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[SUBMISSIONS NOW CLOSED] Call for Contributions – Magma 66 on the theme of ‘Comedy’


“Dying is easy, comedy is hard”, were allegedly the last words of the Shakespearean actor, Edmund Kean, and anyone who has tried to stand on a stage and make people laugh will know what he means. But what about on the page?

The late James Tate said “I love my funny poems, but I’d rather break your heart. And if I can do both in the same poem, that’s the best.”

So, here is your challenge. We want poems to make us belly laugh, poems to make us chuckle, witty poems, punny poems, absurd poems. We want poems that are deliciously dark, perverse, shocking, delicately funny, embarrassingly painful, silly and surreal. We want poems of all shapes and styles from a diverse range of poets. Does comedy have boundaries or differences based on culture, gender, class, or is it truly the great universal? Is slapstick possible in a poem? What about visual gags? Are some words inherently funnier than others?

But we don’t just want to limit you to being funny, like the best comedy routines, we want variety and range. We also invite poems about comedy and comedians, about what makes us laugh and why, about the thin line between comedy and tragedy, and we want poems that, as James Tate says, will make us laugh and also break our hearts.

Not much to ask, right?

Ella Frears and John Canfield

The submission period for M66 is now closed and the editors would like to thank everyone who submitted, and will be contacting people as quickly as they can. The theme and submission window for M67 will be announced shortly.


This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. 1.

    Guys in the Band: a Pastoral

    Strephon, barrel-chested from emphysema,

    shrugs it off – a crotchet of the piper’s trade;

    the dry Sicilian air became his lungs’ redeemer:

    Hyperborean, he would have had to park his reed.

    Damon points a snide finger at the mites and spores

    that Strephon snorts from the hay when on the tup.

    Aminta dumped him after Chloe expired out of doors

    and all those Fatty Arbuckle jokes started up.

    Strephon now goes with the new girl, whose bluenose Dad

    daren’t trust himself within earshot of the middle school:

    the man they brought in to re-vamp the vineyard

    may recast himself as a Lord of Misrule.

    Life, says Strephon, is a Pan flute, a choice of embouchures,

    stretching for a rimshot in Phylloxera’s tasty drawers.

    Poplar and Elm

    ‘As a child he dreamt of climbing / To the top of the tallest poplar / … / Hoping, because of his passion, / To get to the top at last’ (Maurice Carême)

    Skin, hair, teeth, nails (in close-up)

    govern elegance and pathos:

    a gent’s fabric needs a swank cut

    for his routine face-off

    with transience in the Marylebone

    style-cockpit, veterans’ class.

    Watch him shin up towards the crown

    of his day, as with gravitas

    he dares the High Street, skirts the Last Elm,

    Allenby entering Jerusalem.

  2. HERE’S TO THE BARD (Please read in a strong and insistent voice)

    Here’s to the Bard
    Who grabs you by the Third Eye in one hand
    And your tongue with the other
    And won’t let you go
    Until (he) is good and ready

    And then(he) will buzz-off
    Sometimes for a month
    Sometimes EVEN LONGER!
    Then (he) comes back
    This definitely male-voiced Larrikin
    Saying “I’m Here!”
    But more like “I’M HERE — GOTCHYA!!”

    Sometimes he’ll come with this nice gentle
    Even beautiful lyrical piece of being
    That you can take anywhere
    But of course never like a well-domesticated pet
    House-trained and docile

    Other times he comes out all esoteric
    Probing the deeps of your humanity
    Like a struck-off and past-caring dentist
    Having a go at a broken tooth without anesthetic!!

    There are even times
    When he deliberately taunts your
    Into another ring of Dante’s Hell
    Getting you to live in deep-days
    So what you end up writing is like
    Roughly-knotted life-line
    Back to the world of semi-sanity

    Ahh — GOOD
    That seem’s like it for now!!!

    Hmmm — NO IT DOESN’T!!!
    (he’s) still prowling away
    Like the possum who lives in our garage rolls-door
    And while you’re trying to sleep
    (he’s) clunks around over the roof
    Like as though(he’s) wearing iron-boots

    Hrrmm — at least (he) stays out the back
    And doesn’t crap in the front yard
    (“yeah?? —says who!??)

    john Cranmer

  3. But but but, how can I reply on Feb 2nd when I have only just read your email which came yesterday, for last date for submissions by Feb 1st???

