Irish American Writers & Artists

October 7, 2012

REMINDER: Next IAW&A Salon is this Tues., Oct. 9 at The Thalia

Filed under: Events,Literature,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 7:38 pm
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The IAW&A Salon, which is normally the first and third Tuesday of the month will be on the second and fourth Tuesday in October.

The Thalia Salon is on October 9th and the Salon at The Cell is on Oct. 23rd.

Hope to see you there!


February 9, 2012

The Man Whose Prayers “Bored the Brains out of God” & More at IAW&A Salon

by Charles Hale

Singer songwriter Susan McKeown wasn’t at the Thalia Cafe Tuesday night but Honor Molloy announced that Susan can be heard on the audio version of her soon to released book Smarty Girl-Dublin Savage.  Honor  read a passage from her book titled “Glass in Heaven,” a story that centers on the O’Feeny family’s beloved uncle coming home from London, sharing a story, scaltheen (whiskey and hot butter) and song around the fire. In addition to Susan’s music and Honor’s voice, actress Aedin Moloney and novelist Kevin Holohan can be heard on the audio book. 

The laughter never stopped once Tom Phelan began reading an excerpt from his novel Nailer, a thriller that takes place in Laois and Offaly, Ireland.  In his reading, Tom presented the aged Doctor Alexander McNulty, whose prayers “bored the brains out of God.”

Sheila Walsh’s play in progress, Mr.  Tweedy’s Neighbors, was read with the help of Kate Vaughn, Orla O’Sullivan and John Kearns. Mr. Tweedy’s Neighbors is a play a about spiritual resurrection the Irish-American way.

Their were two poets on hand. Ed Farrell read a number of poems on aging and first-time presenter Maureen Walsh read a sequence of poems inspired by the experiences of Irish-American women and their foremothers. Maureen concluded her reading with a poem celebrating all women who write.  Her poem of  Catholic girls’ first love–the local parish priest–was my favorite.  Nothing like a tale of forbidden longing to spice things up. 

Maura Kelly introduced what she hopes will be an annual initiative. Designed to be a “new way” to experience Ireland’s greatest holiday, “SOBER St. Patrick’s Day” will be an opportunity for people in recovery, their friends and family, to participate in authentic culture.  Created in response to the damaging effects of public drunkeness on March 17 and the negative perception of the Irish, SSPD will be a family friendly event for ALL who want an alternative way to celebrate. The goal is to reclaim the true spirit of the holiday through the very best in contemporary Irish music, dance and comedy.  The venue is Regis High School on 84th and Park Avenue and will run from 3PM to 7PM.  The website will be up next week. Stay tuned. 

Tom Mahon began the second half of the evening with a riotous tale, “What Made the Elephants Happy,” which was written in direct response to an appeal made by Mikelle Terson at last month’s Thalia Salon.  Mikelle introduced a writing contest , which costs five dollars to enter, with all of the proceeds going toward saving elephants from extinction.  As Tom explained, he started the story in response to Mikelle’s discussion of elephants and in the old Irish tradition of spinning tales “just kept going.” Very witty. 

Kevin McPartland read from his novel in progress, Brooklyn Rhapsody. Kevin began by sharing with the audience that he’d recently started on the novel and until the day before Tuesday’s Salon was undecided whether the novel should be written in the first or third person.  And then, as often happens with artists, the muse appeared–“First person, Kevin”–and that was it.  If Tuesday night is an indication of what’s to come, Kevin, or his muse, definitely made the right choice. Terrific and very “Brooklyn.”

We were honored to have with us Kathleen Donohoe, the winner of this year’s Irish American Crossover Writing Contest, who read “The Bearing Wall,” an excerpt from a chapter of her novel, You Were Forever.  This particular passage concerns a fire widow, whose husband, a fireman with the New York Fire Department, has been killed in the line of duty. 

Playwright, poet and novelist, John Kearns read a segment from his first novel, The World, in which the sixteen-year-old main character, known as “The Artist,” realizes while watching a Fourth of July fireworks display that he is falling in love. 

And, as is often the case, we were blessed to have Malachy McCourt say and sing the final words, which he did leading the gathering through a beautiful rendition of “Will You Go Lassie Go.” This is becoming a wonderful tradition and one that all presenters look forward to. How often have I heard, “Will Malachy be here tonight?” We can only hope he will be at every Salon for years to come. 

The next Salon will be on February 21 at The Cell Theatre, 338 W23rd Street, beginning at 7PM. For more information on joining the Irish American Writers & Artists you can contact Charles Hale at

January 5, 2012

First Salon of 2012, More to Come!

There were a number of references to the experience of war during Tuesday night’s Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon at the Thalia Cafe. Malachy McCourt gave a powerful reading of “Does it Matter,” a poem written by English poet Siegfried Sassoon, a leading poet during the First World War, and Charles Hale included singer Dinah Shore’s popular World War II hit, “I’ll Be Seeing You” in his presentation, illustrating how music connects him to events, including those he hadn’t personally experienced. 

