Poets, guests and Magma Board members past and present gathered on 29th November 2019 to celebrate 25 years of publishing Magma. We met at the Concert Artistes’ Association in Covent Garden which had recently been refurbished and is very splendid.
As well as food and music (and drinks from the most reasonable pay bar in Central London), our excellent administrator Alastair Gavin had created a rolling display of all Magma’s covers from issue 1 to 75. This ran on a big screen all evening and was the focal point as people recalled the issues in which they had appeared and often saw their names on the covers.
Our Chair, Lisa Kelly, welcomed everyone and spoke about Magma’s originality as the only magazine with different editors for each issue. She outlined how, after a financial wobble, Magma sales are slowly rising with support from the Arts Council and the commitment of the Board and editors, all of whom work for Magma unpaid. The numbers of poems received are now so great that each issue has two or three editors.
Laurie Smith (with Helen Nicholson one of the two co-founders still on the Board) recounted how Magma began in 1994 as a suggestion by members of his poetry writing class at The City Lit. These members had run Magma for many years and most were present, so they stood as he introduced them. Laurie also explained that Magma’s name was nearly Urban Fox – Magma was chosen by a vote! Laurie also thanked some other guests who had worked hard for Magma over the years.
Susannah Hart, our Vice-Chair, then introduced five poets who each read a poem they had had published in Magma: Angela Kirby who has appeared more than any other poet; D A Prince, another long-standing contributor; Clare Pollard, a Magma editor and reviewer; Paul Stephenson, a contributor, prize-winner and co-editor; and Alice Willitts, winner of the first Magma pamphlet competition. We all enjoyed the range of fine poems.
The evening ended with cutting and sharing the Magma anniversary cake and dancing to music provided by DJ Caz Glitre. Everyone felt ready for another 25 years!