Irish American Writers & Artists

November 24, 2013

Lively November Salon at the Cell, Bookended by Irish Singer-Songwriters

Filed under: Events,Irish Politics,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 11:55 pm

by Mary Lannon 
Photos by Margaret McCarthy and Mark William Butler

Music bookended a night that featured a play, plenty of fiction, and even some ghost stories at a crowded Tuesday night salon at the Cell.


Peadar O’Hici and Pio Ryan

Peadar O’Hici and banjo player, Pio Ryan, led off the night with some foot-stompin’ tunes. “The Irish Echo” (not the newspaper) is a song about Irish immigration and keeping the past in mind as we march into the future.  “The Blind Eye” is a song about choosing to ignore certain injustices in the world in order to continue to participate in society in a way that is compatible with mainstream media and mainstream political agenda.

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

John Munnelly

The night ended with John Munnelly singing a Christmas ballad of his own composing, intended to be “pure and unfettered by modern story ornaments.”  Munnelly also sang  two other songs:  “The Reason Why,” a slow jazz inflected number for as he jokingly says, “all those who have lost someone and don’t know where they left them” and “Green Card Blues,” recently composed by Munnelly in Ireland.  See more of Munnelly at a fund-raiser Christmas show at 6 p.m. on Dec. 16th.  Information at

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

Daniel MacGowan and Kathy MacGowan

In between the two musical acts, the audience was treated to a dramatic scene from Sheila Walsh’s Finders expertly performed by Kathy MacGowan and Daniel MacGowan playing ex-spouses.   The two actors captured the wit and compassion of this work that looks at the terrain of art, money and heart.  And let’s not forget that kiss: talk about chemistry!  We look forward to more scenes from this exciting play.

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

Michael Nethercott

The multi-talented Michael Nethercott, visiting from Vermont, sang a song and told some true ghost stories from his sprawling Irish family that sent shivers up audience member’s spines.  He then read from his new mystery novel The Séance Society just out from St. Martin’s Press.

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

Kathy Callahan

Kathy Callahan offered two stories: one a touching tale about the memorial reading for Seamus Heaney and the other a Kafkaesque nightmare of a traffic stop gone wrong.  In the second story, the main character conducted her own hostage negotiation on behalf of herself as she was surrounded on all sides by a sea of blaring black and bluest of blue.  She walked the tightrope but she could not walk the line in 7 inch heels with sirens flashing and headlights blaring in her beguiling smiling eyes after the show -in the swamps of Jersey.

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

Margaret McCarthy

Playwright and poet Margaret McCarthy read a monologue from a female Beatle fan featured in her play The Sacrificial King: A Play for John Lennon, which is scheduled for a Dec. 9 reading as part of the “Talent On Tap” Reading Series at Ryan’s Daughter.  Set against the turbulence of the 60s, the play tells the coming-of-age stories of both the fan who is also an aspiring young artist and John Lennon as they cope with questions about fame and family. For McCarthy, the play’s over-riding question became: What in our nature causes us to build up and then tear down our heroes?

As always, a talented slate of fiction writers also read from their work.

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

Cherie Ann Turpin

The versatile Cherie Ann Turpin, an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of the District of Columbia, read her short stories “doll,” “Red Canister,” and “Baracas,” as well as her poem  “Invoking the Vision.” Turpin’s publications include the book How Three Black Women Writers Combined Spiritual and Sensual Love: Rhetorically Transcending the Boundaries of Language (Mellen 2010). Her poetry has appeared in  Reverie: Midwest African American Literature.  She will present her essay “Reimagining Gabriel Byrne: Heteronormativity, Irish Diaspora, and Celebrity Culture” at the 2014 PCA/ACA Annual National Conference in Chicago, April, 2014.  Follow her  on Twitter: @drturpin.

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon entertained the crowd with the latest chapter from his business novel-in-progress, Mastery in which Charlie Fenton nurses a crush on Holly Simpson, his bank co-worker,  though he has never been able to say a word to her.  That is, until the bank picnic when his brother introduces him to her, and Holly asks if he’s going to Japan, and he says, “yes”.  Now he has to go, but he’s deathly afraid of flying.  He’d rather face a firing squad and get it over quicker.

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

John Kearns

Our avuncular host John Kearns read a new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds.  Laura, the bartender, is driving her rundown BMW toward midtown Manhattan and ultimately Hell’s Kitchen in the wee hours of Holy Thursday 1998.  The young Englishman, Gavin,is asleep in the backseat and Paul Logan is giving directions and hoping to have a more meaningful exchange with Laura. As the car gets closer to Madison Avenue, Paul’s dilemma is portrayed more and more in parodies of famous advertising slogans.

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon read an excerpt from his book, For Sue, which focuses on his friendship with the great jazz drummer, Eddie Locke. A long time resident of the Upper West Side, Eddie was also a living history lesson of jazz and had a great impact on me.

