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Powerful Poetry, Moments of Uplift

August 31, 2020


Frances Scanlon.


Salon Diary / By Karen Daly

Friends new and old joined IAW&A’s online August Salon hosted by Gordon Gilbert, Jr., and bringing poets, storytellers, dancers and music into our homes.

Ignited by concern for her Kerry-born mother, Francie Scanlon’s powerful poem “I Am with You in Wartburg” recognizes what she calls

 “the perennial quarantine of nursing home residents that is magnified during a Pandemic.” Considering the death toll of so many nursing home residents, Francie urges political and social action to address 

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“the urgent work of de-monopolization of the nursing home syndicate, nationwide.”

John Kearns, author of the novel “Worlds,” largely developed at the IAW&A Salon (and available here) returned with a vivid and emotional excerpt from a new novel in progress. In it, a young woman in revolutionary Paris witnesses her beloved’s execution by guillotine, amid the bloodthirsty crowd. Congrats, also, to John for his prizewinning screenplay “Catch Anything?” in the Indie Short Festival in Los Angeles.

Aindriú Ó Ciardha writes prose in English as Andrew Carey, but as a songwriter and a poet he works almost exclusively in the Irish language. Aindriú treated us to original songs on an Irish bouzouki, an instrument adapted for trad music from the Greek bouzouki. His “When You’re Far Away” speaks to the shutdown, and the need to “remember and remain close” and “On Easter Sunday” remembers a first kiss on that day 25 years ago.


Sarah Lally.


Filmmaker Sarah Lally, arriving in New York from Clare just as the city shut down, put her feelings of displacement and being an immigrant into her poem “Do I Measure in Distance?” She captured the moment perfectly:

“What song do I sing?

Newly arrived to the city that never sleeps,

but right now can’t seem to wake up…”

Sarah also looks at Ireland’s issues as well, and notes the poem is also “about being proud of home, but not being blind to it either.” (www.sarahlally.com)

The Tony Award-winning star of Broadway’s “Billy Elliot,” Trent Kowalik 

raised our spirits with excerpts from two dance works, “Dancing the Great Arc” and “Dancing the Coral Suite,” collaborations between Darrah Carr Dance and musicians Dana Lyn and Kyle Sanna. Darrah Carr, founder of the contemporary Irish dance company and, we’re proud to say, new member of IAW&A Board of Directors, described the pieces Trent performed so thrillingly.

Author, teacher and former political journalist for the Irish Examiner, Karen 

Frances McCarthy experienced a series of supernatural events after the death of her fiancé. So she asked her mother if other family members had experienced paranormal events or seen ghosts. Yes, her mother reminded Karen of a weird experience she’d had as a 12-year-old at camp with the Irish Girl Guides in a creepy house in Wicklow and even more strange doings. This chilling story had viewers gasping and asking to read Karen’s memoir, “Till Death Don’t Us Part” (White Crow Books). 

Brooklyn poet and storyteller Terence Degnan delivered four poems including “It’s My Beach” reflecting on a childhood friendship; “What’ll We’ Do,” and one poem about his cat getting old, which reflects on everything else that ages. Terence demonstrated the style called by Bowery Poetry Club founder Bob Holman “…telling it like a story, straight up no b.s. with intimacy, laughter and great gobs of love.”  http://www.terencedegnan.com.

Writer/actor Alan Gary always arrives at the Salon bringing joy and uplift with his light-hearted tales of growing up in Brooklyn and beyond.  And he did again tonight with his childhood story, “Milk” in which the young Alan innocently devises a sour solution to his problem drinking milk.

Before closing the performances with a virtual toast, and going on to some Salon chat, Gordon invited Aindriú Ó Ciardha to sing us out.

Gordon ended with his pandemic poem, “None Can See Around the Bend, Flattening the Curve,” his take on

“…a summer like no other…no wakes for Finnegan’s in Irish pubs…”

Though the pubs are closed, we’ll continue to toast each other and share our creativity virtually. 

The next Salon will be on Sunday, Sept.13, connecting with folks in Ireland.

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