Margin / mɑːdʒɪn / from Latin marginem (nominative margo) for edge, border. Brim, brink, lip, verge, bound. Being the difference, the frontier, a kind of freedom. If the shadow of the margin is the mainstream, our aim for this issue is to publish poetry from the periphery, from the hinterland of lives, spaces and themes.

This issue, we asked for contributions with a wide and associative take on the topic, from poems of “internal difference – / Where the Meanings, are” (Emily Dickinson), to those of remote, unwritten places where you do “not know the gate / till you run up against it” (Jen Hadfield). Focusing on lives lived in the corners, on edgelands, meetings of tides, the thresholds of mind, forest and page.

We also suggested blunter notions of the margins: Lankelly Chase Foundation’s ‘people facing severe and multiple disadvantage… pushed to the extreme margins of society’ or the bullied and patronised people of Les Murray’s Subhuman Redneck Poems.

Our selection of poems is broadly grouped into physical, societal and psychological margins. We received fewer poems that we expected about geographical outposts or the borders of pages; our physical margins include marginal physical experiences such as unusual ailments and proximity to death.

In our prose sections, Vahni Capildeo explores margins in poetic composition, from considering the page as ‘a habitat for curlicues, where unruliness may “flourish”’ to remembering what’s left out when: ‘the undrafted or deleted phrase quivers forever in the margins of the poem in your mind’.

In another essay, Katy Evans-Bush, writing at the start of an unexpected General Election campaign, explores the ability of poetry to: “Pay attention to the margins. Note things left unsaid, or not in the main text. Be aware of off-stage action, what’s just out of frame, the negative space.”

In our regular section, our inspired poet, Fleur Adcock takes her inspiration from Milton’s Lycidas, ‘the irresistible first line’: “Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more” as the starting point for an elegy for her friend and fellow poet, Roy Fisher.

Both the poetry and prose in this issue reflect the diversity of emotions and responses provoked by the theme but, despite this diversity, consistently reinforce the sense of poetry’s ability to offer an alternative perspective on a world viewed from the edge.


David Floyd and Lucy Howard-Taylor