Two of the fiction pieces referenced JFK as the nation reflects on the 50th anniversary of his assassination Nov. 23rd.


Gary Cahill

Mystery Writers of America NYC crime writer Gary Cahill capped a series of readings from his JFK-related short stories with a masonry-nail-tough selection from “Fathers, Sons, Ghosts, Guns”, currently featured in the Big Pulp Magazine print anthology The Kennedy Curse.  In the story, a modern-day oil baron fails to get his son (and business heir) to accept and come to terms with the family’s violent history

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

Brendan Costello Jr.

And in quite a different take Brendan Costello Jr., a creative writing instructor at The City College of New York, read the final installment of his story “Circus Brunch at Zapruder’s,” where the chickens come home to roost for the narrator, who works at a restaurant with a theatrical experience built around the Kennedy assassination.  Just in time for the 50th anniversary of that tragic moment in American history, the story ended with a twist that demonstrates how our personal lives can be affected by the echoes of history.  Bonus: believe it or not, here’s the “official” MTV video for this song:

Irish Amarican Writers and Artists Salon Reading, The Cell Theat

Mary Lannon

Last but not least, Mary Lannon offered a short untitled piece that involved a cat, a talking chocolate chip cookie and a resident weather forecaster (because every story should have a resident weather forecaster!).

A great night at the Cell!  Happy Thanksgiving!  See you at Bar Thalia on December 3rd …

November 20, 2013

Free Poetry Event Organized by IAW&A Benefactor Joe Quinlan, Thursday, 11/21 @ 7 pm

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:56 pm

On Thursday, a free event, organized by IAW&A benefactor Joe Quinlan, will take place at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House at 7 pm.

The Tom Quinlan Lecture in Poetry: Sarah Jackson

Thursday, November 21st, 7:00 p.m.
at Glucksman Ireland House NYU

The 2013 winner of the Heaney Prize is Sarah Jackson, for her collection Pelt, a remarkable collection of lyric poems that meditate on unseen influences, fleeting insights, patterns of meaning and shapes of time. Ms. Jackson will deliver the Tom Quinlan Lecture in Poetry at Glucksman Ireland House.


Sarah Jackson

The Tom Quinlan Lecture in Poetry at Glucksman Ireland House honors Tom, a public school teacher in Philadelphia, a lover of poetry, and Glucksman Ireland House member since 1997; the lecture is endowed by his family. The sponsors are especially pleased that the Quinlan Lecture is offered in partnership with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queens University, Belfast.

The Seamus Heaney Prize for poetry is awarded annually by the Heaney Centre to the author of the best first book of poems published in Ireland or Britain. The prizewinner is determined by a committee of faculty from the Heaney Centre, including the Director, Ciaran Carson, as well the annual holder of the Ireland Chair in Poetry.

Introduction by Nick Laird, Northern Irish poet and novelist .

Free admission.

In order to ensure a seat at events, please RSVP by calling 212-998-3950 or by emailing

“Manly Voice: Gabriel Byrne at Symphony Space” by Cherie Ann Turpin

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 8:24 pm

Guest Review: “Manly Voice: Gabriel Byrne at Symphony Space” by Cherie Ann Turpin

by  — Nov 15, 2013

Dr. Cherie Ann Turpin is currently at work on a scholarly treatise about Gabriel Byrne. She is particularly interested in Mr. Byrne’s activities surrounding the Irish Diaspora, as well as aspects of gender and celebrity culture in relationship to him as an actor and performer. She and I have discussed his film career, his work as Cultural Ambassador for Ireland, and his published works. Dr. Turpin is also interested in fan culture; Byrneholics Online is included as a resource in her celebrity culture course this Fall. It is my pleasure to bring you this guest review by Dr. Turpin, who attended the recent Narrative 4 event in New York City and generously agreed to share her thoughts and insights about Mr. Byrne’s performance at the event, as well as her observations and ideas about the Narrative 4 Project in general. I thank her for her participation here at Byrneholics! –Stella

“Manly Voice: Gabriel Byrne at Symphony Space”

I had a really difficult time writing this guest post for a variety of reasons, most of which involved me coming to understand what sort of response I wanted to give to readers with regard to my take on Gabriel Byrne’s reading last week.  The following essay is not so much a review as it is a slight critique and a partial analysis of his performance.

