“Dying is easy, comedy is hard”, were allegedly the last words of the Shakespearean actor, Edmund Kean, and anyone who has tried to stand on a stage and make people laugh will know what he means. But what about on the page?
The late James Tate said “I love my funny poems, but I’d rather break your heart. And if I can do both in the same poem, that’s the best.”
So, here is your challenge. We want poems to make us belly laugh, poems to make us chuckle, witty poems, punny poems, absurd poems. We want poems that are deliciously dark, perverse, shocking, delicately funny, embarrassingly painful, silly and surreal. We want poems of all shapes and styles from a diverse range of poets. Does comedy have boundaries or differences based on culture, gender, class, or is it truly the great universal? Is slapstick possible in a poem? What about visual gags? Are some words inherently funnier than others?
But we don’t just want to limit you to being funny, like the best comedy routines, we want variety and range. We also invite poems about comedy and comedians, about what makes us laugh and why, about the thin line between comedy and tragedy, and we want poems that, as James Tate says, will make us laugh and also break our hearts.
Not much to ask, right?
Ella Frears and John Canfield
Please send us up to four poems by Submittable from 1st February 2016 to 31st March 2016 or by post with an s.a.e. (if you live in the UK) to Magma Contributions, 23 Pine Walk, Carshalton, SM5 4ES.