A Review of "Salmon: A Journey in Poetry" from the May 2008 issue of Books Ireland. Review by Hugh McFadden
Salmon: A Journey in Poetry is
a very substantial anthology of verse by 106 poets from the Salmon
stable. It is an impressive testament to the work of this publishing
house, which was set up in 1981 by the book's editor, Jessie Lendennie,
who has served the cause of poetry in Ireland admirably for 27 years
She was born in Arkansas in the United States but has lived in Ireland
since 1981, firstly in Galway and, since the mid-90s, in County Clare,
near the Cliffs of Moher.
For the first few years of its operation, Salmon concentrated largely
on publishing verse by women poets who had not yet published
collections, but gradually its list widened to include male poets, some
previously unpublished and others who had been published elsewhere but
who switched to Salmon. Some, indeed, had well established reputations,
such as Rory Brennan, Robert Greacen, Fred Johnston, James Liddy, Des
O'Grady, James Simmons, Robin Skelton and Knute Skinner.
Among the women poets whose careers were advanced by Salmon are such
well known names as Nuala Archer, Leland Bardwell, Eva Bourke, Heather
Brett, Louise C. Callaghan, Roz Cowman, Anne le Marquand Hartigan, Rita
Ann Higgins, Jessie Lendennie herself, Catherine Phil MacCarthy,
Máighréad Medbh, Mary O'Donnell, Sheila O'Hagan, Mary O'Malley, Jo
Slade and Eithne Strong. Only a handful or so of these poets had
already established strong reputations as writers before being
published by Salmon.
In more recent years the press has become more cosmopolitan, more
international, with the addition of such writers as Nadya Aisenberg,
Marvin Bell, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Deppe, Carol Ann Duffy, Mélanie
Frances, Erling Friis-Baastad, Paul Genega, John Hildebidle, Ron
Houchin, Ben Howard, Adrienne Rich, John Unrau, Jean Valentine, Michéle
Vassal, Sabine Wichert and Ann Zell.
Two poems were chosen from the volumes published by Salmon of each of
the 106 poets, who were asked then to supply an unpublished third poem.
There are so many good poems that could be highlighted, but here are a
random few that made an immediate impression: Nuala Archer's 'The Lost
Glove is Happy'; Leland Bardwell's 'Moments'; Rory Brennan's 'The Paper
Kisses', and 'Equality is not Defeat'; Sam Burnside's 'The Salt Box';
Roz Cowman's 'Peanuts'; Vicki Crowley's 'The Sky Road'; Robert
Greacen's 'At Brendan Behan's Desk'; Ron Houchin's 'Translating Water';
Ben Howard's 'Remembering Galway'; Mary O'Donnell's 'My Father Waving',
and, particularly, 'Unlegendary Heroes'; Mary O'Malley's 'The Otter
Woman'; Paul Perry's 'The improbable flowers of Vizcaya'; Robin
Skelton's 'Two in a Garden'; and Richard Tillinghast's 'Snowflakes
& A Jazz Waltz'. And there are many other memorable verses in this
treasure-trove of poetry from Salmon. This is one anthology that is
worth its weight.
"A Parent to Poetry"
Essay published in The Irish Times, 23rd February 2008
Essay: For more than 26 years, Jessie Lendennie has been nurturing and
publishing poets via Salmon Poetry, from her home in Co Clare. One of
them, Eva Bourke , salutes her contribution.
If one compares Gallery, Dedalus and Salmon Poetry,
three major poetry presses in Ireland, the former two could be likened
to two weighty ships pursuing the course of the great poetic narrative
with a worthy crew and an exclusive dignified passenger list, Salmon
Poetry, on the other hand, to a lighter sailing vessel tacking against
the wind and waves and rescuing refugees and wanderers from all ends of
the earth. These will be nurtured, encouraged and safely put ashore
again to make room for newcomers.
Jessie Lendennie, who has been running the press for more than 26
years, possesses the rare gift of an inclusive and non-judgmental
disposition. The quality of the work and the bibliography of poets in
Salmon's recently published anthology, Salmon: A Journey in Poetry
1981-2007, edited by Lendennie - its cover featuring an eye-catching
detail of an abstract painting by Maunagh Kelly - attest to a
non-parochial, cross-cultural ethos, openness towards diversity and an
animating spirit of discovery and risk-taking that have benefited many,
and in the long run also the press itself. Recently Jessie Lendennie
and Siobhán Hutson, who is in charge of the production and design of
Salmon's famously attractive books, went to New York together to take
part in the conference of Associated Writers and Writing Programmes.
