By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
IAW&A November Salons were held early in the month, each distinctive, and each with an array of presenters offering talent and heart. Here’s the rundown on November Salons – two for the price of one!
11.4.14 IAW&A Election Day Salon: “…Something for everyone, politics tonight!”
On Election Day, November 4, Salon boss John Kearns hosted at the Bar Thalia. John gave wry election updates during the night, of the kind that fascinate writers like himself …. on races between Metaphor and Personification … Hyperbole and Litotes…. and a noisy celebration by the campaign supporters of Onomatopoeia….
Sean Carlson kicked off our evening with a moving selection from his yet-untitled family memoir. In this piece, the family gathers outside their farmhouse in County Kerry, Ireland to say goodbye as the oldest sisters Maureen and Bridie May leave home together to enter a convent in Wales. Sean’s mother Nuala was only five months old at the time. Ten years passed before they saw one another again.
In advance of Veterans Day, Michele Fulves, a memoirist and solo performing artist read, “So Much to Be Thankful For,” from her collection of writings of conscience. The story unfolds in the minutes following the Veterans Day parade in 2011. Cameron, an Iraqi war veteran, has a simple request – he wants to get down to Foley Square to meet Michael Moore. The problem – he doesn’t know how to get there. A fellow marcher, thinking she’s doing him a favor by taking him downtown, soon realizes that he is actually the one helping her. Michele is currently in rehearsal for The Price of Courage, a solo piece she wrote and will perform about the risks, rewards, and unintended consequences of blowing the whistle.
The versatile Tom Mahon read a short story from his collection of vignettes, Tomorrow Never Came. In “Something So Passionately Wished Must Come True,” a girl loves a boy since she first sees him in the third grade and keeps loving him even though he marries another woman and has a family, which only emboldens Marianne Noonan more in her need and desire for him. When his wife dies from an ectopic pregnancy, Marianne insinuates herself into her lover’s life so thoroughly he succumbs and marries her and she gives birth to twins.
Visual artist, translator, creator of hand-made books, Vivian O’Shaughnessy, read her own poem, titled “HIM.” Please visit her website to see her work: http://vivianoshaughnessy.com.
Maura Mulligan announcing her upcoming events
Singer Ryan Winter Cahill capped the first half of the evening with what she calls “morbid folk tunes.” “Lady Gay” tells about a woman whose three children die from illness soon after being sent away to study. She refuses to believe in any god or heaven “unless this night in their earthly flesh, my three babes return to me”…and they do. A most sorrowful song, “I am Stretched on Your Grave” is a translation of an anonymous 17th century poem called “Táim sínte ar do thuama.” A few lines give the story:
“…It’s time we were together
For I smell of the earth
And am worn by the weather….”
Comedian Sarah Fearon shared new and seasoned material for her standup routine. She was preparing for her mid-November show at the Metropolitan Room.
John Kearns read a brand-new excerpt from his multi-generational novel in progress, Worlds. After punching out the foreman and losing his construction job, Seamus Logan leaves New York by ferry and train for Philadelphia. As he travels farther away from the sea and from Ireland, Seamus thinks about his future: how he will work hard to improve his lot and to help “his countrymen still in chains.”
Maura M. Knowles sang an original song, “The American River,” which she wrote with composer Will Collyer, about her life growing up on the American River in Sacramento, California.
What do you expect Malachy McCourt to talk about on Election Day? He gave us a hilarious discourse on politics and politicians, a subject he’s well acquainted with. Malachy ran for Governor of New York on the Green Party line in 2006, and was defeated by Eliot Spitzer. The rest, as they say, is history.
We left humming “Carrickfergus.”
11.11 IAW&A Veterans Day Salon: A brilliant, emotional night.
Thanks to Marni Rice for smoothly hosting the November 11 Salon at The Cell. Marni began with a moment of silence to honor Veterans on their day. Several presenters gave tributes to vets in prose, poetry and song, giving the night an especially emotional feeling. More than one salongoer called the night “brilliant” and we don’t disagree.
In the first of several salutes to veterans, Tom Mahon read another story from his collection of vignettes. In “Not All Heroes Die,” a young student sees a man on the subway many times. One morning another man gets on, pulls out a revolver, and shoots a woman dead. As he turns to shoot the man the student has noticed, that man gets up and struggles with the shooter. He is shot but keeps fighting him until he kills the shooter and dies himself. The student learns the man was a Vietnam Vet and knows he saved his life. He realizes “Not all heroes die in war. Some die here for us.”