On the one hand, I was pleased to see Gabriel Byrne set the mood of the evening with his reading of Roddy Doyle’s tongue-in-cheek contribution to the anthology.  Byrne’s dry, humorous style of reading matched Doyle’s sardonic wit in engaging the following question: “how does one be[come] a man?”  Byrne captured the intensity of discursive tension between women and men embedded in Doyle’s untitled short story (none of the stories in Colum McCann’s collection were titled).  Further, Byrne effectively connected with the audience as a reader, suggesting either a return to familiar ground or signifying a transformative phase in his artistic career.  All new beginnings, however, come with caveats. Byrne’s appearance at Symphony Space for “How to Be a Man” on November 6, 2013, produced more questions than answers about overarching themes of this program, not the least of which is the yet to be answered question: what did hosts Colum McCann and Terry Tempest Williams mean by “radical empathy,” and “diversity” within the context of such a provocative title as “How to Be a Man?”  I came away from this performance with some mixed feelings about what I saw on stage.

gb-narrative4-howtobeaman-20131106-by-sandramarkusGabriel Byrne. Picture provided by Sandra Markus on Twitter

McCann’s work as host of this program and his work as editor of the anthology The Book of Men that inspired last Wednesday’s program, demonstrates a commitment to bringing writers from a variety of communities around the globe into an ongoing conversation about perceptions and experiences of manhood and masculinity.  The idea of stories to be performed by actors and writers certainly has an appeal that draws a diverse audience coming from a variety of communities.  However, I was perplexed as to why more of the contributing writers could not have been invited to appear in this program to perform their own works, especially those whose voices and perspectives speak to cultural perspectives and experiences different from most of the performers on stage.  Diversity and empathy, both concepts which were discussed during McCann and Williams’ introductions, were presented as driving forces behind Narrative Four (the literary salon sponsoring the event) and behind the organizing principles of the anthology The Book of Men, but with the exception of the host B.D. Wong (who did perform one piece but whose work does not appear in the anthology), the three men who spoke were white, male, and heterosexual (McCann, Byrne, and the actor Corey Stoll).

Of the three women who performed in this program, only one had actually contributed to the anthology, rising literary star Tea Obreht.  To the credit of the organizers, Rebecca Naomi Jones, an African American woman, also performed, as well as Stockard Channing.   Both women are accomplished and respected performers known for their work in theatrical productions on Broadway, as well as for their work in film and television. Given the theme and subthemes of this program, as well as the proximity of the venue to Black and Spanish Harlem, how difficult would it have been to invite more men of color to participate in this performed conversation? I ask this question not to tear down the efforts of McCann, Williams, or even Byrne, but to further the conversation and to challenge them to engage in a more rigorous discussion as to what “diversity” means to them and even more importantly, to understand what “empathy” means to them.  To me, an artistic collective sensitive to the political baggage these words carry would have been more inclined to sharing the stage with young and older men of color who have been challenged with that question of “how to be a man” in a city with a justice system that views them as criminal by default, and therefore subject to frisk-and-search, and in other regions of the United States, murdered without penalty through stand-your-ground laws.   Indeed, the question of “how to be a man” takes on a more ominous tone when one’s existence is challenged by those vested in the hegemony feeding institutional racism and classism.



Gabriel Byrne with attendee Renee Olson, who provided the picture on TwitterMoreover, the significance of the celebrity persona cannot be ignored as a contributing factor to Byrne’s presence on stage.  After all, his name and face became the marketing lure to encourage the audience to fill the seats, which says something about celebrity and masculinity, though Byrne was also faced with the vulnerability of being “that guy,” the famous person headlining an event who does not read his own work until the end, thereby risking a very big fail after producing audience anticipation and longing to hear his work.  Although Byrne is not known for publishing fiction, he is known for publishing nonfiction, including his memoir Pictures in My Head (1994), essays in various magazines and newspapers, and several book reviews. McCann’s praises of his fiction writing during the program leads me to ask why more of his writing was not featured in this event, and further, why we have not seen more of his creative writing published as of late, save for the Esquire piece. His memoir is now out of print, and except for the recent book reviews, he has not consistently published poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction.


It is not unreasonable to expect that someone being featured in an anthology with well-known and respected authors would have significant works to present to an audience more accustomed to seeing him perform other people’s works as an actor.  Byrne is a writer to watch, but one expects to see much more coming from him as a writer.  Given his recent challenges to  established social institutions, he is more than capable of challenging socially dominant notions of masculinity through his writing.  That means writing about those childhood traumas he mentioned Wednesday night with a certain clarity and a refusal to equivocate or mask the impact those traumas made on his ability to understand or perform masculinity, especially within the context of celebrity culture.   In other words, the audience needs to see and hear more of his writing.

