Irish American Writers & Artists

June 23, 2015

6.16.15 IAW&A Bloomsday Salon: film, poems, stories, song make an “invigorating” and “raucous” night

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:16 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer


The IAW&A Salon at the Cell occurred on that revered date on the Irish cultural calendar: Bloomsday. Despite many competing events around town, we had a great crowd enjoying a night that was variously described as “raucous,” “invigorating and inspiring.” The line-up featured our first mini film festival, arranged by Conor McCourt and Laure Sullivan, as well as poetry, fiction, stories, song and of course, the famous Molly Bloom. In honor of the wanderings of Ulysses and Leopold Bloom, several odysseys were presented throughout the evening.


irish tapes

Conor McCourt and Laure Sullivan introduced the first brief film segment. The Irish Tapes, produced by John Reilly and Stefan Moore in association with Global Village. Reilly and Moore shot over one hundred hours of footage on videotape in Northern Ireland in 1971-1973. Our sample showed a man on short release from Long Kesh prison to get married.


Poet Tony Pena started off the readings with three poems: “A dance before New York,” and his Irish tribute “Upon kissing a Celtic princess” and “The island of untitled poems” which implores poets to name their works. Tony found his first Salon “invigorating and inspiring” and felt that even “rain could not dampen the great vibes brought on by the welcoming spirit…” We hope to welcome Tony again. See more of Tony’s performance poetry and caterwauling punk tunes at

The three other segments were interspersed during the night. They included Guard Vincent: Fatima Mansions Beat. In 1999 filmmakers Conor McCourt and Laure Sullivan followed police officer Vincent on his beat in one of the toughest housing projects in Dublin. The result was a vérité look at the people, the place and the long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse, crime, and systemic dysfunction. Filmmakers are trying to do a follow-up and return to the place and re-visit the people Vincent encountered on his beat. For more information, contact Comor at

Camino by Sea, in which a Writer, a Musician, an Artist and a Stonemason follow an ancient Camino route from Ireland to Spain in a daring voyage; rowing a traditional hand-made boat across the open sea. Filmmaker Dónal Ó Céilleachair documents two voyages of this intrepid group and their relationship to the sea. Visit


Tom McGrath

Lazarus Running: A tale of redemption and salvation in the story of Guinness Book of World Records marathon runner Tom McGrath. Tom was at the Salon to share a heartfelt description of his life as an athlete and New York City bar owner who faced his struggle with alcohol.

We thank Laure and Conor for their work in selecting these films and helping create another unique Salon.


Karen Daly

IAW&A Board member and frequent editor of this blog, Karen Daly read a piece of memoir called “Listen.” Inspired by – or maybe incited by — the wonderful musical talent in IAW&A, Karen regrets that she was not gifted with the singing gene. Having been anointed “a listener” in school may have fueled her lifetime, unabashed love of music and dancing.


John McDonagh

John McDonagh told the hilarious story “How the Irish peace process cost me one million dollars.” John and a friend spent seven long days in Los Angeles auditioning for The Amazing Race, which he calls “one of a long list of reality TV shows that I was rejected from. Spoiler: Honey Boo Boo and the Duck Dynasty boys pass the sniff test, but not a yellow cab driver from New York.” John’s on Twitter and Facebook at cabtivist.


Jack DiMonte

Another New York story came from Jack DiMonte. Jack, a singer, told a charming story about an incident that happened to him many years ago.  A young man showed up at his door at 3 AM with an improbable story about an acquaintance of Jack’s, a neighbor who had been in a car accident in the Bronx and needed $22 to get home in a taxi.  Despite the near-certainty that this was a scam, the con man got the $22 from Jack and went on his way. In true NY fashion, the woman’s husband heard about the scam and kindly reimbursed Jack for the cash.  His name was Graydon Carter, now the long-time editor of Vanity Fair.

ship“Moving through the air high spars of a threemaster, her sails brailed up on the crosstrees, homing, upstream, silently moving, a silent ship.” –Ulysses

Salon producer and night’s host John Kearns read an excerpt about Sarsfield Logan, S.J. from his generational novel in progress, Worlds.  One night in 1910 New York, Father Logan is unable to sleep because his superiors have rejected his proposal to help nearby Italian immigrants.  He writes in his journal to calm himself down.  Throughout his journal entry, his anger and pride struggle against his vow of obedience and his need for humility until he finally abandons any notions of revenge and begins to pray the rosary.


Margaret McCarthy

In honor of the Summer Solstice, Margaret McCarthy read her poem, “The Tangible Illumination of Summer” from her poetry collection Notebooks from Mystery School, just published by Finishing Line Press.   She began:

One morning I sank into summer and summer sank into me;

The collection, a finalist for the New Women’s Voices Award, is available  For a signed copy, contact Margaret or go to at


Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon read a chilling story called “Revenge” from his collection of vignettes called Tomorrow Never Came. Mathew Bender’s only daughter was killed by a man and for the rest of his life Matthew Bender went to the prison where her murderer was kept to look into the eyes his daughter last saw in life. For 57 years neither man ever exchanged a word, until Mathew lifted his phone and said,  “I’m not coming anymore.” The prisoner left and Mr. Bender sat staring into space. When a guard came to his assistance, Mathew Bender was dead. Visit


Nicola Murphy

Every Bloomsday celebration needs a Molly Bloom and we were privileged to have Nicola Murphy perform a ravishing soliloquy. An accomplished actor, seen this year in the Irish Rep’s Da, Nicola’s profile may be found at

guen and brendan

Guenevere Donohue and Brendan Costello

An “Ulysses-ian” evening concluded with our own guitarists Brendan Costello and John Kearns accompanying soulful singer, Guenevere Donohue on three Joyce-inspired selections: Tom Waits’ mournful neo-trad “The Briar and the Rose,” a rockin’ Doors sea-song, “Land Ho!” and an IAW&A sing along about Dublin’s sweet “Molly Malone.”

guen and baldies

Guen and the Bespectacled Baldies present “Molly Malone”

‘til next time. Tuesday, July 7 at Bar Thalia at 6 pm!  Keep en eye out for news on our 100th IAW&A Salon celebration!

