Frank J Cunningham – Writer, Poet, Lyricist (CV)

Frank J Cunningham was born in Co. Mayo, Ireland. As a young adult, Frank studied at a native Gaelic-speaking boarding school. At the end of his studies at the University of Galway, he traveled throughout Western Europe, for five years, until he immigrated to the United States in 1985. Throughout his journeys, Cunningham immersed himself in indigenous cultures, learning native languages (French and German).

After a decade of living in NY, Cunningham moved to the island of Nantucket where he remains a year-round resident.

Cunningham’s deep interest in and understanding of Western history, geography(historical) as well as economics has lead him to pursue work as a professional genealogist for well over a decade.

A decade, after continually jotting down observations, he began to write poetry and prose on a full-time basis. Since then, Cunningham has also recited his poems across the Eastern United States, as well as Germany, Ireland and England.

As per the recommendation of Armenian-born violinist, Armen Ghazaryan, Cunningham has put words to Aram Khachaturian’s Lullaby from the great composer’s ballet Gayane; it is from this mid 20th century work that the celebrated Sabre Dance derived. Ghazaryan was the Concertmaster of the Miami Opera Symphony and guest principle violin of the Hollywood Philharmonic Orchestra.

American composer, Robert Behrman, has created original scores for eight of Cunningham’s poems that since have been performed by a choir, tenor and soprano. The collection was performed during the Summer of 2008, on Nantucket island. Behrman is an active composer as well as a pianist, organist and choir director.

Behrman has also composed music to a trio of Cunningham’s love poems which had their premier performance by mezzo soprano Jessica Goodenough Heuser, in April 2011.

Cunningham has recently compiled a collection of three manuscripts of poetry.

I) The focus of the first manuscript is the natural and cultural heritage of Nantucket. These poems range from depicting the island’s notable natural and historical sites, as well as a number of ‘local’ characters. II) The second manuscript addresses an immigrant’s comparative and philosophical views on living in and traveling between two different cultures, the United States and Ireland. III) The third manuscript is a celebration of the poet’s muse, as well as his musings on aspects of human relations.

Cunningham has recently written a collection of four poems based on the concepts of earth, sky, ocean and fire using his knowledge of four languages: Gaelic, French, German & English. Original score is being composed for performance by a soprano.

Cunningham inherited his deep appreciation for languages and their rich cultural heritage from his father who was a schoolteacher and after years of work for the union became the president of the Irish Nat. Teachers Org. (INTO). The poet was also influenced by his father’s love of nature and his mother’s sense of fairness in raising twelve children – as well as her age-old advice on decent consideration for others.

Since 2004, Cunningham has been a contributing editor to MuseumViews and more recently as a videographer (interviewer). Cunningham has been working as an archival researcher and genealogist for more than a decade and is the founder of AncestryTold.



English: Native

Gaelic (Irish), French & German: Reading, and some fluency

FILMS & New Media

Contributor to  MuseumViews, 2003-Present

Contributor to, 2010-Present

Contributor to MuseumViews’ In Conversation with…[VIDEO Series], 2013-Present

Contributing writer & researcher, Rene (feature film by Homa Taj, in development), 2016

Nantucket Atheneum (short film based on Frank J Cunningham’s poem by Homa Taj), 2013

Maria’s Comet (short film based on Frank J Cunningham’s poem by Homa Taj), 2014

Steely Eyed Samurai (short film based on Frank J Cunningham’s poem by Homa Taj)), December, 2014

Frank J Cunningham on IMDb 


A set of shorts films by American curator & filmmaker Homa Nasab that are inspired by a series of Frank J Cunningham’s Nantucket poems. As of Summer 2014, two of the short films are completed and the third in post-production.

Children’s story-poem, Staying at Grandma’s Farm, (project completed: seeking publisher & illustrator)

Collaborative work on a series of five contemporary songs set to original score by Armenian violinist and composer Armen Ghazaryan

Collaborative work on Cunningham’s Orpheus set to the 18th century composer Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orpheus & Eurydice. Performed at the African Meeting House in Spring 2014 accompanied by pianist.

Completion of a comedic play based on multi-racial encounters in 21st century rural Ireland, Autumn 2014

Completion of a manuscript of semi-autobiographical short stories based on Cunningham’s adventurous times living and working in Ireland, Continental Europe and the United States, Winter 2014


“Nantucket Atheneum, Founded 1834,” Nantucket Atheneum Annual Report 2009, The Nantucket Atheneum, 2009

The Unitarian,” Nantucket Today, August, 2009

“Island Hopping,” Word of Water, World of Sand: A Cape Cod Collection of Poetry, Fiction and Memoir, June Beisch, Gillian Drake and Virginia Reiser (eds.), Cape Cod Literary Press, 2005, p. 19

“My Own Crowd,” Editorial, The Irish Emigrant, March 21-27, 2005

“Winter Time: Huru’s Ship (Mark DiSuvero),” Letter to the Editor, The Inquirer & Mirror, January 27, 2005


