1. ‘fine black thread
    still crimped from the strain and snap
    when it broke and he got away.’ – from The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop

    Magma 59 is being edited by Roberta James with Alex Pryce and we are inviting poems on the theme of ‘breaks’.   We want to explore how one word that can be understood in so many ways can set free your creative ideas and inspire a diverse range of the best poetry.

    ‘Breaks’ can mean so many things:  breaks with lovers or family, lucky breaks, breaks with tradition.  Or breaks of precious items, machinery that’s broken, or broken bones.  Break ins, break outs, ‘Breaking Bad’.  Real breaks, metaphorical breaks, breaks for the good and the aching…

    ‘City of sad foghorns and clapboard ziggurats,
    of snakes and ladders streets and cadged cigarettes,
    city of pelicans, fish bones and flaking paint,
    of underfoot cable car wires strained to breaking point …’ –  from Avalon by Simon Armitage

    Or send us your best poems even if they are not on the theme, as the issue will break out in a rash of poems off-theme too. 

    The deadline is 31 January 2014. Please see the Contributions page for details of how to submit your poems.

    Roberta James
    Alex Pryce

  2. Magma 56 launches at the Troubadour

    Written by Wes Brown at 12:03 pm

    Another issue off the press and into the hands of readers as Magma 56 launched at the Troubadour Coffee House in Earls Court. Headline readers Jack Underwood and David Morley shared a stage with scores of poets from the pages of the magazine. Photos by Magma board member Jenny Wong, and friend of the magazine Michael Umney made recordings of the readings which you can listen to below.

    Matt Brydon’s Small Change considers the absence of children in adult spaces 

  3. Call for submissions for Magma 58: The Music of Words

    Written by Laurie Smith at 5:48 pm

    We want to explore the music of poetry – not necessarily poetry about music as in Magma 53, but music within poetry. We would like to receive poems where the meaning is expressed or strengthened by the sound of the words – perhaps going beyond sound effects like alliteration and onomatopoeia to the wider organisation of a series of sounds and thus their flow : features such as rhythm, pulse, pitch, tonality, articulation, dynamics and mood, all of which can express meaning. And we’re very much aware that poetry, like music, can be harmonious, dissonant or both!

    A recent example of music within poetry is Paul Stephenson’s The Pull which won Magma’s short poem competition last year:

  4. 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

  5. Come and join us for the launch reading of the new issue of Magma on Monday 25th February at The Troubadour, Earl’s Court, London, as part of the Coffee House Series. The event will be full of contributors who’ll be coming to read, and we’re also thrilled to have as our guest readers Penelope Shuttle and Clare Pollard who have both contributed poems to this issue. The evening will start at 8pm at The Troubadour Coffee House, 265 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 (near Earl’s Court Tube). Tickets are £7/£6 concessions; doors open at 7.30pm. Come early for the best seats, to get yourself a drink, buy a copy of the magazine or chat to a member of the Magma team. This issue, edited by Tim Kindberg and Karen McCarthy Woolf, is now available to buy from the Magma and in bookshops. Tim and Karen have a great theme for the issue – The Soul and the Machine – which Tim elaborates on in this piece about Machinery and the imagination. Hope you can make it. We’d love to see you there.

  6. Magma Poetry Celebration Reading on 18 February

    Written by Jenny Wong at 3:03 pm

    We are pleased to invite you to join us for a free event on 18 February 2013 (Monday), to be held at the Studio Theatre, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) Studios at 16 Chenies Street,London WC1E 7EX, just a short walk from Goodge Street station.

    Winners of the Magma Competition 2012 will be reading their poems alongside the National Poet of Wales and judge for the Magma Poetry Competition, Gillian Clarke, whose work Ice was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2012. You will also be able to enjoy readings from leading poets including Moniza Alvi, Simon Barraclough, Tom Chivers and Claire Crowther, who have been specially commissioned to write short poems in response to the competition.

  7. Magma 51 is now available to buy from the Magma website and in bookshops. The issue is edited by Jacqueline Saphra with Ian McEwen with the theme ‘Profane and Sacred’.

    Don’t miss the Magma 51 launch reading on Monday 14th November at The Troubadour, Earl’s Court, London.

  8. “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” – Walter Pater

    “If a composer could say what he had to say in words, he would not bother trying to say it in music.” – Gustav Mahler

  9. Magma’s launch readings have been hosted by Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour for many years.

    Knowing many Magma readers are also Coffee-House regulars, we would like to bring to your attention the Fifth Annual Troubadour International Poetry Prize.

  10. It’s been a busy summer for Magma Poetry; we’ve taken part in three fantastic festivals all in the space of a month.

    Clare Pollard and I took the train up to Bridlington in June, and spent a couple of days at the fabulously located Bridlington Festival, in the setting of the gorgeous Sewerby Hall. The hall itself is grand enough, but the grounds are even grander and overlook the sea. Clare took an editing workshop which sounded brilliant. I say sounded brilliant, because as I went up there to see how things were going, I could hear the laughter coming all the way down the stairs. But of course serious things were said and done, and it was clear from the faces of the participants that they were enthused about poetry and the editing process. Later, I took part in a panel discussion with Peter Sansom, longtime editor of The North, and Clare did a wonderful reading from her new book, Changeling.