Kathleen Frazier, one of the salons finest readers, opened the evening with a reading from “Silkie Girl,” the first in a trilogy of historical novels.  “Silkie Girl” has also been described as, “… the first in a series of intergenerational historical novels about the women in an Irish/Irish American family, their mythologies, and how their love for each other lifts them up.” 

Mark Butler read the Work Overture from John Kearns’s novel in progress, “Worlds.”  The Work Overture is a poetic piece about the Logan family’s making its fortune in the construction business.  An interesting development at the salons has been the way members have called on other members to participate in presenting each other’s work.  This was a prime example of that pleasant development.   

John Kearns a frequent presenter at the Salons read an excerpt from his novel in progress “Worlds” a story about Janey Dougherty’s marrying into the Logan family in the early ’60s.  Janey’s dream of a glamorous entrance to her wedding reception at a hotel on Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square is shattered by her encounter with a homeless man and her sister’s racist response to it. 

Mikelle Terson, a first time presenter and guest of Malachy McCourt, read several poems, including “ME”,  (“I got in a huge fight with myself; I slept on the couch”),  “Poems in my Bed”, a poem about the pesky nocturnal presence of poetic entities, “At the Margin” a poem about the dark night of the soul, “No Footing”, a poem about betrayal (“my legs came off last night and I was doing so well with them”) and “Love that Rattles the Bones”.  

Mikelle also announced that she is hosting a writing contest to help elephants, particularly the African elephant, which is in danger of extinction. Write a poem, short story or song answering the question of “What made the elephant happy?”  There is a $5 entrance fee to support the elephants’ cause. The prize is an 18k gold diamond happy elephant necklace and wildlife photo essay book by Nick Brandt. Malachy McCourt and David Amram are judges. For more information visit

Honor Molloy wanted, in her words, “to start the year off with a bang” so she read Sex in Dublintown, a selection of sex tales from her novel “Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage,” which will be published by Simon and Shuster and released in March.

Charles Hale opened the second half with a multimedia presentation, demonstrating how music, photos and the spoken word connect him to events, specifically World War I and Viet Nam, and define the way he experiences the past.

Alexis Doyle read from a short story in progress called “Search for My Young Father,” an attempt to piece together her father’s earlier life.  Alexis told of listening to tales of her father and her famous literary cousin Liam O’Flaherty while visiting her ancestral home in a tiny village on Ireland’s Aran Island.  This story ended way to soon for me.  I look forward to hearing more of Alexis’ search.  

Following Alexis, new IAW&A member Tom Mahon stepped up to the microphone.  Tom read the first half of his story “Outcasts.” He explained how he’d written the story of a husband and wife two years ago from the husband’s point of view but on rewriting realized that the wife’s ongoing dance with formidable demons really made it her story.  I hope Tom returns and reads the second half of this tale at a future salon. 

Closing out the proceedings, Malachy McCourt treated us to three short pieces. First Malachy read an article a riotous tale of bed bug infestationm which was recently published in Silurian News.  Malachy then read Sassoon’s WWI poem “Does it Matter.  And as he often does, Malachy, along with an able chorus of members and guests, closed the evening with a song, “Mrs. McGrath.” 

The next salon will be at The Cell, located at 338 West 23rd Street, on January 17th at 7PM.  For more information on joining the Irish American Writers and Artists and presenting at a salon, please contact Charles Hale, at

November 10, 2011

“Salon at The Cell” added to IAW&A Monthly Calendar

Filed under: Events,Literature,Music,Theater,Visual Arts — by johnleemedia @ 6:27 pm
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Due to the popularity of the Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salons, which are held the first Tuesday of each month at the Thalia Café at Symphony Space and West 95th Street, we are adding an additional venue to showcase that talent of IAW&A members.

On Tuesday, November 15 an additional IAW&A’s Salon will be coming to The Cell Theatre, located at 338 West 23rd Street.  The Cell a “Twenty First Century Salon, is a place where artists can “mine the mind, pierce the heart, and awaken the soul…a place for artists to incubate and present new work.” It is exactly that spirit that the IAW&A’s Salon has attempted to capture and why we are happy to add the “Salon at The Cel”l to our monthly schedule along with the “First Tuesday Thalia Salon.”

The IAW&A Salon, the brainchild of Malachy McCourt, allows IAW&A members the opportunity to present in the medium of their choice. Do you have a recently published book you’d like to read from? Working on a new song you’d like to try out in front of an audience? Would you like to work out a scene from a play you’ve written, tell a story, read a passage from a novel in progress or hone your comedic skills? At an IAW&A Salon you’ll have ten minutes in front of a supportive audience to do just that.

The event is meant to be low-keyed and that’s exactly what it is, a group of artists gathered to support one another in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.

While you must be a member to present, the proceedings are free and open to all.

For more information on the Salon or joining the IAW&A contact Charles Hale

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