“Performing at Artists Without Walls is a deep privilege and a pleasure.  To appear as part of a lineup of such talented artists is simultaneously thrilling and humbling.  I always leave AWoW with a soaring spirit, full of gratitude for the gifts of my fellow artists, and newly energized and encouraged in my own work. Mille Grazie to Charles Hale and Niamh Hyland for creating this warm, welcoming community.” Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, poet/author




Angela Alaimo O'Donnell
Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell began Artists Without Walls’ June Showcase at The Cell Theatre by delighting the crowd with her recitation of “Crossing Irish,”  a sequence of poems exploring her predicament as a Sicilian woman fatally in love with Ireland.  Full of echoes of Irish poetry and the music of everyday speech, the poems were by turns sharp-witted and humorous, poignant and full of longing, culminating in a final recognition of her double-minded state: “I don’t belong. / I could make myself a life there.”  (This sequence of poems appeared on Artists Without Walls blog in March 2014.)



Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer
Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer

Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer brought to vivid life the story of a break-up in Burying Elephant, a one-act play by Robin Rice Lichtig.  The dramatic and vibrant performances were genuine and poignant, bringing as some viewers remarked, laughter and a few tears.  “Artists Without Walls is a muse, a gift to artists stimulating the creative life energy,” said Michelle. “We are given the opportunity to share our creative work and be received by a truly supportive and empathetic audience of fellow AWoW members and their guests. AWoW’s talented artists revitalize my spirit giving me strength and passion as I pursue my craft.”



Scott Brieden, Phoebe Farber and Ruby Hankey
Scott Brieden, Phoebe Farber and Ruby Hankey

First time performer and new member Phoebe Farber presented a wonderful short play, Class Reunion, about a high school reunion that goes awry– starring two fine actors Ruby Hankey and Scott Breiden.  “I had a great time at AWoW’s Showcase. So wonderful to be in the midst of talented and supportive artists.  I’m hooked!” said Phoebe. 



Allison Sylvia
Allison Sylvia

Allison Sylvia performed two more pieces – L to the A and aDAm(BEcoming)eDEn – for an appreciative audience, once again incorporating spoken word, song, chant and dance.  Said, Allison, “Artists Without Walls is a warm supportive community of fellow artists – every showcase brings in new, exciting talent and new work from familiar faces. It is always an event to look forward to for inspiration.”


Serena Jost
Serena Jost




Serena Jost wowed AWoW with her new whimsical voice-cello songs. She also sang an affecting ballad commemorating the 100th anniversary of WW1.  “Performing for an always attentive AWoW audience inspires me,” said Serena.  “Every showcase is a delight!”



Michael Muller, Niamh Hyland, Deni Bonet and Cecil Hooker
Michael Muller, Niamh Hyland, Deni Bonet and Cecil Hooker


The final act of this great night, Too Many Lauras, featured AWoW members singer/songwriter Peter Nolan (aka Peter Chance) on guitar, Cecil Hooker on violin and Mike Muller on bass, performing original compositions.  The songs range from discovering new love to life as a vampire to helping a distressed friend.  A big surprise was spoken word artist Allison Sylvia returning during the third song, “Holding On,” to dance during the solo and sing on the last verse and chorus. The showcase ended with a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” with Niamh Hyland and Deni Bonet joining the band and the entire audience singing along in the refrains.  



Peter Nolan aka Peter Chance
Peter Nolan aka Peter Chance

Another brilliant evening.


The next Artists Without Walls’ Showcase will be on July 28th, 6:45pm at The Cell Theatre, 338 W23rd St. 


All photos by Vera Hoar


Vera Hoar’s photos from the Artists Without Walls’ June Showcase.


Michael Muller
Michael Muller
Scott Brieden, Phoebe Farber and Ruby Hankey
Scott Brieden, Phoebe Farber and Ruby Hankey
Allison Sylvia
Allison Sylvia


Peter Chance, Niamh Hyland, Michael Muller, Cecil Hooker and Deni Bonet
Peter Chance, Niamh Hyland, Michael Muller, Cecil Hooker and Deni Bonet
Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer
Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer
Connie Roberts and Angela Alaimo O'Donnell
Connie Roberts and Angela Alaimo O’Donnell
Serena Jost
Serena Jost


Michael Muller
Michael Muller

Here’s what bassist Michael Muller, who will be part of Tuesday’s Showcase at The Cell, said of a recent AWoW gathering, ““Lovely and talented! Brilliant across the board; Martina, Allison, Kathleen, and Annette. Happy I was able to attend; super sounds, sights and words – magical evening it was!” 



