“Many of us became writers because we were silenced in some way, and the written self on the page speaks more authentically than we do as individuals”
The Troubadour is a small cafe in Earls Court with a basement stage that played host to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin in their day. Last night, I squirmed my way through the crowd and took to the glossy black stage to read a poem as part of the launch of Magma Poetry 52. The standard of poetry, and audience — both quality of attention and sheer numbers — was remarkable. Unlike readings I have attended in America, where often the audience is composed mostly of poets and their friends, the crowd that assembles fortnightly in this cultural dungeon seems deeply committed to taking in poetry as a way of life.
Perhaps in a culture where one often does not say quite what one means in polite company, poetry serves an even more necessary function, propelled forward by two equally intense desires: to express authentically, but resist sentimentality. Poetry, then, speaks for those who gathered last night from all walks of life and crowded around tables like a rush-hour train, hoping to be taken somewhere wonderful. I was. And I am grateful to those who planned it, those who read, and those who listened for making last night something special.