1. 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.

    Doors, and the cash bar, open at 6.30 with the reading starting at 7.30 pm. We’d be delighted if you could join us.

  2. Words from competition judge Gillian Clarke

    Written by Gillian Clarke at 2:00 pm

    The post will soon bring me a fat package of poems, long promised, the programme of reading and judging them marked in my diary in advance. Every poem will carry its author’s hope of success, every page a glimpse of someone’s life, mind, imagination. Similar packages have been arriving all year, as poetry competitions follow no season. Now it is Magma’s turn. I hope, as I always do, that I am about to discover the most beautiful poem in the English-speaking world.

    I will read the poems in the shortening days, light fading as it does this November afternoon until I must switch on the light to continue. As always, the poems will drift into three piles on the table: Yes, No, and Maybe. The ‘No’s form by far the biggest pile. ‘Maybe’ makes the medium pile. A quiet ‘maybe’ can sometimes move at subsequent readings to the ‘yes’ pile, and even win. A ‘no’ never wins. In the ‘yes’ pile, smallest of all, every poem rings true and sings with a distinct voice. Any one of them might win. The ‘no’ category is the easiest to decide.  Something in the language from the very first line fails to convince, the use of a cliché, an archaism, a false note, an over-elaboration, an abstraction, is the instant decider. It is often clear that this is the first poem the author has ever written. Sometimes, possessed by powerful emotion, the writer imagines that is enough. However sad the autobiography or passionate the love, a poem without the music and truth of a real poet’s voice is strangely un-moving. It is not its author’s pain or passion that moves us, but the language that carries it, the cadence. We are moved by the way language itself moves.