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The submissions process can seem arcane and unforgiving. One contributor referred to it, fittingly, as ‘the meat grinder’. We were therefore keen to talk a little about the poems that didn’t make the cut.

One year on from the 100 year anniversary of the start of WWI, we received numerous war poems, submitted in a somewhat scattergun strategy. We also read a large number of poems dealing with personal experiences of violence, which were often very raw and a little too direct in their approach. This is not to say that a poet should not write about something in a direct way, but that in so doing there is a balance to be struck between what is known and what the poem allows the poet, and by extension the reader, to discover. That said, we published both poems about armed conflict and those exploring highly intimate experiences. We were looking for poems that came at violence from unexpected angles. Not only the boxers hermetically sealed in the ring, but also the passively renewed cable TV subscription in the name of the man who sits uneasily in a bar, watching the fight. Not only the torrid domestic argument, but the pain in the fingers caught cleaning behind the fridge as the lock turns in the front door. We have, we believe, found these poems.

The prose pieces are wide ranging and intentionally, though not mischievously, provocative. Keston’s Sutherland’s piece, a contribution to Magma’s National Conversation (about Poetry), explores the intersection of poetry and capital. S J Fowler’s essay looks at the violence wrought by comforting poetry. Katrina Naomi presents her experiences of broaching personal experiences of violence in her poetry. Jumoké Fashola responds to Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, while we spoke to Karen McCarthy Woolf about a poetic form she invented which utilises extant texts.

We have consciously included a wide range of poetic voices, styles and forms in the issue. We hope that this selection provokes discussion and hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together. We urge you to tell us what you think, whether in person or online, more in the spirit of friendly conversation than adversarial combat.  And, supplementary to Magma 62, we have ‘Sparks Flying’ – Michael Loveday reviews Chris McCabe, Andre Bagoo and Dorothy Lehane.


Sarah Westcott Black and Blue
Kathryn Maris The summer day the spike went into my
Tom Chivers Dark Island
Josh Ekroy Verdict
Ruth Wiggins Slight
Catherine M Brennan Not a toy


Responding to Violence ‘To write directly and overtly as a woman, out of a woman’s body and experience […] to show us our true faces – all of them, including the unacceptable; to speak of what has been muffled in code or silence’.…
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