We have a great lineup planned:



Phoebe Farber
Phoebe Farber


Phoebe Farber is a playwright living in Montclair, New Jersey. Her plays have been seen in New York and New Jersey, including Luna Stage, Strangedog, Horse Trade Theater, The Players Theatre, Short Play Lab, The Chain Theater, and The Depot Theater in Garrison NY. This fall she will begin a residency at Playwrights Theater of New Jersey’s Emerging Women Playwrights. Phoebe will be presenting a scene from her short play “Class Reunion.



Angela Alaimo O'Donnell
Angela Alaimo O’Donnell


Angela Alaimo O’Donnell will be returning for her second Showcase presentation. Angela is the author of six books of poems, three books of prose, essays about poetic craft, contemporary poetry and the nexus between faith, art and literature. Her work is highly personal and always powerfully presented. If you haven’t heard or met Angela, here’s your chance. She’s wonderful. 


Michelle Macau
Michelle Macau


Michelle Macau actor, theater director and producer with a passion for storytelling, who adapts and applies her skills to train non-performers in the techniques of improvisational acting, will be doing a two-character, ten-minute play with Sarah Hammer and written by Robin Rice Lichtig entitled Burying Elephants


Serena Jost
Serena Jost




Here’s what “Time Out NY” wrote about singer/songwriter/cellist Serena Jost. “”Serena Jost writes gently eccentric songs and sings them in an elegant alto, often accompanying herself on cello, but it isn’t quite right to call her a singer-songwriter. The term art song—normally tied to 19th-century concert music—usefully characterizes Jost’s carefully arranged pieces and succinct lyrics, neither quite rock nor folk”


Allison Sylvia
Allison Sylvia



Allison Syliva, a recent graduate of NYU, is a thinking young woman who melds song, dance, poetry, and chant  in her work, which often ends with the crowd on the edge of their seats. Allison enthralls her audience with her character dramatizations be they cello players or unrequited lovers, transforming scraps of script into art. It’s exciting to watch her perform. If you haven’t seen her you’re in for a treat. 


Peter Chance and Cecil Hooker
Peter Chance and Cecil Hooker



Closing out the show will be musicians Cecil Hooker, Peter Chance and Michael Muller. Their first piece will be “Wide Open,” a duo with Cecil and Peter. Michael will join them for two more tunes, “Holding On” and “Ancient Curse.” Knowing how talented and creative these fellows are, and knowing how creative and collaborative some of our members are–particularly Allison and Niamh Hyland–it wouldnt surprise me if this act takes a few twists or turns. Join us and find out. 


The Cell Theatre is located at 338 W23rd St. The  doors open at 6:45  See you then. 





Lovers' Almanac
Lovers’ Almanac


Angela Alaimo O’Donnell’s new book of poems, LOVERS’ ALMANAC, has been officially released by Wipf & Stock Press as of March 13th.  


For those who many like to know more about the book, please check out the link to the WIPF & STOCK and to the book’s AMAZON page. 








Artists Without Walls
Artists Without Walls

Join AWoW for its March Showcase,  including a talented array of performers and the most convivial crowd in town. Joining us, among others, will be Brendan Connellan, I.S. Jones, Joanna Migdal, Ashley Bell, Niamh Hyland, Allison Sylvia, Martina Fišerová, Mary Tierney and Gabriela Gyergeva. Thanks to Vera Hoar for the great montage. The Cell Theatre, 338 W23rd St., NYC Drinks at 6:45; show begins at 7:20.



Annette Homann
Annette Homann

Annette Homann has a few shows this week:


Spectrum Symphony, Wednesday March 25th, 7:30 pm, Church of St Joseph, 371 6th Ave. Admission: $20. Works by Iannacone, Schumann and Sibelius.


Dancing with the Strings: Festival at the Bloomingdale School of Music, 323 W 108th street ( March 27th, 7 pm Bruch Octet (on viola) and March 28th, 2 pm. Violin/Dance performance. Free admission for both events.


Mark Donnelly
Mark Donnelly

Actress Mary Tierney will read selected speeches and monologues from Mark Donnelly’s play Mother Jones: Fighter for Justice at Borough of Manhattan Community College on Thursday, March 26, beginning at noon in Room S341. Q&A to follow.


The college is located at 199 Chambers St., downtown, toward the Hudson. The event is being presented as part of Women’s Herstory Month.


Free and open to the public. Just let staff at the Security Desk know what event you’re attending and you’ll be properly directed.


