Irish American Writers & Artists

August 21, 2017

8.15.17 IAW&A SALON: Musical, Moving and Drop-Dead Funny

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 10:14 pm

By Karen Daly
Photos by Mark Butler

Three theater pieces, musical variety, poetry, video and lots of laughs were featured at the August IAW&A Salon at The Cell. Members continue to be inspired by last month’s immigration-themed Salon and by the topic of Malachy McCourt’s latest book, Death Need Not Be Fatal.

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The audience cheered when Salon producer and host John Kearns read briefly from IAW&A mission statement: While avoiding party affiliation and endorsing no candidates for public office, IAW&A is outspoken in defense of artistic freedom, human rights and social justice. For its entirety, go to i-am-wa.org/about-us/mission-statement.

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Erin Krebs and Madden McDonagh

College students Madden McDonagh and Erin Krebs made their Salon debut with an accomplished rendition of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Erin, a musical theater student, sang and Madden accompanied her on piano. They have been playing music together since they were 14 and offered their artistic vision to Cabtivist, the one-man show by IAW&A veteran and Madden’s dad, John McDonagh.

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Thom Molyneaux and Rosina Fernhoff

Thom Molyneaux raves that Rosina Fernhoff  “rocked the house” in a scene from Re-Wrighting the Creeping Venomed Spider King, Thom’s play about Shakespeare and the writing of his early masterpiece Richard III. As Queen Elizabeth, she was “…bright, witty, vulnerable and powerful with a spine of steel…” and had a theatricality that embodied the script. Thom and Rosina thank our IAW&A audience for its “support, warmth and exciting response.”

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Madeline Artenberg

Madeline Artenberg presented three dramatically visual and moving poems with the underlying theme of the spoken and unspoken. They were: “From Nothing, about a father’s immigration to Ellis Island.  In “Rock Chick Sonata,” a mother’s lost dream has consequences for a daughter. In  “First Date,”  an innocent teenager is filled with angst, curiosity and hope on a first date in Coney Island.

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Sheila Walsh, Sarah Fearon, and Tom Mahon,

Tom Mahon, Sarah Fearon and Sheila Walsh showed their comic chops in Sheila’s short play Birdie and Sue. Tom and Sheila, played the fantastical couple of the title, and Sarah, their perplexed friend. You’ll be able to see it in a program of one-act plays, Lost and Found.  We’ll announce the reading date.

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Kathleen O’Sullivan

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Kathleen O’Sullivan has been sharing her video autobiography-in-progress, “From Ireland to Isham Street” and it promises to be a lyrical account of her coming-of-age. The segment she showed tonight introduces the O’Sullivan family and their ancestral island in the West of Ireland. Her parents emigrated to America and eventually settled in Northern Manhattan, where the river and rocky cliffs reminded them of home.

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Jon Gordon

Struck by John Kearns’s reading from IAW&A’s mission statement, jazz saxophonist Jon Gordon told the story of a particular moment in music history that brought together geniuses of different origins: Nat King Cole’s recording of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” in an arrangement by Italian- born Pete Rugolo. Jon read the lyrics of the brilliant song and then, played it on his sax, brilliantly.

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Aoife Williamson, Sarah Ryan, and Maria Deasy

Aoife Williamson, Sarah Ryan, and Maria Deasy gave great comic performances as the Kelly women in a scene from Derek Murphy’s dark comedy Dyin’ For It. Gathered around the bedside of the supposedly dying patriarch, the alarmed family realizes he might be showing ever-so-slight signs of recovery. If the Kelly women don’t kill each other first, they may have to put an end to the despicable Wally Kelly themselves, and before Christmas.

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Brent Shearer

Brent Shearer’s very funny story addresses the question of whether aspiring writers should get an MFA or just go live in New York. Perhaps thinking about Malachy McCourt’s new book, Brent suggests a novel idea: a combined cemetery plot and writing program for, well, dead writers. Brent calls it: “MFA or NYC: Post Mortem Program to Have Scribes Knock Knock Knocking at the Gate of Heaven.”

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Sheryl Helene Simler

Sheryl Helene Simler, poet, singer, dramatist, artist, demonstrated two of her talents by reading two original haiku, and singing, a cappella, two blues songs, including “Baby, Please Don’t Go.”

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Miranda J. Stinson’s

We heard another humorous take on an aspect of dying in Miranda J. Stinson’s poem “The Men of Mortuaries Calendar.” Miranda read two beautiful poems, “Ghazal,” inspired by Maryam Alikhani’s reading at the immigration salon and “Belfast Nights,” perhaps inspired by the year she lived in Ireland.

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John Kearns

John Kearns’s “Overture on Anger and Forgiveness” introduces the final section of his novel in progress Worlds. Using phrases and clauses from the section it introduces, the Overture mixes words of anger and forgiveness in a non-narrative musical way.

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Don Meade

Ending the night with even more music, trad music star and expert Don Meade brought his tenor guitar and played Irish and Appalachian tunes and entertained us with an Irish music hall song, “The Mice Are at It Again.”

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Don’t miss the next one, Thursday, September 7, 7 pm, Bar Thalia.

 

 

 

August 8, 2017

IAW&A Salon to Perform at Ireland’s Electric Picnic!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 11:15 pm

The Irish American Writers and Artists Inc. (IAW&A) Salon is going to Ireland for the first time!

IAW&A members will be performing two mini-salons in the Literary Tent at the Electric Picnic in County Laois, Ireland. The preeminent arts and music festival, now in its 13th year, is being held at Stradbally Hall from September 1st through 3rd.

