Irish American Writers & Artists

February 23, 2015

IAW&A Salon 2/17/15: The Good Times Rolled on Mardi Gras

Filed under: Events,Film,Literature,Music,Social Activism,Theater — by scripts2013 @ 4:27 am

by Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer

Nobody mentioned Mardi Gras but the mood at the IAW&A Salon on Tuesday, February 17 was sure celebratory. Highlights included three wonderful new presenters, unique music, great fiction and a one-of-a-kind performance from our friend from Dublin, Brian Fleming.

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Ryan Cahill, Jack DiMonte, and Nancy Oda

Ryan Cahill and Jack DiMonte hit all the right notes reading the roles of the seductive Pamela Churchill and the stately Averill Harriman in Sheila Walsh’s musical Pamela. The playwright was delighted when audience members asked her the magic question, “What comes next?” Sheila thanks Ryan, Jack, and Nancy Oda who read stage directions.

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Tom Phelan

Tom Phelan kept the audience laughing as he read from his latest novel, Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told. Shelf Awareness calls the book a “masterful portrait of Irish village life disguised as a murder mystery” and notes “Phelan finds humor and warmth in every poignant moment.” Tom will read from Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told and talk about life in the Irish countryside in the 1940s/1950s at the Rockville Centre Public Library, 221 N. Village Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY on Saturday, 28 February, at 1pm. More at www.tomphelan.net and www.facebook.com/tomphelannovels.
You will be able to hear Tom on the radio at Glucksman Ireland House NYU Radio Hour. Tune in on 2/28, 9am to 10am on WNYE 91.5FM and on irishradio.com and on nyuirish.net/radiohour.

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Sheila Walsh and Sarah Fearon

We watched a charming short film by Tom Mahon of last year’s St. Pat’s for All Parade. Parade organizer and co-founder Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy invited everyone to join the fun this year on Sunday, March 1. Come march under the IAW&A banner. Watch this space and our Facebook page for details.
https://www.facebook.com/IrishAmericanWritersAndArtistsInc. Visit
www.stpatsforall.com.

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John Kearns

Tonight’s host, the Salon producer John Kearns read a brand-new excerpt from his novel in progress, Worlds. The book follows the Logan family over several generations, and reflects the experiences of many Irish-American families. In this excerpt, Janey Logan is preparing to move her family from her native West Philadelphia to her husband’s family home in the suburb of Ardmore. She reflects on what she and her children will gain and lose by moving to the suburbs and on her lifetime of memories in St. Francis de Sales parish. Her old neighbor, Tom Dugan, stops to chat and, as Janey watches the familiar sight of Mr. Dugan’s walking up the street smoking his pipe, she wonders if she’ll ever see it again.

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Don Meade

Traditional musician Don Meade, a great supporter of the Salon, showed his versatile talent by playing harmonica and banjo, singing and sharing his knowledge. Don played a jig called “The Haunted House,” the reels “The Abbey” and “The Custom Gap” and sang “Omagh Town” by Michael Hurl.

You can see Don and friends every Monday night at The Landmark Tavern for a traditional music session. More at Blarneystar.com.

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Laissez le bon temps roulez

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Guenevere Donohue

Guenevere Donohue sang her jazz/blues version of Tom Waits’s story song, Small Change. Her sultry voice riffing on the Sax intro of the original created a totally new enthralling version of a classic.

Poet Mary E. Gonzalez is the daughter of Mary Kate Lohan of Dublin and of George Ugactz, a first generation Russian American. A graduate of Columbia University and host of a YouTube channel, Loving Life and Words, Mary read from two of her three poetry books currently available via Amazon:

  • Four Folded Corners (M.E. Gonzalez): Poems read include  “Love,” “Hate: In response to Extremism,” “The Strength of Trees”, “Summery Day”, “A Winter’s Farewell”, On an Amtrak Train to Utica
  • Two of Cups: A New York Poet in Galway (under pen name Mary E. Lohan) Poems read include “Clonmacnoise,” “Love is Not,” “Nothing is Constant”
  • Speaking to the Darkness (under pen name Mary E. Lohan)

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Peter Digan

Peter Digan, newly imported from County Offaly and recently married to Mary Gonzalez, sang two songs — a rendition of Christy Moore’s “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”and had us singing along with “The Wild Rover.”  Welcome Mary and Peter!

