By Karen Daly
Photos by W. Jay Wanczyk 

A frequent Salon presenter of her fiction, Mary Lannon was an ebullient host at the Irish American Writers & Artists late March Salon at The Ellington restaurant on Broadway and 105th Street. The evening was a magical mix of poetry, fiction, humor, song and photography.

A real estate agent in real life, Sarah Fearon also plays one in her video series as character Snazzy Peabody, and in her solo 2B: A Bottomless Cup of Real Estate Crazy which ran at The Friars Club and The Players Theater. Sarah likes to work out new comedy thoughts at the Salon, so she aired some words that have been annoying her–Journey.  Literally.  Authentic Self.  Judging from the response, they’ve been annoying many of us!

Next, award winning author and memoirist Dawn Raffel read from her just-released story collection, Boundless as the Sky. Dawn chose a moving entry about a sideshow performer, based on the actual performer Koo-Koo the Bird Girl, at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. In a recent interview, Dawn said, “I wanted the reader to see these performers as people whose lives mattered as much as the well-known historical leaders and who deserve not to be exoticized or forgotten.” 

More at Dawn’s website.

Visual artist Betti Franceschi inspired awe with photographs from her Ageless Dancers series, elegant portraits of professional dancers in their later years. Each one wears black and is set against a black background, that, Betti says “…articulates the line of movement that is each dancer’s signature.” Betti’s work –painting, drawing and sculpture – has been exhibited and published here and in Europe.

Experience it at her website.


Photo courtesy of the Author

Photo courtesy of the Author

An early review of Eileen Joyce Donovan’s brand-new novel, The Campbell Sisters, calls it “A thoroughly enjoyable family drama populated with fully developed, central characters” (The Wishing Shelf). Those characters are three sisters, daughters of hard-working Irish emigrants living in New York City in the 1950s. Eileen read a vivid scene where the sisters attend a boxing match. Her other work includes award-winning historical fiction, Promises and A Lady Newspaperman’s Dilemma, and short stories.  

To learn more about Eileen please visit her website.

Ron Vazzano answers to Writer/Poet/Actor and those skills were on full display at our Salon. His formal verse selection repeated the gorgeous sound of the title “Oysters Ordered on An Afternoon.” His poem “At High Mass” provided brilliant imagery. We await Ron’s forthcoming poetry collection, Muse Letters from the Front.

We were happy to have musician/writer/actor John Skocik back at the Salon performing original storytelling songs, including “Pocket Dream,” “Madeira,” and “I Had to Go to Rehab.” John is now writing plays; the first, Where To Buy Caviar is being developed for film. You can find John’s music and group Girl To Gorilla on digital music streaming services. 

Patrick Hammer, Jr. has been on the New York and New Jersey poetry scenes since the late 70s, belonging to the Riverside Poets and Parkside Poets. Patrick’s trilogy of poetry chapbooks traces his autobiographical journey though locales: “Bronx Local,” “Paramus Local” and “Fort Lee Local.” His work tonight brought us to County Limerick, where the dew on the shamrocks evokes the “weeping of homesick immigrants.”

Photo courtesy of the Author

A woman of many gifts, Jenifer Margaret Kelly, playwright, poet and teacher, added another title to her busy life: Candidate for US President in 2024. In her performance piece, she noted that a former president (who will remain nameless) had little knowledge of history or international affairs, so she feels equally qualified to run for office. Jen also tested her campaign slogan: What the Hell-y, Vote for Kell-y, Jennifer!

The richly entertaining night ended with reflections from our famous closer, Malachy McCourt. Host Mary Lannon introduced him as the Salon’s spiritual leader.  Mary’s words are so apt that we print them here:

“Malachy McCourt needs no introduction but deserves one beyond measure.  For his great generosity, we all owe a debt to Malachy for beginning this Salon series that captures the true artistic spirit of trying work out and creating fellowship among artists and writers.

No slouch himself Malachy is an actor, radio host for WBAI and author of two memoirs, a history of the ballad Danny Boy and a collection of Irish essays. Most recently Malachy was kicked out of hospice…and we are so thrilled to have him here.”

We’re thrilled, too, to have had such talented and generous artists sharing their work this evening.