Irish American Writers & Artists

February 28, 2017

2.21.17 IAW&A Salon: Hearing fresh new voices, poets and storytellers

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 10:29 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer


We welcomed new voices at the IAW&A Salon at the Cell on February 21 and they in turn appreciated the warm reception. Pat Lavin thanks us for having “a great, supportive audience” and says she was honored to “share the stage with such exceptional talent.”

Gordon Gilbert, Jr., pictured at left started off the night taking us from the political – with excerpts from his satirical piece titled “Dee Jay T and the Deplorables in the Battle of the Bands” –  to the sublime, with a love poem “Contemplating A Distant Love,” in recognition of Valentine’s Day just celebrated

lavinIn her Cell debut Pat Lavin read “I Am Crimson,” invoking red images in nature and life, dedicating the poem to “our bruised little planet.” Unsurprisingly, Pat’s favorite color is red and she says, “…the poem wrote itself! I sat down at my computer, blinked, and when I opened my eyes…there it was on the screen.”  A Certified Hypnotherapist, journalist and writer whose work has been published nationwide, Pat works with creative people to overcome blocks and free the imagination. For more info, see Pat Garrett Lavin on Facebook.

Distinguished actress Rosina Fernhoff performed a scene from The Conversion of Alice B. Toklas by Carol Polcovar. In this one-woman play, Toklas steps out of the shadow of her late love Gertrude Stein and talks about her dream to become a Catholic. Rosina has performed this role at The Fresh Fruit Festival where she won the Outstanding Actor Award and she hopes to recreate the role this year or next.

 Rosina Fernoff, left.  Amy Barone

Another first time presenter, Amy Barone read poems from her yet-to-be published first full collection, We Became Summer, as well as work from her latest chapbook, Kamikaze Dance. Her work is inspired by the essence of place, music and her adopted homes of Milan and New York City.

Mary Deady ended the Salon’s first half by singing two songs in her exquisite voice. Each was a love song, of sorts. The West Cork ballad  “The Blue Handkerchief” is about a young couple.  In “Times Like This” from the Broadway musical Lucky Stiff, a woman yearns for that most faithful companion, a dog.

Mary Deady, left. Olivier Sublet and Maria Deasy

Maria Deasy and Olivier Sublet starred in a scene from  Derek Murphy’s play currently in development, Dyin’ For It, a dark comedy all about dying and deciding not to.  Murphy’s play Appendage just completed a successful at Theatre for the New City in the East Village.

Nina Sokol’s poems have appeared in such journals as Miller’s Pond and The Hiram Poetry Review. Tonight she read from her poetry collection Escape and Other Poems, which was published by Lapwing Publications, a poetry press in Belfast. A resident of Denmark, Nina will be making an audio version of her work in connection for The Missouri Review and promises to return when she visits New York.

                        Nina Sokol, left.  Aimee O’Sullivan

Aimee O’Sullivan’s Salon introduction was a powerful short poem/monologue about the struggle in equality and sexuality between men and women. Aimee says she was “somewhat influenced by Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth” in creating this work, with its reoccurring theme of regality.

Host John Kearns’s latest episode from his nearly completed novel, Worlds, is set in late 1970s suburban Philadelphia. Frustrated about how her house looks, Janey Logan goes out shopping for new shoes. When a pair of blue heels catches her eye in the window of Florsheim’s, she enters the store to find that the mother of her son’s friend now works there. Embarrassed as the woman helps her try on the shoes, Janey decides that she can’t make such a frivolous purchase while her friend is struggling to make ends meet. In an act of kindness, she puts money aside for the woman’s son. John’s happy to announce that his play, Sons of Molly Maguire, will be staged on May 10th and 11th at Dublin’s Liberty Hall: Sons of Molly Maguire, a drama by John Kearns

                      John Kearns, Maura Mulligan

Rúile Búile on the Bus” describes Maura Mulligan’s recent experience as a passenger in a broken-down bus in the Lincoln Tunnel. It’s an Irish term meaning confusion or chaos. Maura was returning home from IAW&A’s transatlantic Salon with Belfast. Not only was the bus stopped, scared passengers started the rumor that the driver was a terrorist. Calming herself by recalling the Belfast art: images of hats and lines of poetry, Maura blocked out the rúile búile on the bus. Maura Mulligan is author of the memoir, Call of the Lark and teaches Irish language and céilí dancing and enjoys performing sean nós (old style) dancing. She is founder of Nollaig na mBan NYC – a group of artists dedicated to supporting a women’s shelter – The Dwelling Place of New York: Check her soon to be updated website:

Salon newcomer Gerry Maguire’s poem “Phil McDonnell’s Fire,” written 15 years ago, recalled carefree nights in a small community nestled in the foothills of Cuilcagh Mountain in west County Cavan. Phil McDonnell acted as teacher, priest and friend to a rambunctious group of teenagers. In his glory days, strangers arrived at his house eager to have their fortunes told and “darkness” lifted from their lives. He entertained them with music, songs and stories. Through emigration, Phil’s fireside grew quiet, with only an occasional visitor. Gerry gifted him with this poem when Phil was in a nursing home, blind and melancholy, with no one to entertain – and he loved it.

                           Gerry Maguire, left.  John Skocik

Singer/songwriter/musician John Paul Skocik closed the full night by trying out some engaging new material in progress. Finishing with “The American Dream,” an important tune about what we assume we are entitled to and learning what really matters.

Two reminders: Next Salon will be Thursday, March 2 at Bar Thalia.

Don’t forget St. Pat’s for All Parade Sunday, March 5.

