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[SUBMISSIONS NOW CLOSED] Call for submission, Magma 84, Physics

Closing date: 31st March, 2022

The submissions window for ‘Physics’ is open from 1st March – 31st March 2022.

Magma 84 on the theme of physics is edited by Susannah Hart and Stav Poleg.

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.


For Magma 84, we welcome poems that engage with the world of physics, from the discoveries of Aristotle, Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler via Newton and towards the two great pillars of the 20th century: Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, and quantum physics. We would like to see how poetry and physics make connections through subject matter as well as forms.

In his essay, “Dante, Einstein and the Three-Sphere,” the physicist Carlo Rovelli comments on poetry and science:

…..“…great science and great poetry are both visionary, and may even arrive at the same intuitions. Our culture is foolish to keep science and poetry separated: they are two tools to open our eyes to the complexity and beauty of the world.”

From Carlo Rovelli, “Dante, Einstein and the Three-Sphere,” There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness.

What do we, writers, make of time following Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity? How do we engage with the fact that time is not absolute or linear and that it is fundamentally interlinked with gravity? Send us poems about your understanding of the concept as well as the physicality of time. What do we make of the fact that even though we know that the concepts of present, past and future do not correspond to the physical reality we live in, we nevertheless keep using and referring to them?

Brenda Shaughnessy begins her poem Gift Planet with the admission of not understanding time:

…..My six-year-old said “I don’t know time.” She already knows it’s
…..unknowable. Let it be always a stranger she walks wide around.

Perhaps we can tackle the concept of time with the help of the speed of light. In another poem, I have a time machine, Shaughnessy depicts the past as a series of visual images watched from space, taking place in the present and past simultaneously:

…..There’s a window, though. It shows the past.
…..It’s like a television or fish tank

…..but it’s never live, it’s always over. The fish swim
… backward circles.

Send us poems that experiment with the physicality of light: is it a wave or a particle? How does it transform into electricity? Tell us about photons, how they travel at the speed of light and the way colour is created, around us, and more specifically and uniquely, in your poems.

We would like to read your takes on quantum physics, on everything to do with matter and energy. Could poets be uniquely suited to tackle quantum physics via the process of poetry writing? After all, if quantum physics is about process— the interactions between matter and things, rather than the matter and things themselves – what does this mean for poetry and the way metaphors are created? Does the reading of a poem bring the poem into existence? What is the poem when it is just printed words in a closed book?

Michael Donaghy’s poem Machines encourages us to think about the mechanics of art and how playing the music or riding the bike brings the machine alive:

…..The machinery of grace is always simple.
…..This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
…..To another of concentric gears,
…..Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
…..Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
…..And in the playing, Purcell’s chords are played away.

A poem is itself a machine, constructed to fit together and work in a particular way. See how in Introduction to The Wedge William Carlos Williams talks about the poem as a machine:

…..As in all machines its movement is intrinsic, undulant, a physical more than a literary character. In a poem this movement is distinguished in each case by the character of the speech from which it arises.”

Send us your finely crafted machines.

Eavan Boland in her poem The Fire Gilder thinks about the physical reaction of elements and compares this to the process of writing, of separating memory from knowledge:

…..She loved silver, she loved gold,
… mother. She spoke about the influence
…..of metals, the congruence of atoms,
…..the art classes where she learned
…..these things

What interactions occur in writing poetry? Could poetry engage with quantum physics by the way metaphors are created? And what about probability? Could you create a poem that explores probability by way of constraints and surprises, or by experimenting with new and existing poetry forms?

Or perhaps you’re interested in the history of physics and the great discoveries physicists have made. We’d love to read poems not only about physics but about physicists too, the stories of their work and their lives, real or imagined.

Lastly, if you’re a poet working or collaborating with physicists, we are particularly keen to hear from you and read your work.

We look forward to reading your poems!

Susannah Hart and Stav Poleg, Editors, Magma 84, Physics


Wanting to submit to Magma 84? 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.


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