Poetry is a shaping of words and that shape can often be seen on the page. At the most basic level, lines that turn before they reach the margin are an early cue for us to treat text as poem. In Magma 57 we are particularly interested in poems that possess shapeliness; poems that look interesting on the page; poems whose appearance is integrated with their form and content; shape as key to timing, meaning and music.
Seamus Heaney has spoken of the sonnet form as a body, with a waist and a need for the right number of limbs in order to function. That kind of shapeliness is not obvious in the layout of text (although perhaps readers can register a block of fourteen lines as a single gestalt, just as we recognise as a face). So we certainly do not insist on unconventional layouts, unconventional layouts, in fact
we do NoT wa
NT the kind of poe try
That s c a t t e r s i t s elf r and om ly
in the vague
hope of adding interest to prose observations. On the other hand unconventional layouts which serve formal and poetic purposes are welcomed. Reflexive poems that muse on their own shape will have to be best-in-class to be admitted!
We hope to see some unashamedly concrete poetry. We hope to see some beautiful formal verse in stanzas of unequal lines – think Donne (‘The Message’ or ‘The Triple Fool’ for example) or George Herbert’s ‘Easter Wings’. We hope to see some dramatic use of the page. We hope to see many things we have never imagined.
As usual we’ll choose many of the poems for the magazine without particular regard to our theme, just because we admire them as poems – although perhaps this theme is hard to escape: even (especially?) prose poetry talks through its distinctive visual form, the body evident on the page.