According to the Electric Picnic website:

Set among the ancient trees on the lawns of Stradbally Hall you’ll find an oasis of literary readings, political debate, performance poetry, science experiments, inspiring talks, news quizzes, public conversations and much more.”

How did this happen?

It all started when Electric Picnic organizer Marty Mulligan attended an IAW&A Salon in the fall of 2016.  He was so impressed with what he saw, he offered the salon time slots at his festival along with accommodations and spending money.   It was up to IAW&A to obtain funding for air fares.

Thanks to the generosity of the Irish Consulate, the IAW&A received the travel funding in mid-July.  And so began the necessarily short process of selecting presenters for the Electric Picnic salons.

The IAW&A Board of Directors and Salon Committee nominated and voted on many talented artists and the following were selected to represent work developed at the salon during its first six years, ranging from plays to novels to comedy:

  1. John McDonagh – Cabtivist — developed and presented entirely at the salon
  2. Sarah Fearon – TED Talks NYC – based on comedy material developed and presented at the salon
  3. Kathleen Donohoe — Ashes of Fiery Weather – board member/salon presenter who obtained a book contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  4. Maria Deasy (with Dublin-based Sarah Lafferty) in Derek Murphy’s Dyin’ for It — developed and presented entirely at the salon.

IAW&A Salon producer John Kearns will act as host and round out the mini-salons with some poetry.

The IAW&A Board also voted to fly Derek Murphy to Ireland so that he can see his work performed.

IAW&A thanks the Electric Picnic and the Irish Consulate for making this possible.  We hope this will be the first of many salons in Ireland and that many more of our salon presenters will be able to share their work in the Emerald Isle in the coming years.

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John McDonagh’s Cabtivist
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Sarah Fearon’s Ted Talks NYC
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Sarah Lafferty and Maria Deasy in Derek Murphy’s Dyin’ for It
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Kathleen Donohoe
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John Kearns

derekDerek Murphy

 

8.3.17 IAW&A Salon: Sweet Summer Sounds and Heart-Rending Poems

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 3:35 am

By Karen Daly

Photos by John A. Brennan

The first August IAW&A Salon began with the sweet summery tone of Annalisa Chamberlin and after poets, actors and fiction writers, ended with Guenevere Donohue performing a poem and song that gave one salon goer “chills.” Three first time presenters appeared on the program, and we’re thrilled to have Malachy McCourt (and family) back at Bar Thalia after a short absence.

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Annalisa Chamberlin, accompanied on acoustic guitar by host and Salon producer John Kearns, performed two songs from their set at the Live and Local event at the Rockaways last weekend. They were the American songbook classic, “Lullaby of Birdland” and Stephen Sondheim’s “The Girls of Summer.”

Annalisa, at left, will appear at the Cry Havoc Company’s (she is a proud resident artist) workshop of five original 10-minute plays this weekend on Governors Island’s Nolan Park, Building 11. Hop on the ferry for an entertaining afternoon on Saturday, August 12 at 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm and Sunday, August 13 at 1:30 pm.  Details at https://www.facebook.com/events/130598787554197/

Obie award winning actor Rosina Fernhoff mesmerized the audience with a short monologue from South African playwright Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca. Based on the story of artist Helen Martins, the play explores the passion to create regardless of the struggle, in this instance, apartheid. Rosina notes that Martins’ sculpture gardens can still be seen in the Karoo area of South Africa. Rosina performed “A Letter to the President” from Tony Kushner’s first play, A Bright Room Called Day, written in the Bush era, and appropriate in Trump era.

Rosina Fernhoff, Tom Mahon

In Tom Mahon’s evocative story “Rose Marie Kelly,” an 11-year old boy discovers a small cemetery on his family’s farm and finds a tombstone of a girl who died in 1897 at age 12. Startled by how young she was, he prays to her and her ghost appears. The ghost promises to grant his wishes, if he visits on her birthday every year. And he does for twenty-five years, receiving all he needs and most of what he wants.
Reading for the first time at the IAW&A Salon (and for the first time anywhere!),Caroline McEvoy shared a short story exploring the relationship between a young Irish immigrant working as a waitress in Manhattan and her recently deceased relative, who also had lived in America as a young woman during the 1950’s. Originally from Bangor in Northern Ireland, Caroline, a graduate of University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, has been working at HBO in New York since January. She has been writing fiction for years. More of her stories at www.carolinemcevoy.wordpress.com.

Caroline McEvoy, left, Sarah Fearon

Comedy performer, writer and IAW&A Board member Sarah Fearon is taking up the ukulele, which she played and sang for the first time at the Salon. Her choices were “Moon River” by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer and the Irish folk ballad “The Fields of Athenry” to which the audience sang along. The fearless Sarah notes that the warm Salon audiences encourage members to try something new or “go out on a ledge.”

DSC08936.JPG Arianne Hutch

Arianne Hutch, an actor from Ireland, now living here and working in theater production, also appreciated the encouraging atmosphere. Making her salon debut with a piece from her one-woman-show-in-progress, High Heels Are Not My Friend, Arianne says that the group’s positive feedback gave her a confidence boost and she’ll be back with more.

2017-08-04 00.17.18.jpgMalachy McCourt, center, surrounded by the night’s presenters 

Malachy McCourt is one man you can’t keep down. After a brief absence from the salon, he came roaring back in great form with some jokes (Hear the one about the dyslexic atheist?), comments about the indignities of aging and his trademark smile and a song. Speaking for all of us, John Brennan called him a “joy and inspiration.”

