Ordinary Magic is the first anthology of Poets Unlimited, a group of 11 poets who met through workshops in London. The title poem comes from Fraser Southey and tells of the wonderful goings on in Lampmead Road – a fly on the wall piece acutely observed. Each poet conjures up a healthy selection of poems in this 104 page book.
From the wonderful Uriah Heep’s unsent letter to Miss Wickfield (The Love Song of Uriah Heep, Jim Alderson) I rummage through the magician’s box of tricks, pull out Eye of the dog by Fay Avsec. A lovely piece, I recognise that tragic look, the unconditional love. Next, the Mecca ballroom in Margaret Beston’s The day he left – a poem that resonates because of its rattling, clattering and screeching. We slip easily into Angela Croft’s poems and I found the shoes under the stairs was the poem that stayed with me. When I closed the book I could still see the boy who leapt naked off the quay to rid himself of lice.
Susan Hughes’ A London bridge is a beautifully rich plumped-up poem – I felt I was wading knee-deep through warm mud. I couldn’t help but feel moved by Sylvia Rowbottom’s The arthritic condition; the opening line “Take my unrecognisable hand in yours,” is heart-breaking when “it still leads to me” follows on the next line. The iron men of Crosby Beach by Norman Staines stunningly tells of “one hundred patient men/emotion missing from their sea-ward faces/waiting for time to unpick their atoms/to become the objects of nature’s alchemy”.
In Wisty Thomas’ colourful Temple I was struck by the image of how “Your mum’s blue silk dressing gown/covers an altar made of books” and in Karina Vidler’s Offering to my father we need an A-Z of geography as the “bus swelters through unknown London streets” before we travel on to the next poet. I’ve journeyed through this bewitching anthology finally arriving in the “almost dawn” of Linda White’s Before dawn and step in to her world just long enough to see “the imprint of your head” in the last poem Leaving.
Ordinary Magic, Poets Unlimited, Blissett Bookbinders (2011), 978-1-905912-27-8, £7