John Stanton, John Stanton on Frank J Cunningham, Discover Nantucket, September, 2008

Arem Khachaturian’s ‘Lullaby’ (VIDEO)

Rogg Woodruff on Cunningham – “Poetry Meets Music” (VIDEO)

Robert Behrman on Cunningham’s Poetry

Marli Gezzatta, “Live & Local: Frank J. Cunningham,” The Nantucket Independent, October 2006

M. Douglas O’Malley, “Pubs Bring Ireland to Hub,” The Harvard Crimson, March, 1999


Read poems at the African Meeting House, Nantucket in Spring 2014, accompanied by live musician (pianist)

*Personal NOTE: 2012-2014 Recovering from bout of Legionnaires Disease.

Various venues in Berlin,  Germany, 2011-2012

Performed own poems & lead discussions, Nantucket Lighthouse School, April, 2010

Performed love poetry (Marooned) to Fritz Kreisler’s Liebslied with Robert Behrman (piano) and Armen Ghazaryan (violin), Nantucket, MA, March, 2010

Read a selection of own poems at the Nantucket Women’s Reading Club, Nantucket, MA, December, 2009

Invited to perform original poem (Nantucket Atheneum (founded 1834)) at the 175th Anniversary Celebration of the Nantucket Atheneum, Nantucket, MA, August, 2009

Invited to perform original poem (The Unitarian) at the 200th Anniversary Celebration of the Unitarian Church on Nantucket, MA, August, 2009

Featured Poet, Jazz & Poetry, South Wharf Art Gallery, Nantucket, MA, July, 2009

Performed original poem (For the Children) at Fundraiser for Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children along with renowned documentary filmmaker, Kate Blewett [of the Dying Rooms 1995], The Coffin School, Nantucket, MA, July, 2009

Performed own poetry at Rose Music Sunday Festival, Nantucket, MA, July, 2009

Composed and performed original poem (Khachaturian’s Lullaby [see video]) inspired by Aram Khachaturian’s Lullaby from his famous ballet Gayane (Sabre Dance) accompanied by Robert Behrman (piano) and Armen Ghazaryan (violin), June, 2009

Collaborated with contemporary American composer and music director, Robert Behrman, who composed original scores for eight of my island themed poems. The pieces were premiered on the 30th Anniversary of Rose Music Sunday Festival accompanied with a full choir, bass tenor and soprano, Nantucket, MA, July, 2008

Invited to perform Maria’s Comet 1847 VI at the 175th Anniversary of the Maria Mitchell Association by its Director, May, 2008

Featured Poet, The National Poetry Month, Nantucket Middle School, Nantucket, MA, April, 2008

Invited to perform original poems (including The Whaling Museum) at the Nantucket Historical Association, during the National Poetry Month celebration at the Waling Museum, Nantucket MA., April, 2008

Performed new works, Over the Edge Readings, Galway Public Library, Galway City, Co. Galway in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Performed new works, Spoken Word Performance Poetry Series, Nantucket, MA, May 2007

Performed own poetry, Out of the Blue Gallery, Boston, MA, September, 2006

Performed own poetry, Georgia Institute of Technology Bookstore, Atlanta, GA, May, 2006

Performed own poetry, Java Monkey Performance Space, Atlanta, GA, May, 2006

Featured Poet, Nantucket Arts Festival, Nantucket, MA, Oct. 2006.

Featured Poet, performed own Irish themed poetry at Brant Point Books, Nantucket, MA, March, 2006

Featured Poet, performed own poetry at Brant Point Books, Nantucket, MA, November, 2005

Featured Poet, performed own island themed poetry at Brant Point Books, Nantucket, MA July, 2005

Featured Poet, Zeitgeist Gallery, Cambridge, MA, December, 2004

Performed own poems at Out of the Blue Gallery Poetry Event, Cambridge, MA, November, 2004

Performed own poems, at fringe gatherings, during Cuisle, the Limerick International Poetry Festival, Limerick City, Co. Limerick, Ireland, October, 2004

Performed original poem (Stepped Off The Shelf) based on Baffle Poetry Festival’s theme (Send in the Clown) at, Loughrea, Co. Galway, Ireland, October, 2004

Commissioned to write poems (Bare Bones and On Two Hind Legs) for ACTing for Democracy Fundraiser for Presidential Elections 2004 – Performed the poems along with Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, John Shea and Susan Burns. Nantucket, MA, September 2004

Commissioned to write a poem (My Own Crowd: St Patrick’s Day Parade) to accompany artist Jess Gorell’s multi-media performance Transportation New York City Nantucket, MA, July 2004

Featured Poet, Nantucket Poetry Slam, Nantucket, MA, May 2004

Featured Poet, Celtics Arts Society Art Show, Cambridge, MA, August, 2003

Performed own poetry, Nantucket Uptown Theatre Poetry, Nantucket, MA, April 2003