 

DSC08932Three poets presented work in their distinct voices. John A. Brennan’s “The Smith” pictures the nightmare a blacksmith endures in the pursuit of his creations. “Early Morning” recalls time on the shores of Lough Ross, near his native village of Crossmaglen, where Turloch O’Neill met in secret with his loyal followers. Rev. Anoek van Praag, a Salon first timer, an accomplished and multi-lingual poet, read in Italian and English, about the beauty of a small Italian town and the cruelty of what happens behind closed doors. Her other poem, in French and English, spoke of the desire to let go of the past hurts and become Love. Bernadette Cullen shared a work-in progress evoking the gorgeous colors of “Cezanne’s Palette.”                                          John Brennan, at right,  photo by Guen Donohue.

Anoek van Praag, left, Bernadette Cullen 

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In Guenevere Donohue’s closing piece about immigrants, she read a heart-breaking excerpt of Kenyan-born, Somali poet Warsan Shire’s “Home.”

It includes

No one would put their children in a boat

unless the water

was safer than the land.

Guen rendered The Pouges’ song “Thousands Are Sailing” in a plaintive style with Irish keening. John Kearns accompanied her on the guitar, just as  he had started the night.                                                Guenevere Donohue          

See you next time, Tuesday, August 15, 7 pm at The Cell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 24, 2017

7.18.17 IAW&A SALON: A Melting Pot of Talent Served Up at The Cell Theatre

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 1:47 am

By Maureen Hossbacher

Photos by Christopher Booth

A song in Gaelic was the fitting start to a special IAW&A Salon with an immigration theme. Dubliner Ailbhe Fitzpatrick charmed the audience with a sweet, a cappella version of “Baidín Fhéilimi,” an old Irish song about a boat that goes out to sea never to return, which her mother used to sing to young Ailbhe at bedtime.

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Ailbhe Fitzpatrick

The salon was curated and hosted by IAW&A Board Members Brendan Costello and Karen Daly who put together an amazing evening in keeping with the expansive goals expressed in IAW&A’s mission statement, which in part defines the organization as “a force for inter-ethnic and interracial solidarity, understanding and active cooperation.”

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Brendan Costello

Our understanding of the complexities of West African immigration to the U.S. was greatly enhanced by the fascinating presentation of Lawrence Harding, a Sierra Leonean from Freetown who, aided by storyboards and some mood music provided by host/DJ Costello, used his family history as illustration. Harding, a physical therapist, is also an accomplished dancer with the Brooklyn-based Fist and Heel Company, whose works draw from the traditions of Africa and its Diaspora.

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Lawrence Harding

Akram Alkatreb has worked as an art critic and journalist, contributing to many major newspapers in Lebanon, London and Syria. He was born and raised in Salamiah, Syria, a city renowned for its poets, and has published six collections of poetry in Arabic. The poignant work he shared at the Salon spoke of war, love, and yearning for what has been lost:

Maybe we can meet, by chance, in a history book

that praises the kings of the Stone Age.

You’re losing birds, soul, trees

and mother tongue.

Do you know how much we love you?

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Akram Alkatreb

More than a year since his last reading at our Salon, IAW&A board member Sean Carlson returned to the Cell Theatre fresh off a 2016-2017 fellowship at the Writers’ Institute at the City University of New York. Reading from the manuscript of his first book, a yet-untitled nonfictional narrative of departure and arrival, Carlson shared a humorous and moving excerpt that explored the role of groceries in the immigrant experience: the day Aunt Eileen boiled the watermelon in the turkey roasting pan.

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Sean Carlson

After providing some unobtrusive but atmospheric noodling on his guitar as background music for the last two readers, the gifted young musician from Buenos Aires, Omar Haddad, took center stage and morphed into his rock n’ roll persona to perform “ Downside Up,” a rousing song of his own composition. A guitarist, singer-songwriter, violinist and front man for his band “THIS,” Haddad’s influences include jazz, rock, pop, Latin and classical – and he can do it all!

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Omar Haddad

After a break for a little imbibing and socializing, Ailbhe Fitzpatrick returned to kick off the second half of the Salon with her stirring interpretation of the well-known Irish love song, “Raglan Road.” The versatile Fitzpatrick is also a music producer, pianist and award-winning documentary filmmaker.

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Karen Daly

Poet William Leo Coakley prefaced his performance by reminding us that the song we just heard was written by Patrick Kavanagh, whose masterpiece “The Great Hunger” described the famine that brought so many Irish to America, and by commenting that our nation of immigrants now has a government liable to harm rather than help refugees. His poems focused on their plight: the perilous voyage of Syrians to the island of Lesbos; the trauma of Palestinians, refugees in their own illegally occupied country. His final poem, which appears in the current issue of the Irish magazine Cyphers, was about our exiled ancestors, who rarely returned to the homeland except for a visit. A Bostonian and now also an Irish citizen, Coakley recently returned from London, where he read at a Poetry Society benefit for Doctors Without Borders.

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William Leo Coakley

Next up was Virginia Vasquez, a Puerto Rican writer and artist based in New York City who performed “Seeing Red,” a lyrical essay inspired by the 2016 presidential election. The piece, which expounds on the painful implications of racism in America, forewarns: “The truth was televised and is coming for all of us.” Vasquez is completing an MFA in Creative Writing at CCNY, where she also serves as Vice President of the MFA Reading Series.

Maryam Alikhani’s magnetic presentation of several of her poems intertwined words from other languages with English, like patterns woven from colorful strings into Persian rugs. One recalled the “heart of science” of her homeland, Iran; another the significance of trees in our lives. All reminded us that languages can be bridges instead of barriers. Alikhani teaches English at CCNY and is a doctoral candidate at Teachers College of Columbia University.