They also introduced the anthology - in which myself and many others
are included - with a reading in the Bowery Poetry Club.
In her characteristically brief and engaging introduction to the
anthology, Lendennie writes that as a melancholy, poetry-addicted
adolescent she would never have imagined she would eventually "lead a
life filled with space, books, writers and poetry", but that's exactly
what happened after she arrived in Galway in the mid-1980s from the US
via London. Her and her partner, Michael Allen's plan had been to
dedicate themselves to writing but, having come from a lengthy stint as
assistant at the Poetry Library in London, she missed the exchange of
ideas with other writers, joined a workshop in the university in
Galway, and discovered that there were hardly any outlets for
publishing poetry in the west and that many talented women writers
mainly wrote for their desk drawers.
IN TYPICAL HANDS-ON fashion she started a broadsheet, which
metamorphosed into the Salmon poetry magazine and not much later the
Salmon Poetry press or Salmon Publishing, as it was then called.
Today Salmon Poetry operates from a small, green, two-storey house near
the Cliffs of Moher. When I visited Jessie there recently I was greeted
on arrival by five friendly sheepdogs who accompanied us into the airy
book- and paper-littered office where she and Siobhán work. Both a
tribute to the poets as well as a testimony to the remarkable energy
and dedication Lendennie has shown in keeping Salmon afloat through
occasionally very turbulent times, the anthology is a voluminous book
dedicated to the memory of the eight Salmon poets who have meanwhile
died, Anne Kennedy, Eithne Strong and Ted McNulty among them. On
roughly 400 pages it features three poems each by 106 poets who were
published by Salmon during the past 26 years, sufficient evidence that
the press has finally entered a calmer period and may be allowed to
rest a little on its laurels. Whether one dips into it now and again or
reads large sections in a single sitting one will come across
beautifully animated poetry by literary greats as well as poets whose
names are less familiar, from both sides of the Atlantic. As a record
of poetry-publishing history and the progress of the art throughout the
latter years of the 20th century the book is invaluable and ought to be
on the Irish literature shelves of all libraries in the country.
Poetry publishing is an arm of the book industry that is in permanent
crisis, especially because many bookstores refuse to stock poetry or
banish it to the dark remote corners of the shop. Large publishers
safely opt for the re-publication of collections by established poets
or for anthologies of recycled canonical poems with a smattering of
more recent ones all packaged nicely under headings such as "Poems for
Winter" or "The Angel Next to You", as I saw in Berlin bookstores
recently. Intended for customers who can't think of any other birthday
or Christmas present, they have a middling chance of selling.
New poetry, always a minority interest, is a tender blossom in need of
shelter from the harsh climate of market forces, especially if it is
innovative and experimental. Anyone mad enough to launch a poetry press
into this world, in particular one that is specialising in work by
unknown poets, is therefore at risk from the start. In this country and
in Britain the Arts Councils hold a protecting hand over these
enterprises. But only after a lengthy period during which they must
truck on until they have proven themselves worthy will poetry
publishers be rewarded with a grant that will just about keep the wolf
from the door.
LENDENNIE HAS BEEN there, as she will freely tell you. She has fought
for Salmon and has managed, with the invaluable assistance of Siobhán
Hutson, to keep it going on a shoestring year after difficult year.
Their labour is Herculean. One of Jessie Lendennie's most attractive
and disarming traits is her maternal manner towards her poets. Like a
good parent, she is a facilitator, not a dictator. She has no interest
in forming anything or anyone after her own image but gets on with the
task of getting the books out. I remember well how invariably obliging
she was despite her chronic money shortage, how she always did her
utmost to keep her poets contented - a difficult enough undertaking -
and how unhappy she was if she failed. Over the years she particularly
encouraged women, who in the beginnings of the press were so
disheartened by Ireland's male-dominated literary establishment that
they had stopped sending work out.
Rita Ann Higgins said recently that we were very lucky to have her at
the time of starting out as poets, and so we were. Our lives and those
of many other poets might have turned out quite differently had Salmon
Poetry never happened.
Salmon: A Journey in Poetry 1981-2007 is published by Salmon Poetry
© 2008 The Irish Times
A Review from Terrain.org
The Poems She Gathered Along Her Path
Deborah Fries reviews Salmon: A Journey in Poetry, 1981-2007, edited by Jessie Lendennie
Salmon: A Journey in Poetry, 1981-2007, edited by Jessie Lendennie.
