1. Magma at Winchester Poetry Festival 2016

    Written by Nick Sunderland at 2:37 pm

    Between the 7th and 9th October, Magma was proud to attend the Winchester Poetry Festival and get involved with a wide range of really great events, readings and lectures.

    Jo Shapcott and Things Being Various

    Jon Sayers, hosted another episode of ‘Things Being Various’, an illuminating one on one conversation with prizewinning poet Jo Shapcott. The format of the event was a detailed look at Jo’s inspiration and writing practices through the medium of a series of beloved objects – a wonderful biographical collection of keepsakes from Jo’s life and career.

    From a small piece of the Queen Elizabeth Hall stage (Jo worked as an Arts administrator there early in her career) and a marvellous Victorian book of random scientific ephemera called ‘Science Siftings’ (an article in which inspired the poem ‘Electroplating the Baby’) to a 1950s Italian phrase book (inspiration for ‘Phrase Book’) and a set of beautiful handcrafted head scarves made for Jo by the artist Susie Freeman (creator of Cradle to Grave in the British Museum) to wear following chemotherapy treatment.

    Each object painted an intimate portrait of Jo’s journey as a poet and a person and let the audience in on a trove of trade secrets that lie behind her craft and feed her curiosity.

    During the conversation Jon described Magma as a magazine for established and emerging poets to which Jo responded “I always hope to be emerging.”


    The Ultimate Dear John Letter

    As part of the event we also ran a pop-up poetry competition to coincide with one of the major themes of the festival – John Keats and the impact and poetic achievements he made during the eight weeks he spent there in 1819. Keats described Winchester as ‘the pleasantest town I ever was in.’

    Festivalgoers were invited to pen an original poem entitled ‘Dear John’ on beautiful handcrafted Georgian manuscript paper (check out the pics). The creative brief – a poem-letter on any subject, as long as it was addressed to Mr Keats.

    With a multitude of entries, the Magma team whittled down three winning entries worthy of a little prize and publication on Magmapoetry.com

    We hope you enjoy them as much as we did judging and congratulations again to William, Amanda and Kate for such wonderful off the cuff compositions!


    First Prize

    Dear John

    I stood this morning where once you did
    To ford your river in bare feet. You can’t. The Itchen’s bridged.
    It’s conduited with concrete, steel, in shadows deep
    Its murmurs lost. Its constant roar would make you weep.
    So, reined in, I paused, gazing at the flow below
    Once briefly yours, now ours to briefly know.
    Outraged, your spirit came and called above the din
    “Are we poets to be stopped from boldly entering in?”
    John, I took my trousers off and waded in bare-thighed
    But then! Oh no! A dog, its owner horrified.
    Relax! England, modest still, averts her eye.
    It was the dog that stared, its mistress walked on by.
    Cupping my fingers to our river’s ancient cold
    I tossed its water to the light and found pure gold.

    William Horwood

    William Horwood

    Second Prize

    Dear John

    I think it important
    to thank you for all I’ve learned
    by watching you when I was pretending
    to busy myself outside your window
    (I would pick about the gravel,
    you’d be head cocked, bright eyed
    at the glass) You let me
    take part in your existence
    Just that little shift
    I owe mine of course to you
    your friend and passer-by

    Kate Miller

    Kate Miller

    Third Prize

    Dear John

    Come on. Tell me, how did it all go wrong?
    You saw the slick ripe corn on St Giles Hill
    slashed by scythes.  You smelled the sweat and pit-dry stalks,
    listened to the songs of a hard day’s work. But…
    that labourer sitting ‘careless on the granary floor’
    tweaked bile in your gut, for he couldn’t afford
    the corn he’d cut.  Now the multi-storey
    covers that field with its snake-rind canisters and
    pick’n’mix retail, and the tricks of the day are Flex
    at £7.20 filled with the songs of tripwire clauses, hard
    on the ear and fighting the fast-flow dissonance of debt.
    A dynasty upon dynasty of rotation. Tell me, John,
    How did it all go wrong?

    Amanda Oosthuizen

    Amanda Oosthuizen

  2. Magma 64 Launch on the theme of ‘Risk’

    Written by Wes Brown at 12:12 pm

    The launch of Magma 64 will take place on the 24th of March, 7pm at The London Review Book Shop. Formed around the theme risk, we were delighted with the huge variety of poems that we received. Risks in every form, size and daring, cunning, moving shape. The challenge we had was weighing every one. To see if the risks paid off, to see if after all, the poem was worth writing.

    The event will feature readings from contributors to the issue and a guest performance from Philip Gross. Tickets are free but booking is essential. Click here to reserve your place.

  3. Magma Competition celebratory evening at Keats House

    Written by Lisa Kelly at 12:10 pm

    The winners and special mentions of the Magma Poetry Competitions – for the Judge’s Prize and the Editors’ Prize – will be reading their poems at Keats House in Hampstead on Friday 11th March at 7pm, and you can buy your £5 ticket here or pay on the door and join us for a wonderful night of winning poems and a reading by Daljit Nagra, as well as some sparkling refreshments to celebrate.

    For the Judge’s Prize judged by Daljit Nagra:

  4. Peel & Portion

    Written by Lisa Kelly at 11:04 am

    Magma’s third National Conversation Event: Peel & Portion organised by board members John Canfield and Ella Frears opened up a fascinating discussion about the poetic process and different attitudes to drafting, editing and when a poem is considered finished.

    Poets Kathryn Marris, SJ Fowler and Rebecca Perry in conversation with Patrick Davidson Roberts revealed their individual approaches and showed examples of their poems that had gone through several drafting stages, sometimes spanning years.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Voicing an Opinion on Voice

    Written by Lisa Kelly at 11:41 am

    A poet’s voice is a much discussed aspect of a poet’s work, but just how relevant or limiting it is being recognised by your voice provoked an interesting discussion by a panel of well-known poets taking part in Magma’s National Conversation about Poetry.

    Last month Hannah Lowe, Joelle Taylor, Chris McCabe and Jon Stone participated in Magma’s Incorrigibly Plural live event in Clerkenwell, London where they performed their collaborative poems which you can read on the Magma blog.

  10. Poets Hannah Lowe, Joelle Taylor, Chris McCabe and Jon Stone read their collaborative poems at The Crypt in Clerkenwell earlier this month as part of Magma’s ongoing National Conversation about Poetry.

    The audience listened attentively to the new work, which responded to the theme of the four seasons, and was treated to readings by the individual poets so it was possible to hear and compare their ‘pure’ voices.

  • 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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