“The whole night was like fireworks,” playwright Janet Noble said of Tuesday night’s IAW&A’s Salon at The Cell.  The perfect blend of presentations and talent made for an electric evening. There were two singers, three one-person acts that included music, two films, a scene from a play and four writers reading their works. It would be hard to pick the evening’s highlight but Janet’s play,  Hello, Mr. Chops, was certainly a candidate.  The one act play was given an hilarious reading by, as Janet calls them, “two gorgeous actors,” Mary Tierney and Jack O’Connell. It was brilliant and as Janet added, “Completely unrehearsed.” Bravo!
Mary Tierney and Jack O’Connell

Singer/songwriter Tara O’Grady opened the evening performing a melancholic tune called, “An Cuileann Sul Glas” (The Green Eyed Girl). Tara was recently introduced to her ninety-five year old cousin, Packie Manus Byrne, the author of thousands of tunes and stories, and her lyrics tell the story of his secret…marrying a Protestant girl in England. Eventually, Packie Manus was faced with a harsh dilemma: Which funeral does he attend when his wife and his father die on the same day?  “This but begins the woe, a modern Irish Romeo. Deny thy father, oh he could not.” Tara’s songwriting skills are obviously in the blood.

Charles R. Hale presented a film that Lucy Mathews Heegaard and he created and produced called Judy Collins: A Life in Music and Video  The film was debuted at the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award event last week. Charles about the “creative process,” likening their work to a four movement classical symphony and how the “movement” of the images in the last section of the video called “Peace” were inspired by the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony. “Like Judy Collins life, a triumphant,  heroic call for peace and goodness.”   

Guenevere Donohue

Guen Donohue once again combined her acting, singing and writing talents in a performance from her stage piece, Killer is My Name. Beginning with a haunting Irish funeral dirge known as keening, she then stood on a table and improvised her father’s time spent walking the beams while building the World Trade Center.  As she balanced “on the beam” she told of her father’s lost friends who “took the fall” as well as those who inhaled the asbestos, pronouncing that the buildings had taken lives before it had even been built. Her finale was an original song, “Revered,” yet another haunting vocal performance, weaving together the grandness and melancholy of the World Trade Center experience in the Sean Nos tradition. Poignant, beautiful, cathartic.

Brendan Connellan jumped up and told a fast paced tale of unhealthy addiction, frantic flirtation, tottering self regard, Burgerking bags of cash  and sorry and abrupt endings, taken from his Wall Street dark comic novel-in-progress, Trading Ninja. A great reading and we’ve come to expect from Brendan. 
Cathy Maguire

First time presenter Cathy Maguire brought her guitar and sang two beautiful tunes. One, “Portrait” is also the title song of her recently released CD and tells the story of the songwriter looking at a very old and worn wedding photo and wondering how their lives turned out. It was a great treat hearing this talented singer who was warmly received by salon crowd. 
Jim Rodgers

Jim Rodgers excited the listeners with a read from his new novel Long Night’s End. His Protagonist Johnny Gunn has given up on God after the death of his friend Jimmy. With despair and need he hits the stage with his local rock band. Rodgers’ prose swells with a musicality that puts you at the show as Johnny Gunn rides the music. That and the eyes of Molly, in the audience, are the only things keeping him from drowning in his misery. Is Jim suggesting that adultery might be one man’s salvation? A powerful no-nonsense reading.

Poet and designer Mikelle Terson, who is on the committee of the first New York City Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, which takes place Nov 7-10 at the Tribeca Grand, stepped up and asked IAW&A members to support fellow writers and film makers as well as helping wildlife by attending the festival.  

Kevin R.McPartland began the second half of the evening reading a short passage from his soon to be released novel Brownstone Dreams. In this short scene, Kevin describes the protagonist Bobby Dutton’s sad reflections at his grandfather’ s wake. Kevin also announced a slight delay in the release of his book by Boann Books & Media due to a glitch in the book jacket design and a final edit. Kevin is now anticipating a launch in the early spring.

Seamus Scanlon read from his highly regarded new collection As Close As You’ll Ever Be.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Mysterious Bookshop, Centre for Fiction, City College Bookstore and direct from Seamus (
Malachy McCourt rounded out this dynamic evening with a few fine words and a stirring rendition of “Go, Lassie Go.” A perfect ending to the perfect event.

For more on the Irish American Writers and Artists or their salons, contact Charles R. Hale  Salons are normally the first and third Tuesday of each month; however, the next salon will be on the second Tuesday of the month, Nov. 13, 7PM at the Thalia Cafe at 95th and Broadway. 
Photos by Cathleen “Cat” Dwyer
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