Irish American Writers & Artists

September 24, 2017

9.19.17 IAW&A Salon: “Effervescent artistry and joyous fun…and variety…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 1:33 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

That note from a grateful participant sums up the mid-September IAW&A Salon at The Cell, hosted by Salon producer John Kearns.

It’s never too early to think Christmas with Mark William Butler. A playwright, producer, songwriter and IAW&A Board member – and producer of the program content for our upcoming O’Neill Award honoring Phil Donohue – Mark brought the wonderful Kaitlyn Baldwin and John Skocik to present a scene from his Ugly Christmas Sweater: The Musical. To see more,

Mark Butler, left. Kaitlyn Baldwin, center,  John Skocik

On a somber but moving tone, frequent Salon presenter Gordon Gilbert, Jr. read two pieces that dealt with Alzheimer’s disease, one a short poem called “The Alzheimer’s Waltz” and a new monologue, “Waking to a New World.”

Gordon Gilbert, left.  Maureen Hossbacher

Maureen Hossbacher knows that nostalgia can be sweet as well as sad, as she illustrates in her captivating story, “Finer Things.” In it, an elderly lawyer reunites with the object of his unrequited love many years after the end of their affair. Look for Maureen’ s poetry chapbook Lesser Known Saints, due out in the spring from Finishing Line Press.

Leilani McInerney gave another astonishing performance with her enactment of her own writings on aging, death and the hereafter. She made sure to include “humor and enlightenment,” noting that she felt emboldened by Malachy McCourt’s Death Need Not Be Fatal.

leilani.jpgLeilani McInerney

Sheila Walsh was delighted with the performances of Nancy Oda and Jack Di Monte reading Sheila’s short play “Finding The Fountain.” Another one-act in Sheila’s evening of eight one-acts, Lost and Found, the piece has a supernatural twist.

jack nancy.jpgJack DiMonte, Nancy Oda

Singing in unaccompanied harmony, Dan and Bonnie Milner amazed the audience with their performance of two traditional Irish-American songs from their CD, Irish Songs from Old New England. In “Cork Harbor” a wild storm at sea blinds the narrator, who returns to Ireland and marries his beloved. In “Here’s Adieu to Old Ireland” a bad lad is arrested and transported to Australia. Seven years later, returning to Ireland, he finds that his mother, who had cautioned him to reform, has died in his absence.

millners.jpgBonnie and Dan Milner

Actress and singer Annalisa Chamberlin had a chance to showcase her talents tonight. She performed a darkly comedic monologue “Blue Mountain” in which a young woman ponders a marriage proposal. Committed, yet conflicted, she explores options that include marital bliss, murder and faking her own death. A new IAW&A member, Dan Brown from Rockaway Beach, wrote the piece.

Annalisa performed two original songs: a poignant waltz she composed this summer, which she played on the grand piano, and “Easy Answers” a satirical piece written by our own John Kearns who accompanied on guitar.

Annalisa Chamberlin, John Kearns

In Brent Shearer’s story, a husband pauses time while shopping in a toy store with his wife, but doesn’t make a big deal about it. Brent, a writer living on the lower West Side, loved to challenge the audience with his work.


Brent Shearer, left. Christy Kelly

Poet, screenwriter and novelist Christy Kelly shared some poems, including “To Be Alone” and a tender tribute to a late friend.

Sarah Fearon had the surprise treat of working with Omar Haddad on guitar accompaniment, which she felt made her comedy set “a beatnik jazzy performance piece.” Sarah covered such subjects as the pending apocalypse, DNA tests, quitting smoking and crazy names of juice bar smoothies. Catch more of her work at The Friars Club on October 3 and at Tallulah Lounge on October 18.  Email for info!

omar sarahOmar Haddad,  Sarah Fearon

Singer, songwriter, artist John Munnelly played some original songs. “Expanding Universe” is the lead song on his ready-to-launch limited edition and handmade-designed-created EP/CD. He also sang – and we sang along – to “It’s Going to Be Alright,” composed last week for use at John’s songwriting seminar. Be sure to look out for John’s CD launch. or

john.jpg John Munnelly

Singer, songwriter, actor John Skocik started the night performing as “The Ugly Christmas Sweater” and ended it by singing some of his rollicking rock songs, including “Son of A Bitch” and “Even If Takes All Night.

joh s .jpgJohn Skocik

For more artistry and variety, come to the next Salon at Bar Thalia on Thursday, October 5.

September 16, 2017

9.7.17 IAW&A Salon: Poignant Stories, Amusing Poems and Camaraderie on a Balmy September Night at Bar Thalia

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 2:24 am

By Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy

Photos by Cat Dwyer

Edna O’Brien believes that Irish writers are driven by conflict…and loss…and an innate sense of tragedy. At the Irish American Writers & Artists Salon, summer came to an end with tales of death, love and loss.

