Irish American Writers & Artists

November 18, 2014

IAW&A November Salons: Distinct Evenings of Talent and Heart

Filed under: Essay,Literature,Music,Theater,Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:38 pm

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….

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Sean Carlson

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.

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Michele Fulves

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.

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Tom Mahon

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.

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Vivian O’Shaughnessy

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.

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Maura Mulligan announcing her upcoming events

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Ryan Cahill

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….”

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Sarah Fearon

Comedian Sarah Fearon shared new and seasoned material for her standup routine. She was preparing for her mid-November show at the Metropolitan Room.

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John Kearns

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.”

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Maura Knowles

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.

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Malachy McCourt

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.”

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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.

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Tom Mahon

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.”

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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

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Stephanie Silber

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

 

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Pat Fenton

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

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Marni Rice

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.”

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Peggy Miley

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

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Mark Butler announcing IAW&A group outing to see Major Barbara

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Dan Milner

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.

Margaret McCarthy reading at The Cell Theatre, Irish American Writers & Artists Salon, Nov.11.2014

 Margaret McCarthy

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!

https://finishinglinepress.com/product_info.php?cPath=4&products_id=2240

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John Kearns

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.

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Richard Butler

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!

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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!

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John Munnelly

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 laughjohnlaugh@gmail.com. He had us singing along to “Brooklyn” about a recent import/ possible gentrifier of the borough. “Now we’re living in Brooklyn.”

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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.

November 3, 2014

IAW&A Salon at the Cell, 10/27: Writers, Poets, Singers, and Composers Galore!

Filed under: Literature,Music,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 3:49 pm

by John Kearns
Photos by Ryan Cahill

Last week’s IAW&A Salon at the Cell Theatre was moved back a week and held on a Monday because of the big O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award for Pete Hamill on October 20th. But, the change in schedule did nothing to hinder the display of a wide variety of talent from musical theatre to poetry to drama to essay to song!

The evening started with three theatrical presentations.

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Jack DiMonte, Luis Villabon, Diane J. Findlay, Maura Knowles, Joe Scalzo, Jenn Lorae, and Nancy Oda

Maura M. Knowles, book and lyrics and her composer, Nathania Wibowo, presented selections from Knowles’ original play with music, Insult to Injury, which examines why we should never give up on angels or anyone with broken wings and is based on true events.

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Danielle Hauser and Irina Kaplan in Joe Davidson’s Vegas

Street life in NYC during the turbulent eighties took center stage next in Joe Davidson’s play, Vegas. A stirring performance by talented actors Danielle Hauser, Irina Kaplan, and Mary Tierney drew rousing applause from the audience as they took a trip back in time  to a not-so-pleasant era in the Big Apple.

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Barry Sacker and Steve Nuke in John Cappelletti’s “Watch out for Me”

In John Cappelletti’s 10 minute play, “Watch Out for Me,” Barry Sacker and Steve Nuke played a priest and his former altar boy who meet in prison after not seeing each other for 40 years.

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 Bernadette Cullen

After the three theatrical presentations, it was time for some poetry.  Bernadette Cullen, a professor at the College of New Rochelle who lives in Chelsea, shared three of her poems.  The first was entitled, “Loss.”  The other two poems were untitled and Bernadette appreciated the feedback she received on the longer one.

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 Kathleen Lawrence

Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence read about a wedding reception from her ongoing family saga, which may ultimately be called “The Never Ending Story.”

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John Brennan

To start the second half, John Brennan read a short anecdotal piece about the time he met Jim Morrison at the Isle of Wight rock concert in 1970 followed by his tribute poem for Jim entitled, “The Lizard King.”

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Mike Swift

Mike Swift presented two autobiographical short stories entitled “The Ionizer” and “Releasing Rage”. The stories recount a duping he was victim to as a boy and the time he screamed the F-word in a stranger’s face on the street. They are part of a collection he is working that intends to eschew literary devices such as allegory, nostalgia, and heroism in favor of factuality, in an attempt to explore the relationships between honesty and drama.

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Marni Rice

Marni Rice read a poem from her poetry collection entitled, It’s Not The End of the World and an excerpt from her play in progress entitled, Movement Without Words, narrated from the point of view of her Grandmother, a student of Martha Graham in the 1920s.

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Margaret McCarthy

In honor of the Celtic New Year (Halloween), Margaret McCarthy read her poem “Approaching Samhain”, from her collection, Notebooks from Mystery School, finalist for the New Women’s Voices Award and forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in February, 2015.  Congratulations to Margaret!  Finishing Line Press is an award winning small press providing a place for poets and poetry.  Pre-orders for the book determine the size of the print run, so pre-order yours here!

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Brendan Costello

Frequent IAW&A Salon contributor and CCNY writing instructor Brendan Costello Jr. read a short essay about a close encounter with a Hyundai on Convent Avenue. Since the incident happened on the night a Yankees relief pitcher had crashed his private plane into an east-side high rise, Brendan prefaced the piece by saying “This is about two things I rarely write about: disability and sports.”  He also shared a unique recipe for lemonade. (Hint: it involves a pillowcase.)

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Conor McGlone

 Brendan’s student, Conor McGlone, then shared a few poems with the appreciative IAW&A Salon audience.

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John Kearns

John Kearns read a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress Worlds. The excerpt tells the 19th-century story of Seamus Logan’s early days in Connemara, where he worked as a stable hand and laborer after running away from his home in Bunowen, County Mayo. Although Seamus proves himself worthy of a better job and seems to have won the affection of a local girl, he decides his stay in Connemara is merely a sojourn from which he can and will move on.

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Donie Carroll

Guitarist and singer, Donie Carroll played three songs: “Aisling” is a song about Irish people around the world who, despite their interesting travels, often and sometimes unexpectedly long for Ireland: “You hear a song or an Irish air./…/You long for the rare old times over there./You long to be at home.”  He played another sad song about how an emigrant named Murphy would never make it home to Ireland. He concluded ths set with the comical, “West Clare Railway” about a train’s misadventures traveling around the Banner county. Donie Carroll also spoke about his upcoming benefit concert for the Mercy Centre in Thailand to take place on November 1st at the Irish Center in Long Island City.

It was another full and memorable night at the Cell Theatre!  Our next two IAW&A Salons are on:

  • Tuesday, November 4th, at the Thalia at 6 pm
  • Tuesday, November 11th, back at the Cell at 7 pm

And in December?  An IAW&A Road Salon and a holiday celebration! Stay tuned.  See you soon.

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