By Karen Daly
Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

Brendan Costello, Jr., noting the 50th Anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ album Abbey Road, opened the first October IAW&A Salon by asking us to sing “Come Together.” Brendan, an IAW&A Board Member and creative writing teacher at City College, gathered wonderful poets and storytellers and comic performers at the Studio at Symphony Space. And our host kept those Beatles’ references coming all night.

Actor/writer Alan Gary lead us off with his continuing adventures and life stories. Alan has a penchant for finding the uplift and moral lessons in his tales, such as “Ruby” about a kindly neighbor and “Bikes,” about the power of persistence.



Brendan invited a talented City College student, Abigail Bixler to present her work. It was not only her first Salon appearance, but first-ever reading before an audience and she was impressive. Her piece “Guinness” creates an image of her beautiful mother playing fiddle in a pub, and Abigail says, “explores the sensory details of my first encounter with the drink as a child…and reveals the deeper emotions the beer, as a metaphor, represented.” 
Brian Kelly, introduced by Brendan as “a Swift and Wilde poet,” lived up to his billing with his fine work, including “Winter Sketches” “Grill Work” and “What Becomes You.” Author of the collection, L’America, under the name Kasymaliev, Brian teaches English at CUNY.
Comic performer Sarah Fearon gave a short preview of her solo show, 2B, as real estate agent Sally Apthorp-Belvedere. Waiting for a client, Sally ponders that existential question: Is she living to make deals or making deals to live?  You can find out at The Friars, Monday, 10.28 at 8 pm. You may book tickets for her show.

(A friendly reminder from Sarah: no jeans, no sneakers, dress to impress)

Jack DiMonte loves to sing and teach about the origin of his songs. Tonight he smoothly sang a medley of two songs written by Peggy Lee in collaboration with Cy Coleman. “Then Was Then and Now is Now” is a ballad that dovetailed nicely with Jack’s swinging version of Peggy’s “I’m In Love Again.”

Poet Marcia B. Loughran, a welcome presence at the Salon, read her tribute to fall, describing it as “long goodbye” in “Autumn Sonata.” Her worried poem about climate change, “Road Trip: Human Race to Extinction,” says “…the moon conspires a revolution with the sea…” Marcia’s third poem, about death, she says, introduced the crowd to columbariums. 

Joe Naughton, son of Irish immigrants, told funny, touching stories of growing up in the Bronx as “Peggy Naughton’s Son.” Joe claims that although he and his mom both spoke English, they didn’t always speak the same language. Joe has performed at comedy clubs around town and you can follow him on Facebook at Joe Naughton Live or on Instagram @JoeNaughtonLive.  Or, claims Joe, “Contact his sister Mary, everyone seems to know her.”
Visiting from Iowa State, where she teaches English, Claire Kruesel, a poet whose work is informed by her study of science, read three poems from her MFA thesis, including The Grace of Their Breakage, (2015): “Initiation” about Carniolan bees, “I Know Where You Are,” about her late fiancé, and “Information Assurance” dealing with the so-called God particle.  
Bringing the night to a close, Malachy McCourt mused on the impact of the Salon, which he conceived of eight years ago. He offered thoughts on the art of storytelling, saying everything we do at the Salon is a story, in need of passion, precision and clarity. Then, the master storyteller gave us one that was a tribute to his wife Diana’s intuition, and ended a satisfying night with his trademark song, “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go.”