Maureen Hossbacher hosted another wonderful evening of literature and music at that fine establishment, The Ellington on West 105th Street (serving one of the finest pints of Guinness in town).
The evening began with author and creative writing teacher John McCaffrey’s return to the Salon to showcase his latest book of short stories, “Automatically Hip.” John read two comedic and thought-provoking pieces: “The Benefits of Having an Imaginary Friend” and “Untuckit-35.” According to John, the selections represent well the overall theme of the book that it is best to greet struggles with a smile and fortune with a frown. Here's a link to a recent interview with John which details more about his writing journey and where you can purchase Automatically Hip and more of his books.
Jenifer Margaret Kelly is a playwright, poet and New York City public high school teacher who lives in Manhattan. She read two short poems, one a humorous reflection on the polar extreme of being “too polite” and the other a more introspective reflection of life in the city away from the stars we saw long ago before the buildings we live in scraped the sky. She closed with a dramatic monologue from the viewpoint of a woman who tries to stand up for her right to have an abortion and her cry for help when in fact those who oppose her right do nothing to help her as she stands alone with the dire consequences of this simple right being stolen from her. Jenifer’s short play will be presented in the upcoming PAGES playwright/actors group on Aug. 2 and is hosting the Irish American Writers and Artists reading and participation in the New York City Poetry Festival on Governors Island the weekend of Sept. 10 and 11.
Mike Veve made his reading debut at the Salon, sharing a poem he wrote about the pandemic in New York City entitled "Bird Song or Siren." The poem was dedicated to five of Mike's students, whose parents were frontline workers in the worst of the pandemic, and to Mike Herron and Kimarlee Nguyen, two friends he lost to Covid-19. A poet and fiction author, Mike is entering his 21st year as a teacher in the New York City public schools, 20 of which he has spent at MS 243, The Center School on the Upper West Side. Mike was selected to receive a Blackboard Award for Excellence in Education in 2018. His work has appeared in The Massachusetts Review, A Gathering of the Tribes, the poetry anthology El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry, the crime anthology “Down to the River,” and Ben Arthur's “SongWriter” podcast, available wherever you download podcasts. He is currently working on a short story and poetry collection.
Jack DiMonte is an actor and a wonderful singer who knows his way around New York City’s vibrant jazz and cabaret scene. At the special request from our host Maureen, Jack sang “When The World Was Young,” a 1940s French ballad of summer longing with English lyrics supplied by the great American lyricist Johnny Mercer.
Brendan Costello Jr., VP of IAW&A, performed a couple of tunes, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. He started with "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," written by Yip Harburg, who was also the lyricist for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and other songs from "The Wizard of Oz" and "Finian's Rainbow." Brendan pointed out that like John McCaffrey and himself, Harburg was a graduate of CCNY. Shifting from financial news to weather, Brendan offered his rendition of "Sunny Afternoon" by the Kinks.
Journalist and author Jill Caryl Weiner read her short story in progress, “Late Spring,” which follows a young American woman whose simple quest to clear her head among the beautiful scenery around the Mediterranean turns into a fight for her life against powerful waters and uninvited guests. Jill’s two hit baby memory books, When We Became Three and When We Became Four (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble), chronicle the blissful chaos of pregnancy and parenting while letting new parents create keepsake memory books that will keep them laughing and reminiscing for years to come. Visit her wesite here.
The night would not be complete without a few words and a song from Malachy McCourt, a man who needs no microphone. Malachy’s handprints were recently added to “The Sidewalk of Stars”+at the historic Theatre 80 on St. Marks Place. In excellent voice and high spirits, he led the Salon in a few rousing choruses of "The Holy Ground."
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