by Karen Daly
Photos by Christopher Booth
The city may be quiet before the Labor Day weekend, but the IAW&A Salon at Bar Thalia was lively on Thursday, September 1. The audience included visitors from Florence, Italy and IAW&A’s friend from Israel, Yona Gonik who visits every summer, proving that you don’t need to be Irish to appreciate our work and enjoy our hospitality.
Among the night’s offerings were short stories, poetry, monologues, fiction, song and the category-spanning Malachy McCourt.
In the short story category, Tom Mahon read a story about a man who can’t die. A president of a country starts two unnecessary and unwinnable wars. Fated to live one year for every lie he’s told and for each person he’s killed, he’ll live for thousands of years — in infamy.
Another chilling new story came from Guenevere Donohoe. A woman witness to a terrible crime realizes that the perpetrator is her new next-door neighbor and agonizes over whether to identify him.
Among the poets, Vivian O’Shaughnessy, also a visual artist and translator, charmed with her poem, “Love.”
John Brennan’s poems were inspired by his travels. “Valleys and Dust” came out of a trip to learn about the ancient connection between Ireland and Egypt. “Canyons and Dust” is about his trip to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, to try and connect with the Anasazi, mysterious ancient people who disappeared without a trace. More about John’s roaming in his book: The Journey: A Nomad Reflects.
Award winning poet Marcia Loughran read two poems to mark the end of summer, one about camping in Big Sky country and another one set in Vermont. Marcia shared a family memory of summers at Bettystown on the northeast coast of Ireland.
Tonight we heard segments from three novels, all of which we’ve been hearing in development. Salon producer and tonight’s host, John Kearns, is happy to report that his book, Worlds, is nearly complete. In the latest chapter, a major character, Reverend Sarsfield Logan, S.J. has died and the Logan family reflects on his extensive learning and love of education as they prepare for his funeral.
A wake in a bleak tenement features in Eamon Loingsigh’s excerpt from Exile on Bridge Street, the second title in the Auld Irishtown trilogy, coming from Three Rooms Press in October. The first book, Light of the Diddicoy, was described by Cahir O’Doherty of Irish Central as “A vivid portrait of the hardscrabble world of Irish gangs along the Brooklyn waterfront in the early 20th century.”
In Jim Rodgers’ excerpt from “Long Night’s End,”Johnny Gunn is returning from a visit to his father at Rockaway Beach, after Johnny’s wife threw him out for drinking and debauchery. Not finding solace from the old man, Johnny returns to Manhattan and contemplates the beach-spent New Yorkers returning to their city neighborhoods. Johnny heads for the Lower East Side for some beer and much needed sympathy from the mysterious and beautiful bartender, Olive.
Obie-Award winning actress Rosina Fernhoff gave a stunning monologue form Donald Margulies’ play Collected Stories, in which woman fictionalizes her teacher’s affair with a renowned poet.
Back after the summer, Gordon Gilbert delivered two original pieces. In “Dark Angels” a young boy of loses his entire family to a drone strike. Changing up the mood, Gordon created a dog hosting a radio show, ranting about why he hates cats.
John Munnelly enjoys trying out new work at the Salon. Tonight he read a new poem “I Am from Dirt” and a new song waiting for a title, possibly, “Nothing Wrong with Me” or “What if I’m No Good?” and a song called “Alien.” If you’d like to learn John’s technique, you can take his Songwriting Class at the Irish Arts Center starting September 29. Read more here.
As the custom at Bar Thalia, Malachy McCourt closed the Salon with a free-ranging display of wit, wisdom and a song, demonstrating why he is our choice for the IAW&A Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award on October 17. As founder of the Salon, Malachy is proud of this “wonderful collection of talented people.” We’re in awe of his talents, in addition to his generosity and encouragement to Salon members.
Don’t miss our salute to him on 10/17. Get your tickets here.