By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer
Sarah Fearon welcomes the crowd
Sarah Fearon warmed up the crowd with comedy on that special night she dubbed “Cinco de County Mayo.” Sarah produced and hosted an IAW&A Salon with a heartfelt vibe and amazing connections. Jon Gordon called the night “meaningful and profound.” We had several first time presenters, and unique offerings that included storytelling, poetry, memoir and photography.
Singer/songwriter Andrea Wright opened each half of the program with original songs from her two EP’s Riverside and Buoy Lights, both with autobiographical lyrics. An accomplished musician with a versatile voice, Andrea has performed worldwide. She studied piano at Interlochen Arts Academy and learned guitar from jazz and pop musicians in the city. http://www.andreawrightmusic.com
Writer, actress, comedienne and activist and new IAW&A member Marian Fontana read a wonderfully moving story about bringing her husband’s ashes to Ireland. Marion’s memoir is the widely praised A Widow’s Walk and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Salon.com and The Guardian. She is currently filming a web series and creating a one-woman show. Marianfontana.com
We welcomed Ira Goldstein, poet and family therapist, who read his work. Ira is also Marian’s dad.
Retired Police Captain Rita Mullaney served on the NYPD for 24 years. The Bay Ridge native crossed the bridge to walk a beat in Chelsea where she was drawn into the daily human drama. As she watched the neighborhood changing, she started to document the stories of the older residents through photography and video. Tonight Rita showed several photographs and told the stories behind them, revealing her compassion along with her skill.
Jazz saxophonist Jon Gordon entertained with stories from his work-in-progress, Jazz Lives. Jon was just starting out but found himself travelling and partying with legends Cab Calloway and Doc Cheatham. In a sweet, revealing anecdote, Jon told how he helped an 83 year-old woman fulfill her dream of playing “Amazing Grace.”
Jim Rodgers read an excerpt from his novel, Long Night’s End. Johnny Gunn, grieving over the tragic loss of his son, and recently his friend Jimmy, is back doing weekend gigs with his over-the-hill rock band. Tonight they play in Sunnyside, Queens before a raucous crowd, where Johnny spots the voluptuous Molly Farrell, a woman destined to own his soul. Tonight he refuses to avoid her gaze and later, when the gig ends, he finds himself with Molly in an emotional hurricane, one which draws both of them toward her apartment and the inevitable sin he’s been avoiding.
Sean Hickey shared three original poems, including “Requiem for a Crow,” an account of what he describes as “the genuinely moving mourning I witnessed one crow doing over the fallen body of another.”
Sean announced the third annual Bergen County Irish Festival on Saturday, June 25th, at Overpeck County Park in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm. The festival’s Literature Tent will be open from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.
Sign up: IAW&A members are invited to sign up to read or perform at the Bergen County Irish Festival. You may have a 10-minute slot to present your work, or a 15-minute slot to present your work and that of a favorite Irish or Irish-American author or artist. Readings and performances should relate to Ireland or the Irish/Irish-American experience, and they should be suitable for a general audience. Presenters will be able to display and sell books, CDs, and other works in the tent. If you are interested in presenting at the festival, please contact Sean Hickey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inspired by the commemorative events of the 1916 Easter Rising, Guen Donohue wondered what events would mark each day an Irish leader of the Rising was executed. Finding none, Guen decided to hold her own Impromptu Memorials at The Irish Hunger Memorial. Those early mornings found Guen singing to the stones of Ireland in Irish, and speaking about the men who died. For us, she sang Patrick Pearse’s words, Mise Éire, set to music by Patrick Cassidy.
Tom Mahon’s vignettes often have a dramatic, twisting end. “The Bridge Tender’s Wife” tells of a woman whose husband sees her on a sailboat with four men. That night he tricks her into confirming that she had sex with three men. It was the second time he had married her, and the last.
Pat Lavin read a moving personal essay about her daughter and her daughter’s fiancé.
Malachy McCourt traditionally closes the Salon at Bar Thalia, and he remarked on what a special night we had. Of course, he had a few remarks about politics and history and ended with a Famine Song.
Oh, the praties they grow small over here, over here
Oh, the praties they grow small, and we dig them in the fall
And we eat them, skin and all, over here, over here, over here.
Malachy McCourt, “Sing the song, children!”
See you next time, Tuesday, May 17, The Cell.