Wednesday, 2 November 2011
SALMON'S 30th BIRTHDAY SHINDIG
I went to Salmon's 30th birthday celebrations in the beautiful Unitarian Church on St Stephen's Green last night. Going to these types of events is like sitting down with a good anthology - you are suddenly privy to a selection of poets you were unlikely to stumble across in a normal day's reading.
The beautiful and mega-watt talented Mary O'Donnell launched the evening and she talked specifically about Salmon's contribution to opening up the poetic world in Ireland to women writers, and especially to those in the west of Ireland, like Rita Ann Higgins, Eva Bourke and Moya Cannon. (Arlen House took up the poetry baton in the 1990s and, along with Summer Palace Press, these publishers, in particular, continue the good work with women writers.) Mary said, 'As an American writer living in Ireland, Jessie allowed us to see ourselves.' She cited Joan McBreen's anthology of women poets The White Page as a highlight for her in Salmon's publishing history.
Other speakers included Director of Poetry Ireland Joseph Woods who told us that Salmon were the first to publish our new president Michael D. Higgins, namely his first collection, The Betrayal.
Jessie Lendennie, publisher and co-founder with Salmon spoke, as did her fellow founder Michael Allen. When Michael was no longer part of Salmon, Jessie, who proclaimed herself 'stubborn', said she just wanted to keep going. And so she did.
I am a roe in the Salmon caste of writers, according to author Michael O'Loughlin (that is, I have not yet spawned) but I'm nearly there - I should have my book in my hand next week. Michael's wife Judith Mok was among last night's readers and she also sang, beautifully - she's a professional opera singer as well as a writer.
Other readers, among many, included Alan Jude Moore, Nessa O'Mahony, Pete Mullineaux, Bertha Rogers, Ann le Marquand Hartigan, John Fitzgerald and, my favourite reader of the evening, the wry English poet Julian Stannard. Julian had everyone giggling at his irreverant and beautifully written work. I bought his collection The Parrots of Villa Gruber Discover Lapis Lazuli and read it on the bus on the way home and can highly recommend it. Julian's work and all of these Salmon poets can be discovered on their site here.
There were lots of poems about dogs, several about meat and Michael Allen read a long Michael D. Higgins poem about a harsh schoolmaster who goes a bit doolally after seeing a Virgin apparition. The poem had several refrains one of which was 'love everybody but particularly love yourself'.
There was wine, there was chat, there were wall-to-wall poets, there was Luka Bloom, there was a raffle of all the books published by Salmon this year, there was the shush of the Luas as it passed by the church door. All in all, it was a fine celebration of Jessie and her thirty years of publishing great poetry.