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[SUBMISSIONS NOW CLOSED] Call for contributions – Magma 63 on the theme of ‘Conversation’

‘What is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

At Magma, we’ve been talking. As you know we’re having a National Conversation (about poetry) and we want you to share your poems on the theme of ‘Conversation’ with us to be published in Magma 63.

Everybody talks, but what makes a good conversation?  Is it an art?  Many conversations start with a question or questioning and good conversationalists are often good listeners.  Are your conversations controversial? Some of us only know what we’re thinking as we’re talking.  Others engage in authoritative discourse or have conversational tics, themes or party pieces. Sneakily, we all enjoy a good eavesdrop – what have you overheard lately?  Ideas and conversations are inextricably linked. Some conversations can get you killed.

We’d like you to explore all kinds of conversations in your poems.  Conversations can be trivial and gossipy or difficult and unsettling.  Is there a dreaded ‘conversation’ you need to have or one form your past you wish you couldn’t remember?   Sometimes people just can’t get through a conversation as in Home Burial by Robert Frost. We can have conversations with imagined readers or with ourselves as in Conversation by Elizabeth Bishop or Coleridge’s Conversation cycle. And many, many poets have had conversations with the divine.  Think too how Philip Gross explores his father’s aphasia in his collection, ‘Later.’  Or how Sharon Olds tackles a conversation she wants to have, but her ‘almost-no-longer husband’ doesn’t want in Unspeakable (‘Stag’s Leap’). We’re interested in all of these and more.

We’d like to see poems that express themselves through diverse forms – not just dialogue poems.   And we’re especially interested in how style and theme converse within the conversational space of the white page.

So now it’s over to you; let your poems do the talking.  Send us up to six poems on the theme of ‘Conversation’. If you want to stay schtum – poems off theme are also welcome.

Susannah Hart and Lisa Kelly, Editors, Magma 63

The deadline is 30 May 2015. Please see the Contributions page for details of how to submit your poems.


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Hi I have one poem on the theme of conversations but submitted it to your poetry competition as a poem in the Ediitor’s selection. I don’t know if you got it, as I was confused (as it was 23.45pm on the final day) by your submission format.
    That poem was called Morning Coffee (but actually: ‘Connoisseur’s Selection’ would be more appropriate-as its a jokey conversation using jargon from a coffee menu.
    I can send it again if you like
    Misha Carder Bath 01225 313531

  2. This is off task but I wanted to send it anyway. >KB

    January 30th, 2015

    Expansive Magazine

    Dear Poetry Editor,

    I am submitting to you a poem entitled, “Musée des Beaux Arts,” for your consideration to be published in a future issue of Expansive Magazine. This poem has not been submitted to any other magazines for such consideration.

    I thank you sincerely for taking the time to read it and look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.

    Especially yours,

    Wysten Hugh Auden

    September 15, 2015

    Dear Mr. Auden,

    Thank you for considering submitting your work to Expansive Magazine where we are committed to publishing only the best of works by up and coming writers.

    First let me apologize for the seemingly long time it has taken to respond to your letter and the poem you submitted. As you may know we receive thousands of submissions during the course of the year and though we have a very responsible staff of MFA candidates who are our first line of readers, even they have trouble keeping up with the amount of mail we receive. That being said, for one reason or another, your poem, “Musée des Beaux Arts,” unfortunately was overlooked in the shuffle and because of this I wanted to write you a personal letter concerning it.

    I am sorry to say that the piece does not at this time fit any of our publishing needs. However, as it took so long to make the determination and reply to you I also wanted to take the time from my busy schedule to give you a critique of your poem so you might better understand the kinds of things many editors are looking for these days in writing for publication.

    First let me begin with the title. Though I understand you are no doubt well educated and probably even speak French yourself, however, today’s readers I think would find this effete and even a bit elitist on your part. To my sensibility it is not the kind of title that necessarily would grab today’s readers of poetry as something they may wish to read further on. In short there are few people who might understand the reference to the institution you cite as well as overall it does not seem to be a title that really invokes what a reader may expect from what follows in the body of the poem.

