1. Magma 67 Launch

    Written by Rob Mackenzie — March 20, 2017 16:26

    magma 67 coverThe launch of Magma 67 will be on Friday 24 March, 7pm, in the LRB Bookshop, 14-16 Bury Pl, Bloomsbury, London WC1A 2JL. Guest reader is Richard Price, and the list of confirmed readers includes M67 ‘Selected’ poet Holly Corfield Carr, Alison Brackenbury, Martyn Crucefix, Claire Crowther, Isobel Dixon, David Briggs and more… Entry is free, but you must register at Eventbrite to guarantee entry.

    Bones & Breath: Magma 67’s theme, culled from a poem and collection title of the late Scottish poet Alexander Hutchison, is a description of who we all are: solid and ungraspable as water, robust and fragile as an iceberg. Bones and breath are mechanisms of death and life.

    It was a pleasure to read submissions for this issue and to choose which poems to publish. No easy task! When it came to putting them in order, some poems which seemed initially to fall under ‘Bones’ came to feel more like ‘Breath’ and vice versa. Ilya Kaminsky’s shattering and humane poems on war and conflict blend immediately into Sharon Black’s girl who wants to be a snail. The terrified characters in Katherine Stansfield’s ‘Fear of Flying Course’ open their eyes just before Sarah Lindsay ruminates on “the price of eternal vigilance”. Throughout Magma 67, very different poems open dialogues and make connections that no other art form could make.

    Anyone who asserts poetry’s irrelevance should read Cate Marvin’s astonishing poem and interview for our regular Inspired feature, the six short articles on poetry in times of constitutional crisis, and Richard Price’s reflection, which becomes what it explores: “a straight-up affirmation of a sensibility which continually renews itself, lays itself open, with exhilaration, with vulnerability, to the crammed teeming world”. Magma 67 is a “teeming world” where readers, we hope, will find inspiration, provocation and joy.

    Rob A. Mackenzie and A.B. Jackson
    (editors, Magma 67)

    To register for the launch of Magma 67, please sign up here at our Eventbrite page.

  2. Video and sound test post

    Written by Wes Brown at March 13, 2017 16:44

    Test post of Magma video.

    Jon Stone reading at a Magma lauch:

  3. Blog Review 47: Laurie Smith reviews ‘Falling Awake’ by Alice Oswald

    Written by Laurie Smith at November 4, 2016 14:09

    After Memorial, her rendering of military deaths in Homer’s Iliad, Alice Oswald’s seventh collection returns mostly to poems about the natural world.  Traditionally poems have described nature either as evidence of God’s handiwork or as a comfort or inspiration for mankind.  This tradition was refashioned by Hughes who celebrated the mindless forces of nature and is further re-presented by Oswald in what I will call neo-animist terms – nature can be seen and responded to as living in a non-scientific and also non-religious sense.  This is established in the book’s first poem, A Short Story of Falling, which describes rain’s effect on leaves and flowers, continuing: if only I a passerby could pass as clear as water through a plume of grass to find the sunlight hidden at the tip turning to seed a kind of lifting rain drip then I might know like water how to balance the weight of hope against the light of patience… This isn’t pathetic fallacy in the traditional sense – that inanimate substances can share or express human feelings – but rather that nature, if looked at aright, can reflect our deepest desires and fears.  Oswald sometimes addresses us like a prophetess or sybil: May I shuffle forward and tell you the two-minute life of rain starting right now lips open and lidless-cold all-seeing gaze… (Vertigo) or as a storyteller enacting her subject matter:             I’m going to flicker for a moment and tell you the tale of a shadow that falls at dusk… (Shadow) or to set up a mystery:             This is what happened the dead were settling in under their mud roof and something was shuffling overhead             it was a badger treading on the thin partition… (Body) In every case the poem develops into a meditation on the life of nature and sometimes on death (a rotting swan, a dead badger, dying flies) with an intensity of focus and originality of language like no other poet writing today or ever.  For example, to read “I have been leaning here a long time hunched / under the bone lintel of my stare / with the whole sky / dropped and rippling through my eye” (Looking Down) is to see seeing in a new way.

    Some poems may be new departures: Fox suggests a feminist response to Hughes’s The Thought-Fox – vixen speaking to another mother rather than dog-fox inspiring self-absorbed male poet; the 15-line Slowed-Down Blackbird strikes me as a wry response to Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird; and Aside, a lovely description of the four-year-old Oswald hiding in a laurel bush and becoming absorbed by its spirit, has a distant echo of Edward Thomas’s Old Man.

  4. Cain, Luke Kennard’s sixth collection, could be described as the poetry collection equivalent of a concept album, and as such it risks disappearing down the rabbit hole of its own conceptualised universe. Does it emerge? Yes and no.

    In the interests of brevity, here’s (most of) the blurb which does an excellent job of summarising the Big Idea:

  5. Call for Submissions: Magma 67 on the theme of ‘Bones & Breath’.

    Written by Rob Mackenzie at June 1, 2016 8:11

    Bones & Breath is the name of a book by the Scottish poet Alexander (‘Sandy’) Hutchison, published by Salt. It won the Saltire Award for Best Scottish Poetry Collection, 2014. Sandy died in November 2015. The title poem has the poet as a bird “barely out/ of the nest”: Heart brims and spills.

    Words try eyes and wings; try air.

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