There were a number of references to the experience of war during Tuesday night’s Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salon at the Thalia Cafe. Malachy McCourt gave a powerful reading of “Does it Matter,” a poem written by English poet Siegfried Sassoon, a leading poet during the First World War, and Charles Hale included singer Dinah Shore’s popular World War II hit, “I’ll Be Seeing You” in his presentation, illustrating how music connects him to events, including those he hadn’t personally experienced.
Kathleen Frazier, one of the salons finest readers, opened the evening with a reading from “Silkie Girl,” the first in a trilogy of historical novels. “Silkie Girl” has also been described as, “… the first in a series of intergenerational historical novels about the women in an Irish/Irish American family, their mythologies, and how their love for each other lifts them up.”
Mark Butler read the Work Overture from John Kearns’s novel in progress, “Worlds.” The Work Overture is a poetic piece about the Logan family’s making its fortune in the construction business. An interesting development at the salons has been the way members have called on other members to participate in presenting each other’s work. This was a prime example of that pleasant development.
John Kearns a frequent presenter at the Salons read an excerpt from his novel in progress “Worlds” a story about Janey Dougherty’s marrying into the Logan family in the early ’60s. Janey’s dream of a glamorous entrance to her wedding reception at a hotel on Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square is shattered by her encounter with a homeless man and her sister’s racist response to it.
Mikelle Terson, a first time presenter and guest of Malachy McCourt, read several poems, including “ME”, (“I got in a huge fight with myself; I slept on the couch”), “Poems in my Bed”, a poem about the pesky nocturnal presence of poetic entities, “At the Margin” a poem about the dark night of the soul, “No Footing”, a poem about betrayal (“my legs came off last night and I was doing so well with them”) and “Love that Rattles the Bones”.
Mikelle also announced that she is hosting a writing contest to help elephants, particularly the African elephant, which is in danger of extinction. Write a poem, short story or song answering the question of “What made the elephant happy?” There is a $5 entrance fee to support the elephants’ cause. The prize is an 18k gold diamond happy elephant necklace and wildlife photo essay book by Nick Brandt. Malachy McCourt and David Amram are judges. For more information visit www.mikelledesign.com.
Honor Molloy wanted, in her words, “to start the year off with a bang” so she read Sex in Dublintown, a selection of sex tales from her novel “Smarty Girl – Dublin Savage,” which will be published by Simon and Shuster and released in March.
Charles Hale opened the second half with a multimedia presentation, demonstrating how music, photos and the spoken word connect him to events, specifically World War I and Viet Nam, and define the way he experiences the past.
Alexis Doyle read from a short story in progress called “Search for My Young Father,” an attempt to piece together her father’s earlier life. Alexis told of listening to tales of her father and her famous literary cousin Liam O’Flaherty while visiting her ancestral home in a tiny village on Ireland’s Aran Island. This story ended way to soon for me. I look forward to hearing more of Alexis’ search.
Following Alexis, new IAW&A member Tom Mahon stepped up to the microphone. Tom read the first half of his story “Outcasts.” He explained how he’d written the story of a husband and wife two years ago from the husband’s point of view but on rewriting realized that the wife’s ongoing dance with formidable demons really made it her story. I hope Tom returns and reads the second half of this tale at a future salon.
Closing out the proceedings, Malachy McCourt treated us to three short pieces. First Malachy read an article a riotous tale of bed bug infestationm which was recently published in Silurian News. Malachy then read Sassoon’s WWI poem “Does it Matter. And as he often does, Malachy, along with an able chorus of members and guests, closed the evening with a song, “Mrs. McGrath.”
The next salon will be at The Cell, located at 338 West 23rd Street, on January 17th at 7PM. For more information on joining the Irish American Writers and Artists and presenting at a salon, please contact Charles Hale, at firstname.lastname@example.org