    Can one submit late?


  4. Chris, Feb 1st was the opening date for submissions, not the closing date. You are welcome to submit!

  5. It says, “Please send us up to four poems by Submittable from 1st February 2016 (deadline TBC)”. OK, *from* 1st February. That means opening date! Then “Deadline TBC” i.e. ” deadline to be confirmed”. Hope that is clear. It’s clear to me.

  6. Roughly when might selection process be over and unused poems released for use elsewhere?

  7. Hi P. Leighton. We’re aiming to accept, reject and shortlist within four weeks of submission. We’ll then need to wait until after submissions close to select from the shortlist, which we’ll aim to do in a few weeks.

    Hi William. No, there’s no line limit.

  8. How exciting.

    Very quick question – where do you stand on submissions that have been posted on a personal blog in the past?

  9. Hi Carl

    We have a preference for poems that are previously unpublished, in any form, but do send it in and let us know which one it is in the covering letter.

  10. I’ve just submitted 4 poems via Submittable. It would only let me attach one file, so I’ve submitted the 4 as single .docx file. Is that OK?

  11. I’ve just recently begun writing poetry, and still new to all this. What is submittable? And also will I mantain legal ownership of my poem once I submit it?

  12. VERY appreciative of a magazine to send poems to with an edge of comedy to them. There are so ffew opportunities for this. Will chance my hand today. Thanks for the opportunity. C

  13. Hi Rod. That’s absolutely fine. We’ve got them all in the one document and look forward to reading them.

    Hi Elijah. Submittable is a platform that makes the submission process easier to manage for submitter and editor. There is an faq page at As with most magazines, copyright of each poem published will be retained by the author.

    Hi Caroline. Thanks, us too. I can confirm we’ve got your submission and look forward to reading it.

  14. Hello.

    For submissions by post, will you use the post mark of March 31,
    or must you receive them on and before this date?

    For submittable, I assume, one can submit up until 23:59pm on March 31.
    Is that true?

    Thank you
    P.S. I don’t plan to wait until the last minute

  15. Hi Fiona – Thanks. We’re turning them around as quick as we can, but we’ve had a lot! We’re aiming to reply within a month, but certainly no later than two.

    Hi ‘Ann’ – yes, we’ll use the postmark date of March 31st. Submittable sets the date that it comes through, so it will depend on their internal clock, so in theory yes, 23.59, but we’ll take a sensible view after that.

  16. Hi Magma
    I’ve just submitted four but two have appeared ‘elsewhere’ albeit on a very small scale. Does that void them and, if so, should I resubmit?
    Many thanks!

  17. Hello. I have sent you a poem by post for Magma 66. I hope you receive it by tomorrow.
    Thank you

  18. Hi Alexandra – we’d prefer the poems to be unpublished, but don’t worry, once we’ve been through the submissions we’ll contact you and can have a conversation about it if applicable.

    Liu – Thanks, we’ll go by the postmark anyway.

  19. I would love to submit but the deadline has passed….I hate to be asking this but: is today really too late?

  20. Hi Ruby. I’m afraid so. Submittable stops accepting submissions after 31st March. The submission period for Magma 67 will be announced soon though.

  21. Hello. I wonder roughly when all the submitters should hear from you regarding their submission. Thank you.

  22. Hi Liu – we’re still working our way through a bumper crop of submissions, hopefully not too much longer. Thanks for your patience.

    Hi Alice – likewise, we haven’t been through everything yet I’m afraid but hope to have a final selection in the next month. Thanks for waiting.


  23. Hi John,
    I haven’t heard anything on this issue submission. Are submissions still being processed? Thanks.

  24. Hi Lesley

    We had our editorial board meeting this week, so final responses will be going out to everyone in the next few days. Thanks for your patience.


  25. Hi John

    I haven’t heard anything on my submission and was wondering if you were still processing submissions for this issue?


  26. Hi John

    We’re sending out emails as we speak. Thanks for bearing with us.


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