Brent Shearer got the Salon started with “The Cancer Hospital” a story about a biddy who ventures into Manhattan from Long Island to visit her dying friend.  Afraid of muggers, she leaves her handbag home but carries with her the racist fears and prejudices that haunt her. Brent’s work has appeared in publications from the New York Times to Mergers & Acquisitions magazine, where he was a senior editor.

IAWA Salon, Thalia, Sept 7 2017

Brent Shearer

Our next presenter, Kathleen Vaughan, read from her memoir Raised by Nuns and Drunks, which describes a child’s loss of home and parental love. The excerpt was a tribute to her aunt whose visits to the young Kathleen brightened her seven years spent in a Catholic orphanage. While occasionally taking lady-like sips from her whiskey flask, Auntie Nora shared indelible memories of Kathleen’s mother and provided the “powerful, unstoppable love” she needed.


Kathleen Vaughan

IAW&A Board member Brendan Costello Jr. read an excerpt from his novel in progress, Winning, which despite its hopeful title, continued the somewhat dark themes of the Salon so far. The scene’s main character (a callow young man in his late twenties) observes the interaction of several homeless men across the street from his New Orleans hotel room. His detachment and disdain is meant to indicate his moral bankruptcy, much like the scene in Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness on which it is based.


Brendan Costello Jr.


At this point in the evening, host Maureen Hossbacher welcomed back, fresh from the Electric Picnic Arts & Music Festival in County Laois, John Kearns who accompanied a contingent of artists (novelist Kathleen Donohue, actress Maria Deasy, playwright Derek Murphy, comedian Sarah Fearon and monologist John McDonagh), who participated with John in our first Salons on Irish soil! John described their activities in Laois and other venues, and reminded us of important IAW&A events upcoming in NYC, most notably our exciting annual fundraiser, the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award at the Manhattan Club, on Monday, Oct. 16, 6-9pm, this year honoring legendary talk show host Phil Donahue (for tkts go to

John, pictured above, read a newly completed ending to an episode from his novel-in-progress, Worlds, in which Paul Logan hopes to take barmaid Laura out for the evening but finds himself staying at her bar to listen to the Santana cover band, Bruja. When Laura’s friend, Stacey, arrives, the evening turns out completely different from what Paul had planned.

Rosina Fernhoff, a masterful, Obie Award-winning actor and frequent performer at our Salons, brought the first half to a close with a passionate monologue from the play Grace by Mick Gordon and AC Grayling.  In it, the bitter conflict which an atheist scientist has with her adored son, a gentle evangelist minister, is revealed.  She scornfully blames his death on his attempt to turn a  “violent religion into a better religion.”


Rosina Fernhoff

After the sobering subject matter of the presentations, a nice long intermission for socializing and imbibing refreshed us for the second half, kicked off by Karen Frances McCarthy, who read a poignant vignette “Living Room.  Morning” from her memoir entitled appropriately enough, Love, Sex & Death. She prefaced her reading by joking that she would read “the sex part” at her next Salon. McCarthy, an accomplished journalist, has written and produced documentaries for RTE and covered the Iraq war for the Irish Times and American politics for Al Jazeera. Her book The Other Irish became part of the cross border peace effort in Ireland, for which she was named one of Ireland’s most influential broadcasters who have made an international impact.


Karen Frances McCarthy

Gordon Gilbert writes fiction and poetry, and his play, Monologues from the Old Folks Home, has been directed and produced by him six times in NYC.  This evening he presented four poems, the first about how distance can make a lover forget the bad and remember the good; the next three about his father, who passed away this summer at the age of 98.  Gordon ended with an amusing anecdote from the eulogy he gave at the memorial service.


Gordon Gilbert

Next up, Mary Lannon furnished a bit more levity with her poems: “To Impersonate a Poet,” “An Exercise,” “I Am Monica Lewinsky,” and “In the Land of Landlords.”  The last two drew much laughter from the crowd. Mary’s fiction has been published at StoryNew World Writing and Prick of the Spindle. She’s at work on a second novel, and this was the first time she has read poetry at the Salon.


Mary Lannon

Tom Mahon, a long-time member and presenter, then read a vignette from his collection Delusions, a sad tale entitled “The Ten Grand Bride,” about a business transaction — a loveless green card marriage — that was supposed to improve the life of a lonely bachelor.  It didn’t.


Tom Mahon

Salon host Maureen Hossbacher ended the proceedings with a shout-out to Malachy McCourt, who often closes the salon with a yarn and a song, but sent his regrets this evening.  In his absence, Maureen sang us out with a stunning rendition of the Broadway classic from Finian’s Rainbow, “How Are Things In Glocca Morra.”


Maureen Hossbacher 

Come to the next Salon on Tuesday, 9/19 at The Cell Theatre.










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