Irish American Writers & Artists

December 1, 2017


Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 10:24 pm

By Maureen Hossbacher

The first half of this salon at The Cell theatre featured a conversation between novelists Kathleen Hill (Still Waters in Niger and Who Occupies This House) and Mary Pat Kelly (Of Irish Blood and Galway Bay) to celebrate the publication of Hill’s new memoir, She Read to Us in the Late Afternoons: A Life in Novels. The conversation focused on her well-travelled and fascinating life and the novels that have shaped it.  Works by Willa Cather, Chinua Achebe, Henry James, George Bernanos and Proust illuminate memorable experiences, from Hill’s first understanding of death as a young girl, to her marriage and teaching career in Nigeria, her grappling with awareness of the poverty that surrounds her in post-war northern France, and the six-year project to read Proust aloud to her dear friend Diana Trilling whose eyesight is failing.

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Kathleen Hill.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.

During the Q&A session that followed, audience member Honor Molloy spoke for many when she expressed her delight in this type of event that focuses on one writer’s work and process. Also thoroughly enjoying the evening were Maureen Kennedy and Kent Covey of the Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati. This was the third book launch by Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. this year, the first two promoting Mary Gordon’s and Malachy McCourt’s latest works (There Your Heart Lies and Death Need Not Be Fatal).

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Mary Pat Kelly, right, interviews Kathleen Hill.  Photo by Cat Dwyer.

After an intermission for book signing and refreshments, host Mary Pat Kelly got the second half underway by introducing three first-time IAW&A presenters, starting with a lively reading by Myra Goldberg from an untitled work in progress, loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey and featuring a female traveller named Uli, who is working her way back from the war in Vietnam. Goldberg is a faculty colleague of Kathleen Hill’s at Sarah Lawrence College and author of the novel Rosalind (Zoland Books, 1996).

Myra Goldberg, left.   Rachel Aydt.  Photos by John Kearns.

Rachel Aydt read from her memoir now in the final stages of revision, entitled Latchkey, set against the backdrop of the New Age ‘80s in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The coming-of-age story is a love letter to the landscape, to the little brother she co-raised, and to her devoted single mother. Connecting with the salon’s opening theme of the indispensability of books in our lives, the excerpt included a mention of the blond folding bookshelf that moved with her from home to home in her youth. Aydt is an Assistant Professor at the New School and an accomplished freelance writer and editor.


Keyera Bowens, pictured at right, read two engrossing pieces, the first, “Allure,” a flash fiction about a woman traveling home, lulled by the noise on the bus. Thoughts of a troublesome lover she can’t, or won’t, let go are merged with glimpses of gentrification, of change that’s occurring whether residents realize it or not. The second piece, “Quicksand,” is a poem about an interracial relationship. A black woman describes the comfort as well as the awkwardness she feels when she is seen with her white boyfriend. She realizes the restrictions she puts on her relationship are imposed by society and she can only be free when she sheds the stereotypes and social constructs.  “Allure” is included in Bowens’ collection of stories Somewhere in America, which was the thesis for her MFA   degree at Sarah Lawrence. Her response to an audience question about her creative process — that it mainly is dependent on having to meet a deadline —  drew laughter and knowing nods from the writers in the crowd.  Photo by John Kearns.

Choreographer Darrah Carr and several members of her dance company  provided a grand finale by giving us a sample of a new, evening-length collaboration with musicians Dana Lyn and Kyle Sanna that will premiere at the Irish Arts Center in 2018. Combining Modern and Irish dance in a unique style called ModERIN, the presentation began with each dancer first executing a solo movement in silence, then uniting in a dance to the haunting music of Lyn and Sanna, from their album “The Great Arc.”  We look forward to Darrah Carr Dance  returning to the IAW&A salon on December 19th to present additional new material, including a solo by TONY award winner Trent Kowalik, best known for playing the original Billy in Broadway’s “Billy Elliot.”

darrah dance.jpgDarrah Carr, left, and her troupe. Photo by Cat Dwyer.


Darrah Carr Dancers.  Photo by Darrah Carr.



November 7, 2017

11.2.17 IAW&A Salon: “It’s Gonna Be All Right” & Sketches from a Memorable Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 11:16 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert Jr.

The early November IAW&A Salon, a mix of monologues, fiction, poetry and song, featured three first time presenters in the private Studio at Bar Thalia. Adding to the enjoyment, the Belfast artist Brian John Spencer delighted participants with his remarkable portraits.