When the thick copy of Salmon: A Journey in Poetry, 1981-2007 arrived
at my suburban Philadelphia home, posted from County Clare, I was more
than a little enchanted by its return address and the path it had taken
to arrive at my door. The package had been sent to me by Jessie
Lendennie, co-founder, managing director, and commissioning publisher
of Salmon Publishing. No one had ever before sent me anything from
Ireland, and surely not from rural terrain just north of the Cliffs of
Known to me only from her fresh-scrubbed web photos, where she can be
seen hugging border collies and sheep, Lendennie is an editorial board
member of Terrain.org, a woman of my own generation, born in Arkansas,
transplanted into the northeast corner of another country-one that she
journeyed to 26 years ago, loved, and did not leave.
She is a poet, teacher, editor, and publisher. Lendennie's
ever-widening journey in poetry was captured in a 2001 Terrain.org
interview with Simmons Buntin. From starting The Salmon International
Literary Journal in 1982 to publishing more than 200 volumes of poetry
through Salmon since 1986, her trip has become increasingly inclusive:
first, providing a venue for Ireland's under-published women poets;
then adopting the work of other English language poets until Salmon
became the international publishing house that it is today.
My own venture through almost 500 pages of Salmon poets was in many
ways made as a foreigner, an awestruck linguistic outsider. Lendennie
has assembled a democratic anthology of three poems from each of 106
poets she's published-well-known and lesser known-and provided us with
bios, then sent us on our way to identify with the familiar or sample
new voices from beyond the breakwaters.
At first, I grabbed onto familiar landmarks: James Liddy and Nuala
Archer, known from the time I spent as an undergrad and graduate
student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. And Simmons Buntin,
R.T. Smith, and other poets who reference familiar places: Americans
and ex-pats writing about being in Kentucky, Nebraska, Florida, New
Jersey, Boston, New York, even Northfield, Massachusetts.
But this anthology is so much a product of place, there is no way to
read its poems without becoming a traveler. I crossed over, immersed
myself in its transatlantic landscapes: places filled with wind and
light, the rough Atlantic coast, cold sea, moonlit hills, its
painterly, elegiac world of longing. The poems she gathered together
map out a lyrical odyssey of place names: Shellybanks, Calf Bay at Lumb
Bank, Lughnasa, Kinvara, Connemara, Knockanure, Renvyle, Achill Island.
Our poet guides on this journey seduce us with delicious diction-fresh,
Hiberno-English, sculpting a world that includes the Nemeton, furze and
briony, clasai snow and windolene, where people chunter and recite the
angelus. Music replaces context, and we nod along-not fully
understanding, but willing to be taken there-to listen to talk of
Mullenfad, Erannach, and Eidolan.
And when we get there, experience seems familiar: there is love and
loss, history and modernity. They often meet in the same poem, as in
Eamonn Wall's "Ballagh," from the forthcoming A Tour of Your Country:
This montage finds you sitting on buttercups and grass
On your memory card's faint photo.
Over your shoulder, two banks of sea sand. Between them,
One deep arroyo the spine-thin particles are falling away from.
Overhead, the sun seeks to find its space through low clouds
To bring the sea, over your other shoulder, into quadrille coastal time.
You do not reckon the bounty lost to water; these lone &
Level strands are stretching far away.
You touched the grass when you rested, counted rusted gates
On the journey, quietly pressed your words on the paved streets.
As the sun traced a path, you climbed the old & graded hills,
You heard each measure crafted on this, our slow, brief watch.
Born to a village between Oulart and Enniscorthy, the route
You took to town was your way forward. And the way itself.
At the end of the reader's brief visits with more than 100 contemporary
Irish, British, American, and Canadian poets, there are places I want
to revisit, other Salmon volumes I want to read. I want to linger
longer with the poems of David Cavanagh, Theodore Deppe, Melanie
Frances and Michael Heffernan.
I want to hear Rory Brennan tell me about a placewhere On past / The
smart new housing for the unemployed the diesels / Churn and hiss,
trailing a dragon tang out to / The crane-forested docks and the
ferry's leviathan jaw. Want Heffernan to keep on describing a gray
abyss the lacy disks / of the wild carrot where my peppers were / stir
into spots of incandescent white / between the river meadow and my
eyes. Hope to again hear the voice of Richard Tillinghast, much as it
begins "A Quiet Pint in Kinvara": Salt-stung, rain-cleared air,
deepened as always / By a smudge of turf smoke. Overhead the white
glide / Of seagulls, and in the convent beeches above the road, /
Hoarse croak of rooks, throaty chatter of jackdaws.
