VERA HOAR’S PHOTOS from ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS’ SHOWCASE at THE CELL THEATRE 4/22/14

Vera Hoar’s photos from the Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at The Cell Theatre, April 22, 2014. The names of the photographed appear above the photo.

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Michelle Macau and Ron Ryan

Ron in Play

Michel Henry and Charlie Perkalis

Michel&Charles

Sam Adelman and Ron Vazzano

ron&Sam

Deni Bonet and Matt Turk

Deni&Matt

Annette Homann

AHSings2

Jim Rodgers

Jim2

Richard Deane

IMG_0189

Sasha Papernik

SP

Intermission: Where the collaborations begin

Intermission crowd

ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS’ MEMBERS “ON THE TOWN” WEEK of 4/20/14


unnamed-25“Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at The Cell Theatre,” Tuesday, April 22 7pm at The Cell Theatre.  338 W 23rd St, NYC.

 

 

 

 

 

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Join Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, along with a group of contemporary poets, for a poetry reading and book launch of a new anthology of poems, St. Peter’s B-List : Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints, published by Ave Maria Press.    This event, sponsored by The Curran Center for American Catholic Studies, will begin on Thursday, April 24th at 6PM in the Atrium at Fordham’s Lincoln Center Campus (2nd floor Plaza Level of Lowenstein) located at 60th St. and Columbus Avenue in NYC.

 

 

Deni Bonet

Deni Bonet

Fiddler Deni Bonet will be performing with Michael Brunnoc @ Woodhaven House, 63-98 Woodhaven Boulevard, Rego Park, NY 11374 (United States) - Map   718-8945400 10:30 PM for 2 sets with a 4 piece band.

 

 

 

 

“Artists Without Walls’ Multicultural Showcase at the New York Irish Center,” Saturday night, April 26 at 7:30pm. Come hear Jack O’Connell, Koro Koroye, Niamh Hyland, Annette Homann, Antoinette Montague, Michael Brunnock and John Duddy. 1040 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Queens. Tickets $22. Artists Without Walls’members $15. 

 

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ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS SHOWCASE at THE CELL, TUESDAY, 4/22, 7PM

Join Artists Without Walls for its next Showcase at The Cell Theatre, 338 W. 23rd St, NYC, on Tues, April 22nd, 7pm. A great night is planned including violinist Annette Homann, recording artist and multi-instrumentalist Matt Turk, actress and playwright Michelle Macau, singer and pianist Sasha Papernik, the “Cajun Duo” Charles Perkalis and Michel Henry, actress and playwright Michelle Macau, and writers Ron Vazzano, Jim Rodgers and Richard Deane. Charles R. Hale, emcee. Matt Turk photo by John Kramer. Jim Rodgers photo by Cat Dwyer. Photo montage by Vera Hoar.

 

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NICE PHOTOS AND WRITE UP IN THIS WEEK’S IRISH ECHO

The March 26th Artists Without Walls’ Showcase was an incredible evening. Here are a few of Vera Hoar’s photos as they appeared in the Irish Echo. 

 

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A “THANK YOU” NOTE from a UCD CHORAL SCHOLAR

A lovely note from a member of the UCD Choral Scholars:

 

Dear Niamh and Charles,

 

CYeLH7Dq4sDyIzYHScCLH8lEsb6mB-76VnijbySBw0UA few weeks ago, I – with the rest of the UCD Choral Scholars – had the pleasure of performing in St. Peter’s, in the United States of America. This was a venue obtained by Artists Without Walls.

 

From the moment we arrived in the beautiful church, I was struck by the fine atmosphere and awesome acoustic of the building.

ei49JJzTrf6sd_Gp5UL94V4w8Qtde0EZ8SioEZncKhUThere was a great feeling of energy for the entire performance, as both the audience and the choir fed off the mutual energy and love of music expressed by each of the parties.

 

It was a delight to perform there, and I would like to express my thanks for the organisation which went into procuring this venue – an administratitive ability which was, indeed, felt throughout the tour of New England.

 

Sincerely,

 

Thomas (John) Fallows, a choral scholar who enjoyed singing for you at St. Peter’s recently!

 

P.S. I noticed, on your Facebook page, a tribute to the Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. Having studied Mr. Heaney’s poetry for the Leaving Certificate Examinations (and since then), I was sad to hear of his passing. The homage paid to the wordsmith was absolutely fitting, and perfectly written. Please pass on my thanks to Mrs. O’Donnell.

