Poetry. THE MAGIC DOOR is the long-awaited collected edition of Chris Torrance's life work. Gathering eight books originally published between 1973 and 1996, the collection makes available and rejuvenates the work of this unjustly neglected poet, an important figure in the British Poetry Revival. THE MAGIC DOOR is a cycle, a long poem with recurring themes and images, although each volume has its own particular focus, ranging across alchemy, geology, history, myth and legend. For nearly 50 years, Torrance's territory has been the Upper Neath Valley. Having grown up just south of London and worked in the legal profession, he chose instead the borderland of industrial South Wales and a locally renowned beauty spot: "An early Christian hermit's sacred stretch of river." Torrance's dedication to his craft and to his natural surroundings form a unique record of the poet's own consciousness and of his place, aware that "The old ways disappear from the map." Through its own alchemy of form, research, imagination and intelligence, THE MAGIC DOOR is an investigation into time and space, and the position of the individual in such wider concerns.
"The time is long overdue to celebrate the integrity of Chris Torrance's questing and night-haunted genius: the effortless precision of the farmer's almanac, those rescued terms from alchemy and geology. And that lovely, reckless, free-flowing spill of self, as the transported poet exchanges youthful London atoms with his chosen Welsh ground. The revealed Magic Door sequence is a delirious epic of witness."—Iain Sinclair
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About the Author
Scots born, Chris Torrance was taken by his parents to suburban South London. His schooling was mediocre, the only high point a short story which was praised by the English teacher & given 10 out of 10. Torrance left school at 15 to begin a career in law, which lasted for 8 years. After that, he spent 5 years in various open-air labouring jobs. He helped to start a small mag called Origins/Diversions, which stimulated an interest in poetry, which he began writing in the mid-1960s. He soon became friendly with another young poet, Lee Harwood, whose influence was vitally important as Torrance concentrated on mainly contemporary US poetry, in particular the open field poetry of Charles Olson and cohort, and of course the Beats and the San Francisco Renaissance. His first books were published by Ferry Press. In 1970 Torrance moved to Wales & there began writing the series that became THE MAGIC DOOR. For 25 years Torrance tutored Adventures in Creative Writing for U.C. Cardiff. In the mid-1980s he linked up with musician- composer Chris Vine performing an eclectic brand of poetry and music.