1. bb297f77-0816-4012-8d09-6f25b9dde5d7

    “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

    The submission period for M66 is now closed and the editors would like to thank everyone who submitted, and will be contacting people as quickly as they can. The theme and submission window for M67 will be announced shortly.


  2. I’ve now been reading Transparencies, on and off, for almost two years. This is a good period of time over which to think about a collection that works across Gaelic and English as well as seeming to span at least one lifetime of experience.

    Bateman made her name as a poet in Gaelic, though not as a native speaker. This is her first largely English collection. In Transparencies, some poems (though only twelve in a collection of sixty-four) are presented bilingually with the Gaelic originals on the verso, the poet’s own translations into English on the recto. The other poems appear in their sole English form. I know not one word of Gaelic and yet the Gaelic poems surprised and delighted me each time I encountered them. I was enchanted by looking at this strange rich language, full of consonantal clusters. I kept trying to lay the English over the Gaelic, or vice versa – one way in which the title of the collection began to work its charm.

  3. What makes for a competition-winning poem?

    Written by Wes Brown at 2:03 pm


    On a cold January night, we were joined by Dominic Bury, Linda Black, Paul Stephenson and Geraldine Clarkson for a Magma event at The Torriano Meeting House to hear prize winning poems performed and to ask the poets about their approach to competitions and how they decide which poems to enter: whether they think it’s down to luck, persistence, talent, or a combination of all three. Indeed, is there such a thing as a competition-winning poem?

  4. National Conversation Event: Peel & Portion

    Written by admin at 10:22 am

    Peel & Portion is a discussion with a varied group of leading poets about their poetic process with particular focus on their drafting process, exploring a poem’s origins, the changes it goes through, and at what point it is considered finished.

    We’re very excited to have SJ Fowler, Kathryn Maris and Rebecca Perry, three exciting and varied poets with very different aesthetics and processes.

  5. Magma Poetry Competition Event

    Written by Wes Brown at 12:55 pm

    Come along and hear some past Magma Poetry Competition winners, including Geraldine Clarkson, Paul Stephenson, Linda Black and Magma’s very own Dominic Bury at our pre-deadline Poetry Competition Event on Friday 8 January at 7.30. You’ll get a chance to ask the poets about their approach to competitions and how they decide which poems to enter: whether they think it’s down to luck, persistence, talent or a combination of all three. Indeed, is there such a thing as a competition poem? Find out more by joining us at the Torriano Meeting House, 99 Torriano Avenue, London, NW5 2RX. Free refreshments. Click here to book your place.

  6. Poet Cheryl Moskowitz provides the third tweet for Magma’s #The 12 Competition Tweets of Christmas campaign which we are running to inspire you to enter the competition before the 18 January deadline. ‘Your write poems about what/you feel deepest and hardest’ are words from ‘Johnny’s Poem’ by Canadian poet, Alden Nolan Cheryl says: “These words are always what I think of when am writing poetry myself or encouraging others to write. The best poems for me manage to achieve some new kind of knowing or understanding of something we might think we already know and can offer a different way of seeing ourselves and the world. ‘Poetry is life distilled’ says Pulitzer prize winning American teacher and poet Gwendolyn Brooks. In these overwhelming times, we need that kind of distillation more than ever. Cheryl won a special mention (and £15 prize) in the Magma Poetry Competition 2013 Editors’ Prize for ‘Saudade’, which was printed in Magma 58.  Click here to find out more about the Magma Poetry Competition 2015/16.


  7. We’re launching the latest edition of Magma, Magma 63, Friday October 30 at the London Review Bookshop (14, Bury Place, WC1A 2JL). The theme of Magma 63 is ‘Conversation’.

    There will be readings from our guest poets Jane Draycott and Daljit Nagra as well as a selection of other poets featured in the edition. Doors open at 6.30pm, readings begin at 7pm.

  8. Simon Barraclough has been, for the past year, Poet in Residence at Mullard Space Science Laboratory. Barraclough remarks that his path there began with a fortuitous reading in 2013, but also long ago as a child looking up at the dark West Yorkshire night sky. His third collection, Sunspots, reflects this deep and pervasive interest in the cosmos, but more specifically, in our very own local star, the Sun itself.

    I come to Barraclough’s collection with profound interest in how science and poetry can interact, specifically astronomical and physical science. Barraclough does an excellent job of “circling” the sun in different ways, using each poem as a way of examining some facet, or “Sunspot.” His knowledge of Sun-science comes through in his application of scientific concepts and language, and his poems reveal the nature of the Sun via its interaction with us and with the broader universe. This is a cosmic long view of a book.

  9. Call for Contributions – Magma 65 on the theme of ‘Revolution’

    Written by Laurie Smith and Jane R Rogers at 9:55 am

    Might we be entering another revolutionary period?  Are the signs here?  Can we see revolution in the power of social media, the election of Jeremy Corbyn, the creation of the UK Women’s Equality Party by Sandi Toksvig, Scotland’s possible independence, Europe closing its borders, the realisation of climate change…?

    Perhaps the problem of being in the middle of a revolution is that we can’t really see it. The various revolutions in 50s/60s USA – anti-draft, Civil Rights, early feminism, gay rights – were made visible by poets like Bob Dylan, the confessional poets (Lowell, Berryman, Jarrell, Plath, Sexton) and the Beats. Are you one of the poets we can turn to now? Can you illuminate the changes occurring under our very noses?

  • Views expressed on this blog are those of the individual authors -- Magma seeks to present a range of views, not a single Magma view.
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