And so to Oxford, or the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Jericho, to be precise. Martin Malone took over the editorship of The Interpreter’s House after the untimely death of Simon Curtis last year, and this is his second issue. I have to say, the production quality is great, I love the cover design, and it’s a cracking issue. It’s now on my ‘rotating subs’ list of magazines – I can’t subscribe to them all for ever, but I try to take 2 or 3 titles each year and then change my subs to another publication after a couple of years, which seems a fair way to do it.
It’s a generous move to introduce launch events for every issue – I wish more magazines would hold them! – but there’s a LOT of work involved, and that’s alongside having the small matter of a magazine to get done and out. With fifty-two contributors in this issue, and three issues a year… plus Martin has a new baby to cope with … well you can imagine.
I’ve had one poem in the magazine once before, when Simon was the editor, so I was thrilled to have another accepted by Martin for this issue, and even more excited to be able to read at the launch. Although there were 14 readers, the evening was beautifully paced – everyone stuck to the ‘two poem’ rule, there was plenty of time for Martin to introduce everyone, enjoy a bit of friendly banter and encourage people to mingle, drink and chat. Very relaxed and very warm. The evening ended with Merryn Williams, the IH’s first editor, reading her own poem from the magazine but also one by Simon Curtis, a fitting tribute.
For my part I was very pleased to meet Claire Dyer, whose name I knew straight away from having seen it in magazines, Stephen Bone, a Brighton Stanza member, and Helen Fletcher, who I hadn’t come across before but whose poem ‘The Drowned’ in IH 55 stood out for me, and she read a poem that had appeared in the Frogmore Papers 82 which I remembered seeing and enjoying at the time.
In the break, Martin Monahan came up to tell me he enjoyed reading my blog, which was a very nice surprise. I’m very grateful to everyone who takes the time to read this, whether or not they’re active in the Comments or ‘Likes’, and it’s always nice when someone introduces themselves and tells me what they get from it. In the second half, Martin read his witty ekphrastic poem ‘Fried eggs’. He’s widely published, including in such hardcore journals as PN Review (respect!) and clearly up and coming: watch for his name.
I didn’t win a mug in the raffle (boo!) but I did win a lovely mix tape (well, CD) – thanks, Martin! – which I listened to on the long drive home. It was the perfect soundtrack for that time of night, when the cones and ‘workers in road’ signs come out, and you’re sent on all kinds of strange diversions and motorways empty in a David Lynch moment. But that’s another story.