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Maryam Alikhani

DSC_0105To bring the evening to a close, guitarist Omar Haddad, at right, who had generously provided background music for most presenters, served up a virtuoso interpretation of “Danny Boy.” His dexterity and impeccable technique made his performance a treat to watch as much as listen to –a stunning finale!

As the crowd happily dawdled before dispersing, the joy and fellowship in the air was palpable. Reflecting on the evening, first-time presenter Lawrence Harding commented in a post-salon email: “Our stories, while different, really brought home to me the confirmation that the drive that brought us to America is real and cannot be diminished by a political manipulation, xenophobia or “isms” of any kind.”

Mission accomplished.

The next IAW&A Salon will be at Bar Thalia at Symphony Space at 95th Street and Broadway, on Thursday, August 3, at 7:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 13, 2017

7-6-17 IAW&A Salon Begins Its 7th Year at Bar Thalia with Drama, Fiction, Song, & Tributes to a Friend Taken Too Soon

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:31 pm

by John Kearns
Photos by Gordon Gilbert

The IAW&A Salon, which started at Bar Thalia in June 2011, began its seventh year at the Symphony-Space cafe on July 6th with an evening featuring plenty of drama as well as poetry, fiction, and song.  It even included the presentation of this year’s McCourt Awards to recent graduates from the Frank McCourt High School.

Sadly George Kornienko, bartender and part of owner of Rocky Sullivan’s and Marty O’Brien’s pubs, passed away on the same day as our salon. So, we dedicated the evening’s session to him.  George was a spirited and energetic man who supported writers and musicians and made everyone feel welcome.  He touched many lives.

1b Mary Courtney

Mary Courtney

Singer and musician Mary Courtney kicked off the salon playing guitar and singing “Mandela,” a favorite of George Kornienko’s.  For her second song, “Saoirse” (Freedom), she accompanied herself on bodhran.  To conclude her set, Mary put down her instruments and performed in the sean nos style a rousing rendition of “Irish Ways and Irish Laws.”  Mary performs every Friday night at An Beal Bocht in the Bronx.

2 Maria DeasyMaria Deasy

Opal Taylor-Besson and Rob Hille performed a scene from “Mine” by Maria Deasy.  Opal is Rebecca, a Manhattan paralegal, who learns of an explosion in one of her client’s West Virginia mines, trapping 8 miners underground. Rob plays Tom, her paralawful paramour.  As rescue teams attempt to bring miners home alive under media scrutiny, Rebecca embarks on a journey that questions Tom and everything about the world around her. What is the distance between those who push paper and those who dig deep?

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Opal Taylor-Besson and Rob Hille

“Mine” embarks on its journey on: July 31st / 4 pm,  August 2nd / 7:30 pm, and August 5th / 3:30 pm. Purchase tickets.   Help us bring “Mine” to life!  Contribute here.

4 Gordon Gilbert

Gordon Gilbert

Gordon Gilbert read a series of short poetic monologues from an
as-yet-unpublished book entitled Noir Cityscapes – voices of those New Yorkers,
human and otherwise, who live by night.

5a Thomas MolyneauxThom Molyneaux

Thom Molyneaux introduced us to Old John from his play about Shakespeare and  the making of Richard the Third  “Re’Wrighting  the Creeping Venomed Spider King.”  In a monologue Old John  wryly and  dramatically recounts the famous Battle of Bosworth Field which proves the story of the evil murderous Richard is a lie and that if they want to “cover the seats in the theater with arses” they’d best play the lie not the truth.

6 John McDonaghJohn McDonagh

John McDonagh tried out some new cabbie stories about passengers heading to the hospital. He will be using his new material in his one man play Cabtivist at his next performance Wed July 19 at the Payomet performing arts center in Truro Cape Cod.

7 Brendan Costello & 2 award recipients

Each year the IAW&A awards graduating seniors from the Frank McCourt High School who show promise in writing with our McCourt Award.  Just before the break Brendan Costello presented checks to this year’s recipients Lajiere Blake and Katie McCarthy.  

After the break, I was very pleased to have actors Maria Deasy, Annalisa Chamberlin, Jack DiMonte, and Mark Butler read an excerpt from my novel, Worlds.  Near the end of the novel, Paul Logan, Laura, and Gavin make it to Broadway in Times Square.  With a parody of Broadway playbills and poetic descriptions of the lights of Times Square, the excerpt brings Irish nationalist Paul to the corner where he will be dropped off and where he learns that Laura is the daughter of a Northern Irish Protestant.

8 readers for John Kearn's novel

Mark Butler, Jack DiMonte, Annalisa Chamberlin, and Maria Deasy

Rosina Fernhof read Jenifer Margaret Kelly’s “Creative Writing 101”- a short fiction piece based on a young girl’s experiences in a Creative Writing class in a late-1960s Miami Catholic Girls School.  The work portrays how the young girl came to the writer’s life, the places it took her, and the things it saved her from.

9e Rosina Fernhoff

Rosina Fernhof

Salon regular, novelist and short story writer, Kevin R. McPartland read from a new chapter of his novel in progress entitled, Brooklyn Rhapsody.  In the chapter we encounter a lone stranger, deeply disturbed by his war experiences and convinced he must find a member of a local Brooklyn American Legion Post before night’s end. All in attendance agreed that Kevin has something in the fire with this novel for sure.

a10 Kevin McPartland

Kevin R. McPartland

John Brennan read two original pieces “The Flawed Mortal” an homage to the great Russian author, physician, and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov and “Oliver” telling how Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh gave aid to Bishop Oliver Plunkett and his close friend John Brennan, Bishop of Cashel. when they were on the run in South Armagh.

a12b John Brennan

John Brennan

Brent Shearer, who read a short story called “Miriam’s Martini,” runs “In the Front Row, On the Dole,” the only NYC readings blog that tells authors when they have droned on too long by use of our exclusive Drone-On-Meter.

