Magma 49 is made from a mixture of three parts sand and one part cement. No, hang on, that’s the recipe for concrete. Magma 49 is actually made from a mixture of poems, prose and reviews, most of which bear some relation to my chosen theme of Build it Up and Knock it Down.
What complex confections you submitted – poems about building snowmen, sculptures, cocktails and roll-ups. And how inventively you destroyed them too – by dynamite, arson and the plain old passage of time. All this making and breaking is held together by the tension strung between artform and content. Architecture may crumble, paintings may fade … but once we’ve written a poem, it’s indestructible. However skew-whiff its bricklaying or shonky its plastering, if you’ve built a poem, no-one can knock it down.
The rumble of the cement mixer is also to be heard in Jo Bell’s article on poetry in the built environment; while David Harsent recounts his experience of being commissioned to create, and Kate Kilalea talks about what the poetry workshop can offer … or can’t. The issue’s guests are Gavin Pretor-Pinney responding to Sylvia Plath, and W N Herbert who has been collaborating with Byron. Interspersed throughout are the non-theme poems which bubbled to the top of our submissions pile – poems that surprised, confounded and delighted me, which is all I’m ever looking for.
Here you are then, the ‘Build it Up / Knock it Down’ issue. See what you make of it.