Posts Tagged ‘Salmon Poetry’

Two things;  ‘Philomena’  is a truly wonderful film offering insight into the ‘Ladies of the Laundry’ also known as the ‘Magdalene Sisters’  presented with humor underlined with the awful truth and William Wall well-known writer and member of the Munster Literature Centre who recently wrote of the McAleese Report, have stirred a memory.

The girls/women have fascinated me since my 14 months in Ireland when I actually met a ‘Lady of the Laundry’ during a lunch break from an inspiring workshop weekend meeting with Jessie Lendennie of Salmon Poetry  fame.


Cliffs of Moher with Jessie Lendennie and her beautiful dogs.

Jessie took me to a favorite haunt, a little coffee shop called ‘Stonecutter’s Kitchen’, up near the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare, just down the road from her place.

On a beautiful sunny day, with a brisk breeze blowing off the cliffs, we chose to sit outside in the small sheltered garden, crammed with tables and others who wanted to soak up the sunshine.  Jessie and I are ‘pet’ people and when a sweet little dog came over to say hello we both made a fuss before her 40+ owner  (we’ll call Mary) came to apologize for the delightful intrusion. Naturally, we started chatting.

When ‘Mary’ found out we were writer and publisher, she told us she loved poetry having recently learnt to read and write. My curiosity and writer-ly instincts kicked in and I probed wanting to know why this woman had only recently acquired this skill,  but Mary didn’t mind and willingly told us she was a ex Laundry girl with a dream to one day have something published.

Gobsmacked, I fell silent suppressing the lump in my throat which threatened tears.  Although Jessie kept talking a bit longer, I could find no more to ‘chat’ about.  The sun seemed to go behind a cloud and  I was consumed with what I’d heard and seen on film and busy mentally equating those impressions with the reality, standing so seemingly innocent in front of me.

‘Mary’ must have thought me so rude… I remember wishing her luck with her dream but wish I’d asked her name so I could look out for the book.

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My favorite bookshop in the whole world is in Ennistymon, Co. Clare, Ireland but I’ve never actually been there:  The Salmon Bookshop & Literary Centre.


If I could, I’d attend every book launch, every workshop and every reading of the many, many talented poets Jessie Lendennie has taken under her wing and nurtured then published over the last 30 years.

It’s my dream to  give Jessie a hug, browse the shelves and share a cup of team with the Salmon team who produce beautiful poetry books year after year.  Now she has the space to offer much-loved second-hand poetry to browse, as well.

Jessie has always been a fierce fan of Irish writing and if there was one available, should get a medal for her consistent and continuous efforts through tough times and good.

Jessie and Siobhan Hutson have made Salmon Publishing one of Ireland’s main literary publishers so it’s only right they should have a new home, large enough to accommodate many poetry-promotion extras.

I regret not being able to attend last Wednesday’s event when three more Salmon published books were officially launched, in Dublin:

This first book is one I recently sent away for and after the first page knew I was a fan of Jo Slade so I would love to have heard her read ‘Time Piece’, particularly.

It’s the sort of writing I completely loose myself in and opens with this line  ‘In the wardrobe of my belonging/is a bearskin coat.’  Her words hit me right in the heart.


“The Painter’s House” by Jo Slade


It seems Rita Kelly may also become a new favorite as a “… a love-poet of great lyric power and beauty, but her range is much wider than that.  Her startling capacity to transmute brutal experience into universal significance could hardly be better exemplified.” Máire Mhac an tSaoi.

“Further Thoughts in a Garden” by Rita Kelly


Knute’s ‘Fifty Years: Poems 1957-2007’ has been on my shelf for a while now… so I’m sure I’d enjoy his latest as well.

“Concerned Attentions” by Knute Skinner

For years I’ve been happily gifting Salmon books to family, friends and colleagues – perhaps now I’ve persuaded you to do so, too!


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Stephen Page

Author: The Salty River Bleeds, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481

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