Brian John Spencer, Karen Daly with Brian’s handmade sign

First on the program, Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence read from her novel in progress about a family dealing with an aging matriarch. And it’s sharply funny, as you can tell from its working title O The Places Mom Went!  Visiting her mother in the hospital, the narrator Clare challenges the nonagenarian’s delusion that she’s just had a baby: “Mom!  Mama! You had your last baby fifty years ago.” Leaving the hospital, Clare receives an impertinent offer from a sexy maintenance worker twenty years her junior. After a long sad day with Mom, Needy Clare considers it. But does Wise Clare prevail? Kathleen says: Stay tuned!  

Tennessee Williams admits to spying on his parents and sister, “the family he was damned and blessed with” in this fine portrayal of the playwright’s last days by actor/writer D.J. Sharp. D.J. was just nominated for Best Supporting Actor (World Music & Independent Film Festival) for his role in The Watchtower, which he calls “an Irish story of love and survival in Manhattan’s notorious Hell’s Kitchen.

Kathleen Lawrence, D.J. Sharp

Thom Molyneaux performed a selection from a solo show he’s developing, Me and the Monologue. Tonight he gave us “Bernie and the Britches by the North Carolina author and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Green. It’s a low-key, charming Southern tale of love, betrayal and money, in which the good guy wins, sort of

A distinguished visitor from California, poet Linda Norton read a lyric essay “The Soul Must Stay Where It Is” as well as a section from her “Brooklyn Journals.” From her book The Public Gardens: Poems and History, Linda chose “Patterns to Arans” about those iconic sweaters (and islands).

Green from the mosses, brown

from the seaweed, grey and cream

color from the stones and pebbles

Read more about Linda, and the poem in its entirety at

Thom Molyneaux, Linda Norton

Native New Yorker Karen Bermann has been writing and drawing all of her life and she teaches architecture. In her Salon debut, she painted a vivid portrait, in words and illustrations, of her late father, a postwar Jewish émigré from Vienna.

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Karen Bermann.  Her illustration can be seen on the screen.

John Munnelly brought three new songs to the Salon. He composed “Automatic Fire” to help process and respond artistically to the shooting of concertgoers in Las Vegas. “It Was A Long Time Ago” reminisces about past relationships which still have meaning. And by popular demand, John reprised his hopeful song for these fraught times, “It’s Gonna Be All Right.”

In a short, but stunning piece, Rosina Fernhoff performed a monologue from Brian Friel’s play Faith Healer. As Grace, the wife of the charismatic, egomaniacal faith healer, she reveals the effects of his behavior on her life.

John Munnelly, Rosina Fernhoff
“Accidental Murder,” Tom Mahon’s dramatic story, tells of gun horror. A drunken man finally extracts revenge on his better educated, harder working and far smarter brother-in-law. Watching the Super Bowl together, he takes out a shotgun, and in the ensuing struggle, kills the better man, who leaves a seven-year-old son.

‪A welcome new member, playwright and poet Jim Cullinane read his very short story “Wilma” and an inspirational essay “Why I Write.” After working and raising a family, Jim got an M.A in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College, and has written two books, including a memoir of growing up in Ireland, Arses & Elbows. More at

Tom Mahon, left. Jim Cullinane

Salon producer and tonight’s host John Kearns read an excerpt from his multigenerational novel, Worlds. His character Seamus Logan has a vision of a now abandoned Connemara village as it was transformed and devastated by the Great Hunger. In this moving excerpt, an old widow is evicted from her home.

The grand master, Salon godfather Malachy McCourt praised the power of storytelling, comparing the voice to a pen or brush that paints a picture. And he noted how the Irish “injected life and poetry and ecstasy into the English language.” To make his point, he told a hilarious anecdote about Daniel O’Connell and a fishwife who murdered the language. Malachy ended the night with the song “Come Back, Paddy Reilly, to Ballyjamesduff.”

John Kearns, left. Malachy McCourt

See you next time, November 21, 7 p.m. at the cell for a Salon and book launch for Kathleen Hill’s She Read to Us in the Late Afternoon.




October 30, 2017

10.26.17 IAWA Salon: High-Energy Night Goes from Hip Hop to Broadway and to Memory, Ghosts & Love Stories

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 5:38 pm

By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

The house was packed for the late-October Salon at the Cell, and full of the energy and excitement generated by our O’Neill Award earlier in the month. One of our presenters  appreciated  “an especially warm and loving crowd.”  Salon producer John Kearns hosted an eclectic night, while Belfast artist Brian John  Spencer sketched remarkable portraits. The music ranged from hip hop to Broadway, and the range of theater, memoir and fiction pieces included love stories, ghosts, a vampire and some folks with murderous intent.

