St. Brigid was Shelia Houlihan’s theme at St. Patrick’s pub. PHOTO BY CAT DWYER
Salon Diary / By Karen Daly
St. Patrick’s, that is, the pub on West 46th Street, drew a convivial crowd to the first February IAWA Salon. Hosted by John Kearns and Mark Butler in the bar’s private room, we had poetry, monologue, memoir, flash fiction and befitting our location, a saint or two.
Poet and frequent Salon contributor, Gordon Gilbert, Jr. kicked off the night with three poems, covering a range of styles and emotions. His first, “War of the Roses,” a heroic-style parody about his battle with invasive roses. In the second poem, he drew deeper meaning from two small tragic events and the final one concerned the impact of new technologies on our children.
In honor of the Philadelphia Eagles’ first ever Super Bowl victory, Salon producer, the night’s co-host and Philadelphia native John Kearns read from the opening of his short story, “Athletics.” In the story, Gene Prendergast commutes home from Center City Philadelphia imagining that sportscasters are giving a play-by-play of his exploits.
First time presenter Tim Fitts, who lives in Philadelphia, also reveled in the Super Bowl victory. Author of two short story collections, “Hypothermia” and “Go Home and Cry for Yourselves,” he read terrific new flash fiction: “Belly,” “Disco,” “Spring Break” and “Shark Patrol.” Tim teaches Creative Nonfiction at the Curtis Institute of Music and is a frequent guest on the literary magazine Painted Bride Quarterly’s podcast, “Slushpile.” Pbqmag.org Find Tim’s work on Amazon.
In light of last week’s celebration of St. Brigid, Sheila Houlihan read “The Giveaway,” a poem written by the Pulitzer Prize winning American poet and satirist, Phyllis McGinley. The humorous work acknowledges – and pokes fun at — the Saint’s legendary generosity:
For here’s the fault in Brigid lay:
She would give everything away
Delivering five powerful monologues from the Shakespeare section of his one-man show “Me and the Monologue,” actor Thom Molyneaux described his personal connections with Marc Anthony, Hotspur and Henry V. Thom, a veteran Salon performer, was delighted with the audience’s reception and sharing of their personal connections with the Bard. Thom notes that he and Malachy McCourt agree, “The best things that ever happened to the English language were Shakespeare and the Irish, though not necessarily in that order.”
John Munnelly has a new talent. He’s a musician, singer, songwriter, artist and now saucier. He debuted a new song “They Were No Good,” and captured the mood of many salongoers about the politics of the day in “I Wish I Still Believed.” In addition to “XU,” his current music release, John’s other hot new project is hot sauce. Disproving the notion that Irish people can’t do spice, he’s created a food enhancer that getting great word-of-mouth, Hattwood Hot Red Sauce at hattwood.com.
Marcia Loughran, a prize-winning poet and nurse practitioner, received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Tonight she shared three poems, “Superstition,” “Tap Dance at the Nursing Home” and “7D.” She is working on a full-length manuscript to follow up on her prize-winning chapbook, “Still Life With Weather.”
Kathleen Vaughan read a section of her memoir-in-progress “Raised By Nuns & Drunks.” When she entered Good Shepherd School, after living in an orphanage, she felt like an outcast, compared with girls who were more confident, better dressed and who enjoyed the kind of bonding Kate never experienced. Luckily, the nuns at Good Shepherd School were especially kind to their new student, and Kate expresses her appreciation for them in this candid section.
Speaking of kindness, Guenevere Donohue described how a suggestion from another IAW&A member, to give money to a homeless person, instead of sending him a birthday present, inspired her poem. So she gave to a man who lives on the grate next to her subway entrance and created a perceptive new poem, “Sometimes He’s There and Sometimes He’s Gone.”
A new member of IAWA and first time presenter, short-story writer Ellis O’Toole read two charming selections from her remembrance collection in progress. “The Wild Man” tells the story of a child’s confusion upon meeting an apparent fugitive, while “Election Year” describes what happens when five-year olds engage in political debate, in this case over Kennedy vs. Nixon. O’Toole, a daughter of Irish immigrants, is a New York native.
Fondly known as our Salon godfather, Malachy McCourt came to bless the new space, and share a few words about St. Patrick himself. He chased the snakes out of Ireland…and we know where they came. Malachy guided us in singing “Down by the Salley Gardens” and we left the warmth of St. Patrick’s pub for the bright lights of midtown.
Join us next time, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m. at the Cell.