In this anthology, Jessie Lendennie brings us 318 poems she has
gathered along her path from Arkansas to County Clare-and at journey's
end, we want more.
Review by Lex Runciman, in Rattle
Anthologies can be merely irritating: they often print too few poems by
too many writers with too little information or context, all presented
on paper that's too thin. The result can be a blurred, curiously flat,
and ultimately confusing reading experience. Pity that often enough
this is the first experience students may have with poetry. And except
for its paper (a standard and serviceable stock) Salmon: A Journey in
Poetry would seem guilty of all these sins. It runs to over 450 pages.
It presents, in alphabetical order, work from over one hundred poets,
from Nadya Aisenberg to Ann Zell--in each case, exactly three poems.
Each of these writers has published at least one book with the Irish
publisher Salmon Poetry Ltd. As a book on its own, Salmon: A Journey in
Poetry measures over an inch thick. It is beautifully designed. And it
has no right to work as a reading experience. Yet it does.
Salmon: A Journey in Poetry works in its entirety and in many of its
parts. It does so based on the depth and breadth of one person's
editorial intelligence and sensibility honed over the course of
twenty-six years. The editor is Jessie Lendennie, and her list,
Salmon's list, embraces writers from Sligo to Los Angeles, from Dublin
to Newfoundland, from Galway to Limerick to Portmarnock to Belfast to
Detroit. Yes, Detroit, for Salmon's list is eclectic and global. Yet
the poems, drawn from so many writers and so many disparate locales,
remain related to each other. They are cousins, though perhaps distant
ones sometimes. They build on fundamental experiences of location,
weather, family, "...the sound of birds / and the hum of years" (in
Lendennie's own poem, The Search). Sometimes these elements offer
consolation, but just as often they form the setting for an unfolding
and deepening fear--a child gone missing (in Angela Greene's Silence in
the Blue Night)--or for elegy (in Sheila O'Hagan's The Wood Pigeon).
These poems notice, inquire of, and celebrate many things:
paper kisses ("A secret invasion of cherubs was what it was like, /
This littering of the house with impressions of lips" -- Rory Brennan),
bovines ("given the chance, / they are prone to croon, in a baritone / audible for miles" -- John Hildebidle),
kites ("It was climbing /string thrumming, / burning / letting-out / through my soft hands" -- Gwyn Parry),
Sartre ("We love our friends badly -- / it's all / we can do / between the first tooth / and the last" -- Sabine Wichert),
even a tenor at Carnegie Hall ("and now I see his eyes full / as if
suddenly he was millionaire / who had come from the land / where the
road to Ballyduff / was made of marble / and a Count sang in the
square" -- Ted McNulty).
When one reads a novel or short story or memoir, the aim is clear
enough: to find out what happens, yes, but also to hold the setting,
language, characters and their arc of action entire in one's mind. And
one can work towards a similar reading of a book of poems (Elizabeth
Bishop's Geography III for example) -- one pleasure and goal being to
hold the speakers and subjects of those poems in conversation with each
other. Salmon: A Journey in Poetry is simply too large to attempt this
for the book entire. But as an anthology, it allows as many smaller
conversations as one wishes to discover. Or think of it this way: a
book of poems is an art show by a single painter (who may also be
exhibiting prints and water colors). An anthology like Salmon: A
Journey in Poetry is an art museum entire. You wander, lose track of
time, and get most pleasantly lost.
Lex Runciman is the author of three collections of poems, including The
Admirations (1989), which won the Oregon Book Award, and, most
recently, Out of Town (2004). This past April he had the chance to
participate in Spokane, Washington's literary festival GET LIT!. He's
done several college writing textbooks with co-author Chris Anderson
over the years, and he teaches at Linfield College, in the Willamette
Valley of Oregon.
The Poetry Programme, RTE Radio 1
Episode 8: 26th January 2008
SALMON POETRY (1981 - 2007).
Presenter Gerald Dawe presents a programme celebrating and assessing
the impact of Salmon Poetry, one of the most innovative and exciting
publishers of Irish and international poetry. The book under discussion
in Saturday night's programme is the new anthology reflecting the wide
scope and variety of Salmon Poetry over 26 years : "Salmon : A Journey
in Poetry, !981 - 2007." The anthology, which will be discussed by
Salmon poets, Maurice Harmon, Anne Hartigan and Rory Brennan, selects
some of the finest poems from the 200 volumes that have been published
by Jessie Lendennie, one of the most imaginative, hard-working and
dedicated of Irish publishers.
Over the years many tributes have been paid to Salmon Poetry:
"Unquestionably the most important publisher of poetry in Ireland." Fintan O'Toole, critic and journalist
"Salmon Poetry has contributed enormously to making poetry a popular and regular shopping commodity." Books Ireland
"Salmon Poetry is one of the most innovative, perceptive and important
publishing houses in the U. K. or Ireland. It has fostered and
supported the work of new writers and has established them in the
public consciousness." Poet Eavan Boland
Guest poets on The Poetry Programme, Maurice Harmon, Ann Hartigan and
Rory Brennan will be reading from their own poetry as well as
discussing the significance of this landmark Salmon Poetry volume which
publishes poets, both Irish and international, ranging from Carol Ann
Duffy and James Simmons to Ray Bradbury and Mary O'Donnell.
Review by DREW BLANCHARD, of the
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for An Sionnach: A Journal of
Literature, Culture, and the Arts (Creighton University Press). Spring
Contemporary poets do not expect to have money thrown at them. Mardi
Gras-style parades are not held in poetry's honor. Beads and doubloons
are not tossed to poetry as it rests atop a giant float, broadcasting,
megaphone in hand, to a cheering crowd, sestinas and images of streets
draped in moonlight. Poetry-as an art form, as an entity-has a rough go
in the traditional US marketplace, and historically to a lesser degree
in Ireland, though even this is changing. Aside from Ruth Lilly's $100
million dollar gift to Poetry magazine in 2003 (now, aptly named the
Poetry Foundation), few large endowments are made to poetry journals
and presses. It is not an understatement, then, to say that publishers
like Salmon Poetry are modern day heroes for lovers of the craft.
Salmon, founded in 1981 by Jessie Lendennie, is based in Co Clare,
Ireland, near the Cliffs of Moher. Lendennie's voyage into the world of
Irish poetry began with The Salmon Journal, a magazine of poetry and
prose. Since those early days, she has published over 200 poetry titles
and established Salmon as a central figure in Irish, and in more recent
years, international poetry. A testament to the merit, to the breadth
and depth of Lendennie's passion for poetry is collected in Salmon: A
Journey in Poetry 1981-2007. Ar ranged in alphabetical order, each poet
is represented by three poems, two from their Salmon collection and one
uncollected poem. Also included is a detailed biography of each poet
and a list of Salmon's complete bibliography (an impressive list for a
With over 400 pages of poems, this weighty collection is rich in poetic
excellence and is - to its testament- conversant with the diversity of
contemporary poetry in Ireland and abroad. Salmon has published well-
known writers like Adrienne Rich, Jean Valentine, Eithne Strong, Marvin
Bell, James Liddy, Mary O'Malley, Leland Bardwell, Ray Bradbury, and
Eamonn Wall; the list of well-knowns continues on, comprising a good
portion of the tome. However, from the very beginning of her career as a
publisher, Lendennie has been more than conscious about publishing
unheard voices in the literary world. She notes Salmon's dedication to
this type of publishing in the front matter of the book:
Salmon has continually taken risks; publishing unknown writers since
its very first days with The Salmon Journal and with its first books by
Eva Bourke and Rita Ann Higgins. Many of these 'unknowns' are now
firmly established with their own contribution to Irish literature. The
conventional approach is what makes art comfortable for people,
accepted and necessary, but creative expression is not always so.
These sentiments, without question, present a precarious mission
statement for Salmon Poetry. Adhering to notions of "creative
expression" and giving voice to talented "unknown" writers in the
fiscally difficult world of poetry is more than risky. Where would
poetry be, though, without the risk, without this uncertainty, without
the requisite surprise that poets like Robert Frost speaks of in terms
of writing? Frost's famous adage, "no surprise in the writer, no
surprise in the reader" transfers well to publishing:
"no surprise for the publisher, no surprise for the reader."
Lendennie's gamble on poetry, something she clearly loves as evidenced
in the poems collected the anthology, has paid off for both readers and
writers of poems.
Even though it contains the mark of one press, comprises the work of
many Irish poets, to identify a unifying force or theme that ties such
a large anthology together is difficult. The point, fortunately, of
bringing these poems together is not to identify a form of unification.
What the book does present, though, is a look into a contemporary
record of Irish, Canadian, US, and European poetry. In so doing, the
anthology looks both forwards and backwards in time. A recent Salmon
collection by Michael S. Begnal, Ancestor Worship (2007), is an
admirable book by a younger Salmon author; and the book's title poem,
included in the anthology does this work: it looks back at multiple
histories as it represents one future of poetry.
