Monday, April 16, 2012

More Irish-American Literature, Theatre, Art, and Music!

There will be a series of free readings of poems put on by the Fallen Angel Theatre Company. These are staged readings: Actors will be on the stage, but reading from scripts, rather than performing from memory and they will not be in costume or moving about the stage.

This will be a wonderful opportunity to hear first-class Irish actors and actresses performing in English for free, and I highly recommend that any of you with an interest in literature take advantage of this wonderful series to attend and enjoy.

The readings will be at the Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue on the south (downtown) side of the street.

The next event will be on Monday, April 30, 2012: The play is called Airswimming, and information about it can be seen at Fallen Angel Theatre Company's Web page.

New Classes After the Old Center Dies!

I am going to continue my classes by holding Meetups. Please take a look at  the  Meetup page to keep informed!

Meetup is free to join. But there will be a cost per each class: When we meet at cafes, diners, or whatever, it is only fair to purchase something--coffee, tea, dinner, whatever you can afford. But we must be fair in using their space.

And I might ask people to buy the book(s), since we will no longer have access to a copy machine.

Irish-American Literature, Art, Theater, and Music!

There is a "salon" for Irish-American writers and artists here in New York City. On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, there will be a performance that will include, among others, the incomparable Aedin Moloney reading the final part of the last chapter of Irish writer James Joyce's masterpiece, the novel Ulysses. Aedin is the best reader of poetry I have ever heard, and her performances are transcendent. I hope that some of you will be able to attend.

I won't be able to be there until late, because that evening is also the last time I will ever meet my class at the International Center, where I have been volunteering since 1985. (I would also invite all of you to my last class!)

But after my class, I will attend, and I hope that I will bring my students with me.

The performance will be at The Cell, a theater at 338 West 23rd Street. The event will begin at 7:00 and continue to about 9:30.

A "Salon" on 23rd Street

Tomorrow, April 17, 2012, there will be an Irish writer's event near to the International Center. I intend to go after class. This is a good thing to know about:

Irish-American Writers and Artists Salon

The wonderful Aedin Moloney will be among the readers; but I suspect we will be too late to hear her.

The event is free.

Video on the International Center

Please take a look--and share the link with others.

The International Center in New York.

The International Center is a wonderful place that has helped many thousands of people over its 51 years.

The Center will close forever on Friday, April 20, 2012.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bloomsday 2012

Colum McCann reading Ulysses on Bloomsday, 2010, at Ulysses Folk House on Stone Street.

The great Irish writer, James Joyce, memorialized a particular day: Thursday, June 16, 1904. His masterpiece, the novel Ulysses, takes place on that day.

James Joyce (1882 - 1941)

The "hero" of Ulysses is Mr. Leopold Bloom, so that date has come to be known as "Bloomsday".

On this year's Bloomsday, there will be readings from Ulysses all over New York City and the world. My favorite events (and the ones I intend to attend) are at Ulysses Folk House, an Irish pub downtown near Stone Street. This event will be hosted this year by the great Irish writer, Colum McCann, the author of Let the Great World Spin and Dancer.

The major event every Bloomsday is at Symphony Space, a theater on Broadway at 95th Street. This event is called Bloomsday on Broadway, and is hosted by Isaiah Sheffer, the host for the excellent radio program on NPR entitled Selected Shorts. (Selected Shorts consists of short stories read by actors or writers. It is a wonderful way to practice your English listening. It is good practice, and a literary pleasure.)

I recommend both these events as wonderful. If you can, attend both!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The End of an Era...the Beginning of a New!

The International Center in New York is going to be closed on April 20, 2012, after more than 50 years of serving the immigrants of the great community of New York City and enriching the lives of many thousands of volunteers.

For me, as for so many others, the International Center has been my home away from home.

I came to New York City in the summer of 1985, for the same reason that many of you have--to have an adventure, to acquire professional experience, and to enter one of the focal points of human culture to experience new things and to learn. Soon after, I befriended a Taiwanese family in my neighborhood in Astoria, and found myself trying to help them to learn English. I had a room-mate from Brazil, and one day I was moved to explicate a poem for him, "Fern Hill" by the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. He was moved by its beauty, and I felt a new sense of fulfilment. Before the end of the year I was a volunteer at the International Center, and I taught using poetry as the text rather than a classic language book or the newspaper. The first poem I taught was "Fern Hill". My first students liked my class, and I discovered I loved teaching. Soon I was teaching poetry one night, Alice in Wonderland another night, pronunciation another night. It was a heady time, making friends, meeting the world while in New York City, sharing the literature and language and culture that I loved.

At the the International Center's location in 1985, we had to have classes in offices. We didn't have three beautiful classrooms and a stage as we have now. But we had wonderful staff, volunteers, and members. Eileen Julian had a desk in the room where we read Alice in Wonderland, and I still remember looking up and seeing her smile as I discussed the book. One of the members in my Alice class back in 1986 was someone many of you know: Anna Petelka.

In the years since then, I have changed (my hair had no grey when I started!), members have come and gone, and my life has been intertwined with the International Center in ways I could never have predicted in 1985.

But over the last decade and more, the International Center has degraded. Costs were too high, the leadership less creative, and the board less and less connected to the vision that created the Center in the first place. The Center began to offer fewer and fewer services, began to charge for more services and restrict services, and became increasingly expensive. What had once been a haven for struggling refugees and new immigrants became increasingly expensive. Wonderful, dedicated staff were fired. Space was rented out. Opportunities to act to generate positive change were ignored. When we should have moved, the lease was renewed, instead. Now the Board has decided to close the Center. It is classic! Mismanage and run. (For some, that is the American Way. But not for us!)

We will continue to meet. On April 21, we will meet at the Prêt á Manger on 23rd Street, just down from the International Center at 24 West 23rd Street. I have set up a Meetup group to arrange classes. Please take a look and join!

There is also a new Facebook page named "Friends of the New International Center".

With your help we can be reborn, and better. Wiser. New.

Please join us to begin a new era and help generations to come.