By Liza Engesser
Photos by Terence Fanning
Each year people around the world gather to celebrate James Joyce’s landmark novel Ulysses on June 16, the date when the action of the novel takes place; this day is known as Bloomsday. The IAW&A held our first Bloomsday celebration, called “Nightown Uptown,” which took place at Dive 106 located in Morningside Heights on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The event was hosted by IAW&A Vice President Brendan Costello and the new president of The James Joyce Society, Jonathan Goldman. There were many people in attendance, some long time members and also some new faces.
Revelers read from their favorite parts of Ulysses and played trivia related to James Joyce’s novel (sample question: what is the meaning of “metempsychosis”?). Merchandise from the Dive Bar and IAW&A, including IAW&A masks and t-shirts was given to participants. Everyone also enjoyed food and drink specials like vodka lemonade and corned beef on rye.
Observing the tradition of Joyce’s legendary stream of consciousness style, IAW&A President Maria Deasy performed her own amazing rendition from an excerpt of Joyce’s, Finnegan’s Wake. IAW&A Vice President Brendan Costello donned his James Joyce-inspired hat and enthusiastically read from the Shakespeare-inspired portions of Ulysses, while Honor Molloy dramatically brought to life the character of Gertie. Some other readers and attendees included Maeve Price, Kevin Holohan, Maureen Hossbacher, Nancy Oda, Gina Costigan, Bernadette Cullen, Estha Weiner, and Kathleen Hill. Eilin O’Dea gave an extraordinary performance of Molly Bloom’s famous soliloquy.
This lively outdoor get-together was a relief after long lockdowns and quarantines; there was a collective feeling of New York being brought back to life that night. We’d like to send special thanks to the owner of Dive 106, Lee Seinfeld, and his staff for hosting our event.
There was a great sense of community through our shared experiences of Joyce’s writing, and being together in person on a warm summer night. The IAW&A is grateful for all who showed up, read, and supported our “Nightown Uptown” Bloomsday celebration. We hope to see everyone again soon, online or (hopefully) in person!