Significantly, Byrne’s reading of Vanessa Manko’s story came across as his most significant and subversive performance of the evening, possibly coming closest to dismantling his own celebrity persona, and at the same time offering a glimpse into his challenges as someone whose body is often hyper-sexualized and objectified.  Here, McCann introduces Byrne’s reading Manko’s story by informing the audience that she wrote it in a “man’s voice,” describing the story as “naughty.” The story itself describes an encounter between an unnamed narrator in slightly ambiguous terms that could be construed as somewhat more sexually intimate than what turns out to be: it is a story about a tango dance routine, albeit one curiously absent of the sexual tension and erotic battle for dominance between the male and female partners—none of the pull or challenge from the female partner to take over the lead occurs in this story [credit given to artist and student F. Steven Kijek for pointing out the erotic subtext in tango during a discussion of this post in my Celebrity Culture class November 13, 2013].  After watching Byrne read and listening to his version of the “man’s voice,” I felt that McCann calling Manko’s story “naughty” seemed a bit dated in perspective, and somewhat retro with regard to gender roles.  Is it naughty because a woman wrote it, or because she’s writing about longing from a man’s perspective?

gb-narrative4-howtobeaman-20131106-03-by-mistyshoresGabriel Byrne. Picture provided by Misty Shores on Twitter

Again, questions arise  regarding how a possibly subversive perspective becomes muted and contained when a man reads the “naughty” text. As Byrne completed his reading with the climactic revelation that the story was an  elaborate description of a tango dance, he abruptly walked off the stage with the audience reacting enthusiastically and perhaps with relief that the story did not cross over into being truly transgressive.  But could it be transgressive? A woman writing about a dance routine from a man’s perspective  regarding his female partner constructs not only a male gaze, but also a female gaze, which in turn  was presented to the audience with a male voice by Gabriel Byrne, who is, as the featured performer, presented to a largely female audience to be objectified as a stand-in and embodiment of  “naughty” “male voice.”

What we attempt to encode with gender signs becomes a series of performances, expectations with the inevitable repetition that fails to meet the ideal. Was the narrator a man’s voice, or was it a woman idealizing a man’s voice?  Traditionally, we are instructed to not mix the author with the narrator, but since we were offered the small cue  that the author was writing in a man’s voice, I wonder if that means the narrator is a man’s voice, or the author is writing “like a man.”  Whenever I hear someone claiming a voice to be understood as one gender, I tend to read against the grain, and I listen and gaze against the grain because  the imposed exclusion tends to invite subversion of that reading or assumption.  As an audience member I “forgot” the author/narrator taboo and discovered a much more subversive and perhaps more useful way of understanding what Byrne was doing with this seemingly tame story on stage.

The erasure/negation of a woman’s voice here as a way of doubling or amplifying a so-called man’s voice also amplifies the false notion of the imposition of a man’s voice as a singularity, as if there is only one way of performing within a heteronormative framework.  With the woman’s voice unleashed, then we hear a multiplicity of voices, or heteroglossia, where an unfolding reveals yet another mask:  that mask (or “performative,” as  exhaustively teased out by Judith Butler in Gender Trouble) is of “the man’s voice” in exaggeration:  “the drag king.”  In other words, this ideal of the man always leading, always “on top” or “the top” is itself  an impossible ideal that is at best  a  repetition that is imperfect and, at its most earnest, farcical. If  the author is in drag, textually, then Byrne speaks in parodic doubling form as faux king, his swift departure off stage after delivering the lines “but with the tango, you just never know” abruptly shifting out of one male persona and into another.  Perhaps the question of “how to be a man” is not an answerable one,  no more answerable than  the question of “how to be a woman.”  As seen in this reading, there is no singularity or permanence of gender.  In short, Byrne “embodied” this process with the professional flair I’ve come to expect from his stage presence.

gb-narrative4-howtobeaman-20131106-04-by-mistyshoresGabriel Byrne with attendee Misty Shores, who provided the picture on Twitter

My overall critique of Byrne?   He needs to read his own work, and in fact, given McCann’s endorsement of his fiction and nonfiction, the absence of his creative work is now much more apparent.  Byrne would have been even more authentic in voice and in emotion had he shared something that had not been included in the anthology.  He spoke of being moved as a writer by certain traumatic events during his childhood; why didn’t he share more of his work drawn from those emotions?  His slight stammer as he introduced his untitled short story came across as an emotional cue, as if he were inviting the audience to become engaged in an intimate process of sharing something that came from within himself.  I suspect him to be aware and perhaps concerned that the celebrity persona used to create access to that audience may change or even fade as he becomes more engaged as a writer.  On the other hand, Byrne demonstrates much less concern about his image in his public stances on social justice.  Perhaps a similar stance would help him become much more provocative as a writer. His work would benefit from an infusion of that anger and passion that inspires him to continue speaking out against sexual exploitation and sexual repression in the Roman Catholic Church.

Perhaps Byrne would benefit from sharing his work with audiences unfamiliar with his movie presence or work on behalf of the Irish Diaspora.  That word “diversity” comes to mind.  As part of my Celebrity Culture course this semester, my students read Byrne’s memoir and were mostly impressed by what they saw as an independent voice committed to art.  Considering the fact that I teach young adults who are mostly people of color unfamiliar with Byrne and more familiar with Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Beyonce, and Miley Cyrus, that’s impressive.  Possibilities for Byrne reaching new readers beyond his movie star fan base exist, but he must push past the comfort of familiar faces and settings.  A Twitter account and a blog would help.  Reading women and men writers of color would also help, especially with regard to embracing “radical empathy” and “diversity.”