 

 

 

ANGELA ALAIMO O’DONNELL on SEAMUS HEANEY’S BIRTHDAY

Today, April 13th, is Seamus Heaney’s birthday. Had he lived, he would be 75 years old.  It seems fitting to remember him and celebrate him today, the day of his birth, as well as on August 30th, the day of his death.  Happy Birthday, Seamus Heaney! 

 

LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS (IRISH)MEN

by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

 

th-62There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are Irish, and those who wish they were. At least that’s how the saying goes—and I’ve heard it quite a few times since I married an Irishman a few decades ago.

 

Most of the time, I dismiss such bon mots of Irish pride for the blarney that they are and happily lay claim to my Sicilian-Roman heritage. (This is especially true around dinner time. Who would choose boiled potatoes and beer over a plate of Linguine Puttanesca and a glass of Chianti?) But when it comes to poetry, I must confess to full-fledged Irish Envy.

 

Ireland has more than its share of “saints, scholars, and schizophrenics,” as a celebrated study of Western Ireland has demonstrated. There is something about Ireland, with her wild terrain, deep mythology and dark history, that tends toward mystery. It makes sense that such a culture would produce people with extravagant minds. It also makes sense that it would produce more than its share of poets. Lovers of language and purveyors of song, no one can wield and weave words quite like the Irish—even in a tongue that is not their own. Irish lore is rife with poetry. The Ancient Makers knew there was magic in chanting “the right words in the right order” (the formula Coleridge devised to describe poetry), and Ireland’s Modern Makers know this, too.

 

Sadly, the most celebrated among those Modern Makers, Seamus Heaney, passed out of this world this past August.  Winner of the Nobel Prize for Poetry (1995), author of 13 major collections of poems (and many smaller collections besides), four collections of prose, two plays and multiple translations of major Western texts, Heaney was among the most productive and lauded of living poets, Irish or otherwise. He was also among the most beloved. In addition to being a poet who wrote deeply human, accessible poems, he was a dedicated teacher of young writers, a generous friend, a faithful husband (married to fellow poet, Marie Devlin, for nearly 50 years), and a devoted father. W.B. Yeats, another celebrated Irish poet (one to whom Heaney is often compared), wrote that human beings are forced to choose between “perfection of the life, or of the work.” Heaney seems to have proven his predecessor wrong. He lived as well as he wrote.

 

th-61During the weeks and months after his death, Ireland  grieved Heaney’s loss publicly and without restraint. The day of his death, the radio stations played recordings of him reading his poems. As an Irish friend confided to me in an email she wrote that morning, “that voice and those words that are usually so comforting are so heartbreaking today.” Friends of Heaney, including august writers Thomas Kinsella, John Montague, Peter Sirr and Paul Muldoon, in speaking of him had to stop as they were overcome by their sorrow.

 

   The rest of the world  has grieved for Heaney as well, for unmistakably Irish as he was, we know he belonged to us all. Even people who never knew Heaney personally but know him through his work—people like me—feel a keen sense of loss and understand we are all poorer for his passing. Over the past few months, Heaney’s poems have haunted me. Lines come to me unbidden, out of the pure blue—like these from his poem, “Clearances,” chronicling the death of his parents:

 

 

          And we all knew one thing by being there.
          The space we stood around had been emptied
          Into us to keep, it penetrated
          Clearances that suddenly stood open.
          High cries were felled and a pure change happened.

 

A “pure change” has happened to us all as we look into the emptied space left by Heaney’s absence, the sudden silencing of a voice that has been with us for nearly five decades (so familiar, “so comforting,” as my friend said). Since 1966, with the publication of his first book, Death of a Naturalist, Heaney has been telling us his story—of his growing up in rural County Derry, the eldest of nine in a big Catholic family, of his explorations of the little world he inhabited and what its mysteries might mean, of his discovery of his vocation as writer (rather than farmer or IRA soldier), of the Troubles that afflicted his country and led to bloodshed and murder and self-sacrifice, and of the power of poetry to name the graces we are blessed by and to redeem our most grievous losses. Heaney had the poet’s gift of being able to make the particular universal—to tell his story, in all its concrete detail, while simultaneously telling us our own.