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Brent Shearer

Annalisa Chamberlin sang two songs, accompanied by John Kearns on guitar.  The first song, which she learned from her grandfather named George, was the folk song, “Where the Honey Wind Blows,” recorded by the Brothers Four.  Annalisa’s second song, a stirring rendition of “With or Without You” marked the 30th anniversary of U2’s Joshua Tree album and the band’s recent performances in the New York area.

Annalisa Chamberlin and John Kearns

Join us at our next salon at the Cell on Tuesday July 18th for an evening on the theme of immigration to the US from Ireland and around the world.  Curated and hosted by Karen Daly and Brendan Costello, the event promises to be an evening to remember!  Here is the 2017 Salon schedule: http://i-am-wa.org/salons. 

See you there!

June 25, 2017

6.20.17 IAW&A SALON: A STELLAR NIGHT OF DRAMA AND SURPRISES AT THE CELL

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 6:08 pm

By Maureen Hossbacher

Photos by Cat Dwyer

DSC_0729.jpgSalon stars line up at the night’s end

It has been a privilege and pleasure to watch the development of Derek Murphy’s play, Dyin’ For It, at our Salons. It has also been great fun, as evidenced by the torrent of laughter at The Cell on Tuesday night. The scene was brilliantly played by Maria Deasy and Aoife Williamson as mother and daughter trying their best to grieve for the man of the house who is taking his sweet time dying in the best bedroom upstairs. According to Derek, the play is finished, and we look forward to seeing a full production.

DSC_0668.jpgMaria Deasy,  left, Aoife Williamson with Derek Murphy

Plenty of drama and surprises transpired, as the Salon welcomed several new presenters as well as regulars, all of whom electrified a delighted audience. First-timer Katharine McNair started things off with a trilogy of brief scenes from her comedy, The Traveling Irish, set in pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans, in which actors Sophia Romma and Jason Okanlawan conveyed the fraught romantic relationship between coworkers at a college. A poet and emerging playwright and screenwriter, McNair currently teaches at Fordham University. Her poetry and children’s literature have been published online and in print.

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Jason Okanlawan and Sophia Romma

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Next was the riveting debut performance of Leilani McInerney, (pictured at right) who chose our Salon to kickstart her return to the stage after an interlude of child rearing and teaching. Her original monologue, in the character of a slightly unhinged lady with pyromaniacal tendencies, was a gem. (When she lit that match I don’t mind telling you I was a little uneasy). The former Leilani Johnson has performed in regional theatre, in the Fantastiks in NYC and the Amato Opera Company in Brooklyn. As her first name suggests, she was born in Hawaii, which as far as we know Donald Trump has not contested.

Yet another newcomer to the Salon, Sheryl Simler, then took the stage to perform a monologue from her original work, Inside the Blessing Jar — as the character Simca, who has left behind the life of a Hasidic housewife to pursue her artistic dreams. For a finale, Sheryl charmed us with a little ditty she wrote about “John, handsome in his hat.”

DSC_0625   Sheryl Simler

John Kearns (hatless) read an excerpt from near the end of his novel in progress, Worlds. As Laura and the Englishman Gavin drop off Paul Logan in Times Square, Paul is surprised to learn that Laura’s father is from Northern Ireland and that her last name is Maze, like the famous prison. When Paul gets out of the car, he is shocked to hear that Laura is headed back downtown, where they had started hours before, so that Gavin can catch the Staten Island Ferry.  “Sorry, Paul,” the barmaid says, “if you only had an accent…” John recently returned from Ireland where he didn’t pick up an accent but where his play, Sons of Molly Maguire, had a successful run in Dublin.

DSC_0637  John Kearns

As MC for the evening, Kearns segued by introducing Mark Bulik, a senior editor at The New York Times, who read from the first chapter of his book, The Sons of Molly Maguire: The Irish Roots of America’s First Labor War.   Bulik’s book explores the origins of the violent secret society that fought on behalf of Ireland’s starving peasantry during the Great Famine, then re-emerged in the Pennsylvania coal fields to battle the all-powerful mining companies, giving America its first taste of class warfare. Dublin Review of Books hailed the history as a “milestone.”

Mark Bulik, left and with Geraldine McCleary, visiting from Co. Monaghan

Monologist, playwright and poet Gordon Gilbert, a frequent presenter, shared three poems that turned our summertime fancies to thoughts of love in the Big Apple, a metropolis where many a potential couple, alas, have ended up “parallel lines that never met.” That sad fate was not Gordon’s, however, a well known denizen of the West Village, where he has lived and loved, and where he shares his life with Mary Jane, the audience member to whom the final poem was dedicated on her birthday.

Gordon Gilbert, left, Tom Mahon

Another regular, Tom Mahon, with his usual verve, delivered an excerpt from his short story, “Going After Bigfoot”. Two brothers-in-law pursue Warren Nelson, alias Bigfoot, a 300 lb. muscle-bound vet with four tours in Iraq. Nelson has stolen $25 K from his father-in-law and there is a reward for his capture. The narrator, who has never held a gun, is skeptical of his brother-in-law’s schemes, though the brother-in-law is confident because he can’t think beyond what he wants. To be continued . . .

