Obsidian, said to have been initially discovered in Ethiopia, is an igneous rock formed from rapidly cooling lava emerging from volcanoes. “Typically jet-black in colour, the presence of hematite produces red and brown varieties, and the inclusion of tiny gas bubbles may create a golden sheen.” (Britannica) We know that obsidian has been found near volcanic rocks throughout the world, from Mount Hekla in Iceland to the northern coast of Santa Cruz, Argentina.

All of this—a global heritage fused into the very foundations of our world—Obsidian Foundation carries in its name. Nick Makoha, founder of Obsidian, said at its launch: “Our mission is to create a safe space for Black poets in the UK and beyond to write with complete freedom but without the burden of identity.” Building on the achievements of writing movements and collectives that have made space for those from marginalised communities, the Obsidian Foundation’s purpose is simple: to unite Black poets in all their variance.

Magma Poetry is proud to have worked with the Foundation to bring you Magma 82, Obsidian. This issue is different from previous issues of Magma in that, beyond the showcasing of Black poets from around the world, there is no single theme that unifies the writing that is presented to you. In creating a space dedicated to Black poetry, one that neither others nor censors it, we felt it important that writers had a freedom to express themselves that they were too rarely afforded. Rather than try to fit these writers into a box that would always be too small, too awkward, we wanted them to form the obsidian that, together, they are a part of.

But even as we sought variance, the links between writers were clear to see. Lex Amor asks: “What have we done to try and unify ourselves without even knowing?” Across languages, cultures and continents these poets are held together by what Danusha Laméris calls “the realm of the holy” and ESKA calls “the transcendental, the spiritual.” Elsewhere in the issue, Robert Anthony Gibbons equates prayer to the presence of one’s mother, whereas for Asmaa Jama prayer is a “field of somali boys”. There is communion taking place in these pages and it is just as likely to be found in a field or a market as in a place of worship. We are thrilled to again be publishing Courtney Conrad, this time as our Selected Poet. In the patois present in her work we find a masterful application of one of the many languages of the African diaspora, a broad umbrella for the writers in M82.

Unsurprisingly, the many faces of the natural world populate this issue. “Poems are a way that I try to burrow down,” Laméris says, “into the grass, into the dirt, and back to a primal sense of being.” Blackbirds and blackberry trees, trouts and trampled butterflies show us life beyond ourselves. Whilst Celia A. Sorhaindo and Dorsía Smith Silva, in making vividly clear the destructive face of nature, remind us of the precarity of all forms of life. Roger Robinson paints a hopeful image of city kids seeing the sea for the first time: hijabs dripping and Nikes squelching, revelling in a landscape that belongs to them as much as it does to anyone else.

For the first time, both the front and back covers of Magma have artwork. Holding together this issue are two works by Caleb Femi which I will allow to speak for themselves and hopefully for the ambitions of what we have put together. The writers, here, have shown themselves to you. Hold their words, treasure them like you would a precious stone.