    Second, your first stanza is constructed of one long complex sentence. Although such a style did well by Faulkner, in today’s poetry readers are looking for a more simplified syntax structure. That being said allow me to talk about the substance line by line:

    “About suffering they were never wrong,
    The Old Masters: how they understood
    Its human position; how it takes place
    While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully

    Your opening strikes me as weak in its intent. At the very beginning I think you confuse the reader by almost jumping into the middle of a thought, likewise what follows strikes me as a use of metaphor that creates a vagueness in whatever point you are attempting to make right off. While metaphor does have it place in today’s poetry similes give the reader a better comprehension of what a poet is talking about. In essence it is more accessible for them to understand a one to one correspondence than having to continually refer back to what has come before. Another issue is that I feel the thrust of your point is a bit overreaching for today’s audiences. You mention ‘suffering’ but in a general sense that is difficult for a reader to connect with on a personal lever. Readers want to know how the poet sees things in his or her life, specifics, those things they can relate to. You
    Attempt to go after a bigger picture that quite frankly comes off uninteresting and would not grab the reader’s attention and curiosity to want to know more. I continue:

    …”How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
    For the miraculous birth, there always must be
    Children would did not especially wish it to happen, skating
    On the pond at the edge of the wood:
    They never forgot
    That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
    Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
    Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torture’s horse
    Scratches it innocent behind on a tree.”

    This continuation of the sentence seems jumbled up with more vague references and what seem like even vaguer allusions to information that is outside the poem’s prevue such as, ”the miraculous birth,” which then ambles off into the feelings of children followed by an even vaguer reference to, “the dreadful martyrdom,’ followed by what seems descriptions of banal images of horses and dogs. To be honest if I wasn’t already lost about what this poem was talking about after this I was completely in the dark. In short, and I don’t mean to sound unkind but it made no sense. There was lacking in it a sense of the now, an importance to things happening that can be more clearly understood. Even if I was drawn into the poem by your tag ‘suffering” in the beginning I am at a loss to understand the connections you are making. I think you might serve yourself better by being more direct and quicker to get to the point of what you wish to give the reader.

    Now we come to the last stanza:

    “In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
    Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
    Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
    But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
    As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
    Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
    Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
    Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”

    Once again you utilize a long complex sentence that a reader can easily find themselves at odds with what exactly are the important issues happening. Furthermore, your switching of gears into Ekphrasis is disjointing not to mention referring to a piece of art work that seems to have little bearing on what is happening in the world today. In this I feel you are asking too much of your reader by implying they are familiar with this particular artwork.
    This is compounded by the confusion I myself felt in trying to determine what exactly this, what can only be described as an attempt at an extended metaphor which in today’s poetry is somewhat passé’, had to do at all with the preceding stanza. It simply does not tie things together in a way that could be simply seen for what it is trying to do, if anything justifiable. The introduction of these disparate images of a ploughman and some ship not to mention, “a boy falling out of the sky,’ seems an incredible stretch you are expecting the reader to make to follow you if in fact they still are.

    Finally, your last image of some ship having to go someplace seems out of synch and superfluous and for the life of me I cannot understand what your point exactly is.

    I hope this has not been painful to read but I wanted to be as honest with you as I could be and in no way is a slight on your abilities I am sure. Failure is how we learn to become successful at what we endeavor to do. I can only hope that this had been somewhat helpful to you.

    I wish you luck in your writing career and please feel free to send us more of your work when you are a bit farther along in your craft. One last thing, Mr. Auden, you may wish to consider not capitalizing the beginning of each line as it is confusing to readers and really serves no purpose. Also, you might do well to consider enrolling in an MFA program at a college or university where you can possibly find excellent resources to hone your craft

    Thank you, good luck,

    Sincerely yours,
    The Poetry Editor at Expansive Magazine.

  3. Dear editor,
    I am impress by the patience of The poetry Editor at expansive magazine. The emerging poets may learn a lot from the exhaustive comments.

    With regards

  4. re K A Brauchler’s satire; very enjoyable and all too plausible!
    Thank you – cheered me up and will make me re-think the advice I give to my -yes – creative writing students!
    Caroline Natzler

  5. Spot on Auden reception satire by K.A.Brauchler. What depresses me so much about the current poetry scene is its complete lack of ambition. No one makes any big statements anymore. Are rhetoric, musicality and ideas distrusted do much?

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