By Karen Daly
Photos by Mark Butler
We had a great turnout on Election Night at the early November IAW&A Salon at the Thalia Studio. For a few hours, we escaped the polls and the media and enjoyed a diverse lineup of fresh musical talents, poetry, fiction, humor and memoir. And the Bronx was definitely in the house.
Proud that the online literary magazine, DM du Jour published the excerpt “Schoolyard Epic” from his generational novel Worlds that day, Salon host John Kearns began with a selection from it. A touch football game turns into a battle between sixth- and eighth-grade boys, and becomes a character-defining moment for its protagonist. John fashioned the schoolyard story in the style of Homer’s Iliad and you can enjoy it at DM du Jour.
John Liam Shea
Novelist John Liam Shea is back with the second book of his Cut and Run in the Bronx series about two NYPD officers, The Guilt of the Ghosts. John says it about “the banshees that come for us all” and chose a scene where a man possessed by his “drunken demons” might be saved by a mythological harpie. John packs his novel with adventure and thought-provoking ideas as “the apprehensive relationship God has with us…”
Kathleen Vaughan has been working on a memoir Raised by Nuns and Drunks that details her childhood and the seven and a half years she spent at The Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Home in the Bronx. In this triumphant last section, “Making a Difference,” Kate describes how she used her experience there to volunteer at The New York Foundling Hospital when she grew up. She was able to take children home for weekends and helped some of them reunite with their families. Kate gives tribute to Sr. Theresa Kelly for making these children’s lives more than bearable.
Gordon Gilbert, Jr.
Frequent Salon contributor Gordon Gilbert, Jr. offered a short love poem and a funny, fictional monologue (emphasis on fictional) about a man testifying at a self-help group called BBA, leaving the group’s full name a secret until the very last, eliciting the groans he was seeking in the piece.
Myss Uneek is a community activist in the Bronx, and a powerful voice for women and girls. She performed a poem called “Silence” dedicated to the Me Too movement and inspired by cases of sexual assault she deals with. Just read
Lost in her pain,
Hurt by her shame
Silence was the only thing this child knew
Hot Glue and The Gun
New to the Salon, the indie music duo Hot Glue and The Gun, Carrie Klein and Joel McGlynn, have been writing and performing together for more than six years. Trained in acting and singing, they offered two original songs “Call Me” and “Holy Silence.” The duo completely engaged the audience by asking for words to incorporate into their performance. Check them out at their website.
Alan Gary, another first-timer to IAW&A’s Salon, offered selections from his recently completed Something Beautiful, a collection of 100 short universal poems of hope. Each entry stars with the idea of Something Beautiful…“In Mercy,” “In Merci,” “Surrounds Me.” Alan was thrilled with his reception, and hopes to find a publisher who shares his vision.
A third-gen McCourt, singer/songwriter Gillian McCourt showcased her talent by singing two original songs composed on her ukulele. They were “Ordinary Birds” Let me fly with those ordinary birds, and her brand new, “Been There.” Gillian also read a short poem about the city, composed when she was 9, proving they start young in the McCourt household.
The inimitable Rosina Fernhoff read “Zillah’s Letter to the President” from Tony Kushner’s 1985 play, A Bright Room Called Day. Rosina notes that though written during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, she felt it apropos to the political climate under the Trump presidency and administration.
Marcia B. Loughran
Marcia B. Loughran claims she threw her poetry out the window after hearing the amazing work of the other readers. Marcia is a wonderful poet, but instead shared a mini-essay, which she terms messay called “The Gift. Inspired by a Greek television show that finds lost family members and reunites them, Marcia imagined what it would be like to find a secret sibling. She reminds us “DNA tests are on sale for the holidays! What will you find out?”
Making her Salon debut, Niamh O’Brien, harp player, singer and composer originally from County Limerick wowed the crowd with a selection of songs. They ranged from the English folk song “Wee Weaver,” a traditional reel “Kylebrack Rambler,” the Julia Jacklin song “Don’t Let the Kids Win” and by audience request, “Slán le Maigh,” a traditional Irish song from Limerick. You can see her on November 30, performing in Brooklyn with female Irish traditional musicians and at the Scratcher Sessions (East Village) on December 2. Please e-mail Niamh or visit her website to learn more.
Our closer, Malachy McCourt, surprisingly did not talk about the election that day. Instead he talked passionately about the 100 year Anniversary of Armistice Day on November 11, citing the brutality of war and terrible toll of World War I. Malachy recited the 1918 poem by the English soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon, “Does it Matter?
Do they matter? — Those dreams from the Pit?
You can drink, and forget, and be glad,
And no one will say that you’re mad,
For they’ll know that you fought for your country,
And no one will worry a bit.
Till next time, November 20th, 7PM at The Cell.