August, the Sunday evening of the year—the summer’s feral excesses are fading fast and doing so by morphing into a laced-up, academic autumn—all houndstooth sophistication and leather satchels, but with a bite. It is in this liminal space—the turn from one season to the next—from mania to nostalgia perhaps—that we present to you Issue 12 of bath magg, festooned with leaves that are turning golden and crisp at the edges. This is my first issue as co-editor, having long been an admirer of the magazine, and I am so honoured and delighted to join Mariah, Joe and Gboyega, who have been so welcoming, kind and patient as I negotiate these new bath waters! It has been a particular thrill to read the huge, huge number of submissions for this issue and testament to the work done by my fellow editors to make this poetry platform something very special indeed that so many of you have trusted bath magg with your poems. Thank you for that. What a magnificent collection of poems we received, in a sense a secret anthology, from which we have selected what we consider to be the highlights—those poems that grabbed us by the ankles and wouldn’t let us go. And in many respects, this selection presents us with the very essence of the last fling of summer, coupled by the intensity of serious autumn, and indeed many of these poems walk the tightrope between these two seasons with considerable skill, originality, and fizz.
In Emma Buckley’s brilliant, sharp, and gut-wrenching poem, ‘Jackie, I Want to Fuck Your Boyfriend’, we are confronted by a speaker who defies the readers’ expectations of what the poem might be and states in the opening line, ‘I’ll pretend it’s got nothing to do with getting close to you.’ It’s so punchy, it’s the ultimate summer poem, ‘your sundress hitched / like a breath around your thighs’ and undeniably sexy in the most complicated and intriguing of ways, as the speaker laments, ‘I want your hand in mine. I want your summertimes.’ Isn’t that what we all yearn for, the summertimes in our relationships when things are hot and there are little to no clothes involved?
In Simon Costello’s ‘Antichrist’ the speaker is ‘sweaty and bone obvious’ and the colours have turned and we’re in ‘the maggot glow of stars.’ No longer in the citrus sharp world of Buckley’s poem, here things are smoky, dark, and just as enticing. It’s bonfire season and the nights are drawing in:
I’ve looked at this house the way a burglar
sits in his car at a distance,
smelled a bonfire coming from the basement,
my own private horizon
From Rosamund Taylor’s ‘Too Much Bread,’ to Luke Morgan’s ‘Blood Atlas’, and from ‘At the end of therapy’ by Estelle Price to Jack Underwood’s ‘Song of the Duvet’, and to featured poet, Annemarie Ní Churreáin’s astonishing work, we are confronted with all the possibilities of these seasons—the texture of them, the difficult transition between them, our own preferences in whether we crave the hot touch of summer, or retreat into autumn’s velvety embrace, but always aware of the shadow and darkness skirting the doorway in these dying August days. These poems explore for us the messiness and beauty of moving through our lives, a season at a time, and alert us to the multitude of seasons embedded in each day, week, month and year.
So, here it is, bath magg Issue 12. Kick up this inviting, exciting pile of leaves and see what you will find beneath.
Victoria Kennefick, on behalf of the editorial team, 26th August, 2023