Tara O'Grady
Tara O’Grady

Tara O’Grady is releasing her 4th album Irish Bayou, a tribute to New Orleans with original songs in a gumbo of genres, from zydeco and rockabilly, to folk, funk, swing, jazz and blues. Special guests joining her on stage will be AWOW member Sasha Papernik on piano and vocals, as well as Pete Kennedy of The Kennedy’s on guitar and ukulele, Justin Poindexter of The Amigos on lap steel and vocals, and Tara’s full swing band – bass, drums, trumpet, sax, clarinet, washboard and all.


Irish Bayou CD Launch Party
Thursday, March 26 @ 7pm, doors 6:15pm
Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd
Click here for reservations



Out by Ten
Out by Ten

On March. 26, 2015, Susan Seliger, producer of Out by Ten, the monthly performance series featuring NYC’s best cutting-edge storytellers and musicians, presents Passion, Mystery and Talking Beasts: Joseph Keckler Merges Mischief, Music and Mind-Bending Stories.


The Village Voice named Keckler the “Best Downtown Performance Artist in 2013.”
Limited seating sells out fast — buy now and save $$$. $18-$20 cover includes free wine, cheese and cookies.


PLUS – that night there will also have an open-mic. we will have an OPEN MIC.


Just come to the performance by 7:30 PM, Spectrum NYC Studio, 121 Ludlow St, NYC — write down your name and one sentence for me to introduce you and your 5-minute story/song, and the stage is yours!


Click here for tickets



Antoinette Montague
Antoinette Montague


Today, Sunday, April 27th, 1:20-2pm, jazz singer Antoinette Montague  will be at the Duke Ellington Statue on 105th and Fifth Ave, NYC .  Duke Ellington Center For the Arts. 









Angela Alaimo O'Donnell
Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Celebrate Poetry Month by attending a free poetry reading with Angela Alaimo O’Donnell.  Her most recent book of poems, “Waking My Mother” is a collection of elegies focused on the relationships between mothers and daughters. Her previous book, “Saint Sinatra & Other Poems” was nominated for the Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Imaginative Writing. The event is sponsored by Poets @ St. Paul’s, a writing collective that gathers monthly at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle to read, discuss and learn more about the art and craft of poetry. All are welcome to this reading which begins at 7pm on Monday, April 28th at 405 W 59th Street, the parish center. 



Artists Without Walls' "Rise Up Singing"
Artists Without Walls’ “Rise Up Singing”

Experience a wonderful collection of actors and musicians on Thursday, May 1, 7pm, at Lehman College, 250 West Bedford Park Blvd, Bronx, NY, as they perform in an Artists Without Walls’ production, “Rise Up Singing.” The show, a multimedia presentation, explores the problems confronted by women and children in the workforce, past and present, through the use of song, live theater and film. This a free event. Reception to follow.



"Cherry Smoke"
“Cherry Smoke”


Saturday evening, May 3rd at 6pm, Bob Arcaro will be hosting “Bob’s Night” a wine and cheese reception in the lobby or at a nearby venue before the stage presentation of Cherry Smoke at Urban Stages, 259 West 30th St., NYC. The show is currently running and will run through May 18th. Tickets are $25 but there is a special 20% discount for Artists Without Walls’ members.  Click here or call 212-868-4444 and mention code BOB!  For more information about CHERRY SMOKE, please click here



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.




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.





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! 



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.



The last poem in Angela Alaimo O’Donnell’s series. Click “Crossing Ireland” for the opening essay.  More about Angela Alaimo O’Donnell.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day




The sun a brilliant girl this morning,

puts me in mind of MacGillycuddy rising,

the mountain behind our B&B

who whispered mist all day to me

while I fell in love with Cill Airne.

I was a sly watcher, not letting her know

what it meant to live in her shadow,

I, a girl long in love with the sun,

saw my self in her dark disposition.

I gave up light, not counting the cost.

I felt found and I felt lost,

living her murk and uncertainty

instead of the native clarity

my southern soul had long demanded,

hearing, for once, what my heart commanded.



The tenth of twelve poems in Angela Alaimo O’Donnell’s series. Click “Crossing Ireland” for the opening essay.  More about Angela Alaimo O’Donnell.


Here in the corner of the world-as-was

the old words still speak true.  The Skellig Ring

around the rose of Kerry’s coast drops us

down mountains to Gaeltacht shore.  The waves sing

the same song on the newer coast we know

but in strange language and a minor key.

The same things happen, but they happen slow.

The names for us different as you from me.


Here I am mna to your fir,

small swells in a surge of Irish thrust

as if a syllable were enough

to circumscribe our being here.

You face the wind and call to me,

my name as foreign as that sea.