February 7, 2017

2.2.17 IAW&A SALON: History on tap at Bar Thalia, plus poets, and at least one saint

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 9:15 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

History — actual, mythological and personal — was on the agenda at the early February IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia. In addition, we had several poets, at least one saint and possibly some sinners.

Singer/songwriter/artist John Munnelly, armed with his poetry instead of his guitar, showed another facet of his creativity. He read three short poems: “The Great God of Battle (Lies),” “The Revenant” and “I Am from Dirt.” John also read the lyrics to his latest single, “Nowhere Without You.” To hear the sweet love song, and spend a few imaginary minutes in Antigua, see his video and be sure to share the link



John Munnelly. Photo by Christopher Booth.

In the history department, Patrick Mahoney gave us glimpses of some of the fascinating characters in From a Land Beyond the Wave: Connecticut’s Irish Rebels 1798-1916, just published by The Connecticut Irish-American Historical Society. Pat, a PhD student, co-authored this volume together with Neil Hogan, to tell the story of the Connecticut Irish who joined and supported Ireland’s fight for independence.

You can meet the authors at the book’s launch on Friday, February 24, from 5 pm to 9 pm at the Maple Cafe, 938 Maple Avenue, Hartford. Pat Mahoney and Neil Hogan will read, along with other guests. They’ll be followed by a traditional music session, led by John Whelan and Jeanne Freeman of the Connecticut Academy of Irish Music. All traditional musicians are welcome to join the session. Producer Ed Patterson invites everyone to the event and he promises a lively night of books, music and craic.

Pat Mahoney, left.  Cormac O’Malley

Cormac O’Malley, an author and son of Ernie O’Malley (militant nationalist, author, art critic and historian) read from his father’s renowned memoir, On Another Man’s Wound. The lyrical passage describes the rustic landscape that Ernie cycled through while he was on the run in the IRA. Cormac talked about Ernie O’Malley’s life with the IRA in the War of Independence and later in the Irish Civil War. Captured and seriously wounded, he went on a 41-day hunger strike, avoiding execution because he was too weak to stand trial. Cormac O’Malley has edited has Modern Ireland and Revolution: Ernie O’Malley in Context, pubbed by Glucksman/Ireland House. Leading Irish and Irish-American academics in examine O’Malley’s life relating to literature, modern arts and photography in Ireland, his role in the War of Independence including its depiction in the movie The Wind that Shakes the Barley.

 Jack DiMonte shared his fascination with the history of the Great American Songbook, singing two ballads composed by Harry Warren: “This Heart of Mine” and “I Wish I Knew.” Warren, a lesser-known but most prolific songwriter wrote many of the best-loved and best-known songs from the 1920s through the 1950s, primarily for Hollywood, including the score of the movie 42nd Street.

100_5942 Jack DiMonte

Actor and writer Nancy Oda shared the legends of the goddess Brigid, forerunner of St. Brigid, who is celebrated on February 1st. A harbinger of spring, symbolized by milk and dairy products, Brigid is a triple Celtic goddess. She represents the fire of inspiration, fire of the hearth and of the forge. Thus she is a patroness of poets, writers, mothers, and artisans, who are well represented in IAW&A.

Nancy Oda, left.  Bernadette Cullen

The poet Bernadette Cullen read two poems. The first poem was a meditation on Andrew Wyeth’s haunting painting “Christina’s World,” in which she says I have not moved. Bernadette calls “Requiem” “a poetic narrative on the political climate in this country in the wake of Trump’s election.”

Salon producer and host John Kearns reports that his novel, Worlds, an Irish American family story, is nearly finished. In 1890s Philadelphia, young Seamus Logan makes suggestions to his boss about how he can improve his construction company’s tough business.  After his boss fails to take his ideas seriously, Seamus wanders the streets of South Philly and decides to stop into Boyle’s Tavern to see a friend who has encouraged Seamus to go into business for himself.

Ed Patterson, in addition to producing the Irish American Film Festival, is a writer. Tonight he sampled his new screenplay, about a suburban couple going out to celebrate their anniversary.  In the process they  discover who they’re not and rediscover their own love. We look forward to hearing more and seeing where the story ends.

John Kearns, left.  Ed Patterson

Raised by Nuns and Drunks is the title of Kathleen Vaughan’s memoir-in-progress. Kathleen and her family arrived from Co. Cork when she was a year and a half old. When she was five, after her mother died, she and two of her four siblings were placed into the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Home, an orphanage in the Bronx. “It will be only for six months,” said her overwhelmed father. Seven and a half years later Kathleen went home. Tonight, she read an excerpt describing an indelible incident that took place during a relatively rare weekend visit home to 11 Hillside Avenue.

Kathleen Vaughn, left.  Brent Shearer

Brent Shearer, who dubs himself NYC’s oldest unemerged writer, presented his short story “Skirts Up, Jeans Down, Butts Bare” to a mixed audience response. He was happy with the reaction of the Thalia’s bartenders, noting that he has “followed in the footsteps of the McCourts for whom diversity and inclusion are core values.” He adds that “the community Malachy and others created performed its essential function well…” at the Thalia.

Marcia Loughran shared a good-natured ode to the IAW&A Salons, plus her poem about a New Yorker visiting LA in January.  Her chapbook, “Still Life with Weather” said to be “full of music” is available on Amazon and Barnes and

Marcia Loughran, left.  Malachy McCourt

Malachy McCourt brought a very full night to a close with his usual words of wisdom, humor  and song.

Mark your calendar:

Next salon will be Tuesday, February 21, 7 pm at The Cell.

St. Pat’s-for-All Parade on 3/5 on Concert on 3/3. For full details, go to


Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy spreads the word about St. Pat’s-for-All.

Photo by Christopher Booth.




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