1. Magma 60 and its launch events in London and Newcastle

    Written by Rob A Mackenzie — November 21, 2014 18:00

    Freedom is a word so big, or so close to us, that perhaps we don’t even see it. Certainly the poems that arrived in response to our call for poems on the theme of ‘Freedom’ were so various that often we couldn’t decide if a poem was supposed to address the theme at all. But the best of them enacted, across the gamut of political, personal, geographical and cultural life, the human freedom of the careful and electric word.

    The prose pieces consider freedom from a range of viewpoints. Sean O’Brien’s piece, for Magma’s National Conversation project, reminds us that freedom entails responsibility. This year’s Forward Prize winner Kei Miller considers freedom and travel. Gwen Adshead discusses how Larkin was able to express the unsayable. Tishani Doshi, in dialogue with Elizabeth Bishop, has an urge “to engrave the words on cages”. And Matthew Sweeney remembers the great constraining freedom of collaborating with the late John Hartley Williams. We are also pleased to offer work by this year’s Eric Gregory Award winners and a fine batch of poems by Jos Smith for our regular ‘selected’ feature.

    Rob A. Mackenzie & Tony Williams
    Editors, Magma 60

    Freedom will break out in London and Newcastle, with a double launch.

    Kei Miller, fresh from winning the Forward Prize for Poetry, will be reading at the London launch on Friday 28 November at 7pm at the London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, London WC1A 2JL. Admission is free but booking is essential.

    Next month Sean O’Brien will be the guest reader at the Newcastle launch on Thursday 11 December at 7pm at the Lit & Phil, 23 Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE. You can book your tickets here.

    Admission to both launches is free and will each feature a generous batch of contributors to the issue.


  2. Call for contributions – Magma 62 on the theme of ‘Violence’

    Written by Chris Kerr at September 30, 2014 10:17

    We settled on ‘violence’ as the theme for Magma 62 since it seemed a stark contrast to the “big safe themes”, as Paul Farley might call them, that sprang easily to mind. Violence felt bold and a little bit different and these, above all, are the qualities we are looking for in the poems. We want poems like Paul Batchelor’s To a Halver an ode to a half-brick that mines the symbolism of this, apparently, simple object so it becomes more than a weapon; or poems that explore the theme of violence in the way they mean (through the use of syntax, typography, diction etc) as well as what they mean. Here we can’t help thinking of a poem like Gaddafi Gaddafi Gaddafi by Hannah Silva, first published in Magma 56, or Kerosene by Tim Seibles but these are just examples of the sort of poem we’re after. We are particularly excited to see what this provocation might mean to you. The deadline is 31st January 2015.  As ever, we are happy to consider poems on other themes, also. Please see the Contributions page for details of how to submit your poems.  We look forward to hearing from you.

    Kayo Chingonyi Chris Kerr Editors, Magma 62

  3. Kei Miller’s wonderful new book, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion combines uniformly strong writing with a mythic unifying theme, and even a few ventures into the realm of form. The collection comprises a spiritual/philosophical journey undertaken by a divided Self. This Self speaks in two voices, The Cartographer and The Rastaman, cleaved by contrasting cultural influences and perceptions of the point and purpose of the universe.

    The Rasta position, that the world is a work-in-perpetual-progress, a seemingly relaxed (in reality very intricate) art rattled off by Jah presents itself in the second poem, ‘The Shrug of Jah’. Its construction is calculatedly loose. The poem sprawls across the page so that the readers must take their time with it:

  4. Winning poems from Magma’s pop-up poetry competition in Winchester

    Written by Wes Brown at September 20, 2014 15:53

    As part of our Winchester Poetry Festival activities to launch our National Conversation about poetry, Magma ran a pop-up poetry competition on the theme of ‘nationhood’. The competition was won outright by Dom Cramp for his poem, The Broken English and Richard Stillman was our runner-up with From Chaucer to Grime. The winners were invited on stage to read their work alongside Ros Barber and Jackie Kay. Poet and Magma board member, Susannah Hart was one of the judges and explains what impressed her about the poems:

    The Broken English

  5. Highlights from the Winchester Poetry Festival

    Written by admin at September 17, 2014 13:21

    Following the success of the inaugural Winchester Poetry Festival, we asked poets, performers, organisers, attendees and Magma team members for their highlight of the weekend and to share an individual moment that might have gone hidden or unseen. Check back over the coming days to read more highlights, and, if you attended or have something to say, feel free to share and discuss your experiences in the comments section below. (Hover over the images to see the captions.) 


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