1. With the support of Arts Council England, Magma – one of Britain’s leading poetry magazines – is launching a ‘National Conversation’ about poetry, to explore what it is and what it means to people today – in all its many expressions.

    More than a magazine, Magma is a community of people, open to everyone, and passionate about celebrating a wide mix of poetry. The National Conversation is a series of original events and articles, designed to provoke thought, ignite debate and encourage all of us to move deeper into the art form.

    Winchester Poetry Festival is delighted to be co-hosting the first two Magma National Conversation starters: ‘Things Being Various’ Sunday 14 at 2.00pm and ‘Nationhood’, Magma’s pop-up poetry competition.


    Sunday 14 September 2.00-3.00pm
    Things Being Various: a surprising insight into the poet’s craft and inspiration – with Christopher Reid

    In conversation with Jon Sayers, award-winning poet Christopher Reid discusses five ‘things’ that have inspired him or are symbolic of important stages in his development.

    Reid is the author of several books of poems, including A Scattering (winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award) and The Song of Lunch (both 2009). From 1991 to 1999 he was Poetry Editor at Faber and Faber, and worked with Ted Hughes on such books as Tales from Ovid and Birthday Letters. His most recent book is the satirical narrative poem Six Bad Poets (Faber & Faber 2013).

    Jon Sayers’ writing credits include journalism, drama for BBC Radio 4, and a children’s book for Animals on the Underground. His poetry has been published in The Literary Review and Kaffeeklatsch. He is a trustee of The Poetry Society and Chair of Magma.

    Winchester Discovery Centre
    Performance Hall
    Tickets £7.00

    ‘Nationhood’: a pop-up poetry competition from Magma

    As part of the ‘National Conversation’ about poetry, Magma has designed a pop-up poetry competition for the Winchester Festival, on the theme of ‘Nationhood’.

    The judges, drawn from the Magma editorial board, are looking for poems written and submitted during the weekend itself, that draw their inspiration from the Festival and its setting. Maximum length: 14 lines.

    Please hand your entries in at the Magma stand at Winchester Discovery Centre by midday on Sunday 14 September. The winner and two runners-up will be announced during the final session on Sunday afternoon.

    First prize: a two-year subscription to Magma plus digital publication of the winning poem in Magma’s Festival blog and newsletter.

    Two runners-up will each receive a free copy of Magma and various other poetry treats.

    One entry per person only.

    Click here to find out more about Winchester Poetry Festival and to book tickets. 



  2. Blog Review 36 : Jennifer Wong Reviews ‘For My Father’ By Amira Thoron

    Written by Jenny Wong at September 5, 2014 10:16

    Reading Amira Thoron’s For My Father is like trespassing someone’s dream. Through the retelling of childhood memories and family past, she brings the reader on a journey into her private world, a world with hidden fears and recurring questions. Her spare, lyrical language unites the poems, making each image evocative and symbolic, from the screech of a red-tail hawk circling the sky, to the touch of letters engraved on her father’s tombstone. The book opens with a powerful couplet:

    Water seeks its own level; there is a leak I cannot find.

  3. Blog Review 35: Pippa Little Reviews ‘The Years’ by Tom Duddy

    Written by Pippa Little at July 15, 2014 10:40

    I’d only read one poem by Tom Duddy but its simple grace stayed with me. There was a mysteriousness and sweetness to it, a gut feeling that this was a real poem by a real poet (much as I felt when first reading John Glenday’s Grain). It was ‘The Touch’, and, like many of the poems in this posthumous collection, dealt with a rural Irish childhood memory of going running to fetch the doctor and being met on the doorstep by his wife “…whose briskly gentle hands/once fixed my collar as I stood in the rain”. I wanted to discover if Duddy’s other poems had that magic and having now read The Years I can say that they do.

    The circumstances of this collection – Tom Duddy’s unexpected illness, failed treatment and death aged 62 – would make reading some of the poems almost unbearable if not for the poet’s ability to marvel at the world, to encompass both anguish at approaching death and a heightened tenderness for life. The thought of autumn induces both: “A frisson runs me through, half-/grief, half thrill.” (Urban Calendar p.43) In circumstances such as these, poetry itself in thought and act assumes deeper significance, as the dust-jacket says: “Faced with mortality, the ‘exactitude’ of poetic writing provided discipline, illumination and hope”. In this “exactitude” lie layers of a quiet, dry humour, an acutely self-aware nostalgic inclination and a formidable intelligence. Duddy’s publisher Nell Nelson wrote in a HappenStance blog shortly after his death in 2012 that Duddy “writes as though…each moment contains the secret of life. We should all write like this – if only we could”.

  4. Call for contributions – Magma 61 on the theme of ‘the street’

    Written by Jon Sayers at July 3, 2014 16:35

    Magma’s original meaning in Greek is ‘mixture’ and so the theme of ‘the street’ seems a fitting reflection of our magazine’s ambition to represent the widest mix of poetry, from the formal to the informal, the mainstream to the margins.  The street, after all, is shared territory: all human life is there.  Magma, too, is common ground, and we believe all poetic life should be able to rub shoulders here.

    We are seeking poems that celebrate the street as a public thoroughfare, owned by no-one and everyone, where strangers pass and old acquaintance meets, where glances are exchanged or avoided, feet fight for space with wheels, sticks, and paws, where shoppers, commuters, the young, the old, the down, the out, are all following their own paths and purposes, moving towards hidden destinations; the street as a stage where fights, riots and nothing in particular can happen, where transactions, congress and compacts take place, by day or by night, of an innocent or not altogether innocent kind.  Where robbery happens in daylight and hiding takes place in plain sight.  The street is a theatre in which we are all both actor and audience.

  5. Magma 59 Launch in Leicester

    Written by Roberta James at July 2, 2014 14:26

    Join us for an evening of poetry and a celebration of Magma 59: Breaks at our regional launch Upstairs at the Western in Leicester, Thursday July 17th. Lorraine Mariner and Kathryn Gray will be joined by other poets from the issue. Drinks are available from the bar downstairs and can be brought up. Doors open 6.30 for reading at 7pm. The reading will conclude by 9pm. Entrance is free. You can reserve your place by booking on Eventbrite.


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