 

1184885_645118688839865_1717503060_nHeaney’s poems of childhood—that universal condition we all share—are particularly poignant, capturing as they do our own discoveries of pleasure, of beauty, of love, and, inevitably, of our mortality. (And how often these discoveries occur to the child at the very same moment.) In the poem “Blackberry Picking,” he describes in glorious detail the eager pleasure of searching for blackberries in high summer, anticipating the buckets full of berries he and his siblings would bring home, gorging themselves on the “flesh / sweet like thickened wine,” and “hoarding” them in the barn for future days. Sadly, though, the ritual begun in such joy would end in desolation, as the children would find “a rat-grey fungus glutting on our cache”:

 

 

          Once off the bush

          The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.

          I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair

          That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.

          Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

 

The child’s pleasure in satisfying his “lust for picking” and his appetite inevitably leads to this sober knowledge—beauty dies, pleasure ceases, nothing lasts in the end. These are grim thoughts for any child to harbor—but such is the nature of the human that we cannot help but hope, from moment to moment, day to day, and year to year. Hope is what keeps us from despairing in the face of death, and poetry speaks the language of hope better than any other art I know. With each re-reading of this poem, we accompany young Seamus and our childish selves in the ritual search for a perfection we know we can never possess. And we reenact this fruitless/bootless search, this hopeful/hopeless quest, joyfully. Because of Heaney’s art, we accompany ourselves singing.

 

th-65Heaney’s most well-known poem is the one that might seem, at first glance, to be the least universal, “Digging.” A poem about young adulthood, rather than childhood, Heaney dramatizes the moment when he discovered his vocation as a writer. This epiphany comes to him as he sits as his desk looking out of his window and watching his father dig peat in the field below. Since few of us have grown up on farms in rural Ireland, and few of us decide to become writers, it might seem a stretch to claim that “Digging” describes our own sudden knowledge of our selves, our limitations and our talents. Yet Heaney’s poem speaks to us through its particularity, immersing us in Irish earth and yet piercing through the veil of appearances, to reveal to us the time-honored human journey toward maturation, revelation and self-knowledge:

 

          Between my finger and my thumb 
          The squat pen rests; snug as a gun. 

         

          Under my window, a clean rasping sound 
          When the spade sinks into gravelly ground: 
          My father, digging. I look down 

         

          Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds 
          Bends low, comes up twenty years away 
          Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
          Where he was digging. 

         

          The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft 
          Against the inside knee was levered firmly. 
          He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep 
          To scatter new potatoes that we picked 
          Loving their cool hardness in our hands. 

         

          By God, the old man could handle a spade. 
          Just like his old man. 

         

          My grandfather cut more turf in a day 
          Than any other man on Toner’s bog. 
          Once I carried him milk in a bottle 
          Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up 
          To drink it, then fell to right away 
          Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods 
          Over his shoulder, going down and down 
          For the good turf. Digging. 

         

          The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap 
          Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge 
          Through living roots awaken in my head. 
          But I’ve no spade to follow men like them. 

         

          Between my finger and my thumb 
          The squat pen rests. 
           I’ll dig with it. 

 

th-63Between the opening and the closing of this brief, 31-line poem, the young Heaney goes from idle observer of the world to active participant in his chosen arena of life. In the opening stanza, his pen is poised, ‘resting’ in his hand, “snug as a gun”—a terrific simile suggesting the latent power in the pen the boy has not yet learned to use. By the end of the poem, the pen has transformed into a very different sort of tool—a spade. But unlike the spades used by his father and grandfather to dig in the earth, the pen is a spade that probes the heart and mind, digging into memory, history, and the mystery of identity.

 

Much of the poem focuses on the past—the work of his forbears, their precision and craftsmanship, “nicking and slicing neatly,” their heroic strength, “heaving sods over their shoulders” like the Gaelic Giants they were to the small boy Seamus. He has long known himself to be different—“I’ve no spade to follow men like them”—but he suddenly discovers essential ways in which they are the same. Their pursuit of excellence, intimacy with the gritty reality of the place they come from, what Jesuit poet G.M. Hopkins describes as the this-ness of life, “The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap / Of soggy peat”—these are their common passions, only Heaney will lay claim to them with words. The young man’s—and the universal—rite of passage is complete. The final lines of the poem launch the passive, past-obsessed boy into his own future as he concludes with this resolve, “The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.” And dig he does. Heaney remained faithful to his promise for the next 50 years.

