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    Irish American Writers and Artists to honour William Kennedy

    By Noreen Bowden | August 26, 2009

    Here’s something really exciting:  a new non-profit organisation has been formed to promote and celebrate the Irish-American contribution to the arts. Irish American Writers and Artists, Inc. is a non-profit organisation that

    has established itself as a focal point for artists who would like to use their work to affect matters of culture, entertainment, politics and social justice. We stage events, sponsor readings, concerts and art exhibits, and hope to call attention to books, plays, movies, music and other works that reflect the STARTLING DIVERSITY of the Irish American experience.

    The organisation will hold its first annual Eugene O’Neill Award Benefit on October 16, celebrating the lifetime achievements of author William Kennedy. Kennedy is known for his literary portrayal of Irish-American life in Albany, NY in such works as the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Ironweed. The night promises to be a special evening: Hollywood actor Matt Dillon and Pulitzer-Prize winner John Patrick Shanley (who wrote the play “Doubt”) will celebrate Kennedy’s artistry, while New York Times reporter and memoirist Dan Barry will present the award.

    The group has its genesis in a panel at a literary festival in Charlottesville, Virginia in March 2008. Authors Peter Quinn and T.J. English, the late historian and author Daniel Cassidy, “Irish-America: Coming into Clover” author Maureen Dezell, and Dan Barry spoke at a panel entitled “In Search of Irish America”. [Listen to the podcast of the panel.]

    In discussions afterward they realised a common interest in progressive politics and activism; this prompted them to gather a group of Irish-Americans active in the arts to support an ad praising then-candidate Barack Obama in the Irish Echo, the largest Irish-American newspaper. Eventually out of this initiative grew a spirit of collectivism that led to the formation of the association.

    From their mission statement:

    IAW&A is committed both to bringing together the Irish American creative community in new self-awareness and to being a force for inter-ethnic and interracial solidarity, understanding and active cooperation.

    In the long tradition of Irish resistance to oppression and struggle for liberty, IAW&A supports free speech, the rights of immigrants, the equality and dignity of all—regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation—and the process of peaceful, positive social change in the U.S., Ireland and around the world.  While avoiding party affiliation and endorsing no candidates for public office, IAW&A is outspoken in defense of artistic freedom, human rights and social justice.

    The board of directors includes some of the most important commentators on Irish America in recent times, including legendary New York journalist Pete Hamill, “Looking for Jimmy” author Peter Quinn, and “All Souls” memoirist Michael Patrick MacDonald.

    Here’s to their success! No doubt this organisation will serve as a great focal point and showcase for the vitality of Irish-American culture.

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    Topics: Latest News | 2 Comments »

    2 Responses to “Irish American Writers and Artists to honour William Kennedy”

    1. links for 2009-08-26 « Charlottesville Words Says:
      August 26th, 2009 at 5:05 pm

      […] Irish American Writers and Artists to honour William Kennedy | – about Irish emigration and… Check this out! […]

    2. Irish American Artists and Writers Unite | Diddlyi Magazine Says:
      September 4th, 2009 at 9:51 am

      […] to Noreen Bowden at Éan for letting us know about […]