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Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon took us to upstate New York with “The Burial” from his collection Tomorrow Never Came. In the story, a farmer brings his dead wife to a minister to have him say some words over her before he buries her. New to the community, the minister pries into the life of the farmer and his wife and family. The man answers but is as guarded and private as the preacher is public. Tom-Mahon.com.

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Brian Fleming

Dublin performer Brian Fleming gave a hilarious preview of his performance, A Sacrilegious Lesbian and Homosexual Parade, playing now as part of the Frigid New York Festival. Described as “a romp through 14 years of celebration and resistance with the inclusive St. Pat’s For All Parade in Queens…through music, projections, bad dance and bad striptease…” Support this artist who visits the Salon when he’s in New York. Get your tickets here: www.frigidnewyork.info.

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Celeste Ray

In her Salon debut, musician Celeste Ray, a founding member of Four Celtic Voices, played several songs on a double Bowed Psaltery.

Those of us who were unfamiliar with this string instrument were stunned by its gorgeous sound and by her superb talent. Celeste closed the night by singing an IAW&A favorite, “Wild Mountain Thyme.” Learn more at http://FourCelticVoices.com and find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Four-Celtic-Voices-with-Celeste-Ray/323027821102985

The good times will still be rolling at the Salon at the Thalia on March 3. See you then!

February 12, 2015

2/5 IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia: Newly Published Works, Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Song!

Filed under: Essay,Literature,Music — by scripts2013 @ 9:12 pm

by Mary Lannon 
Photos by Wei Lu 

Announcements of newly published work by Mary Pat Kelly, Mary Lannon, and John Kearns wove through presentations by a talented slate of artists at the Irish American Writers and Artists salon at the Thalia held on (a rare) Thursday night.

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Mary Pat Kelly

First, Mary Pat Kelly read from her recently published novel Of Irish Blood. Kelly also explained how it started from a long search to find where her family in Ireland was from and led her to placing her character Nora Kelly in the artist enclaves of early 20th century Paris.

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Mary Lannon

After the break Mary Lannon read from her soon-to-be published story “Frank N. Stein.” See www.storymagazine.org The story tells of a young woman’s quest to leave an imagined monster behind her, for those imaginary monsters can be the hardest to shake!

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John Kearns

Salon host John Kearns announced that an excerpt from his novel-in-progress, Worlds, called, “Approaching Madison Avenue,” has been published at http://www.dansemacabreonline.com/#!john-kearns/czih.

He then read a brand-new excerpt from the same work. In 1910, the Logan Construction Company is celebrating its 25th anniversary and family patriarch, Seamus Logan (now known as James), is being honored.  The Logans’ eldest son, Sarsfield Logan, S.J., does not attend the ceremony and remains in New York grading final exams.  His brother, Young James, sits in the front row with his mother and seethes about what he considers his Jesuit brother’s phony excuses.

Other artists also presented fiction, non-fiction, and song:

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Kevin R. McPartland

 To start off the evening, salon regular and novelist Kevin R. McPartland read a gripping passage from a short story called “Eamon’s Promise.” In the story, McPartland describes the desperate attempt of a fourteen-year old Irish immigrant at attaining work on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Sean Carlson

Sean Carlson shared another excerpt from his yet-untitled family memoir, introducing us to the devastating experience of Down syndrome in Ireland during the 1950s. Learn more about his book and subscribe to his email list here: www.seancarlson.net.

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Brendan Costello Jr.

Frequent salon contributor Brendan Costello Jr. changed the pace a bit with a short story he wrote for his nieces and nephew, “After the Horses.”  A continuation of the Humpty Dumpty story, it picks up where the nursery rhyme leaves off, and examines how friendship can help heal even the most broken eggs.  It also addresses the tricky question of whether anyone should trust a doctor who is a duck.

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Jack Di Monte

Jack Di Monte sang “Famous Blue Raincoat” by Leonard Cohen, a song written in the form of a haunting letter to an old friend who once stole the heart of the writer’s wife. Despite the heartbreak of his ruined marriage, the writer confesses that the lover actually did his wife some good.  A listener may ponder if it’s a true story for it ends with the line “Sincerely, L. Cohen.”

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Tom Mahon

In the second half, Tom Mahon told the story of a middle-aged man who’s dying a slow death from his senseless killing of two young girls when he was young.  Mason Webb then let his step-father convict an innocent 14-year-old African-American boy who died in the electric chair for him (true story) But “The Slow Death of Mason Webb” was Tom’s from his collection Tomorrow Never Came.  Tom-Mahon.com

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Jeanne D’Brant

Jeanne D’Brant read a sensual polyphony of steaming jungle adventures and earthy concupiscence from her latest work of nonfiction, FUCKED.