 

Three years ago, I had the pleasure of doing a podcast/interview with Americamagazine when Heaney’s then-new (and, as it turns out, his final) collection was published, Human Chain (2010). When asked by the interviewer, America editor Tim Reidy, to identify a favorite poem in the book, Heaney’s strange poem “A Herbal” immediately popped into mind, as it contained these marvelous lines:

 

          I had my existence. I was there.
          Me in place and the place in me.

 

What strikes me about these lines is the bold claim they made then and that they make now. Heaney wrote them after suffering a stroke that nearly killed him, and they seemed to me to constitute a declaration of independence and an absolute refusal to fear. With its insistent repetition of “I” and “me,” the lines proclaim the inviolable power and sanctity of the eternal “I AM.” Whenever death comes (and come it will), whatever death might do to my body, Heaney seems to say, it cannot take away from me the fact that I lived—and not only lived, but lived in the here and now that is Ireland, my heart and my home. These are words we might all live and die by, no matter what country we might call our own.

 

th-60The American poet Walt Whitman once wrote that “the proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.” Heaney has been absorbed by his country all right, and claimed by most of the countries of the world, as well. Wherever poetry is valued, he is revered and mourned. In addition to the many eulogies offered, the hundreds of tributes penned, the public readings of his poems, people from around the world have been writing poems honoring Heaney’s life and his art. I’d like to close this piece by offering one such poem, a sonnet I wrote in homage to Mr. Heaney some years ago. In addressing Heaney as “Saint Seamus,” the poem calls attention to the sacredness of the Word, the instrument Heaney used to honor and celebrate the world, and suggests the sacredness of the pursuit of poetry.

 

 

                          HOMAGE TO SAINT SEAMUS

          “I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing.”

                                                                              Seamus Heaney

          For years I’ve knelt at your holy wells
          and envied the cut of your clean-edged song,
          lay down in the bog where dead men dwell,
          grieved with your ghosts who told their wrongs.

 

          Your consonants cleave my soft palate.
          I taste their rough music and savor it long
          past the last line of the taut sonnet,
          its rhyming subtle, its accent strong.

 

          And every poem speaks a sacrament,
          blood of old blessing and bread of the word,
          feeding me full in language ancient
          as Aran’s rock and St. Kevin’s birds.

 

          English will never be the same.
          To make it ours is why you came.

 

“Homage to Saint Seamus” admits openly the Irish Envy I confessed at the outset of this essay—but the poem finally arrives at the joyful discovery (just as I did) that poets like Seamus Heaney bless and liberate language for all of us. We don’t have to be Irish to lay claim to great poetry. We only have to be human.

 

 

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell is a poet, professor and associate director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University.  This essay was originally published a few days after the death of Seamus Heaney, on August 30th, 2013, on the AMERICA magazine blog.

 

JACK O’CONNELL, HONOR MOLLOY and SALINA SIAS PERFORMING in NYC TODAY

Jack O'Connell

Jack O’Connell

 

 

 

 

Honor Molloy

Honor Molloy

Today, Sunday 2pm, Honor Molloy and Jack O’Connell will be reading from Pat Fenton’s “Stoopdreamer” at Farrell’s Bar located at 16th St and 9th Ave in Brooklyn in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood where “Stoopdreamer” was born.

 

 

 

 

unnamed-21Tonight, Sunday, April 13, 7pm, singer/songwriter Salina Sias will be performing at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1, 196 Allen Street in NYC. Also performing with Salina will be guitarist Thad DeBrock and cellist Noah Hoffeld.

 

BRENDAN CONNELLAN’S FILM “KEEP HER CLOSE”

Brendan Connellan and Casey Dunn

Brendan Connellan and Casey Dunn

After staging three full productions in the past year at Theatre Row – Pompa Pompa!, Kill the Bid! and Death, Please! – Brendan Connellan has turned his hand to making movies. Here is a brief excerpt from his dark and strange (and fun) 15 min short film – KEEP HER CLOSE – which he wrote, directed and features in. Further portions will be released in the coming weeks.

