Days of Clear Light - A Festschrift in Honour of Jessie Lendennie & in Celebration of Salmon Poetry at 40
Page Count: 215
Publication Date: Wednesday, January 06, 2021
Cover Artwork: Photography Jessie Lendennie. Design Siobhan Hutson
About this Book
Edited by Alan Hayes & Nessa O'Mahony
With a foreword by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and contributions from over 100 poets and members of the wider literary community.
2021 is a very special year for Salmon as we celebrate 40 years publishing the finest Irish and international literature. To mark that achievement, and to pay tribute to the work of publisher Jessie Lendennie, 100 writers have come together in this special Festschrift presented as a complete surprise to Jessie at Christmas 2020.
"All those who appreciate the written or spoken word are greatly indebted to Jessie Lendennie, whose decision in 1981 to make Ireland her new home was a seminal moment in the literary and publishing life of Ireland. Her eclectic reach, her generous nurturing of new talent, and her great desire to see the names of writers in print, including new entrants in particular, has made an invaluable contribution in terms of access to Irish literature, and the discovery, emergence and appreciation of new and exciting literary voices.
Many highly regarded poets can trace their writing journey back to the The Salmon Journal and the Salmon Poetry Press, established from the vision, and sustained and developed from the hard work and, at times, heroism of Jessie Lendennie, whose assistance and encouragement from their launch has enabled so many literary careers to grow and flourish.
This Festschrift is a deserved tribute to Jessie Lendennie and those at Salmon who support her. It is a great roll-call of some of Ireland and the world’s best loved writers, along with newer talent that is there to be fully explored. It is a collection that speaks profoundly of Jessie’s place in Ireland’s literary community where she is viewed with great appreciation, and particularly by those to whom she gifted that most important of experiences—their first opportunity for publication. Jessie is spoken of with admiration and affection by so many other renowned writers who are fortunate to call Jessie a friend.
This gathering together of writers from Ireland and beyond to pay Jessie such an honour is so well deserved. May I join with all those whose work appears in this celebratory publication in paying tribute to Jessie Lendennie for all she has done to enrich the world of Irish writing and publishing.
May she have continued success as the Salmon Poetry Press marks this milestone anniversary.
Traoslaim leithí agus guidhim gach rath uirthi agus ar Salmon do’n todchai."
Michael D. Higgins
President of Ireland
Read a sample from this book
Dear Jessie, when I think of us, how young we were! If only...
... we could have just another one or even five minutes of those days,
(but let’s not be greedy), when our hair was blond or red or black and our dresses
were loose and light, six of us or more, a circle of friends in the lamp’s glow
inside a lit-up circle of words, the streets in our small town
wet and dark, the day tasting of rain water and salt.
I’d love just one more of those days that weighed light,
with us arguing about nothing less substantial, nothing
of more consequence than a line in a poem—an obscure or jarring line,
or a word picked up on a street corner, or left behind
in a rumpled bed, an appeal stuck to a mirror, a word
birthed by a clammy sea like a bag of sludge, a word
that took to the air like the colourful kites the kids let fly
on the swamp near your house. We sailed
in that rickety boat of language and you’d be the one setting the sails
with the calm assurance of a mariner.
Jessie, forgive me, in a watery city like Galway
where the sea rises a little each year,
the nautical metaphors are as plentiful as flotsam found on the strand.
I remember your loose-fitting dresses you’d cut out from patterns,
fusible, interfacing, wide trim and flap and single fold,
poplin strewn with flowers, lawn, linen, spotted silk;
there was as much finesse and craft in your dresses
as in the complex patterning of a verse,
and I used to imagine a poem that came easy,
a poem I could live in like a favourite dress, something light and loose.
When I think of you now, so many decades later,
mother of poets, up in your clifftop aerie,
where the cliff face below you is patterned white
with the gentle streaks of bird shit left by world-travelling birds,
I see you walking with your trusted sheepdogs,
more a flock than a pack in this wind-swept precipitous place,
with puffins and kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots for company
as well as the odd fiach dubh, the stern priestly raven,
cruising the thermals or winging it back to his nest of sticks.
Dear Jessie, we owe you a life time's gratitude,
you built your house of poetry with love and persistence over the years,
made from patterns of words, of lines that connect worlds,
a house with room for so many to live in:
welcoming, spacious, airy, light.
Copyright © Eva Bourke, 2021
Cuddle dogs look up at you
They read you, cocking their heads to
Let you know they know.
When you reach your hand out
In the dark
A cuddle dog will be there
A warm weight beside you.
Cuddle dogs start out fast
Running rings around you
Then they slow down,
As you’ve had to.
Padding along at your side
Or a little ahead.
Turning and looking
To check you’re still there.
Copyright © Tim Jeanotte, 2021