Most of all, Byrne needs to write and publish.



Cherie Ann Turpin is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of the District of Columbia. Dr. Turpin’s research areas include African Diaspora Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, World Literature, Multicultural American Literature, Popular Culture, and Film Studies. Her publications include the book How Three Black Women Writers Combined Spiritual and Sensual Love: Rhetorically Transcending the Boundaries of Language (Mellen 2010), as well as articles in Feminist TeacherBodily Inscriptions: Interdisciplinary Excursions into Embodiment, and Diaspora: Journal of the Annual Afro-Hispanic Literature and Culture Conference. Her recent poetry appeared in the Fall 2010 edition of Reverie: Midwest African American Literature. Her creative nonfiction essays and poetry appeared in three issues of Corset Magazine in 2011-2012.  Her upcoming article “Hard Men of the Street: Black Masculinity and the City in Kenji Jasper’s Dark and Seeking Salamanca Mitchell” will appear in the anthology Street Lit: Popularity, Controversy and Analysis (Scarecrow Press).  Her article on Afrofuturism and Black Studies will appear in an upcoming anthology on Black Literary Traditions in 2014.  She will present her essay “Reimagining Gabriel Byrne: Heteronormativity, Irish Diaspora, and Celebrity Culture” as part of her upcoming book on Gabriel Byrne’s work for the 2014 PCA/ACA Annual National Conference in Chicago, April, 2014.  As a member of Irish American Writers and Artists, she will be appearing at The Cell in New York to present her latest fiction and poetry November 19.  She also has an ongoing radio show on  At the Edge: An Afrofuturist Salon.  She is also on Twitter: @drturpin.

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November 19, 2013

The Tom Quinlan Lecture in Poetry: Sarah Jackson Thursday, November 21st, 7:00 p.m

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 10:33 pm
Tags: , , , ,

at Glucksman Ireland House NYU

The Tom Quinlan Lecture in Poetry at Glucksman Ireland House honors Tom, a public school teacher in Philadelphia, a lover of poetry, and Glucksman Ireland House member since 1997; the lecture is endowed by his family. We are especially pleased that the Quinlan Lecture is offered in partnership with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queens University, Belfast. The Seamus Heaney Prize for poetry is awarded annually by the Heaney Centre to the author of the best first book of poems published in Ireland or Britain. The prizewinner is determined by a committee of faculty from the Heaney Centre, including the Director, Ciaran Carson, as well the annual holder of the Ireland Chair in Poetry.

ImageSarah Jackson

The 2013 winner of the Heaney Prize is Sarah Jackson, for her collection Pelt, a remarkable collection of lyric poems that meditate on unseen influences, fleeting insights, patterns of meaning and shapes of time.

Introduction by Nick Laird, Northern Irish poet and novelist .

Free admission.

In order to ensure a seat at events, please RSVP by calling 212-998-3950 (option 3) or by emailing

November 16, 2013

Remembering Seamus Heaney

Filed under: Uncategorized — by johnleemedia @ 2:21 pm

by Kathy A. Callahan


Not a dry eye in Seamus Heaney’s ‘House’ last night as we paid tribute to him at St Anne’s Warehouse. From the front row, I turned around and saw 600 mournful faces awash in a sea of gratitude and appreciation. I looked up and saw poets and writers on the stage who served as readers of Seamus Heaney’s Favorite poems. 

Irish Actor, Irish Arts Center Patron Gabriel Byrne, lead the tribute in a soothing voice from the front of the room. I could see it coming…We would all be IN TREATMENT soon. Not a tissue box in site or a pair of sunglasses to wear. 
Irish Arts Center (IAC) and St. Ann’s Warehouse presented Favorite Poems—In Tribute to Seamus Heaney, as part of the Center’s fifth annual IAC PoetryFest (cosponsored by the Poetry Society of America). 

Colum McCann read ‘Digging’ and we all went there, together. Kevin Holohan brought us back to ‘Summer of 69’. Marie Howe read from where Seamus Heaney met me in Lawrence MA at ‘Eye Level’. Paul Muldoon read ‘The White Wash Brush’
….’Clearances’ ‘Squarings 2 and 3’ ‘Bog Man and Bog Women…

Paul Muldoon closed the evening with a story about the first time he ‘bumped into’ Seamus Heaney in a yellow cab situation in NYC but he didn’t know it, yet. Later on that evening he walked into Tabla and met Seamus Heaney for the first time at the bar. Or so he thought. Seamus got up close to Paul, roaring, ‘You’re that guy in the yellow cab!’ 

Paul Muldoon transformed reading names into -on the spot poetry. Gabriel Byrne, Alice McDermott, Colum McCann, Enda Walsh, Mark Doty, Conor O’Callaghan, Kevin Holohan, Maria Howe, Nick Laird, Megan O’Rourke, Sean Sweeney, Bernhard O’Donough, Colette Bryce, Henri Cole, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Brenda Shaughnessy, Matthew Sweeney, and Craig Morgan Teicher.

