irreverent, sarcastic, resilient, engaging, entertaining, and wise beyond her years.” And those characteristics were on display tonight.
We count on Jack DiMonte to surprise us with his vast knowledge of songs. Tonight, he sang “Robert Frost,” a humorous musing written by the great jazz bass player Jay Leonhart. A writer how imagines great his own life would be if he had the options he believes that America’s most famous poet had at his beck and call, especially a wealthy female patron to ease his way in life. A sugar Mama?
Dublin writer and director Helen O’Reilly screened her short movie, “Finding Oscar,” about a day in the life of 5-year-old, Keelin. The little girl desperately wants to find her lost rabbit but has to abandon her search to attend a party at the local yacht club with her family. What starts out as a fun day for everyone quickly unravels into something entirely different that will be etched in Keelin’s memory forever.
Tom Mahon read the fourth chapter from his novel in progress American Mastery. Set in territory that Tom knows well, rural upstate New York, it’s about two brothers who couldn’t be less alike, but who join forces to create a business that provides them and their families an independent, creative and rewarding life together. In this chapter, Charlie Fenton wakes to learn that his father is experiencing chest pains and is at the doctor. Charlie and his mother rush there to learn that he too has heart disease. The one manufacturer left in their town wants them to go to Asia, but Charlie has never flown before because he’s petrified of flying and dying in a fireball or feeding the sharks with his remains.
Tom has shared his progress on this novel, which he began (and stopped) writing years ago and returned to this past summer.
Another salon member who has been sharing her work-in-progress, Sheila Walsh read another monologue from her new comedic play, Surrender in Somerville. It is a funny and touching look at how a love affair in the 1960s reunites two lonely people decades later. Sheila was delighted to hear the magic words for a writer…”What happens next?”
Jon Gordon read from his recently released memoir, For Sue – A Memoir, which has been described as “…an American Angela’s Ashes…” (Guillermo Echanique, publisher Chimbarazu Press, Brooklyn, NY). Jon has read sections before, from his story of his childhood growing up alone with an alcoholic single mother. Originally self-published, For Sue will be distributed by Chimbaruzu press this fall and has been scheduled for a second printing. (http://jongordon.artistshare.com)
Brendan Costello Jr. read the opening scene of his short story “Circus Brunch at Zapruder’s.” The narrator is an embittered clown handing out drink and waffle coupons on a New York street corner, casting a cold, grease-painted eye on life passing by. He’ll read another section of the story at a future salon.
There were also some announcements of some notable dates coming up.
Sunday, September 15
Mark Butler invited the audience to join him on a road trip to South Jersey on Sunday, September 15 for a matinee performance of the classic Sondheim musical Assassins. Richard Butler, a Salon regular and Mark’s brother, will play Charles Guiteau, the man who killed President James Garfield. Please contact John Kearns at IAsalon@hotmail.com if you are interested.
Thursday, September 19
Join us for Brendan at the Chelsea on Thursday, September 19 at 8 PM.
Legendary Dublin writer Brendan Behan returns to his adopted home of New York in, a warm and funny drama from Belfast’s LyricTheatre, staring Adrian Dunbar in his New York stage debut. IAW&A will have a Q&A session with cast members after the show. Tickets are available for $37.75, 40% off the regular price (limit two tickets per member) by emailing your request to BrendanChelseaNYC@gmail.com.
To pay, send a check to Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc 511 Avenue of the Americas #304, or give a check to John Kearns at the 9/17 Salon at the Cell.
Sunday, October 20
Table 4 Writers Foundation is awarding four $2,500 grants to writers, in the tradition of the late Elaine Kaufman who nurtured writers at her famous Upper East Side restaurant. You can find all the rules and download an application at www.table4.org/grants/ Deadline is October 20.
Regular Salon presenter Mary Tierney is appearing in a musical version of Tom Jones at the Theater for the New City.
John Paul Skocik returned to play a few songs to close out the evening. The first, called “Madeira,” has its roots by a mariachi music and the lyrics tell the story of a man searching for something new and though exhilarating, only finding trouble. The second and third songs were brand new and inspired by John’s latest role as a new parent. “There’s No Time” is swampy blues riff based on a conversation with his wife regarding the lack of time to do just about anything now they are both preoccupied by their new son. “Toes In the Air” was written specifically for their little boy, Jack, and is essentially just a happy-go-lucky song about Jack’s preference of footwear, or rather lack thereof.
Join us on at our next IAW&A Salon on Tuesday, September 17 at 7 pm at the Cell Theater. Musician and writer Marni Rice is scheduled to host!