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Rosina Fernoff

Demonstrating what happens when exquisite acting meets exquisite writing, veteran actress Rosina Fernhoff brought the house down with her tour de force rendering of playwright Jenifer Margaret Kelly’s monologue, “Antibodies”, a stand-alone piece from a larger collaborative work entitled The Body. Kelly’s play, My Brooklyn, was a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Conference this summer. Fernhoff, an Obie winner, performs frequently at the “Actors Chapel Presents” readings of plays at St. Malachy’s Church on West 49th Street.

DSC_0725.jpgAnalisa Chamberlain, accompanied by John Kearns

The Salon was brought to a lovely close by actress/singer Analisa Chamberlin’s rendition of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”, accompanied on guitar by John Kearns. The coda of a perfect evening, it left us wanting more, more, more.

The next IAW&A Salon will be at Bar Thalia, at 95th Street & Broadway, on Thursday, July 6, at 7:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 8, 2017

6.1.17 IN THE COMPANY OF ACCLAIMED AUTHOR MARY GORDON — IAW&A and AIHS sponsor talk and reception

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 7:24 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Christopher Booth

DSC_0087.JPGMary Gordon

IAW&A’s first joint program with the American Irish Historical Society featured the renowned novelist Mary Gordon in conversation with Mary Pat Kelly, on the release of Gordon’s novel, There Your Heart Lies, just published by Pantheon. Described as “historically [and] emotionally satisfying,” the story deals with an American woman’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War and its influence on her granddaughter’s life.

AIHS’ genial chairman Brian McCabe welcomed the audience to its elegant 120-year-old headquarters on Fifth Avenue. He offered guests a special keepsake: a 1995 issue of the Society’s former journal, The Recorder, that contained an original Mary Gordon story about her Irish-born grandmother.

 

DSC_0075.jpgBrian McCabe welcomes the group to AIHS

 

As Lauren Bufferd notes in BookPage, “Mary Gordon has been writing compelling books about faith, love and family for four decades.” And many of us who have admired her work for decades turned out to meet her.

Introducing her friend and fellow novelist, IAW&A vice-president Mary Pat Kelly observed that Gordon’s first book Final Payments in 1978 was the first to give voice to “our experience,” meaning the inner lives of Irish Catholic raised women. Many of the women in the audience seemed to concur.

In a distinguished career since publishing Final Payments, Mary Gordon has produced several important, critically praised novels including The Company of Women and Pearl. Among her nonfiction works are the memoirs Circling My Mother and The Shadow Man and an award-winning biography of Joan of Arc. A professor of literature at Barnard, she’s been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, an O. Henry Award, an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and The Story Prize.

DSC_0085 (2).JPGMary Pat Kelly, left.  Mary Gordon

In a wide-ranging conversation, she talked about why she chose to write about the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930’s. The book has contemporary setting, with the character, at the end of her life, revealing the full story of hardships she endured during her time in Spain. Mary Gordon said she was “brought up in conservative Irish Catholic 1950’s New York in a family who believed that Franco had saved the world for the Catholic Church.” When she went to Columbia in the late 60’s, she found a very different interpretation, “that Franco had blood on his hands.” Gordon wanted to present “the unglamorous side of war” instead of the glorification seen in such writers as Hemingway and Orwell.

Writers in the audience were full of questions about Gordon’s research and writing process. For this novel, she undertook deep research and read widely to supply the history and to look for unexpected details. As an example, she discovered a little known fact that NY fur trade workers supplied fur coats to women participants in the Spanish Civil War. Remarkably, an audience member had grown up hearing the story through her own family.

As far as process, Gordon writes with a fountain pen and notebook, finding satisfaction in the motion and rhythmicality of writing. And yes, she writes every day, saying the “business of writing is being there; it’s not what you produce.” Gordon tells her Barnard students, “An imperfect something is better than a perfect nothing.”

Gordon was eloquent in reply to a question was about the role of shame in Catholicism, admitting its power and that in her experience, shame was often a default setting.

Mary Pat Kelly reminded us of Gordon’s wonderful storytelling ability and the book’s emphasis on women’s lives. One reviewer says,

“There Your Heart Lies depicts pleasure in the loving bonds between generations and in acts of generosity and selflessness between friends…”

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We’re grateful to Mary Gordon for her generous conversation this night, and for her esteemed body of work. You may want to go and read them all. You can find the new book at Amazon or indie bound.org

Special thanks to the night’s organizers:

Brian McCabe and Sophie Colgan at AIHS

IAW&A’s Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy and Mary Pat Kelly

 

 

 

May 23, 2017

More of Malachy McCourt’s Book Launch: Fans, Friends, Family

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 6:37 pm

 

 

 

MORE OF CHRISTOPHER BOOTH’S PHOTOS FROM OUR PARTY FOR MALACHY McCOURT’S NEW BOOK:  DEATH NEED NOT BE FATAL

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May 22, 2017

5.16.17 IAW&A Salon: Far from Funereal Party for Malachy McCourt’s new book Death Need Not Be Fatal

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 11:56 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Christopher Booth 

DSC_0878Malachy McCourt

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Malachy McCourt’s fans lined the street outside The Cell Theatre on West 23rd Street to enter the launch party for his latest book Death Need Not Be Fatal.

IAW&A was proud to host the event on the book’s publication date, May 16. Malachy is a founder of IAW&A, and the inspiration for our bi-monthly Salons, which have been going strong for more than five years. Honoring one of his favorite ideas, we devoted the first half of this night to storytelling, and the second to the man himself, with two splendid musical interludes.

