But for me, Samphire means one more thing: it was a poetry magazine of the 1970s and the first magazine of any kind to publish, in 1976, a piece of my writing. Samphire was a typical little poetry magazine of the 1980s. It was edited by Kemble Williams, who was based in Suffolk, and Professor Michael Butler, Professor of German Literature at Birmingham University. Like all little magazines, it had a coterie of writers but the range was wide and I don’t suppose I was the only writer to first-time in its pages.
I gradually became a regular contributor and following a few poems I began to review for them. This was invaluable experience – I’m a reviewer to his day and Samphire is where I cut my teeth. It had endearing quirks, such as a rather high proportion of misprints: a review of George Barker that I was rather proud of was when printed seemed to be about one George Baker.
Its three times a year arrival on the doormat was a major event – Samphire was a lifeline to a possible alternative world.
Of course, back then I romanticised the whole literary business and my small role in it to a ridiculous degree. On holiday one year in East Anglia I called on Kemble Williams at his home, Heronshaw, Holbrook. I remember little of the encounter except that it was good to see the office from which the magic magazine emanated. The magazine folded in 1983 after a 15 year run. The next year I set up shop as a full-time writer.