Irish American Writers & Artists

September 23, 2014

From toe-tapping to heart-tugging to awe-inspiring, 9/16/14 IAWA Salon had it all!    

Filed under: American Politics,Essay,Literature,Music,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 9:44 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

Host John Kearns kicked off another sensational IAW&A Salon at The Cell by reminding everyone to get their tickets for our Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award Benefit and Cocktail Party honoring the legendary writer Pete Hamill, on Monday, October 20, 2014.  Visit http://i-am-wa.org/oneill-award-benefit/this-years-honoree/ to purchase. And spread the word!

Dublin born Peadar Hickey, who plays with The Young Wolftones and teaches traditional guitar at the Irish Arts Center started the music with two great Scottish tunes in recognition of the Independence Vote taking place this week.  They were “The Roses of Prince Charlie” and “Brave Caledonia.” You can also see Peadar in the duo Peadar and Pio. Find their events here.

peadar

Peadar O’Hici

Journalist and playwright Pat Fenton who has been interviewing his great friend, Pete Hamill, for a forthcoming article in The Irish Echo, talked up our O’Neill Benefit as one of the great literary gatherings of the year. Pat read from Breslin, his one-man play about another New York journalism legend, Jimmy Breslin. Pat wants to show aspects of Breslin that few know about. He’s “a lot more sensitive than readers of his columns may think, and yeah, he is very spiritual and attended the Catholic Church most of his life. And he has a sense of humor. And yes, he’s been very generous to me in my own writing career.”

Pat adds his usual disclaimer on all things Breslin: “If you don’t like something he wrote, don’t revisit it with me, please. As Breslin would simply say “GOODBYE.”

pat

Pat Fenton

Tom Phelan read a selection from his first novel In the Season of the Daisies, which centers on the IRA’s murder of a child and the devastating effects on the survivors. Tom had just turned fifty when In the Season of the Daisies was accepted for publication in Dublin, and Books Ireland’s reviewer later wrote, “The most obvious question posed by a novelistic debut with as much resounding vigour as this is: Where has Mr. Phelan been?” The novel received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, indicating a book of unusual merit and interest, and was chosen for Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers series.  Tom, a native of Mountmellick, Co. Laois, is also the author of Iscariot, Derrycloney, The Canal Bridge, Nailer, and the upcoming Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told.  More information at www.tomphelan.net and www.facebook.com/tomphelannovels.

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Tom Phelan

Board member and editor of the hit “The IAW&A Weekly” Mark Butler has spearheaded our outreach to the library community and found a kindred group called Urban Librarians Unite (ULU). They are an independent non-profit group committed to ensuring access to libraries for all New Yorkers.

mark

Mark Butler

Mark introduced ULU board member Lauren Comito who described some initiatives, which include setting up mini-libraries in neighborhoods damaged by the recent hurricanes, a volunteer library brigade and 24 Read-Ins to encourage reading. Their efforts are imaginative, fun, and done-on-a shoestring. We’ll be exploring how we can work with and help them. Contact Mark at iawaweekly@gmail.com to help.

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Lauren Comito

Christy Jones has been sharing pieces of his memoir, Taxi to Broadway (tentative title) in which he details his journey from rural Ireland to pursue his love for theater in New York. Tonight he read a tender piece about a priest back home, Father Moynihan. Says Christy: “He was such a gentle man, a real man, a holy man. I never remember a word of anger from him. He was so complete as a person. He was content with his bicycle. He never complained about it…I still remember the last time … in the hospital. You could not help believe that he was saved.”

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 Christy Jones

Salon producer John Kearns read the opening from “Displacement,” a short story set in 1940s Brooklyn. An obsequious witness tells detectives how his friend started a fight with a stranger who had come into their waterfront dive wearing a porkpie hat with a red feather. Unbeknownst to the witness, the detectives were conducting a murder investigation. We know John was not around the 1940s Brooklyn waterfront, but he sure sounded like it tonight.

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 John Kearns

More, “Yes.’ Well-known trad musician Don Meade played some Scottish tunes in honor of the “Yes” campaign and gave historical background for each. They were a pipe march from World War I, “King George V’s Army”, and on the mouthorgan “Hector, the Hero”, a lament for a Scottish general named Hector MacDonald. Don runs the monthly Irish traditional music concerts at Glucksman Ireland House/NYU and sessions every Monday at the Landmark Tavern. You can find his schedule at blarneystar.com

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Don Meade

Storyteller and musician Russell Patrick Brown shared selections from his upcoming site-specific production at Jefferson Market Library on September 27 at 8pm. Russell has written and is directing a cast of dancers, singers, musicians and storytellers in the Mercy of Trees, which is presented as part of Origin’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival. Come out and support this unique talent. The event is free, reservations suggested: http://1stirish.org/?post_type=show&p=1051.

More information: http://www.russellpatrickbrown.com/mercy-of-trees

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Russell Patrick Brown

The Smarty Girl herself Honor Molloy presented “I Broke In,” a loving tribute to her favorite Dublin neighbor–the Irish American poetess, and Honor’s babysitter, Claire McAllister. Then Honor introduced McAllister’s daughter, Wonderly White, who talked vividly about her mother and read several short poems.

honor

Honor Molloy and Wonderly White

Sean Carlson was greeted by a great round of applause for his Irish Times essay, “The reach of a single village,” receiving a bronze prize from the Society of American Travel Writers.

Again reading from his yet-untitled family memoir of immigration, Sean introduced two new characters, Maureen and Bridie May– the oldest daughters in an Irish family of sixteen children — and the beginning of their path to the convent. Responding to the touching and humorous nature of this chapter, one Salon attendee tweeted: “I think the world needs more stories about these beautiful people you shared with us last night.” To learn more or join his email list, please visit www.seancarlson.net.

