Books: Charles Hale wraps up the latest IAWA Salon

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How It’s New York: Irish American Writers &Artists  is a NY institution, and these salons attract some of the most creative talent in the city.
How It’s Irish: Some of the artists are Irish from Ireland, some are Irish-American, and many write and sing about the Irish and Irish-American experience. Also, there’s wine.
IAW&A director Charles Hale wraps out the Salon that took place at The Cell on the 24th of July. The next one is Tuesday, August 7, at the Thalia Cafe at Symphony Space. Be there! if you’re new to town and artistically inclined, this is the best shortcut to getting in with a super crowd.
A beautiful photo gallery from the Salon, taken by Cathleen “Cat” Dwyer, is visible here!

Music was featured during last Tuesday night’s Salon at The Cell. Brothers Moley and Owen Suillebhain offered a blend of ancient Irish sacred songs with modern pop tunes and mesmerized the audience with a brilliant musical performance. Particularly moving was a Gregorian Latin Chant, “Caminus Ardebat.” Liam O’Connell, the first rap artist to appear at a salon, inspired the audience with his pulsating sounds and rhythms and the opening of my video, Fathers, Sons and Baseball, was set to the American baseball classic, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Singer, songwriter Tara O’Grady opened the show reading from her unpublished memoir Transatlantic Butterflies & the November Moon, a story that takes the reader on a journey across America, where Tara replicated her Waterford Granny’s 1957 road trip in a Chevy Bel Air, searching for the spirit of the immigrant grandmother she never met, as well as the spirit of America during a time of economic uncertainty. She convinced Chevrolet to pay for her symbolic migration. The iconic car company was inspired by her quest to chase not only her Granny’s spirit, but also the spirit of America to find out if the American dream still exists.

Bestselling author, Jeanine Cummins read from her latest book, The Outside Boy, and it was as “gloriously poetic’ as Malachy McCourt claimed. Jeanine promised to come back soon and read from her latest novel, which she is putting the finishing touches on with an eye toward publication in March. Actor Jack O’Connell did double duty, reading witticisms from the twentieth century sports writer, Jimmy Cannon, and reading from playwright Janet Noble’s work in progress.  Janet described her work as a “ghost play” based on the life and death of her brother. And past contributor and wonderful writer, Brendan Connellan, dipped into his novel-in-progress Mr Big Shot and regaled and entertained us with a bizarre tale of a deer being shot, a daughter being hidden and a man wondering how to best remove a carcass from the middle of his flower bed, especially one riddled with bullets.

First time presenter Kathleen Walker read her poem “Forever Family Secrets,” which was just accepted for publication in the New York Irish History Roundtable Journal. Her poem speaks of her journey to find her culture, which began in high school when her English teacher asked her what “Parish” she belonged to. She had no idea. Due to extreme feelings of loss during her early life, she came to realize that she had to put the pieces of her existence together. “Forever Family Secrets” is part of her journey.

Caroline Winterson, actor extraordinaire, joined Honor Molloy in reading “Three Bits From Three Plays.” Caroline and Honor read brief scenes from Maiden Voyages (written by Bronagh Murphy and Honor Molloy), Crackskull Row and Kick. The Cell was a fantastic place to display these snippets as the two wonderful actresses flung their voices to the ceiling, the backwalls and beyond.

Billy Barrett followed my baseball video, a remembrance of pleasant times spent with my father that centered on our love of baseball. Keeping with the baseball theme, Billy was the evening’s “closer.”  “Given the tremendous succession of pure talent that graced the cathedral, closing the show was not an easy task,” Billy said. Billy’s book, Highway Star reeks of the kind of scathing comical gas that makes all great closers…great. With a few selections from the “Punch Line” chapter, he walked to the mound, threw nothing but strikes and calmly retired the side….

It was a great evening and as Owen O’Suillebhain noted, “The Irish American Writers Salon is a hotbed of talent.  A very receptive and generous listening fills the space.” Well said.

The next salon will be at the Thalia Café at Symphony Space on August 7th. For more information on the salons or joining the Irish American Writers and Artists contact Charles R. hale at chashale1@yahoo.com

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