Day after the big holiday, sweltering summer night and a shift in date for the Salon, and still they came…new members too!
It was a wonderful night at last night’s Irish American Writers & Aritsts’ salon at the Thalia Cafe. Best selling author and new member Jeanine Cummins joined us and mentioned she plans to read from her novel in progress at The Cell on July 17th. Singer-songwriter Tara O’Grady closed the eveing with a song she wrote called “Goodnight Nora,” off her second album, Good Things Come to Those Who Wait. And photographer Cat Dwyer photos capture the relaxed and convivial atmosphere of Thursday’s salon.
Mary Gannon began the evening presenting a creative non-fiction piece on a Memorial Day visit to New York’s Tenement museum. A poignant tribute to 19th century Irish immigrants and their plight, combined with a reflection on her own immigrant childhood. Mary announced that she plans an essay collection on immigrants, both past and present.
John Kearns read an excerpt from Worlds, his novel in progress about four generations of the Logan family. In the excerpt, Janey Logan, nee Dougherty, reminisces about the night in the late 1950s on which she met James Logan, the man she would later marry, at a traditional Irish music session in West Philadelphia. John announced that his poem, “Transmigration of Soul,” appears in the current issue of the North American Review, published July 1st.
Jim Rodgers returned and read an excerpt from his novel, Long Night’s End. Johnny Gunn, having been thrown out of his home for his drinking and now living in a flophouse on the Lower East Side, is confronted by his wife Rose about his affair with Molly Farrell– an affair all the more evident as Molly is eight months pregnant. After hearing the truth, Rose, with her heart broken and her Irish up, leaves Johnny to his drinking, his demons, and his continuing spiral into his own private hell. Jim assures us that there will be redemption for Johnny, but where it will come from is anybody’s guess. Terrific writing.
Jim Callaghan presented an essay that dealt with his sometimes humorous, at other times sad views on labor unions, including his own experience in 1966 when he was instructed by his colleagues at the Post Office not to work so fast. He concludes that bad behavior by some union leaders and occasional featherbedding can’t hold a candle to the trillions of dollars stolen in America’s history by oil companies, the Robber Barons, banks, health insurers, some Wall Street operatives and baseball owners.
IAW&A board member John Lee, who last presented about a year ago when he read a blogpost off his cell phone, printed out his copy this time, reading a theater review he wrote for New York Irish Arts that also appeared in Huffington Post. In “Who Speaks for Ireland? Rebel Voices Have Their Say”, Lee gave the double bill of Blood by Larry Kirwan and Dancing at Lunacy by Seamus Scanlon a spirited “Two Thumbs Up” (or should that be “Four Thumbs Up” as it was a double bill?). Lee gave kudos to actor Paul Nugent, who starred in both plays, for his performance in Dancing with Lunacy where he crafted “an indelibly rendered character named McGowan, an offbeat wiseass, fuelled by manic energy and freshly brewed tea, a pop music-loving, gun-toting, Clockwork Orange-caliber sociopath for the Republican cause.”
Kate McLeod performed a character study in the form of a letter from 14-year old Abby to her friend Love who is in a State Hospital. In the letter we learn that her much older boyfriend has been put away for possession of 120 kilos of marijuana and that her mother is an alcoholic. We learn how humiliated and traumatized Abby was when her mother would jump on her with public demands to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry.” “I would’ve said thank you by myself,” says Abby. And lastly we learn that Abby would rather be in the state hospital with Love than at home because her father has slept in the same bed with her since she was eight. A poignant work.
When she was fifteen, Maura Mulligan served pints in a pub in Mayo. Reading from her powerful new memoir, Call of the Lark, Maura beautifully shared the rich conversation of Kilkelly cattle dealers and the gossip she overheard in the snug. Maura will begin a book tour of Ireland next week.
Tom Mahon, a wonderful reader who possesses a very fine voice, read the second half of a short story of a girl who preservers in the face of great adversity at a young age in 1951. Instead of giving into despair, as is the case so often today, this girl has the difficulties she encounters empower to become educated so she can be in a position to help others, and be effective in changing young girls’ lives.
Essay and memoir are the forms that most interest me as a writer,” said new IAW&A member Ed McCann. Last night Ed read “Big Sister,” a chapter about sibling love — and tyranny — from his recently completed memoir. Ed, a native of both Queens and Brooklyn, is a former television writer/producer and a contributing editor for Country Living magazine.
Kathleen Frazier read from her provocative work-in-progress, Somniloquies: a memoir of sleepwalking. Actress-turned-writer, Kathleen chose a shorter piece of prose and reeled us in with her riveting pacing. Kathleen’s currently working on the book proposal for her memoir after a successful essay on sleepwalking in the April issue of Psychology Today. A powerful performance by a talented writer and reader.
GOODNIGHT NORA/TARA O’GRADY and ALAN BENNETT
Join us for the next salon at The Cell, 338 W. 23rd Street, 7PM on July 17th. For more info on joining the IAW&A or the salons contact Charles R. Hale at email@example.com