Another packed evening as well over 100 poets and friends met at the Troubadour in Earls Court, London, on 19 November to launch Magma 54. The Troubadour’s famous cellar was full as the editors, Cherry Smyth and Judy Brown, each hosted half the evening. Each poet read two poems – one from Magma and another – which gave great pace and variety. Everyone published in an issue of Magma is invited to read at the launch if there’s space and poets come from all over the country. Many have told us this is the first time they have read to a large audience and they enjoy appearing in the same line-up as some well-known poets.
She introduced poets from Aberystwyth and Cardiff as well as the London area and they were joined by Mark Waldron whose latest book is The Itchy Sea (Salt).
and Patrick Brandon – The Republic of Linen (Bloodaxe) The first half ended with Sean Borodale reading his poem in Magma and several poems from Bee Journal (Jonathan Cape) link which is shortlisted for this year’s T S Eliot Prize.. The quiet intensity of his reading made us understand why the judges had chosen his book.
Just before Sean read, I spoke a bit as Magma’s Chair about the next two issues in February and June, and reminded everyone about our competition – closing date 16th December.
Judy’s half began with Tim Cumming whose latest collection is The Rapture (Salt) and Simon McCormack, Magma 54’s Showcase poet. It included a stunning reading by Kiran Millward Hargrave of her poem about the Emperor Tiberius and an urbane performance by South Bank editor, Peter Ebsworth.
We then had powerful readings by five of this year’s Gregory Award winners – all seven have poems in Magma 54 – including tours-de-force by Phoebe Power [video] and Jon Stone [video]. The evening ended with the much-loved Maurice Riordan reading his new poem in Magma and three others.
We staggered out into the Earls Court night knowing we’d heard many great poems from rising talents as well as the already famous.