By Karen Daly
Photos by Jon Gordon, Sarah Fearon, John Kearns
As a warmup to Independence Day, IAW&A had its own fireworks at the July 2 Salon at the Bar Thalia hosted by John Kearns. Poet Marcia Loughran credits IAW&A with providing lightning and flash floods for the occasion. The real excitement came from our unique mix of talent, creativity, and warm enthusiasm.
IAW&A Salon regular Tom Mahon read a parable from his collection called Allusions. This vignette tells of allusions that especially affect men who stop using their brains. Not that IAW&A men are in that category. Women are usually spared similar problems, except for those affected by the men’s allusions. Salongoers responded to Tom’s wit and confident delivery.
Mary Pat Kelly brought two newcomers, both exceptional presenters. First Michele Fulves read a moving piece of memoir, The Girl Who Didn’t Want to Be There. As a recalcitrant adolescent, she traveled to Italy with her family to meet her grandfather, Fiorangelo, who was forced to return to his village in Benevento, Italy, without his children. Straddling past and present, Michele discovers the secret message in his final wish to reunite with his son before he dies. A frequent reader at the Upper Westside’s Red Harlem Readers, Michele has written and performed two solo shows in local venues. Roadside Angels, her first show about redefining success, was the happy result of a mid-life crisis. Her current show, The Price of Courage, explores the risks, rewards and unintended consequences of blowing the whistle. Michele plans to tour it throughout the city next spring and we hope that the IAW&A Salon will be on her agenda.
Actress Jane Altman shared a parable (second of the night) called “The Glowstones”, which “was in my mind in its entirety when I woke up one Wednesday morning — all I had to do was write it down.” Jane has been acting since she was 15 and went to her first summer stock company. Experienced in the classics and contemporary theatre as well as Gilbert & Sullivan, she’s also done corporate and medical/pharmaceutical narration. Jane plans to return and share some of her writing, and, of course, whatever wonderful story is in her mind in the morning. She enjoyed our welcoming group that was “so responsive to a complete stranger.” You’re not a stranger for long at the IAW&A Salon.
In her second IAW&A Salon appearance, Megan O’Donnell read six short poems that showed her range and talent, prompting several audience members to call her “the real deal.” Among them were “Window Shopping,” “Amsterdam Avenue” and “Bone to-Bone.” Megan graduated this year from City College, where Brendan Costello was her professor. She’s an actor, activist, and award-winning writer.
Gary Cahill read from his brick-tough crime fiction short story “Corner of River and Rain”, wherein a couple of Hell’s Kitchen “debt collectors” take out frustration andpersonal loss on two loud-mouth real estate speculators lame enough to celebrate big- money success at the expense of other peoples’ lives, and run into — you guessed it — the wrong guys. Antics ensue, if being prodded along a dark street toward a rendezvous with the Hudson could be considered “antics.” Find the story in its first-published form free online at Short Story Me Genre Fiction, in the “crime” file — http://www.short-story.me/crime-stories/194-corner-of-river-and-rain.html.
Sarah Fearon made some announcements
Marcia Loughran is a part-time nurse practitioner, part-time poet, working on a manuscript after completing her MFA at the Bennington Writing Seminars. Marcia read three poems covering topics from fishing to Queens, among them “Ode to Queens” and “What We Look for Out the Window in winter.” She is pleased to be back at the IAW&A Salon, even in “biblical weather” and we are pleased to have her unique voice. She plans to return soon, as her Irish relatives are arriving imminently and she needs a place to take them
Maureen Hossbacher taking to the mic on the eve of her birthday
To mark her birthday, Maureen Hossbacher entertained us with a hilarious parody, written by Pam Peterson, of the song “Memory” from the musical Cats. Maureen has a great voice and presence, and the song especially resonated for some of us.
Award winning song writer/singer John Munnelly (www.johnmunnellymusic.com) sang three songs and shared a bit of his creative process with the song “Julius Caesar”. At a creative retreat, John intended to read Shakespeare’s plays, including Julius Caesar. Before he had a chance to read the play, “along came this song.” John knew about Caesar’s life “from, yes, my good Irish education.” He is still tweaking parts of the song to deal with what happens after Caesar crossed the Rubicon but John thinks that what we heard is likely close to the final version. Then he had us singing about love, love, love, with his song “Peace.” Though written and recorded some time ago, “Peace” was selected as one of ten finalists in the annual International Peace Award & Song Contest in Tipperary. John has just gone there to take part (and win) the contest. We’re rootin’ for you, John. You can hear a recording with choir, strings and band at sonicbids.com/band/johnmunnelly/audio/
In case you haven’t had enough soccer, you can watch Jon’s Dublin- based project, “King of Cambridge” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9brCB-5A6Y
Frequent presenter Brendan Costello Jr. read an essay-in-progress about Kara Walker’s just-closed art exhibit in the former Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. The installation features a huge sugar-coated sphinx with exaggerated African features, and several small “sugar boys” made of resin and burnt sugar. Ostensibly about the people affected by the exploitative and harsh process of sugar production and refinement, the work’s context and symbolism produce a wide range of responses and interpretations. An expanded, processed and refined (though non-caloric) version of Brendan’s piece will appear in next month’s Openlettersmonthly.com.
Chris Bradley and Mary Pat Kelly
Chris Bradley shared an intimate story about a man who spent a night in Rye, New York, with the most beautiful, strong woman he had ever seen. It included the man’s observations about the woman, the pain she had obviously endured and his hope she would just let him love her, forever.
Irish-born New Yorker, Christy Jones, whom Malachy McCourt introduced to the IAW&A Salon, read a piece many audience members related to – about the need to make a living while pursuing creative dreams. Christy worked as a cabdriver to support his family while pursuing his dream of being an actor and studying at the famed Stella Adler studio.
John Kearns read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds, in which Seamus Logan travels to 19th century America in steerage and entertains a young boy with stories. When a fellow passenger objects to all of the fairies and ghosts in the yarns, Seamus tells the tale of the Donegal Doubter. Ignoring the warning from neighbors that his new home was haunted, the Donegal Doubter moved into the house only to have his own boots get up and tramp around the house on their own and finally kick him in the rear end until he was forced to leave.
Though Malachy McCourt jokes about being “a man of good taste”, tonight he displayed great taste and sensitivity in choosing to read a story about his “big brave father” taking him to drink water from the loveliest well in Ireland. The story is from his bestselling memoir, A Monk Swimming. Malachy closed the evening with a Limerick song, “Bonnie Isle.”
We can’t promise lightning or floods but we can guarantee more talent, creativity and enthusiasm at the salon at the Cell on July 15 at 7pm. Join us and see for yourself.