Irish American Writers & Artists

January 22, 2018


Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 1:01 am

By Maureen Hossbacher
Photos by Cat Dwyer

On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the Irish American Writers and Artists, Inc. tribute to the great man got off to a rousing start with a powerful presentation by poet Robert Gibbons entitled  “to deify a martyr.”  The torrent of applause that followed set the tone for the rest of this wonderful evening hosted by John Kearns and included in the roster of events for the 2018 Origin’s First Irish Theater Festival.

gibbons .jpg

Robert Gibbons

Keyera Bowens returned to the Cell to share another thought-provoking work: Part 1 of a story titled “No Church in the Wild,” a prose poem that explores America’s history through the lens of two brothers. We eagerly await Part 2 from this young writer with a promising literary future.

bowers Keyera Bowens

Incorporating some strategically placed call-and-response phrases, first time presenter Natasha Herring read her lyrical essay ”Black and Blue.”   An educator and filmmaker, Herring is a graduate of CCNY’s MFA program and recently completed a memoir entitled, Raining Sunshine (and is looking for an agent). She has also created an on-line community of e-courses called lolforlotsoflove. For more info go to



Natasha Herring

IAW&A was delighted to receive a visit from Irish Vice Consul Shane Cahill who expressed his admiration for our organization and pledged the Consulate’s continued support. In the spirit of the evening, he generously reached out to our diverse presenters and audience and invited other artists with worthy projects to seek assistance from the Consulate.

Vice Consul of Ireland in New York, Shane Cahill, left.  George Heslin,  founder Origin Theatre Company’s First Irish Festival

Standing in for filmmaker and IAW&A Vice President Mary Pat Kelly who was unable to attend, Board member Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy introduced a tantalizing abridgment of Kelly’s film Proud. The inspiration for the film was an article by Thomas Young, an African-American war correspondent, headlined “Irish First To Treat USS MASON Crew As Americans” and based on the true story of the only African American sailors to take a Navy warship into battle during World War II.  Narrated by Ossie Davis and featuring actors Stephen Rea, Eric LaRay Harvey and Aidan Quinn, the section screened at the salon showed the men arriving in Derry and their adventures there.  For more information check out 


Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy introducing clip from Mary Pat Kelly’s film Proud

Next we were treated to a musical interlude by Annalisa Chamberlin, accompanied on acoustic guitar by John Kearns.  Chamberlin, a NYC-based actor and singer, performed the song ”Only Her Rivers Run Free”, which was written for the civil rights movement in 1968 Northern Ireland inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.  Her second selection was a rendition of the stirring ballad ‘The Death of Emmet Till’ written by Bob Dylan.

ac & JK.jpgAnnalisa Chamberlin,  John Kearns

Funny thing about the truth is, it’s just true, you don’t have to prove it. That lyric from Aiesha Duke’s original song “Sweet Lie” applies to her impressive talent as well.  Nevertheless she went right ahead and proved it anyway, with another exciting salon performance.  In addition to her work in Off-Broadway musical theater, Aiesha is also the lead singer, lyricist, manager, and choreographer of her own band , Miss Dukes Music.


Aiesha Dukes

John Kearns read a draft of a new poem about how movements of non-violent resistance have had far reaching influence. The poem highlights connections between Irish civil rights leaders and Gandhi and Martin Luther King who inspired the civil rights movement in the North of Ireland.


John Kearns

The amazing Rebekah Madebach made her second appearance at the salon. The New York actress performed “New Year’s Eve 2014”, a dramatic monologue written and directed by IAW&A member Dan Brown. The piece explored the idea that a seed of hate may exist even in the most open heart. The goal of this raw and edgy performance was to inspire each of us to look inside of ourselves, and continue to become more open and loving.


Rebekah Madebach

First time presenter Janelle Poe, read three poems, the first a found poem comprised entirely of Dr. MLK Jr.’s words in his seminal historic text, “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”.  In “Math,” Poe continued addressing the theme of segregation and exploitation by presenting a complicated equation to identify, “How Many Black People Do You Know?”  Her final untitled poem draws connections between global “cells” and prisoners of oppression.  An organizer for the CCNY MFA Reading Series and selected reader for the Turnstile Series of graduating CUNY MFA students, she will be reading at CUNY Grad Center sometime in the next few months.  Visit or CCNY MFA Reading Series for more information.