Journalist/playwright Pat Fenton read “The Ghosts of Coney Island,” a memory piece about his father who came from from Galway, Ireland and went to Coney Island every winter to be near the sea. Pat wanted to capture the haunting quality of Coney Island in the dead of winter. And he did, with this tender memorial. In January, Pat’s play Stoopdreamer will have a three day run in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, near Farrell’s Bar where the play takes place. We’ll keep you posted on the details.

fenton .jpgPat Fenton

New York actress Tara Steinberg wowed the crowd performing “Six Minutes to Life,” a monologue set to music that captures the colors and textures of emotion throughout the lifespan. Rockaway Beach resident Dan Brown wrote and directed the piece.

tara .jpgTara Steinberg

Pat Lavin shared the “coming of age” love story of her daughter and her boyfriend who have neurological issues. While visiting Pat’s tiny studio apartment on the Upper West Side, they demand their right to “sleep” together.” And Pat had a clever accommodation. In her funny and tender telling, she showed how through loving each other, the couple learn to love and accept themselves. Pat, a writer, playwright and poet, is a certified hypnotherapist and life coach who helps artists deal with stress and creative access.

lavin Pat Lavin

Maura Mulligan tapped two excellent actors, Jack DiMonte and Dee Nolan for scenes from her play in progress, Cursed, set around the 2016 election. Jack’s character is dutifully leading a meeting at the United Federation of Teachers when a ghost appears and persuades him to mix a magical potion to stop Trump from winning. Instead, the character drinks the poitín intended for the potion and we know how the election went. Maura, author of the memoir Call of the Lark, plans more mayhem ahead when The President gets a visitor “from beyond the veil.”

Maura Mulligan, left. Jack DiMonte, Dee Nolan

Rory K, the charismatic young hip hop artist, switched up the night’s tempo with his lively performance of two songs. In Rory’s track, “Suitcase,” a man is leaving a broken home in Ireland for a new life in New York City. With his remix of Ed Sheeran’s smash hit “Shape of You,” he had ‘em dancing.

Two views of Rory K

Two old friends gleefully share lots, one might say too much, information, as one patient husband (Tom Mahon) waits in the background. Maureen Hossbacher and Sheila Walsh are delightful as the friends in “How Sam Touched The Glass.” Sheila’s one-act play, part of her Evening of 8 One-Acts, tells of a night with playwright Sam Shepard.

sheila 's .jpgSheila Walsh, Maureen Hossbacher, Tom Mahon

Gordon Gilbert, Jr. gamely got into the Halloween spirit in costume and in content. Noting, “even vampires write poems,” he read a short poem in the person of a vampire residing in New Orleans. Gordon read a short story that’s to be included in a novel about an East Village vampire who has an unusual relationship with a young woman.

gordon .jpgGilbert Gordon, Jr.

Shaun Coen, an award-winning playwright, columnist and feature writer, had a great Salon debut reading from his first novel, The Pot O ‘Gold Murder. A comical thriller set in the tight-knit Irish enclave of Woodlawn, The Bronx, it features a hard-living woman detective who investigates the murder of a popular Irish bartender with whom she once had an affair. Shaun thinks it may be the only novel set in Woodlawn. Best-selling author Jeffery Deaver says “A great thriller! Coen brings into vivid focus not only his characters but also an entire neighborhood. You’ll read this in one sitting— guaranteed!”

shaun .jpgShaun Coen

In Derek Murphy’s wickedly funny play “Dyin’ For It,” the Kelly women, played by Maria Deasy, Gina Costigan and Aoife Williamson, plan to speed up the death of their evil patriarch. They practice the art of murder on an innocent head of cabbage. As they head upstairs, the playwright suggests that events will not go as planned for these women.

derek's .jpgleft,  Aiofe Williamson, Maria Deasy, Gina Costigan

We’ve seen Brandon Grimes in Mark Butler’s Ugly Christmas Sweater, The Musical and tonight we heard Brandon introduce his own original composition. Accompanied on piano by Michael Starr, the striking baritone  also sang “The Impossible Dream,” dedicating it to all the artists. A fine way to end a night full of such artistic variety.

brandon .jpgBrandon Grimes at the mic

Catch the next Salon at Bar Thalia on Thursday, November 2 at 7 p.m.



October 10, 2017

10.5.17 IAW&A Salon: Thrilling Night, Full of Passion, Compassion & Art

Filed under: Uncategorized — by scripts2013 @ 3:09 am

By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer

A grateful audience member described the early October IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia as: “a thrilling evening of artistry, passion, jollity and excitement. It was ALIVE! Inclusive! Welcoming!”

We agree wholeheartedly. It was the perfect mix of talents and genres, with outstanding work by members and two special guests, one an artist/musician from China, who brought his film crew; the other a charismatic jazz singer who brought her back-up dancers.