Not like the bones of parents
car ried out in procession
from their dark vaginal tombs
among the rocks,
mummified skin stretched
and tanned in mockery of death
it's not like the imagined
rituals of an old old age
before iron or bronze,
the metal of our mythology,
though the faces look the same
in the rain
but the warm blood
that flows through to this age,
dangerous and violent in veins,
hanging heavy like burlap sheets
on a dewy day
the right hook of history,
the slow motion arc of the punch,
the strange figure
on a modern city street
who burrows into your eye
and says, "Who're you?"
It's like when Lennon laid
his New York album on you,
and appeared in pictures
in his new image-
gritty . . .
like LeRoi Jones's move to Harlem,
broke with his white friends,
changed his name:
is the only religion
with the fact
Begnal, a dual Irish/US citizen identifies with both countries in "Ancestor Worship." The power of this poem, though, moves beyond
notions of citizenship, beyond ties to nations and ancestries, and
questions, in the end, "the right hook of history," asking, "who're
you?" or "who has history made you out to be?" While Begnal smartly
calls history-creation into question in this poem, ancestry, whether
poetic or national or indefinable, is impor tant to him, of course, in
many ways. In the past, Begnal has noted the poetic influence of the
Irish poet James Liddy who passed away in November of 2008. Liddy who
also had duel citiz enship, was born in Dublin in 1934. He lived
summers in Coolgreany, Co Wexford from 1941 to 2003 and published
prolifically throughout the past five decades in the US and Ireland.
Salmon published his collection Gold Set Dancing in 2000 and the first
volume of his autobiography, The Doctor's House in 2004. The Full
Shilling, the second volume is forthcoming with Salmon. Unable to
justly eulogize him in this space, a moment of history from "Gold Set
Dancing" will insufficiently suffice:
The feeling I had in 1940-something
hurtling out of the Paramount cinema
having heard Delia Murphy singing,
how a whole country could empty its throat.
Mary Dorcey is another poet in the anthology who challenges notions of
how histories are created. In her well wrought collection The River
That Carries Me, published by Salmon in 1995, she looks deep into the
eyes of socially constructed identities, contesting problematic social
nar ratives. Her poem "The Breath of History," included in the
anthology, opens with the following stanza:
I am not an ordinary woman.
I wake in the morning.
I have food to eat.
No one has come in the night
to steal my child, my lover.
I am not an ordinary woman.
The power of this poem lies in its deceptive simplicity. In the first
stanza, every line is end-stopped but the fourth. This mode of breaking
the line predominates throughout all seven of the poem's stanzas. The
consistent stopping and starting creates a rhythmic stasis of the "ordinary" and mirrors, seemingly, form and function. This mir ror is
false, however, because the speaker of the poem claims that she is "not
an ordinary woman." This use of end-stopped lines along with the
referential statements of routine like those in lines two and three, "I
wake in the morning. / I have food to eat." creates a paradox between
the plodding movement (the ordinary) and the speaker's claim against
the ordinary. The real question this poem begs is: "what is ordinary?"
and "who has the power to label?" And it's through this subtle
complexity that the poem succeeds. The refrain "I am not an ordinary
woman" does more than merely frame the opening of this poem and contest
the usual conception of "ordinary." The notion of "The Breath of
History" and the refrain "I am not an ordinary" offer a way to
understand this anthology, Salmon Poetry, and the founder and
publisher, Jessie Lendennie. All of these things, removing any sense of
irony, are exceptional. The following is excerpted from Lendennie's
brief and humble introduction to this anthology:
I am writing this from a hilltop in northwest County Clare on a cold
late August morning just before dawn. In a little while I'll see
daylight over Lahinch and Liscannor Bay down the valley, three miles
away. If someone had told me when I was a melancholy, poetry-addicted
adolescent that I would eventually grow up to have a life filled with
space, books, writers and poetry, I could not have imagined it.
Fortunately for readers, for poets, and for poetry, Lendennie did
imagine this life. And while the Fat-Tuesday-Mardi-Gras-Parade that
poetry deserves, may never come, Salmon: A Journey in Poetry 1981-2007
not only moves beyond any sense of the ordinary, it adumbrates,
convincingly, a strong future for poetry, a strong future that depends
on the energy of small presses like Salmon Poetry who "take risks,
publishing unknown writers."