Tonight (Thurs 11 December 2014) is the Newcastle launch of Magma 60. If you’re in the vicinity, do come along to the Lit & Phil (23 Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 1SE) at 7pm for a sterling line-up (free of charge). Our main guest reader is Sean O’Brien, whose Magma 60 prose article ‘Freedom and Responsibility’ is a provocative, stimulating examination of the responsibilities people have to poetry and language. Reading alongside him will be Magma 60 contributors Peter Armstrong, Janette Ayachi, Tessa Berring, Carole Bromley, Marjorie Lotfi Gill and James McGonigal, who will each read three poems and a poem by someone else on the theme of freedom. So brave the hostile weather! It will be worth it.
The London launch on 28 November at the LRB Bookshop was terrific and showcased the immense talent within the covers of the issue. The venue was relaxed and convivial and the audience seemed to enjoy the readings if comments afterwards are anything to go by. Here are photographs of a selection of the readers below.
Peter Daniels kicked off the evening with fine poems and a stylish waistcoat:
“There’s caterwauling on the dunghill.
The best hen’s got her beak sharpened, won’t lay.
The pin’s out of the grenade.”
Joey Connolly read his glosa on lines from Yannis Ritsos:
worked by your tongue brought your tongue too much
into focus. Certain lusts can be swallowed: that noble, necessary gulp.
I know. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t help.”
[‘A Brief Glosa’]
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Jasmine Simms, the youngest contributor to the issue, wowed everyone with her reading:
“…First Kiss was a boy who failed
his Science GCSE and it was like being dropped into
a conical flask.”
Gwen Adshead gave a brief talk about her article on Philip Larkin’s ‘Talking in Bed’, expanding on the relationship between poetry and her work as a psychotherapist in Broadmoor:
“…this poem particularly speaks to me because it articulates my experience of struggling to find words, ‘at once true and kind’ when working as a therapist with people who have done terrible things to others.”
Karen Leeder read from Rubble Flora, her new collection of translations (together with David Constantine) of German poet, Volker Braun, which seems like a book well worth picking up:
“…It’s pick ‘n’ mix
Poundland style. EVERYTHING AND NOTHING
Was it ever really yours? Fuck you, fantasist.
The encore: all that you could never need!”
Martha Sprackland found common ground with Jasmine Simms in writing (in an entirely different way) about physics lessons:
“…When the boys touch lighters
to the scrub you get the exchange of energy
birthing that red leap of flame. This is elementary.”
To finish the evening, Kei Miller showed why his collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, won this year’s Forward Prize with a quite spellbinding reading that ended with sustained applause:
that pass in squeakless silence over the Titanic
[…] who instruct us yearly on the movement of currents;
those bright yellow dots that crest the waves
like spots of praise: hail.”
[‘When Considering the Long, Long Journey of 28,000 Rubber Ducks’]
Grateful thanks to the staff at the LRB, to the readers, to all involved in planning the launch, and to the fantastic audience. It was a blast and I’m already looking forward to the launch of issue 61 in Spring 2015.