IAW&A Board member, comedian and writer Sarah Fearon served as host and organizer. She thanked Malachy for his generosity, his contribution to our community and dedication to freedom of speech. Other guests echoed these themes throughout the night in personal stories and in “Malachy” stories.

 

 

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Sarah Fearon

Sarah invited Leah Tehrani, a Julliard-trained soprano and her fellow Friar to open the program with two songs. Accompanied on piano by Karim Merchant, Leah gave us Puccini’s beautiful aria “O Mio Babbino Caro.” An Irish arts enthusiast, Leah set the tone for the evening with Loreena McKennitt’s “The Old Ways.”

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 Leah Tehrani

First of the fabulous storytellers, IAW&A president, playwright, musician and founder of Black 47, Larry Kirwan first met Malachy back when Larry was a budding rock singer and Malachy the proprietor of the famed Bells of Hell bar in the Village. Malachy let Larry and his partner sing in the back room, and the rest is history.

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Larry Kirwan

Conor McCourt has an even longer history with Malachy, as Conor is his son. He’s a retired NYPD sergeant, a documentary filmmaker and private investigator. In Conor’s story, he was working undercover in midtown, when Malachy showed up.

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Conor McCourt

A writer, performer and author of the memoir and New York Times bestseller A Widow’s Walk, Marian Fontana told a very personal story. Ever the entertainer, she tried to make the best of a scary medical situation only to find the medical personnel not responding to her humor. Marian succeeded in amusing her doctor by dint of an only-in-New York- six-degrees-of-separation moment.

DSC_0826.JPGMarian Fontana

Next, Malachy’s co-hosts and co- conspirators on a weekly radio show John McDonagh and Corey Kilgannon showed awe and appreciation for Malachy’s talent and generosity. John McDonagh, creator of the hilarious solo piece Cabtivist, noted that guests on the show “can’t out-poverty Malachy” when he compares their stories to his childhood in Limerick. NY Times reporter Corey Kilgannon called his story “Driving Himself.” In the course of driving to do the radio show each week, he learns that Malachy – by virtue of his storied career as an actor, tv star, tavern owner and political activist – is connected to just about everyone in NY. Listen to their show, Talk Back – New York, We and Thee Edition every Wednesday 10:00am to noon on 99.5FM.

DSC_0746John McDonagh, left,  Corey Kilgannon

Mary Pat Kelly, IAW&A Vice President, author of Irish Blood and Galway Bay paid sweet tribute to Malachy for teaching her a thing or two about selling books. She noted the great coverage of Death Need Not Be Fatal in the Washington Post and her pleasure in often seeing Malachy and his wife Diana on the Upper West Side.

 

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Mary Pat Kelly

Malachy had bookselling advice for Colin Broderick, too. Author of Orangutan, and That’s That and producer of the new film Emerald City, Colin acknowledged Malachy as one of the “most influential people in his career and his life in America.” Malachy’s advice: “Sing a song, and they’ll remember you.” So Colin sang Spancil Hill, a folk song about an Irish immigrant.

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Colin Broderick

Journalist and playwright Pat Fenton, whose Stoopdreamer received five nominations in the First Irish Theatre Festival, talked about “Malone’s Wake.” Pat deemed it the last Irish wake in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn now that hipsters are moving in. After the mass, mourners toasted Jack Malone’s ashes on a stool at Farrell’s Bar.

 

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Pat Fenton

DSC_0747.JPGDiana McCourt, right, and Malachy before the show

After a lively intermission and long line for autographing those books, harpist and singer Alice Smyth opened the second half of the program with two exquisite songs including the “Connemara Cradle Song.”

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Another of Malachy’s co-conspirators, Brian McDonald is an acclaimed memoirist and author of Last Call at Elaine’s and My Father’s Gun: One Family, Three Badges. Brian, who helped organize and “decode” Malachy’s notes for the book, gave a heartfelt introduction to working with and knowing Malachy and his family.

 

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Then the man himself, Malachy McCourt took the stage to talk about Death Need Not Be Fatal. After thanking his beloved Diana, and his children and grandchildren, he commented that the tributes tonight were like “hearing his own obituary.”

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Malachy talked about his fortunate life. He arrived in America in 1952 with $4, because “I had a dream I’d be happy here.” He believes that dreams can come true, as he looked at his wonderful family in the audience and offered some wisdom of his 85 years. “Love people, not countries.” “Do the right thing, love children, don’t stop working.” And his signature line: “Live each day as if it’s your last. Someday you’ll be right!”

Malachy read excerpts from the book, including his thoughts on why Americans never die. They “pass, expire, go to the Lord” and a raft of other euphemisms. Who else but Malachy can put the “fun” in funerals? You’ll be surprised, entertained and moved by his book  www.centerstreet.com/deathneednotbefatal/

Malachy gave his fans, standing room only until the end, more of his massive charm, more laughs and raucous comments. He closed, in his fashion, with a song:

“Let’s not have a sniffle

Let’s have a bloody-good cry.

And always remember:

The longer you live

The sooner you’ll bloody-well die”

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Special thanks to host Sarah Fearon, our storytellers and musicians, photographer Christopher Booth, Brendan Costello and IAW&A Salon Committee for a wonderful night!

Please note our next event on Thursday, June 1 will be renowned author Mary Gordon’s book release and interview by Mary Pat Kelly at the American Irish Historical Society.  REGISTER TO ATTEND aihs.org/event/there-yourheart-lies-in-conversation-with-mary-pat-kelly/

 

 

 

May 9, 2017

5.4.17 IAW&A Salon: Sensational Gathering of Poets, Actors and Singers

Filed under: Uncategorized — by kdaly321 @ 3:28 am

By Karen Daly

Maureen Walsh Hossbacher and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy, IAW&A’s inimitable sister act, produced and co-hosted a sensational early May Salon at Bar Thalia. They gathered a distinguished group of poets, actors and singers, adding new talents to our roster and bringing out a lively crowd.