Janelle Poe

Our grand finale was delivered by Maxine Linehan, international concert and recording artist.  Maxine travels the world as a solo concert artist and has enraptured crowds in venues from New York’s Lincoln Center and Paris’ famed Théâtre du Châtelet, to Feinstein’s/54 Below and Birdland. Her stunning tribute to fellow countrymen U2, garnered rave reviews at its premiere last year including the Irish Voice who described the show as “the perfect introduction to the megawatt talent of the incomparable Linehan”. Accompanied by pianist Steven Ray Watkins at the salon, Maxine performed U2’s smash hit “One” (her cover single is available on iTunes and all proceeds benefit Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS: ).  She also performed another U2 classic, “Pride” (In The Name Of Love), which was written in honor of Dr. King. Maxine will give a special St. Patrick’s Eve performance of her show  ONE: THE SONGS OF U2 backed by a chamber orchestra at Feinstein’s/54 Below on March 16th at 9.30pm.

maxine civil rights 2

Maxine Linehan

This special event was summed up perfectly by Janelle Poe:  “ A beautiful evening — and this is what [Dr. King] wanted!”









January 12, 2018

1.5.18 IAW&A Salon: A Rollicking Night Undeterred by Bomb Cyclone

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 12:45 am

by John Kearns
Photos by John Kearns and Tom Mahon

The IAW&A Salon began 2018 undaunted by a last-minute schedule change, large piles of snow on the sidewalks, and the frigid temperatures brought on by a “bomb cyclone”.  But in the words of presenter Tom Mahon, “We turned a quiet, freezing evening into another rollicking night of story, song and drumming.”


Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon started the salon with two vignettes.  The first was called, “I’ve Had Enough,” about a young intern’s first ER patient who dies before he can save him.  Then the man’s family arrives, and then his lawyers.  Altogether four wives and fourteen children, who all howl when they discover their former rich husband and father left them nothing.  The second story was called, “Before He Left,” of a vet whose reentry into his family and community goes awry when a bar patron’s shouting sends him into survival mode and he reacts and kills the man.  A week later the vet kills himself. The story, told from the father-in-law’s point of view asks after burying his son-in-law, “How did we expect him to do all he had to on his own?”


Rob Block

First-time presenter Rob Block’s  ‘Beyababa’ was written as a choral oratorio though decidedly secular – not a bit churchy. The story concerns the interior conflict of a king who’s nation is in peril of losing to drought it’s only crop: “beyababa.”  None of the advice or direction he receives from those around him seems useful or sound. What is a King to do? Rob sends all possible praise and thanks to Rosina Fernhoff for her magnificent interpretation of his work.


Rosina  Fernhoff

Rosina  Fernhoff then performed a monologue from Approaching Zanzibar by Tina Howe.  The very old character Olivia recounts her memory monologue of her wild youth and her unforgettable first love who ” taught her to eat orchids and read the stars” in Zanzibar.


Eddie Crawford

John Kearns was honored to have actor Eddie Crawford read an excerpt from his story, “Displacement.”  Eddie vividly portrayed the musings of 1940s Detective Raftery who tries to imagine himself in the place of a murderer, since it has proven difficult to get any information in his Irish-American neighborhood.  “Only way to shut the Irish up is come in with a badge and ask a question.”


Gordon Gilbert

Gordon Gilbert began with two poems written on the first and second day of the New Year and followed them with a singles bar proposal and a poem about acceptance of the
physical limitations that come with age.  He concluded with a “Winter Spell” of protection for his father’s land, written twenty years ago when the land was still his father’s.


Sarah Fearon acted as an understudy for Marcia Sanders (aka Marcia Loughran).  Sarah read new material on a character who moves through the real estate world in New York.


Kathleen O’Sullivan presented a chapter from her illustrated memoir, Isham Street, in iMovie form.  In this chapter, the innocent child in a spiritual euphoria sees life from her unique perspective, in which walking up Isham Street feels like she’s going on a pilgrimage to heaven.  With her angel by her side, the girl goes through her Saturday ritual that includes the butcher’s offering her a slice of baloney and the baker’s giving her the bread ends, while people are blessing themselves all over Broadway … returning home to her lyrical mother & the family feasting on baloney sandwiches.

kathleen OKathleen O’Sullivan (photo by Tom Mahon)


Malachy McCourt (photo by Tom Mahon)

Malachy McCourt shared some of his thoughts on religion and the afterlife and read part of the description of hell from Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  He then sang, “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle and wrapped up the salon with a rousing rendition of “The Bells of Hell”:

“The bells of Hell
Go jing-aling-aling
For you but not for me …”

After Malachy’s performance, the salon had a surprise guest recruited by Tom Mahon from the subway in Washington Heights — djembe drummer Matt Sweet!  Matt plans to return to the IAW&A Salon with more drums!


Matt Sweet (photo by Tom Mahon)

Don’t forget out Civil Rights Salon at the Cell on Monday at 7.  Reserve your free ticket here:

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