By Karen Daly

Photos by Cat Dwyer


We welcomed new voices at the IAW&A Salon at the Cell on February 21 and they in turn appreciated the warm reception. Pat Lavin thanks us for having “a great, supportive audience” and says she was honored to “share the stage with such exceptional talent.”

Gordon Gilbert, Jr., pictured at left started off the night taking us from the political – with excerpts from his satirical piece titled “Dee Jay T and the Deplorables in the Battle of the Bands” –  to the sublime, with a love poem “Contemplating A Distant Love,” in recognition of Valentine’s Day just celebrated

lavinIn her Cell debut Pat Lavin read “I Am Crimson,” invoking red images in nature and life, dedicating the poem to “our bruised little planet.” Unsurprisingly, Pat’s favorite color is red and she says, “…the poem wrote itself! I sat down at my computer, blinked, and when I opened my eyes…there it was on the screen.”  A Certified Hypnotherapist, journalist and writer whose work has been published nationwide, Pat works with creative people to overcome blocks and free the imagination. For more info, see Pat Garrett Lavin on Facebook.

Distinguished actress Rosina Fernhoff performed a scene from The Conversion of Alice B. Toklas by Carol Polcovar. In this one-woman play, Toklas steps out of the shadow of her late love Gertrude Stein and talks about her dream to become a Catholic. Rosina has performed this role at The Fresh Fruit Festival where she won the Outstanding Actor Award and she hopes to recreate the role this year or next.

 Rosina Fernoff, left.  Amy Barone

Another first time presenter, Amy Barone read poems from her yet-to-be published first full collection, We Became Summer, as well as work from her latest chapbook, Kamikaze Dance. Her work is inspired by the essence of place, music and her adopted homes of Milan and New York City.

Mary Deady ended the Salon’s first half by singing two songs in her exquisite voice. Each was a love song, of sorts. The West Cork ballad  “The Blue Handkerchief” is about a young couple.  In “Times Like This” from the Broadway musical Lucky Stiff, a woman yearns for that most faithful companion, a dog.

Mary Deady, left. Olivier Sublet and Maria Deasy

Maria Deasy and Olivier Sublet starred in a scene from  Derek Murphy’s play currently in development, Dyin’ For It, a dark comedy all about dying and deciding not to.  Murphy’s play Appendage just completed a successful at Theatre for the New City in the East Village.

Nina Sokol’s poems have appeared in such journals as Miller’s Pond and The Hiram Poetry Review. Tonight she read from her poetry collection Escape and Other Poems,which was published by Lapwing Publications, a poetry press in Belfast. A resident of Denmark, Nina will be making an audio version of her work in connection for The Missouri Review and promises to return when she visits New York.

Nina Sokol, left.  Aimee O’Sullivan

Aimee O’Sullivan’s Salon introduction was a powerful short poem/monologue about the struggle in equality and sexuality between men and women. Aimee says she was “somewhat influenced by Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth” in creating this work, with its reoccurring theme of regality.

Host John Kearns’s latest episode from his nearly completed novel, Worlds, is set in late 1970s suburban Philadelphia. Frustrated about how her house looks, Janey Logan goes out shopping for new shoes. When a pair of blue heels catches her eye in the window of Florsheim’s, she enters the store to find that the mother of her son’s friend now works there. Embarrassed as the woman helps her try on the shoes, Janey decides that she can’t make such a frivolous purchase while her friend is struggling to make ends meet. In an act of kindness, she puts money aside for the woman’s son. John’s happy to announce that his play, Sons of Molly Maguire, will be staged on May 10th and 11th at Dublin’s Liberty Hall: Sons of Molly Maguire, a drama by John Kearns

John Kearns, Maura Mulligan

Rúile Búile on the Bus” describes Maura Mulligan’s recent experience as a passenger in a broken-down bus in the Lincoln Tunnel. It’s an Irish term meaning confusion or chaos. Maura was returning home from IAW&A’s transatlantic Salon with Belfast. Not only was the bus stopped, scared passengers started the rumor that the driver was a terrorist. Calming herself by recalling the Belfast art: images of hats and lines of poetry, Maura blocked out the rúile búile on the bus. Maura Mulligan is author of the memoir, Call of the Lark and teaches Irish language and céilí dancing and enjoys performing sean nós (old style) dancing. She is founder of Nollaig na mBan NYC – a group of artists dedicated to supporting a women’s shelter – The Dwelling Place of New York: Check her soon to be updated website:

Salon newcomer Gerry Maguire’s poem “Phil McDonnell’s Fire,” written 15 years ago, recalled carefree nights in a small community nestled in the foothills of Cuilcagh Mountain in west County Cavan. Phil McDonnell acted as teacher, priest and friend to a rambunctious group of teenagers. In his glory days, strangers arrived at his house eager to have their fortunes told and “darkness” lifted from their lives. He entertained them with music, songs and stories. Through emigration, Phil’s fireside grew quiet, with only an occasional visitor. Gerry gifted him with this poem when Phil was in a nursing home, blind and melancholy, with no one to entertain – and he loved it.

Gerry Maguire, left.  John Skocik

Singer/songwriter/musician John Paul Skocik closed the full night by trying out some engaging new material in progress. Finishing with “The American Dream,” an important tune about what we assume we are entitled to and learning what really matters.

Two reminders: Next Salon will be Thursday, March 2 at Bar Thalia.

Don’t forget St. Pat’s for All Parade Sunday, March 5.