Photograph by Martha Shepherd
On 4th September, we hosted our first live event. Imaginatively called "An Evening with One Hand Clapping", it featured three poets and four musicians, most of whom have contributed to the magazine. What struck me, listening with an enormous amount of enjoyment on the sidelines, was just how good they all were. As someone has since emailed me, it was "a really open and respectful and curious crowd" and I could see and feel their interest quicken as Steve Shepherd, Ben Morgan and Jo Balmer read their poems. (A lot of poems, moreover, which we had featured in the magazine and which I was delighted to hear again.) I was telling someone that I thought that good poets do what good composers do: they choose words, as opposed to notes, that feel both surprising and inevitable. All three of our poets do exactly that and I was proud to have featured them in our pages.
Meanwhile, Jo Girdlestone, Ian Montague, Linda Moylan and Nick Ager performed sets that had the audience literally cheering and whooping. Nick and Ian were the driving force behind The Company of Cowards, one of my favourite '80s bands, and I was thrilled when they got together at the end to perform "Saturday Night", which was always my favourite Cowards song, as well as "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding", a song I've loved for more years than I care to admit. It was a terrific event and I'd like to thank everyone involved, not only the performers and the audience but also The Two Bridges' "tech crew", who did a sterling job. In the end, I think that that may have been my favourite part of the whole experience: the sense that we weren't building a community so much as reaping the benefits of having already built one; that the magazine is, potentially, as supportive an environment off the page as on. Our next event is at The Two Bridges near London Bridge on the 28th December. You are all cordially invited.
In the meantime, we are delighted that in this issue we are able to share contributions from Anne Carson, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Fran Lock, Jo Balmer, Jamie O'Halloran, Nkateko Masinga, Maggie Sawkins, Ben Morgan, Edina Ardey, D.W. Evans, Victoria Punch, Dickon Bevington, Chris Hopkins, Yash Seyedbagheri, Jen Feroze, Louise Longson, Charles Hensler, Hélène Demetriades, Billy Bragg, Sarah Shapiro, Susan Butler, William Doreski and Noah Rasheta. Pay close attention to them. One day you may see them live.