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John Munnelly

John Munnelly ended the evening on a rousing note with three new songs including one that had the crowd singing along. First, he sang “Cruel Cruel World” inspired by a late 2014 New York Times article about the birth of a child. Next he sang “Only Something Small” originally inspired by Pastor Martin Neimoller’s famous quote that begins. “First, they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist” and ends, “Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” To end, Munnelly led the crowd in a partial sing-a-long of “Devil Gets His Due,” a song he recently discovered in his files about his experience at a start-up.

More fun at Bar Thalia:

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Kevin McPartland, Sean Carlson, Mary Pat Kelly, Brendan Costello, John Kearns

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Brendan Costello listens

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Singer Minnie Dee will perform at an upcoming salon

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 Crowd enjoying Mary Pat Kelly’s stories

See you on February 17th at the Cell at 7 pm!

February 5, 2015

1/30/15 IAW&A Salon in St. Louis: Poetry, Prose, Music, and a Full House!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 6:15 pm

by John Kearns
Photos by Daisy Kearns

On January 30, 2015, thanks to the generosity of IAW&A Boardmember’s University of Missouri at Saint Louis (UMSL), I hosted the first IAW&A Salon west of the Mississippi. Thanks to the hospitality of the Webster Groves Public Library, it was a warm evening of poetry, music, prose, and an enthusiastic, standing-room-only crowd!

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 Tom Cooper of Webster Groves Public Library welcomes us

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 IAW&A Boardmember Eamonn Wall welcomes us on behalf of Irish Studies at UMSL

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John Kearns introduces IAW&A and Salons

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Andrew O’Brien and Terry Corcoran played three times during the salon

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Jennifer Fandel

Jennifer Fandel started off the readings with selections of her poetry.  Jennifer had this to say about her experience, “What a wonderful night! I’m honored to have asked to read. Beautiful, transporting music by Andrew O’Brien and Terry Corcoran, and arresting poetry and fiction. And, to top everything off, a huge and amazing audience. Many thanks to Eamonn Wall for his organization of the event, and to John Kearns for producing the Irish American salons.”

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 Ron Ebest

Ron Ebest author of Private Histories: the Writing of Irish-Americans, 1900-1935 and The Dave Store Massacre, about Walmart culture, read from his novel-in-progress.

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 Sharon Bangert Corcoran

Native St. Louisan and translator of the works of Isabelle Eberhardt, Sharon Bangert Corcoran, shared some of her poetry with us.

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Eamonn Wall

Eamonn Wall read poems about his aunts who taught him how to drink and about Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.  He has a poem appearing in the Irish Times on Saturday, February 7th, and his new book Junction City: Selected Poems 1990-2015 will be published in April.

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The Webster Groves Public Library ran out of chairs

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 Katy Gordon

Poet Katy Gordon, who holds a Ph.D in Scottish Literature, read “Ghost Estate,” “For My Daughter on Her Birthday,” “Road Trip,” and “The Difference Between Love and Poetry.” “Ghost Estate” was inspired in part by time spent studying in Galway at the National University of Ireland.

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Mark Shaw

Mark Shaw read an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, Eagles Circle the Drum, set on his reservation (the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Nation) in Northwoods, Wisconsin. Being of Irish and American Indian descent, Mark began my presentation discussing how Irish Literature and Native American Literature have a lot of common themes: the importance of their language, the importance of their art, the importance of the representation of their people, and the struggles of coexisting with a dominant culture.

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 Drucilla Wall

UMSL professor, Drucilla Wall, author of The Geese at the Gates and winner of the Prairie Schooner Short Story Award, shared a few poems, including one about a possible bat home invasion.

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John Kearns

I read an excerpt from my novel in progress, Worlds, in which Janey Logan finds that the A&P has sent her son, Paul, home on his bicycle on a rainy day with a jar of mayonnaise in only a single brown paper bag.  Janey takes Paul back to the store and makes a scene to humiliate the manager into giving her a new jar — in a double bag.

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Presenters take a bow

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Andrew O’Brien and Terry Corcoran conclude the evening

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More IAW&A Salons in Saint Louis to come!

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