1. ‘Here is a verbal contraption. How does it work?’ – W.H.Auden

    ‘A poem is a small (or large) machine made out of words.’ – William Carlos Williams

    We invite you to submit poems on the subject of the soul and the machine for Magma 55 – on any aspect of one that brings with it at least the idea of the other. We include machinery of any kind, and consciousness, a spirit, a soul or whatever else intangible may be said to come with it.

    One of us is a computer scientist, the other a poet. Artificial intelligence posits human-like thinking made from software, poetry could be said to reach the soul from not only verbal machinery: from ink or pixels and from vibrations in the air. We’re both fascinated by the co-presence of these physical and immaterial properties.

    Howard Nemerov’s escritoire in A Singular Metamorphosis comes alive, apparently aided and abetted by the TV; in Machines Michael Donaghy’s racing bike balances like the poise of music; Elizabeth Bishop’s toy horse has a formal, melancholy soul in Cirque D’Hiver

    What will you make of these ideas? We hope you will be inspired to create diverse contraptions, including many that never occurred to us when we thought of basing Magma 55 on the soul and the machine. Off-theme poems are also welcome.

    Tim Kindberg (@TimKindberg) and Karen McCarthy Woolf (@KMcCarthyWoolf), Editors, Magma 55

  2. Magma’s new poetry competition now OPEN FOR ENTRIES

    Written by Roberta James at 10:30 am

    In June this year, in celebration of 50 issues of Magma Poetry magazine, and in anticipation of more to come, Magma Poetry launched a new competition.

    The entry period for both the Judge’s Prize for poems of up to 80 lines, and the Magma Editors’ Prize for poems of up to 10 lines is NOW OPEN and runs until end November.

  3. A short piece on the short poem

    Written by Karen McCarthy Woolf at 9:03 am

    I am going to start this article with a statistic. No poem under 10 lines has won the National Poetry Competition since (online) records began in 1978! The website shows winning poems only prior to 2000, but between 2001-2010 you can see all the shortlisted poems and only a handful of them were under 14 lines and none under 10 lines. The shortest is Frank Ortega’s eleven line poem Searching for An Affordable Crossbow which was commended in 2009.

    I use the National as an example, as they keep very comprehensive records online, but this trend bears out. Mslexia shows the last seven years with no short poem winners, while the Cardiff International Poetry Competition offers the exception in 2001-2 with Joan Newmann’s commended Carrageen Mousse and the Boy from Nepal which surely must have been a contender for the title alone.