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‘By Leaves We Live’ – Magma at the Scottish Poetry Library

On Saturday 26th September, I was at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh for its annual ‘By Leaves We Live’ event, a book fair celebrating poetry and visual art, particularly the crossover between the two. I sat all day behind the Magma stall. I sold subscriptions and individual copies of the magazine and collected names of new subscribers to the Magma newsletter. However, most of the time was spent in conversation. I’ve no idea how many people I talked with throughout the day, but it was a lot!

Many visual artists were displaying books, some of them quite exquisite, as you can see from this small selection from the Artist Book Group.

© Peggy Hughes, SPL
© Peggy Hughes, SPL

A few publishers also had stalls, including Red Squirrel Press, who were represented by Sheila Wakefield and one other person who must have slipped off for a coffee when this photo was taken. They also had another little helper sitting on top of their table.

© Peggy Hughes, SPL
© Peggy Hughes, SPL

Individual artists and poets had stalls too, including Kona Macphee (published in Magma 43) who is donating all money raised from sales of her Bloodaxe collection, Tails, to UNICEF (find out more from her site).

© Peggy Hughes, SPL
© Peggy Hughes, SPL

I’d thought that spending a whole day behind a stall might have become boring, but it was entirely the opposite. There were nearly always people gathered around the Magma stall. It was great to meet existing readers, others who were interested in the magazine, and even some whose work had appeared in it. We sold quite a few copies of Magma 44 and many people signed up for the e-newsletter. During the rare quiet moments, there were always Francesca and Giovanna (pictured below with me) from 20X20 magazine to talk to.

© Peggy Hughes, SPL
© Peggy Hughes, SPL

Thanks to the fine people at the SPL for making it such an enjoyable event, for the endless supplies of coffee, and for inviting Magma to be part of things. Also, thanks to Peggy for permission to use her excellent photographs.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. What an entertaining read, Rob, enlivened further by Peggy’s neatly framed photos – having done similar “stints” myself usually at charity fund-raisers, I can recommend time well-spent with many interesting visitors.

    Given what high quality is evident in every issue of magma, I’m not at all surprised to discover how worthwhile you felt your time there had been. Hope there are a good few more subscribers as a result of your efforts. Congratulations and thanks to all involved – we who are getting to the “travel little” stage really appreciate the efforts made on our behalf by those retaining rather more vigour.

  2. Stunning pictures, and the words aren’t bad either 😉

    I hope you’re keeping as well as you look in the last photo, Rob. Good to hear you’ve garnered more readers for Magma too. Well worth spreading the news about.

  3. What a good event – well done, Rob. I frequently wish I could de-materialise and reappear in Edinburgh for a day! This annual happening looks well worth a visit for any poetry reader who lives within striking distance.

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