By Karen Daly
Photos by Christopher Booth
The end of June brings the end of school and, for the IAW&A, a time to honor the legacy of Frank McCourt by giving an award for literary excellence to a graduate of NYC’s Frank McCourt High School. In fact, the submissions were so strong this year, we gave awards to three students. Winners of IAW&A’s 2016 McCourt Award for Creative Writing, Natasha Neil, Evony Morel and Milena Blue Spruce, were our special guests at the Salon on June 21. Graduating this week, the young women read sections of their winning entries and wowed the audience with their talent and poise. We were delighted to cheer them on!
Natasha Neil, Evony Morel and Milena Blue Spruce
In keeping with the educational theme, Brendan Costello, IAW&A Board Member and teacher of Creative Writing at City College organized a Salon dedicated to teachers and students and enlivened with great musical performances. Brendan hosted the night with Salon producer John Kearns.
Showing how IAW&A’s fame is growing, the Salon attracted presenters from Hawaii and Australia. A poet and scholar from Hawaii, Joseph Stanton read selections from his five poetry collections. His choices dealt with themes of baseball and film, including “The Birds” (yes, Hitchcock) and “Fernando Tatis Hits Two Grand Slams in One Inning.” You can appreciate and see the inspiration for “Michael Langenstein’s Play Ball” at http://www.hawaii.edu/vice-versa/archive/issue_3/issue_3/stanton/stanton.html A professor of Art History and American Studies at the University of Hawaii, Joseph recently gave a workshop at Poets House. For his latest collection, http://brickroadpoetrypress.com/order-books/things-seen-by-joseph-stanton
IAW&A Salon first timer Kristen Daniels, a student in Brendan Costello’s creative writing workshop, read a heartfelt piece “On Earth as It Is in Heaven” about her struggle with faith and about the journey she went on in search of a sign.
Thom Molyneaux is creating a one-man show called Me and the Monologue, which he performed in front of a live audience for the first time at the Salon. Thom demonstrated his acting chops by delivering Shakespeare’s “Oh, for a muse of fire…” He stepped into the role of Tom, in the brilliant opening and closing monologues of The Glass Menagerie and ended with Malachi Stack, a charming slightly disreputable Irish philosopher, from Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.
Composer and singer Frances O’Neill, visiting from Australia, described her journey to learning about her Scottish/Irish roots, on hearing that her family had “royal” O’Rourke blood. That journey resulted in her composing a musical, The Last Torch, set at the turn of the 16th century when an O’Rourke saved survivors of a shipwreck from the Spanish Armada on the West Coast of Ireland. Frances shared a lovely song called “Eleanor’s Aria” from The Last Torch, which premiered at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Author and dance teacher, Maura Mulligan told a story from her memoir, Call of the Lark, about her first feis – a dancing competition in her native County Mayo. Maura’s mother reminded her to “bow to the ferret,” the dance judge known locally as “Ferret Flatly.” Having lost a medal to her sister Mag, the young Maura kicked her shoe off and was disqualified from the competition when the shoe “went flying through the air, landing with a bang on the Ferret’s table.”
Anne Kelly, Alice Ryan, Silpa Sadhujan and Kim Tulloch
Maura’s students Anne Kelly, Alice Ryan, Silpa Sadhujan and Kim Tulloch brought the scene to life dancing a vivacious and flawless Four Hand Reel, accompanied by renowned fiddler Marie Reilly. Next stop for Maura and Marie will be the Fleadh Cheoil in Ennis this summer.
IAW&A Salon newcomer Alice Smyth trained her voice and on harp with Eily O’Grady Patterson and her husband, the late tenor, Frank Patterson. This year’s NY Rose of Tralee’s People’s Choice Rose, Alice was inspired to get back to performing her Irish folk song repertoire. She did so tonight with two lovely songs, a Gaelic song, plus “Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry.”
Mary Lannon read a charming excerpt from her first novel with the impossibly long title of An Explanation of the Fundamentals of the Derivation of Dilapidated Brown Station Wagon aka How I Became a Scientist and Discovered the Truth About Getting Stuck in the Wrong Universe by Miranda J. McCleod. At work on her second novel, Mary is an Associate Professor of English at Nassau Community College.
Kevin Holohan’s passage from his darkly funny novel The Brothers’ Lot http://www.akashicbooks.com/catalog/the-brothers-lot/ot) described the questionable educational methods deployed by The Brothers of Godly Coercion School for Young Boys of Meager Means. Kevin describes “the laughably clumsy vocation recruitment tactics of the doddering Brother Kennedy and the boys’ brilliantly exasperating use of deliberate obtuseness and feigned stupidity.” When not engaged in trying to finish his second novel, Kevin puts occasional little mad bits of scribbling here https://box3.wordpress.com/
Vocalist Alisa Rose studied opera before finding her connection to traditional Celtic and folk music. Her powerful voice filled the Cell with “I Wonder What’s Keeping My True Love Tonight.” A musician and scholar, she notes that it was one of the few songs that seems to have survived purely by oral tradition. More about her at https://alisarosemusic.com Learn about, and support her premiere album at https://www.gofundme.com/alisarosecompelled
Fearless Guenevere Donohue delivered a brand new rant/monologue/essay she calls “Fear of Teaching,” about good and bad teachers, humility, and hubris being their respective hallmarks. Guen ended with an illustration of how a stranger can become a teacher by witnessing our effort, and offering encouragement. In Guen’s case, a man overheard her practicing her singing in a park and offered, “I see you. I hear you. Keep going.”
Maureen Hossbacher brought the evening to a hilarious conclusion with her parody of “My Favorite Things,” itemizing some of the less gratifying aspects of her teaching career at Hunter College.
But when nostalgia for the classroom
leaves me feeling sad
I simply remember the things I don’t miss
And then I don’t feel so bad
Christopher Booth, whose photographs appear here,invites everyone to his reading from James Joyce on Monday, June 27 at 7:30 pm at Swift Hibernian Lounge, 34 East 4th Street, NYC. Readings are in the back room, past the bar. Readings take place on the 4th Monday of each month. For more info, go tohttps://www.facebook.com/cbooth2004/posts/10206959643885017
See you next time at Bar Thalia, Thursday, July 7 at 7 pm.