IMG_9294       Maureen Walsh Hossbacher and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy. Photo by Tom Mahon.
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First of the night’s wonderful poets and new presenters, KC Trommer is a prizewinner (Academy of American Poets and the 2015 Fugue Poetry Prize) and author of a chapbook The Hasp Tongue (Dancing Girl Press). Tonight she read new poems that will appear in her next collection, including “Fear Not, Mary” and “When We See.” KC says she chose work that “speaks to the current political moment and are concerned with women’s agency and about how we can work together to create real change.” KC, pictured at right, will be the featured reader at the Queens Central Library on May 21 at 2 pm. For more information, please go to kctrommer.com

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In her first Salon, Kelly Sullivan, (at left) a poet, fiction writer and teacher of Irish literature at New York University, read from her chapbook, Fell Year, published just last month by Green Bottle Press http://greenbottlepress.com/our-books/ Kelly’s poem’s included “Mount Desert Island, Maine.”  Her knowledge of Irish art is revealed in  “Anatomy School for Artists” which depicts the great stained glass artist Harry Clarke in Dublin in 1913. Kelly’s recent work has been published in SalmagundiThe Hopkins ReviewUnderwater New York and The Clearing (UK). For more information about her poetry and fiction as well as her academic work on Irish writers and artists, at KellyESullivan.com.

dsc_0011.jpg                                   Tom Mahon

With his usual panache, Tom Mahon read from his story “Going After Bigfoot.” A young man helping his brother-in-law catch a fugitive before he crosses the Canadian border learns that the wanted man is large, irrational and dangerous. Though frightened, the young man aids his incompetent relative because he needs the money. Tom gave away copies of his children’s book Little Bigfoot created when his son was young and was fascinated with the myth of Bigfoot.

10409068_10152923703471225_7181618541252853921_n-1A new member of IAW&A, and first time presenter, actor and writer Matthew Maw is a native of Belfast and a graduate of NYU’s Irish Studies program. Currently experiencing the joy of being processed for a green card, he eloquently explored the theme of the immigrant as ‘stranger.’ First he read Kipling’s “The Stranger Within My Gates” and then Shakespeare’s masterful pro-refugee speech from his work Sir Thomas More. Matthew says he chose the two pieces to demonstrate that “the traditions of humanism, empathy and understanding will always win out over bigotry.” Matthew is pictured at left.

 

Another newcomer to IAW&A (this was her second performance) Ailbhe Fitzpatrick is another multi-talent: a singer, music producer, pianist, documentary filmmaker and fluent Irish speaker. Ailbhe sang two emotional songs: the ballad “The Parting Glass” and the 18th century folk song, “Mo Ghile Mear” (“My Gallant Darling”) by Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill, a lament for a loved one in exile.

aidbhe                                           Ailbhe Fitzpatrick

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Madeline Artenberg, at right,  began creating and performing poetry at the famed Nuyorican Poets Café in the 90’s.  She has been writing, performing and studying ever since, and collecting prizes and accolades for her work. In her Salon debut, her work dealt with women’s relationships and empowerment: between a wife and a Sultan (in the sensual “The Sultan’s Wife”) a daughter and mother in “After Death” and a woman poet and a blind man. In addition to her poetry in print and online publications, Madeline co-authored the play The Old In-and-Out, which was produced in New York in 2013 and is based on her poetry and that of Karen Hildebrand. She will be featured next in the show at the Cornelia Street Cafe on May 19, What Were the ’60s REALLY Like?  More information at http://corneliastreetcafe.com/downstairs/Performances.asp?sdate=5/19/2017&from_cal=0

We’ve been eager to have Rosette Capotorto back after her appearance at last year’s Salon with the Italian- American writers group. A poet and author of Bronx Italian, she is a two-time recipient of the Edward Albee Fellowship Award. Rosette’s work has appeared in The Milk of Almonds: Italian American Women Writers on Food and Culture, and in Curragia: Writings by Women of Italian Descent.  She read her poems “Mother of A Priest” and “Broken Windows,” which documents Hoboken’s renaissance.rosette.jpg                                Rosette Capotorto. Photo by Christopher Booth.

Jack DiMonte and Guen Donohue reprised their stellar roles as Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois in a scene from Thom Molyneaux’s new play Tennessee’s Waltz. Their meeting, years after the events in A Streetcar Named Desire, took a metaphysical twist. Thom appreciated the audience response and promises to reveal another section soon at IAW&A.

    Thom Molyneaux, left.  Jack DiMonte, Guen Donohue. Photos by Tom Mahon.

As one of the famous Irish Tenors, Karl Scully has performed all over the world. He’s performed in the operas Carmen, Cosi Fan Tutti and Lucia De Lammermoor, and in the film Nora, he played the legendary John McCormack. Karl feels very much at home at IAW&A, where is becoming a legend himself with his glorious voice. He closed the show with “My Lagan Love” and with the Malachy McCourt anthem, “Go, Lassie, Go.”

karl.jpg                                 Karl Scully.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.

Speaking of Malachy, the next Salon will launch his newest book, Death Need Not Be Fatal, with stories and song. Don’t miss it.

That’s Tuesday, May 16, 7 pm at The Cell, 338 West 23rd Street, NYC

 

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