For the last 25 years Magma has built a reputation for being an exciting part of the UK poetry world, drawing in an international range of poets and readers. The previous issues have covered topics such as Work or Loss, inviting profound and sometimes unexpected responses. For this issue the topic we selected was ‘Resistencia’, with a clearly Latin American/Latinx focus.
This was particularly exciting for us for several reasons. The first is that Latin American poetry and literature plays an incredibly important role within our culture. It has had a global impact for its experimental nature, activism, sensuality and its use of magic realism and fierce storytelling. There are few writers and poets in the world who have not been influenced by Pablo Neruda or Borges, for example. The opportunity to share more of that aesthetic and its impact was very exciting.
We were absolutely delighted with the wide range of poems that were submitted. This is probably the first poetry journal in the world to include Latin American poets from that region, British Latinx poets and North American Latinx poets, illustrating all the points of the triangle and the way in which Latin American culture exists in diaspora. This is especially relevant as British Latinx poets have been largely absent from mainstream literature platforms until now.
We were also thrilled to be able to include exceptional poets from the Caribbean, Africa and Korea – all influenced by Latin American poetry and the culture itself. The age range of the writers varies from those in their teens to those who are considerably older. The poems include ghazals, sonnets and sestinas, as well as prose poetry, translations and other forms. They range from powerful acts of witness in the style of Carolyn Forché to whimsical musing on Latin American culture and sensual meditative explorations. This issue explores not only Latin American culture, but also the culture of those who live between languages, in this case a liminal space between Spanish/Portuguese and English.
The Resistencia issue is also home to a commissioned prose piece by multi-award winning poet and teacher Pascale Petit, a profound and powerful meditation on nature, Latin American ecology and personal loss and mental health issues as the poet travels through Tambopata river in Peru, researching for her collection Mama Amazonica. And for our Inspired pages, Latinx poet Francisco Aragon responds to the work of poet Carmen Giménez Smith, exploring notions of collage, collaboration and literary friendship.
At a time when the UK is becoming increasingly multilingual the richness of living in the creative tensions between languages is a fertile and critical area to explore.
The Forward Prize winning poet Mona Arshi recently said that writing poetry in the current age is an act of resistance. All of the poems included here can be seen to be part of that resistance, using art to explain the inexplicable, or to reach for joy in impossible circumstances. This is the heart of Latin American poetry and art and we hope the readers enjoy the issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
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