 

McSORLEY’S OLD ALE HOUSE: A NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

DSCF0681-300x225A number of years ago I decided to take the test to become a New York City tour guide.  Why?  Why not?  Having an interest in New York, past and present, I thought it might be fun.  I received the license but never led a tour, that wasn’t my objective; sharing information and stories was, and for that matter, still is.  And so I often meet a friend, or a friend’s friend, at McSorley’s Old Ale House where we talk about New York’s history, its politics, buildings and bridges, sports, crime, music or anything of interest.


I stopped in recently and I was greeted by an unforgettable mixture, ale that has seeped into the old floorboards, pine sawdust that once absorbed the spat tobacco, a few raw onions, and a hint of disinfectant.  McSorley’s Old Ale House is the perfect balm for whatever ails you.

 

970942_655641961130126_1310791312_nAs I waited for my friend Marcia, I wondered if my great great great grandfather John Hale ever visited McSorley’s? John McSorley opened The Old House at Home in February of 1854, a few months before John Hale’s immigrant ship, the Neptune, sailed toward the tip of Manhattan on May 23, 1854.  The Hales lived around the corner on the Bowery.  My son Chris, just might be the seventh generation of Hales to frequent the place.

 

“Couple of lights, Charlie?” the floor boss, Richie Walsh, asked as I settle into my favorite spot, the small round table, the one with the wood drawn back at the edges, located just north of the potbelly stove. 

 

“Lights, Richie,” I called.  You can have anything you want at McSorley’s as long as it’s McSorley’s light or dark ale.

 

mcsorleyseecumings-300x236I sat surrounded by the two-room saloon’s countless framed pictures and newspaper articles, browned with age. Behind the bar, relics of glory now gone: a fire helmet, rusted handcuffs, a rocking chair and a pipe.  Any time is a good time to visit the Ale House but my favorite time is midweek, particularly a winter’s day.  Try it. Go in and sit quietly next to the stove.  The heat from the stove radiates along your spine, as the day closes in around you.  You’ll soon be wrapped in darkness and congenial shadows, the perfect wintry atmosphere of funereal gloom. You can’t beat it.

 

“Have a good day, Pepe,” a departing patron called to Pepe, McSorley’s day-manager and barkeep. “It will be when you leave,” he called back. Pepe, who grew up in the East Village neighborhood, has been serving customers for over thirty years, and, as he says, “controls the chaos.” Not without great wit, I might add.

 

And McSorley’s, is a storyteller’s paradise.  Sitting at a table next to the stove, surrounded by NYC memorabilia, you never know who you might share a story with: an actor or news anchor, a governor, a chess grandmaster, an ex-con or a porn star.   I’ve shared a story or two with each along the way. 

 

McSorleys_Bar_1912_John_Sloan-300x245After spending a few hours trading stories with Marcia, we readied to leave.  “Keep the fire burning,” I said to Pepe, who was bending over the stove, stoking its coals.

 

“It’s been burning for 160 years, my friend, and it’ll be burning long after we’re both dead and gone.”

 

 “Yeah, thanks for that cheery reminder, Pepe,” I said as we walked toward the door, past two patrons entering the saloon.

 

 And as we reached the swinging doors the last voice I heard was Pepe’s. ”How come every time I’m bending over you two show up?” Classic, Pepe.  Classic place.

 

Written by: Charles R. Hale

ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS’ MEMBERS “ON THE TOWN” TODAY, SUNDAY, 3/30

 

Jenai Huff

Jenai Huff

Artists Without Walls’ member Jenai Huff will be doing a live performance/interview on 90.3 fm WMSC. The show is ‘Radio Nowhere’ and runs from 7-10pm. Jenai will be on about 8pm for 45 min to an hour. It can also be listened to online at http://wmscradio.com./ 

 

 

 

 

Bernadette Fee with Pat Coyne

Bernadette Fee with Pat Coyne

Bernadette Fee, well-known New York fiddler leads at seisiun at Cannon’s Blackthorn, 49 North Village Ave., Rockville Centre, NY 11570-4604, today, 1-4pm. 

 

 

 

 

Charles R. Hale

Charles R. Hale

 

Charles R. Hale will be presenting Breathing of an Ancestors Space and Time, a video and spoken presentation, which focuses on the importance of taking the time to find one’s family story. A simple question–Where is your baby sister buried?–sent Charles on a journey of self reflection and discovery. Today, 3pm at Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY.