All hands to the pumps
PEM is the name of the gem
newleaf more shoulders

Producing an English Magazine is the name of a new English language class at Bremen University, in­spired by Bremen's notorious Culture Vultures. While the core of the editorial work will remain in two pairs of hands, we can now tap a reservoir of committed and creative people who are prepared to promote the interests of our magazine. We meet regularly to share the burden of the work and develop new ideas and ways of getting newleaf not just admired but bought, especially in its hometown. Already we have streamlined the organisation of readings, including the one at which this issue will be launched. We have worked hard on presenting newleaf to a larger audience, improving our graphics and sales material; among other things we now have two large newleaf flags, which will be unfurled for the first time at a lunchtime reading on campus.

We get lots of impulses from outside. Interested readers write in with suggestions; and in the pub after readings ideas swim in stout and swirl in cigarette smoke. Two recent ones have been to introduce more work in translation (both ways), something we had never thought of; and to open the magazine more to professional writ­ers. The first idea would certainly offer scope to students interested in this central area of language pro­duction, giving them an opportunity to flex their pens in public, as well as making contemporary work in both languages available to more readers. The latter would shift the focus of newleaf clearly away from ‘Poetry and prose from the English Depart­ment of the University of Bremen’ towards ‘English Writing from Germany’ — a tempting thought in view of all the great anglophone writers living and working in this country. But we still believe that the Nachwuchs character of the magazine is important and should remain central. As it is, we have always been able to invite well-known professional writers to share our pages, most of whom have had a firm link to Bremen: James Simmons and Terry McDonagh, who have read here; or Uche Nduka, from our own Department. This time we have two dis­tinguished guests: another Nigerian poet, Ogaga Ifowodo, who was writer-in-residence at the University last winter; and Bremen's Sujata Bhatt, described by Adrian Mitchell ‘one of the finest poets alive’. So it's still the mixture as before — newleaf remains primarily a platform for fledgling writers, but with a sprinkling of 'big names'. [So is this, then, ‘poetry and pros’? asks the printer's devil]

Since the appearance of the last issue, the magazine has been on the air no less than three times, including a whole one-hour feature by Peter Böhmer on Radio Bremen 2wei's Art und Weise, starting out from interviews and recordings he made at one of our launches, as reported in one our earlier editorials.

We have had our first individual donation, for which we are very grateful indeed; we hope to invest it in a more sophisticated cover for Kirsten Steppat's The Guinea Pig Speaks, due out this autumn. So if you fancy a coloured cover on every newleaf, just emulate.

But enough of shoe-strings and begging bowls — here is your newone. Enjoy.

Simon Makhali and Ian Watson, July 1999