Poet and author John Brennan read poems inspired by his travels: “Valleys and Dust” about the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and “Canyons and Dust” which recounts his time in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Next came his gorgeous tribute to Yeats “The Night Moths,” read in John’s fine Armagh voice.

John Brennan, left.  Thom Molyneaux

Salon regular Thom Molyneaux read from the great Irish playwright John B. Keane’s Letters of a Country Postman. In a charming Irish accent, Thom portrayed the postman writing to his friend Hammish Mac Shamus to describe the powerful aphrodisiac qualities of wearing a uniform. “You could be a film star and escape without notice but pull on a postman’s uniform and you were a target for every sex-starved damsel in the district.”

Salongoers paid rapt attention to Kathleen Vaughan’s story “Christmas Daddy” from her memoir-in-progress. Born in County Cork, Kate lost her mother at the tender age of 4 and landed in a Catholic orphanage in the Bronx. Hence, the book’s title, Raised by Nuns and Drunks.

catseyepix-0761 kate v Kate Vaughn

Versatile singer/songwriter Aiesha Dukes sang two songs, “Need You” and an a cappella “Lush Life,” accompanied by the dancers from her band, Miss Dukes Music, which she formed this year. Aiesha has been performing in the well reviewed Me The People: The Trump America Musical. Look for Miss Dukes Music on Facebook and at

catseyepix-0074_preview Dukes 2 Aeisha Dukes

Our guest Zhenggeng Ding, visiting from Sichuan Province, China is a poet, calligrapher, painter and accordion player. He played a virtuoso solo and through the kind translation of Daisy Kearns,explained that his composition was a tribute to a late friend, who will always be in his heart.

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Zhenggeng Ding, playing the accordion.
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Daisy Kearns, Zhenggeng Ding.

In Tom Mahon’s story called “Mistaken,” a young boy took a five-dollar bill from under his grandfather’s Christmas tree. When they got home, his father beat him with his belt to curb his son’s childish impulses, damaging the bright, vivacious boy. “Something happened to my brother that night,” his older sister says.  “Something broke inside him, and stayed broken.” Told with Tom’s usual verve.

catseyepix-0155_preview tomTom Mahon

Salon producer and host John Kearns read a newly polished episode from his novel-in-progress, Worlds. In it, Seamus Logan, now a Philadelphia construction magnate, looks back on an afternoon spent near Bunowen, County Mayo with his beloved Mary. They had run away from the eyes of their small town to secluded cliffs by the beach. When the young couple’s passion had threatened to take things too far, Seamus stopped them. The older Seamus wonders if he had made the right decision and if Mary had been disappointed in him.

John Kearns, left.  Brent Shearer

Agent provocateur Brent Shearer read a satire about having to kick the Irish members out of the IAW&A. Despite giving what he calls “another superlative performance,” he was surprised that nobody got his joke about dumping ashes in the municipal pool in his ancestral town of Kilcrohane.

catseyepix-0167_preview MM

Samhain, the Celtic new year, and forerunner of Halloween is coming up October 31st, Maura Mulligan, pictured at left, reminded us. It’s “the time of year when the earth rests” and the thin veil between this world and the “other world” allows easy passage between them. Maura read an account of a Samhain celebration when ghosts seemed to be out to get her, and invited Salon guests to a Samhain celebration on October 31, with a theme of Immigration. If you are interested in attending and sharing a story about an immigrant who deserves to be remembered for his/her contribution to America, (and also contribute to a worthy cause, The Dwelling Place of New York), contact for details and start planning your costume.

In a powerful dramatic selection from To The Sea, a solo performance she’s developing, Guenevere Donohue told the story of her first trip to the beach. Followed by her rendition of the Kurt Weill song Pirate Jenny, Guen turned in a brilliant performance.

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Guenevere Donohue

Malachy McCourt ended the night in top form. Malachy always takes the time to thank John Kearns for his work organizing and hosting this terrific evening. And he encourages members and guests in their own work. “You are all artists. Not aspiring.”Tonight Malachy was simply on fire arguing about the horror of guns and violence in this country. Reminding us “the word is more powerful than the gun,” he sang “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.”

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Malachy McCourt
catseyepix-0208_preview gang.jpgMany of the presenters, at the end of the night.

catseyepix-0210_preview friends.jpg

REMINDER: The next Salon at The Cell will be on Thursday, October 26 at 7 pm



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.










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.


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


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.

thom ros

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.”


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.

tom sheila

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.


Kathleen O’Sullivan

osull ireland

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.


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.

derek play

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.


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.”


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.”


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.


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.


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.”


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.

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


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

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

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 



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.


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.”


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.


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?


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.










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