Irish Arts Center (IAC) and St. Ann’s Warehouse presented Favorite Poems—In Tribute to Seamus Heaney, as part of the Center’s fifth annual IAC PoetryFest (cosponsored by the Poetry Society of America). 
Please see more at:…TBC

Irish American Writers and Artists Members supported the event in full. Honor Molloy, Alexis Doyle, Tom Mahon, Kevin Holohan and Colum McCann. To name just a few.

November 13, 2013

Darrah Carr Dance Celebrates Its 15th Anniversary Season at the Irish Arts Center 11/22-24

Filed under: dance,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 4:18 pm
Darrah Carr Dance is celebrating it’s 15th Anniversary Season at the Irish Arts Center from November 22 – 24.  Visit for details.

Join Darrah and company for the premier of the piece that they performed excerpts from during the IAWA Salon in September.

IAW&A members can get a special $18 discount for the performances.  Just go to and be sure to use this discount code: IAWA.

A retrospective artist’s catalogue of Darrah Carr Dance’s work entitled, ModERIN: Contemporary Irish Dance Works – Darrah Carr Dance will be available at the Irish Arts Center as well.


Visit the Facebook event page:

Irish Arts Center –
553 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 757-3318

Peter Quinn & All Star Line-Up To Explore The Fintan Dunne Trilogy at IAC

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Discount to IAW&A Members!

This Tuesday night, November 19th, 7:30, at the Irish Arts Center (W. 51st), author Peter Quinn will be joined by Dan Barry, Mary Tierney, Terry Golway, Honor Molloy, and swingstress Tara O’Grady for a celebration/
exploration of the Fintan Dunne trilogy. 
The Wall Street Journal has hailed Dry Bones, the third and last installment in the trilogy, as “another work of intricate structure, suspense and wit.”
Colum McCann, winner of the 2011 National book Award, sums up the trilogy this way: “Peter Quinn is a poet and historian and one of our finest storytellers. He sits at the fireside of the American imagination. He can carve mystery out of mystery. The work is generous and agile and profound.”
Come join the fun…and get a discount as an IAW&A member. Use code IAWA ( for $8 tickets online or by calling 866-811-4111.
Quinn glucksman 577486_10201316870656630_283885330_n

November 8, 2013

IAW&A Salon 11/5: “Beauty, terror, violence, death, despair…and other jolly things…”

Filed under: Essay,Events,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 7:16 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

That was Malachy McCourt’s summary of the Irish American Writers & Artists Salon on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at the Bar Thalia. Of course, the talent, versatility and generosity of our members were also on display. The night featured some works-in-progress by Salon regulars; pieces by some old friends; a tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, and the introduction of a bright new actress to the group.


An attentive Salon audience

Our producer, the poet and author John Kearns read the second half of an excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, which he began to read at the October Thalia Salon. In the excerpt, the adult Paul Logan looks back on a schoolyard tussle over a peewee football between sixth graders and eight graders. Paul remembers the struggle in epic terms, in the way Homer described combat on the plains of Troy.


Ray Lindie

We heard the dramatic final scene from Ray Lindie’s novella, Lone Hero about a returning Vietnam vet. The “hero’s” ultimate fear has been realized  — he has been fully invaded by his alter ego. Unable to look in the mirror, his overpowering paranoia allows him to commit (accidental) suicide. Ray has also finished rewriting a screenplay called Mad Dogs of August. In 1985 when NORAID was going broke and the IRA couldn’t get any arms shipments past the Brits, Irish born Thomas (Bullets) Brennan, former NYPD narcotics detective, comes to the rescue.


Robert Haydon Jones

Robert Haydon Jones has read several stories at the Salon. Tonight he delivered a riveting read of  “The Right Place for Love.” Jimmy O’Hara, a 75 year-old lung cancer survivor, who is still active as a baseball umpire, takes his dog for a walk and meets a woman undergoing chemo for breast cancer and her teenage son, a high school pitcher who starred in a game O’Hara recently umpired. The piece was originally published on Spark, an online site that promotes collaboration of artists and writers:


Kathleen Vaughan

Kathleen Vaughan shared a chapter from her forthcoming book, describing in detail how she evolved, grew, and healed herself by supporting people with disabilities. The chapter, called, “The Koi Phenomenon!” demonstrates that when someone has the space to grow, anything is possible. Koi fish need a large pond to thrive. Kathleen is grateful to work with people with disabilities and reminds us that they are a gift to all of us. It’s about ABILITY not disability.


Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon gave an animated reading of a chapter of his novel-in-progress Mastery (formerly called American Mastery) in which Charlie Fenton confesses to the real reason he won’t go to Asia with his brother Ray –he’s deathly afraid of flying. Charlie comically rants ( as does Tom) about what “Real Fear” is. Because no one can prove that the plane he’d board won’t crash, that fear is as real as his heart or hand. Charlie Fenton isn’t going to die in an airplane!  PERIOD!


Mark William Butler

Mark William Butler paid tribute to one of his first literary heroes, Kurt Vonnegut, on the occasion of what would have been his 91st birthday. Mark shared an anecdote involving his mom and Mr. Vonnegut, and read a passage from the author’s novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Unfortunately, Mark also confessed that he had failed to return this same book to the library some 35 years ago. He has since been taken into custody, and according to his lawyer, Kilgore Trout, is being held in detention somewhere in northern New Jersey pending his trial and almost certain execution. And so it goes.


Elisabeth Ness

In her Salon debut, Elisabeth Ness did a wonderful job of bringing to life a monologue from John Kearns’s play, Sons of Molly Maguire. In a piece that seemed fitting for Election Day, her character gave voice to the feelings 19th century upper class people had toward the poor, urging the audience to spare their sympathies for people more worthy.  Elizabeth just completed a run in a musical adaptation of Molly Shannon’s book Tilly the Trickster at the Atlantic Theater. She is co-producing and editing short films for non-profits and co-writing a web series. And she hopes to collaborate with other Salon members, as she did with John:


Karen Daly taking it all in


David Coles

David Coles read a brief vignette from his book, In the Midnight Choir, based on his days tending bar in Greenwich Village in the 1970’s.  He is currently looking for a publisher and working on his next book. He lives in Washington, DC.


Kathy Callahan

There were two discrete views of the approaching November anniversary. Kathy Callahan told a mournful story of her first indelible childhood memory, being near Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas when JFK arrived and traveled by motorcar on November 22, 1963. In so many ways, her life was shaped by the catastrophe experienced on that day, as her family had the deepest affection for JFK and his children. Kathy’s grandfather, James Aloysius Leddy, an NYC union man told her countless stories on his knee about the brave and triumphant first Irish Catholic President and the stories kept on coming, long after the assassination.


Gary Cahill

Crime writer Gary Cahill delved into his atmospheric short fiction, reading from two stories. “Fathers, Sons, Ghosts, Guns” describes the come-uppance of an arrogant Texas oil baron whose family helped put an end to JFK. This story is included in the new print anthology, The Kennedy Curse published by Big Pulp Magazine. Gary also touched on memories of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and a character whose childhood was scarred by it in “Ninety Miles, A Million Miles.” Find it online as a free read on the Plan B Magazine website, and as part of their Volume II e-book anthology:


Jim Rodgers

Longtime salon member Jim Rodgers returned with a moving section from his novel Long Night’s End, about Johnny Gunn of Sunnyside, Queens and Manhattan. Unlike some of the more rollicking sections of the book, a very emotional Johnny describes his desolation at the loss of his toddler son.


Malachy McCourt

The night did end with laughter, courtesy of Malachy McCourt.

Dave’s bartender piece prompted the story, complete with metallic voices, of how Malachy got  “hell into the NYC telephone directory.” Malachy owned a bar named Hell’s Bells. Then in recognition of Election Day, he gave a speech full of malapropisms, supposedly given by an Irish politician. Finally, in recognition of the pleasure of not working for a living, he finished with the song… “I Don’t Work for A Living.”

Working or not, join us next time at The Cell on November 19th!

November 5, 2013

IAW&A Road Salons: Artistic Exchanges and New Friends in Chicago and Philadelphia

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 4:23 pm

by John Kearns

Chicago photos by Kevin McKee

Philadelphia photos by Cherie Ann Turpin

The IAW&A Salon took two more successful road trips  in October, our first Salon in Chicago and our second Salon in Philadelphia.  Both events were marked by outstanding readings and performances — and both resulted in plans for more Salons!

IAW&A Salon at IBAM Chicago 2013

On October 12, Mary Pat Kelly, IAW&A Boardmember and author of Galway Bay, moderated a panel of readers at the Irish Books Art and Music (IBAM) Chicago 2013 at the Irish Heritage Center on Chicago’s North Side. Mary Pat and I gave a short introduction to our Salons and to the IAW&A as a whole.  After that, the readings began …

Jerry O’Neill read “Hurrah” which was an indictment of the Vietnam war and all of the demons it bought to a generation which will not be buried until we are. Next, he read a love poem to his wife, “Carol” about when they met and how their love grew through the years. He followed this with “Da” which was the story of the relationship and love between Jerry and his father and how it changed over the years. Jerry concluded with  “Danny Boy’s Reply” which would be the last verse of “Danny Boy”. It would be Danny’s reply to his beloved Da.