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Sean Carlson

John Anthony Brennan, in his second Salon presentation, read from his new book, Don’t Die With Regrets. A native of Crossmaglen, a small, tough town in County Armagh, John has visited most of the sacred sites in this world and is convinced that a common thread connects them. The book represents his life’s journey and was written to inspire the reader. And inspire he did tonight with a section called “Back When.” While living in London in the late sixties, John was fortunate to meet many of his favorite musicians, some of whom have sadly, departed from this mortal coil. In “Back When” he tells that story in one thousand words. More about John at http://johnabrennanauthor.com/ or at the blog, Thewildgeese.com.

johnB

John Anthony Brennan

Guenevere Donohue sang the Irish folk song, “Molly Ban” in her unique hypnotic story-telling style. In this tragic song, a man shoots mistakenly shoots his love:

Her white apron wrapped around her
He took her for a swan
But a hush and a sigh
‘Twas his own Molly Ban

Says Guen, “a swan song to remember.”

guen

 Guenevere Donohue

ryan

Ryan Winter Cahill

We went out on high note as Ryan Winter Cahill ended the Salon with two short, amusing songs. First was the energetic, childlike “Sweet Zoo,” by Jeffrey D. Harris, in which “someone” (not revealed until the song’s close) recounts a most interesting dream. She ended with the poignant, ironic “Virtue” by Michael John LaChiusa from his song cycle “Marlene Dietrich’s ABC”, based on a dictionary of wisdom written by the classic film star.

See you next time at Bar Thalia, on Wednesday, October 1 at 7pm. And should you be tweeting, or talking about us on other social media, please use our hashtag #iawasalon!

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September 10, 2014

Prose, Poetry, and Song Old and New at the 9/3 IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music — by scripts2013 @ 8:36 pm

by Mary Lannon
Photos by Mark William Butler

Instead of or in addition to reading their own work, several presenters read prose from and about others giving a distinct feel to the IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia on Wednesday, September 3rd.

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Tom Mahon

Kicking off what became a theme of the night, Tom Mahon inspired the crowd by reading from Nelson Mandela’s acceptance speech for the presidency of South Africa. He followed that up with his own “Fierce Pride & a Generous Heart” from Delusions, his collection of vignettes. His story told of a young person who vows to care for an elder under very trying conditions, but keeps his or her word because the priest told the young person that he or she will go to heaven for caring for the least of us.  Mahon jokes “never read anything you read after reading from Nelson Mandela.”

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Karen Daly

Next up, board member Karen Daly showed why she is a longtime fan of Pete Hamill, who will receive our Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award on October 20. Reading from Hamill’s, “A Melancholy Fall in the Gardens of Brooklyn”(a 1968 Village Voice column), Daly gave a lovely rendition of a beautiful, evocative, perfect piece of writing.

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Sean Carlson

Sean Carlson offered his own twist on the night’s theme by reading a section of his yet untitled family memoir about his mother, Nuala, a County Kerry native, who accompanied him to the IAW&A Salon. Carlson brought to life the beginnings of change in Ireland during the middle of the 20th century. Captivating the crowd, Carlson shared the tension and wonder surrounding his mother’s birth as the fifteenth of sixteen children and the first born outside the home. To learn more or join his email list, please visit www.seancarlson.net

kearns

John Kearns

Our hard-working host, John Kearns, took a cue from the beginning of the school year, presenting a brand-new excerpt from his multi-generational novel, Worlds.  In the excerpt, Paul Logan, in his first weeks as a teacher in the South Bronx, is attacked by his student Shinone Williams. After Shinone gets a detention, she throws her books at her teacher and grabs him by his throat. Logan manages to get Williams out of the classroom and finds out she will be expelled. Returning to his room, he finds two students fighting over whether it was funny when Logan ducked out of the way of Shinone’s flying books.

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Mary Lannon

Mary Lannon read from the middle of a longish short story, “A Key to Castastrophe Management,” in which a college senior obsesses about the weather, tries to figure out her future, and shows her unfamiliarity with love. Check out Lannon’s web site for her novel: http//www.MirandaJMcCleod.com.

maura Maura Mulligan

The first half ended with the multi-talented Maura Mulligan’s singing a sean nós (old style) song she learned from Donegal singer/composer Dominic Mac Goille Bhríde in July at the South Sligo Summer School. The song, “Tráthnóna Beag Aréir” is a love song in the Irish language (Gaeilge). Mulligan explained that the poet is wishing to experience again the beauty of the previous evening when there was silence in the sky and the lovers drifted together through the bog cotton. This traditional style of singing is generally melodically and rhythmically complex.  Subtleties vary by region, and it is highly individualistic.

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Jack DiMonte

Jack DiMonte led off the second half singing a beautiful rendition of “Summer Wind,” a song about how romance is as fickle as the fleeing summer.  “Summer Wind” began life as a German pop song by Heinz Meier to which American Johnny Mercer later set the now-famous English lyrics that Frank Sinatra immortalized in a 1966 recording.

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John Brennan

A new presenter John Brennan picked up on the theme of the night, beginning by reading Seamus Heaney’s “Digging.” Next, Brennan read “The Green Valley,” a poem he wrote about the ancient Boyne valley (Bru na Boine) and “The Singing Bones” from his book Don’t Die with Regrets, which he wrote for his father Mal. Brennan ended with “The Night Moths,” his tribute poem to W.B .Yeats and a short story, “The Dealing Man.”

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Malachy McCourt

Malachy McCourt finished off the night reading from the Foreword he wrote for Come Here Often? 53 Writers Raise a Glass to Their Favorite Bar, edited by Sean Manning.  He also led the group in singing a Brendan Behan song.

See you at the Cell on September 16th!!

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