Maura Knowles and cast
Maura M. Knowles, bi-coastal actor/singer/writer treated us to a section from her new play with music, Insult to Injury, based on true events. Maura wrote the book and lyrics; Nathania Wibowo wrote the music. Insult to Injury examines why we should never give up on angels or anyone with broken wings. Maura thanks Sean Irawan on piano and her talented cast: Diane J. Findlay, Luis Villabon, Alan Ariano, Tom Mahon, Sheila Walsh and Julie Currie for stage directions. www.mauramknowles.com
Stephanie Silber read a beautifully crafted essay that touched many in the audience, “Ode to a Familiar” about a neighborhood’s collective reaction to some new residents — a colony of feral cats. You may read her essay on her current blog post. www.stephaniesilberwordsworks.com
Journalist and playwright Pat Fenton’s tender piece about his father also touched many in the audience. “The Ancient Swirl of Time That Is Always Present Over Coney Island” is a true story about Pat’s going to Nathan’s in Coney Island in the dead of winter, searching for a room that existed for many years only in his mind. And finding it. The discovery stirred Pat’s long ago memory of sitting in that room with his Galway-born father who went there every winter to be close to the sea. Pat would like to pitch the story to an independent filmmaker to turn into a short film shot in black and white. He adds, “In the dead of winter, of course.” Find it now on the literary web site, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood at: http://mrbellersneighborhood.com/2014/10/the-ancient-swirl-of-time-that-is-always-present-over-coney-island
Tonight’s emcee, singer, composer, accordionist and writer Marni Rice performed two songs. The first, a French song, was in memory of her grandfather, a WWI veteran who served in France. Marni attributes her fascination with France to his experience. She also sang her original song called “Pub Tune.”
Two new members made their Salon debuts, but definitely not their stage debuts. Accomplished film, TV, theatre actress Peggy Miley performed a brief monologue by Ruth McKenney (author of My Sister Eileen) about an Irish immigrant woman proud that her daughter is going to college. You’ve seen Peggy in one of her many roles. Check them out on: http://www.peggymiley.com
Mark Butler announcing IAW&A group outing to see Major Barbara
Another Salon first-timer,traditional singer Dan Milner offered two different types of songs. A NY street song, circa 1870s, “The Hodman’s Lament,” praises Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall and bemoans changes in the construction industry that threatened the livelihood of Irish laborers. His other choice was a love song from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, “When First I Came to Caledonia.” A few lines:
“If I had pens from Pennsylvania
If I had paper of snowy white
If I had ink from a rosy morning
A true love letter to you I’d write.”
Dan is a geographer, a former ranger in the National Park Service, and an instructor at St. John’s University. We look forward to hearing songs from Dan’s five CDs, including two for the Smithsonian: Irish Pirate Ballads and Civil War Naval Songs.
In her Veterans Day salute, artist and poet Margaret McCarthy read her poem “An Argument in the Kitchen,” from her collection Notebooks From Mystery School, finalist for the New Women’s Voices Award and coming from Finishing Line Press in February, 2015. Finishing Line is an award winning small press providing a place for poets and poetry. The collection is available for pre-sale. Pre-orders help determine the print run, so order yours here!
Salon producer John Kearns read from his lyrical short story, “Backstage,” about a college woman who is acting in an evening of one-act plays. As she puts her makeup on, the actress reflects on the transformation she is undergoing and the life of the woman she is about to play — a middle-aged woman who loses her grown son. While she removes her makeup after the short play, she thinks about how her performance came so automatically and unconsciously and she overhears other actors preparing for their turns on the stage.
Vocalist/actor/director Richard Butler graced us with two dramatic songs –
“Mama Look Sharp” from 1776 The Musical (music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards) and “Be On Your Own” from the musical Nine (music and lyrics by Maury Yeston). Bravo, Richard!
Congrats, Mary Lannon!
Mary Lannon is thrilled to report that her story “Frank N. Stein” will be published online at Story. Mary read from the piece tonight. It’s about being young and reveling in irresponsibility and making a man into a monster and finally, whattayaknow, growing up. Congratulations, Mary!
Closing a very full night, award winning song writer/singer John Munnelly (www.johnmunnellymusic.com) made a welcome return to the Salon with two songs. He’s still tweaking them but they’re definitely “road ready.” “Flagpole,” part of John’s social justice canon, speaks from the point of view of an injured and lonely war veteran. John is considering two titles: “Can’t Take Anymore, Sick of It Blues” or “Flagpole Blues” and he welcomes your vote at email@example.com. He had us singing along to “Brooklyn” about a recent import/ possible gentrifier of the borough. “Now we’re living in Brooklyn.”
Don’t miss the Salon magic. Join us next time at Bar Thalia, 12/2 at 6 pm. For a ten-minute slot, email IASalon@hotmail.com.