1. I’m excited to be Editor of Magma 52 with Helen Nicholson as Assistant Editor, and the theme for the issue is “putting on the mask”.

    I chose this theme because all of us from time to time put on a mask of one kind or another, perhaps for reasons of good manners, or self-preservation against hurt or anger or love.

    And because I have a love of the theatre where assumed or, occasionally, real masks are used to create characters or explore ideas.

    And because nowadays some jobs demand real masks.

    I’m hoping for poems that touch on the relationship between reality and perception, where your poem unravels hidden layers or where the poem’s central character may not mean what s/he says.  Or I’d welcome poems where the nature of perception is explored.

    Or I’d welcome dramatic monologues, or poems from the view of the actor behind the monologue, or poems written from the perspective of fictional characters from books or plays who do not normally get a voice.

    Or does the mask of the surgeon, the fire-fighter, the clown, the pedestrian-wary-of-car-fumes, become part of who they are?  Or become a device to conceal the individual?

    Or you may not want to write a poem on this theme, and poems not on theme are welcome too.

    But do you catch a glimpse of someone’s real or imagined mask out of the corner of your eye as you go about your day?  Which way does it face you as you start to write?

    Roberta James, Editor, Magma 52

    The deadline is 30 October 2011. Off-theme poems will also be considered. Please see the Contributions page for details of how to submit your poems.


  2. Our exciting new mobile poetry initiative comes to Ledbury Poetry Festival.

    In addition to the Magma Roadshow event, Magma and Ledbury Poetry Festival are bringing poems to those out and about at the festival (1-10 July 2011) via their mobile phones, through a project called Poetry in Motion.

  3. Magma 50 is now available to buy from the Magma website and in bookshops. The issue edited by Clare Pollard with the theme ‘Journeys’.

    Don’t miss the Magma 50 launch reading on Monday 27 June at The Troubadour, Earl’s Court, London.

  4. Magma Poetry Roadshow at the Manchester Literature Festival

    Written by Jacqueline Saphra at 1:39 pm

    Clare Pollard, Alan Buckley and myself journeyed up to Manchester one cold clear Wednesday morning in October to do a reading and a Q&A about Magma. The train journey passed in the wink of an eye, involving among other things a long and fevered debate about Don Paterson’s interpretation of the sonnets, whether there’s anything you can’t write about in poetry and our relative capacities for caffeine.

    At The Cornerhouse, Manchester’s warm and welcoming international arts centre, we met up with Sarah Jackson who had come from Nottingham to read for us. The event took place in a beautiful room with exposed beams in the roof and light flooding in from both sides. The acoustics were great too, so no need for a sound system. Our calm and thoroughly well-organised hosts at the Festival had sold out the event, and the three of us: Alan, Sarah and myself very much enjoyed reading for the attentive and enthusiastic audience. It was interesting to hear three poets all published in Magma reading one after the other – we’re all very different and that difference reflected the ‘Magma-ness’ of the event. Rotating editorship of the magazine for each issue means that we publish a wide range of poems.

  5. Magma Roadshow at Manchester Literature Festival 20th October

    Written by Jacqueline Saphra at 8:43 am

    In the past couple of years the Magma Roadshow has journeyed up and down and cross country to Aldeburgh, Ledbury, StAnza and Cheltenham. This Autumn we’re excited to be going to the Manchester Literature Festival to run a one-off free lunchtime event at The Cornerhouse.

    Clare Pollard, celebrated poet and a member of the Magma team will be MCing the event. Jacqueline Saphra, (also from the Magma team) will be reading, and so will Magma contributors Alan Buckley and Sarah Jackson.

  6. Magma launches each new issue at the Troubadour Café, in association with Coffee-House Poetry, and has hosted many memorable readings over the years. Because of this close association with Coffee-House Poetry and its organiser, Anne-Marie Fyfe, editor of Magma issue 36, we thought you would like to know about this competition. By entering, you help to support its work with live literature, and there’s always the chance of winning one of the prizes!

    Judged by Gwyneth Lewis and Maurice Riordan, with both judges reading all poems.

  7. We at Magma were thrilled last week when the Forward Poetry Prize shortlists were announced. One of the poems shortlisted for the Best Single Poem prize, is Julia Copus’ ‘An easy passage’ – first published in Magma 45. The fact that the prize is, for the first time, in memory of Michael Donaghy, a poet known and loved by many of us on the Magma team, makes it particularly special.

    Having chosen to give Magma 45 the theme of ‘Telling Tales’, I knew Julia’s poem was remarkable as soon as I read it – a master-class in narrative poetry, it seems to compress an entire coming-of-age novel into a few dazzling lines. As a teenage girl in her bikini tries to break into her family house through a window, we pan out to see the whole world around her: her friend, her mother, suburban frustration, empty lives, ‘the long, grey eye of the street’, the bravery and resourcefulness needed to survive small-town adolescence. The poem’s devastating question is: ‘What can she know / of the way the world admits us less and less/ the more we grow?’

  8. The Magma Sales Table, being looked after by Jacqueline Saphra

    Magma Poetry sponsored the reading by Philip Gross and Gillian Clarke that took place during the Ledbury Poetry Festival during the first half of July. Jacqueline Saphra and I, on behalf of Magma Poetry, went to Ledbury for the weekend to support the event and sell copies of the magazine there, and also to meet up with poets and poetry readers from across the country.

  9. Launch of Magma 46: the Editor Reports

    Written by Jacqueline Saphra at 3:41 pm

    Musing on the process of editorship this morning after the the launch of our spring issue, I was amused to discover that the production time of an issue of Magma from conception to delivery is not much short of nine months: Magma 46 began its journey in mid July 2009 and the launch was on March 8th 2010.

    And what a ride it’s been. From the painful sieving and re-sieving of the poems, the to and fro between myself and my trusty and inspired assistant Norbert Hirschhorn, through to the ideas and commissioning of the prose and the reviews, to finally getting down to the cover copy and editorial, it’s been a mind-bending task.

  10. All of seventeen years chairing the Magma group, eleven years presenting our launches at the Coffee House Poetry sessions at the Troubadour – hard to believe it. And now I bow out, at our AGM at the end of March. A few memories, a few thoughts.

    Our first meeting, and taking the lead in setting us up with an Agenda, Minutes, a Chairman, a Treasurer, a Secretary – paraphernalia surprising to some of the others, fellow members of Laurie Smith’s poetry class at the City Lit.  But no point bothering unless we were ambitious, and no chance of realising our ambitions unless we were businesslike. Getting off the ground fine. But then our nadir, two or three years in. Meeting in a dingy dark basement room in the City Lit. Fewer members, some having given up. Sales static. Quality of poems fine, but who cared? Decision – persist.