June 7, 2015

6.2.15 IAW&A Salon: A Touch of the Poet in a Varied, Thrilling 4th Anniversary

Filed under: Literature,Music,Social Activism — by scripts2013 @ 11:10 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by John Brennan

In a month that celebrates Yeats and Joyce, we had more than a touch of the poet at our fourth anniversary IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia on June 2. Several distinctive poets presented their work; two new singer/songwriter/musicians joined the group, creating a varied and thrilling line-up.


John Kearns

Finishing the story he presented at last month’s Thalia salon, the night’s host John Kearns read a tender excerpt from his generational novel-in-progress, Worlds about the Logans of Philadelphia. After his mother’s death, Paul Logan meets his old friend, Joe, in a Wall Street area bar. Joe reveals a secret he had been keeping since the two were in high school — that after Joe’s father had lost his job and subsequently died, Janey Logan had quietly slipped Joe money so that he could go out with the other boys.


Jeff Barstock

First time presenter Jeff Barstock, poet and playwright, read several poems — heartfelt, spiritual, and cosmic in nature.

Through his creativity, Jeff wants to uplift and induce healing laughter throughout world. He succeeded tonight especially with the tribute, “Firefighter” and spiritual works such as “Flame” and “Broken Angel.” Jeff appreciates the warm IAW&A welcome.

Maura Mulligan

Maura Mulligan read a lovely introduction to her memoir, Call of the Lark, which describes how she discovered her writer’s voice as well as her reasons for writing the book. Maura will present this piece this summer at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Sligo, accompanied by esteemed fiddle player, Marie Reilly. Some audience members asked for a link: Call of the Lark by Maura Mulligan.

john_mcD John McDonagh

John McDonagh, who has been driving a yellow cab in New York City for 35 years, read two poems with his observations of the city and which he read at PEN World Voices Festival this year. In “200 West Street Story,” John describes the irony of taking passengers to Goldman Sachs headquarters and then going to Occupy Wall Street, a few blocks away. “What Happened to My City” decries the changes in our town. John is working on a one-man play about his adventures driving a yellow cab in NYC called “Cabtivist” and can be heard on Talk Back-New York, Thee and We Edition, with Malachy McCourt and Corey Kilgannon, on Wednesday mornings at 10 am, WBAI.


Jeanne D’Brant

Jeanne D’Brant read a sensual new poem called “Green Man,” and an ethereal chapter titled “Palace of Dreams” from her book, Heartlands of Islam. She is planning a summer trip to Ireland to research her next project on the Irish genome. She has been invited to present on the philosophical aspects of biochemical pathways for the quarterly seminar at Harvard University’s Mahindra Center for Poetry, Philosophy and Ethics.


Mark Butler presents Lauren Comito of Urban Librarians Unite with $1700 raised at the Amazing Library Variety Show

In a happy follow up to last month’s successful benefit Salon, Mark Butler presented Lauren Comito of Urban Librarians Unite a check with the proceeds. Lauren and Mark again expressed their gratitude for the night’s performers, audience, and volunteers.

adriannakmateoAdrianna Mateo

TimeOut New York called Adrianna Mateo’s performance at the Bang on a Can marathon “triumphant.” A solo violinist and singer-songwriter, who has appeared at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The TimesCenter, she came to the Thalia and sang a lush, emotive acoustic set from her upcoming rock album. Find Adrianna’s debut single (and the surreal story behind it at


Irish Echo Deputy Editor, Peter McDermott, and Christy Kelly


Christy Kelly

Poet, screenwriter and novelist Christy Kelly read from his novel-in-progress titled Nobody Said, set in the Bronx in 1976. Christy writes beautifully of “natives and immigrant citizens.”


Conor McGlone

Conor McGlone read excerpts from two poems, one “A Thought in Summer” and second about the ocean and the collapse of ego. An accomplished young writer, Conor was introduced to the Salon by his CCNY writing instructor, Brendan Costello Jr.


Honor Molloy

Honor Molloy treated us to a segment from her novel Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage. She calls this excerpt “a funny and poignant look at the clash between classes and the way words can divide and wound. It’s 1966. The Irish Government has recently established a Commission on Itinerancy to urbanize “the walking people”—or today’s travelers. Noleen and two kids from the Carlow Encampment battle it out with epithets, curses and fists.”  jon

John Paul Skocik

A popular Salon presenter who performs his own compositions, singer/songwriter guitarist John Paul Skocik performed two original tunes. You can find John’s songs on iTunes and other online outlets, under his former band Girl To Gorilla.


Andrea Wright

Another distinctive talent, singer- songwriter and recording artist, Andrea Wright often performs at Rockwood Music Hall. In her IAW&A Salon debut, she sang two original songs, in “Going Places” she urges listeners to “create their own journeys.” Find her work at


2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award winner, John Brennan, and Christy Kelly

Our next IAW&A Salon will be on Bloomsday, Tuesday, June 16 at 7pm at The Cell.  Conor McCourt and other filmmakers will be presenting their short films.  Don’t miss it!

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