The submissions window for ‘Loss’ is open from 1st March – 2nd May 2019.
We welcome poems that have not been previously published, either in print or online.
Up to 4 poems may be sent via Submittable, or by post if you live in the UK. Postal submissions are not acknowledged until a decision is made.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
– Elizabeth Bishop. ‘One Art.’
As Elizabeth Bishop writes, loss takes many forms – from losing a precious watch to the loss of an important romantic relationship. Events of all kinds can bring feelings of loss. Loss comes in a spectrum of experiences: the shattering death of a loved one, the loss of a country you’ve had to leave, the loss of a job you enjoyed – right down to the mundane annoyance of losing your phone.
Grief following bereavement is one of western society’s last taboos. Many people feel comfortable sharing intimate details of their lives on social media, but risk becoming isolated during grief. However, from the Torajan people to the Ancient Egyptians, different societies have had diverse attitudes to death and mourning. Malika Booker vividly evokes Caribbean funerals in her Forward Prize-shortlisted poem ‘Nine Nights’:
The Set Up
If you did see people that first night. People for so. Who come from town, from far
like St David, from near like St Mark to this little St John parish. It had the makings
of a good funeral. Pure bus park up by Gouyave roadside like ants. Them mourners
arrived, shuffling with the shock. The priest opened up that wake with plenty prayers.
Corn soup bubbled in the iron pot, red beans slowly converged with rice, thyme and
We’d like to see poems that give us a window into the ways that cultures beyond the west deal with loss. Send us your poems about mourning rituals, funeral songs and beliefs in the afterlife. Send us your poems about losing, leaving and being lost.
Objects such as family heirlooms and old clothes are redolent of their former owners. Check out Fiona Moore’s poem ‘The Shirt’ for an example. We’re interested in poems that channel grief by using the things of this world as focal points – a battered teddy, an heirloom watch, some forgotten old clothes at the back of a wardrobe.
Are there any losses that end up bringing gains? Can a loss be empowering? What about the loss of a binary gender label, the loss an awful job that freed you to find a better one, the loss of your virginity to someone you liked? Send us your poems about beneficial losses – imagined and real.
The poetry of loss can be political as well as personal. ‘Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?’ asks Derek Walcott in ‘The Sea is History,’ that stirring elegy for slaves. Could you create a memorial for something or someone that history has overlooked? Could recent political events inspire poems about loss – and could those poems be satirical, ironic, even humorous?
Gillian Clarke’s elegy ‘The Pontfadog Oak’ mourns a thousand-year-old tree that has witnessed all of Welsh history, while Juliana Spahr regrets that ‘I didn’t even say goodbye elephant ear, mountain madtorn’ – some endangered species in Well Then There Now. We’d like to invite you to create elegies for our age of environmental damage: an island vanishing under the waves, a disappearing glacier, a ghostly passenger pigeon.
Beloved pets are the subjects of some famous elegies, from Lord Byron’s tribute to his dog Boatswain to heart-rending epitaphs written by Romans for their deceased pets. Send us elegies for animals that will move and surprise us.
Bereavement counsellors sometimes encourage people to make a ‘memory box’ – a treasure trove of keepsakes to help someone remember a loved one. How could you use a poem as a memory box?
All kinds of things can bring us comfort after the upheavals of loss: a pep talk from a colleague after losing a sales deal; reconnecting with old friends after heartache. Tell us uplifting stories of survival after loss – imagined and real.
Are there any innovative poetic forms that the elegy could take? Elegiac couplets are an obvious classic, but we’d like to invite you to push the boundaries. Send us your shape-poems and concrete poems. We prefer any forms that can be included in Word documents and JPEGs, but also accept PDFs.
Send us your poems about loss, in all its many forms – you’ve got nothing to lose!
Yvonne Reddick and Adam Lowe – editors, Magma 75.
Wanting to submit to Magma 75? You may submit:
Up to 4 previously unpublished poems in a single Word document.
We are now accepting simultaneous submissions – but please withdraw your submission or contact us if it is accepted for publication somewhere else first.
Go to Submittable for more details.