Welcome to the Avatar issue of Magma! We hope you enjoy the contents of this sumptuous issue as much as we editors enjoyed putting it together. When we posted the call-out for submissions, we were very excited to see the results and we weren’t disappointed. We received around 3,200 poems from all over the world and we could not have been happier with the richness and sheer quality of so many of them.
Many of the poems took the theme of avatars literally and, more often than not, this ended up not grabbing our interest. Much more interesting was how many times poets came to our theme from a far more oblique angle. There were odes to partners and parents, to deities, mythical beasts, a harbinger, a hyena, wives and wedding girls. Many of the poems addressed the theme very visually, employing grids, speculums, circles and lists to tackle the theme. This mix of traditional forms and radical reinvention makes for a particularly dynamic issue.
We couldn’t have hoped for a better response from those writers and poets we commissioned to contribute essays to this issue. The high standard and diversity of them is simply stunning: J.R. Carpenter explores avatar as displacement, home, (bird)song, and loss across the course of the pandemic in her essay “On the Wing”; David Harsent explores meaning in Michael Symmons Roberts’ poem “Animal of Light”; and Owen Vince investigates the diverse concepts of ‘avatar’ in “So You Want to Be Somebody Else?”. In the Inspired section, Nisha Ramayya creates a new, prismatic poem in response to a work by Meera, a 16th-century poet saint associated with the bhakti movement in South Asia, via a translation by Shama Futehally. Plus, we’re delighted to introduce readers to our Selected poet, Rushika Wick, who shares four new poems.
At a time of great upheaval, as we move through a global pandemic and many aspects of our selves and world(s) have changed, we feel the nature of ‘avatar’ could not be more meaningful. This issue will be published in Summer 2021 and – as we look both to the past and the future – we hope the work inside these pages will allow you to navigate the moment, and encourage you to explore and experiment with your own avatars: inviting you to open towards new flow and flux, new fluidity and forms, new transitions and transformations.