Ellen Anne Burns and Jerry O’Neill

Ellen Anne Burns introduced us to the work of Una Woods, a  Belfast minimalist poet whose work was brand new to all of us. Ellen read a selection from her 2007 collection Afternoons and from her most recent collection of notepoems found in an icicle for an eye, published in 2012.  For more information on Una Woods, visit her website,, or her Facebook page.  


Chicago presenters

Since we were meeting in the Irish Heritage Center, I read a passage from my novel, The World, in which the 15-year-old character, The Youth, sneaks off to his high school library to read about the Irish War of Independence and discover his Irish heritage.

Mary Kunert read three poems dear to her heart.  The first, “They Soar,” was a awe-inspired tribute and eulogy to our astronauts, the ultimate thrill seekers of our world.   The second, “She Waits,” was written for her mother who is waiting patiently for her dad to come for her.  The last, “Summer Evening Music,” draws a picture of the Norman Rockwell existence in which she grew up, before all roads were paved and everybody had air conditioning.


Chicago presenters

Mary Kanak read an excerpt from her family memoir, Ripples of Connections, where she remembers her childhood on the Williston block in Wheaton, Illinois in the 1960s as being a simpler, slower more innocent time. She and her sister and two brothers were allowed to play outside in the summer time at night with what seemed like a dozen neighborhood kids until the streetlights came on. So summer days were long and lazy. There was no air conditioning in her house, and so they flipped their pillows to the cool side. They had the windows open over their beds hoping for a breeze and the crickets lulled us to sleep.

Monica Dougherty read from her historical novel, Rose’s Ring, a fact-based story told through an inherited family ring.  After more than 20 years of researching her family history, she discovered the story that she never knew about her ancestors in Ireland during the years of the Great Hunger and also of their connection to tumultuous events in America, the country of their refuge.

Maureen Connolly read a moving short story told from the point of view of a Native American in the midwest.

At the end of the Chicago Salon, both presenters and audience members took IAW&A membership forms and some have since joined the organization.  Mary Pat Kelly urged those in attendance to set a date for the next Chicago Salon, which they did for this month.  Hopefully, this first Salon was the beginning of many fruitful gatherings of irish American Writers and Artists in Chicago.

Philadelphia Salon II

The second Philadelphia Salon was also a tribute to Nobel laureate, Seamus Heaney and was organized by Siobhan Lyons of the Irish Immigration Center in conjunction with the Inis Nua Theatre Company and Barn Star Productions. It took place on October 25th at the Hotel Brotherhood, just south of Center City Philadelphia.  The Hotel Brotherhood, a building with a storied past as a union hall for African-American hotel workers after the Civil War and a speakeasy during Prohibition, played host to a full house of 40-50 people for this second IAW&A Salon in the City of Brotherly Love.

Jared Delaney, playwright and actor, from Inis Nua Theatre Company acted as MC for the evening.

He introduced me and I said a few words about the IAW&A’s mission and activities and invited those in attendance to join the organization.  I then read a Seamus Heaney poem, “Lovers on Aran,” followed by a poem of my own, “Aboard the Aran Seabird: Leaving Inishmore.”  Since Heaney was a great master of  traditional forms, I read a sonnet of mine called, “When Herald Midnight Tolled July the Fourth.”  I finished up with “Valentine Avenue, Bronx, NY” and “Transmigration of Soul.”


Honor Molloy

Honor Molloy read from her novel Smarty Girl: Dublin Savage about how Noleen wants to be in a commercial for Smarties candies.  When Noleen does get a job on television, working with her real-life father, she is disappointed to see that her father spends more time with his television family than with his real family.

Marian Makins, poet and singer, read Heaney’s “Requiem for the Croppies” and sang a beautiful sean nos version of “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.”


Marian Makins

Robert Berry, artist who is in the midst of composing a graphic novel of Joyce’s Ulysses, read the excerpt from Heaney’s poem “Station Island” about the narrator of the poem’s meeting the ghost of James Joyce.


Marni Rice

Marni Rice presented a charming story about her poker-playing grandma, who initiated Marni and her sister into the game at very young ages.  Marni introduced the tale with some music from her accordion.

John Liam Shea read 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.


Full house at Philadelphia’s Hotel Brotherhood

Two actresses performed a comical play by Jared Delaney inspired by a famous soccer player’s biting another player on the field.  Jared’s play imagined what would happen if children began imitating their soccer heroes and began biting one another in their games ….

Paddy O’Neill, accompanied by a fiddle player, played some traditional Irish tunes on his flute, including some  from the north of Ireland, in honor of Seamus Heaney’s Derry origins, and the reel, “The Bucks of Oranmore.”


Paddy O’Neill and fiddler

This second IAW&A Philadelphia Salon also resulted in new members for the organization and plans for another Salon featuring all Philadelphia presenters in November.

There are also plans to start committees/chapters of Irish American Writers and Artists in the midwest and in Philadelphia.

More road Salons with different New York presenters are in the works as well.  Stay tuned!

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