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Call for submissions — Magma 80, Avatars

Closing date: 30th November, 2020

The submissions window for ‘Avatars’ is open from 1st October to 30th November 2020.

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.

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“Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?”
——————–——————–The Waste Land by T S Eliot

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Richard Skinner writes: The theme for Issue 80 of Magma is ‘Avatars’. This theme has a clear meaning in the gaming industry, an idea used so brilliantly by the poet Owen Vince in his pamphlet “The Adrift of Samus Aran”, an account of ‘the myriad and mired livings of Nintendo’s greatest heroine.’ But, aside from this usage in gaming, and its religious meaning, we wish contributors to extend the idea of ‘avatars’ more widely, to allow scope for imagination and interpretation. It could be Eliot’s guardian angel (or angel of death?). It could stretch to encompass the voice and perspective of a real life, as the poet Anthony Costello did so memorably with Vincent van Gogh in his pamphlet, “I Freeze, Turn to Stone”. It could extend to include body doubles, doppelgängers or decoys; the person you used to be, or the person you always wanted to be; hungry ghosts, role models or alter egos—any ‘invisible other’, or spirit guide, that accompanies us throughout our lives.

Golnoosh Nour writes: As a term, ‘avatar’ covers a diverse range of meanings and connotations. In Hinduism, for instance, it is the bodily manifestation of a deity on earth. This definition is rather different from the one in the Cambridge Dictionary – that of an image that represents a person in online games, and chat rooms. According to Merriam Webster, an avatar is ‘an incarnation in human form’. Whilst at first glance these definitions might seem confusingly different from one another, there is a commonality – an ‘avatar’ is a visible concept, and it is this visibility that is its principal function. An avatar is something we see of something we cannot physically touch, whether it be a deity or a digital self. One of my favourite artworks is a song called “Avatar” by the experimental rock band Swans – Swans – Avatar. To me, this song, which is about nine minutes long, embodies most of the variations and nuances of the word ‘avatar’. I am interested in poetry that makes me see something, that represents something vividly and powerfully – even if the representation isn’t completely truthful or conventionally moralistic. I’m interested in how avatars force us to see things their creators want us to see. I’m intrigued by poems that not only offer great imagery, but also make me contemplate. I would like to read poems that make me return to them, again and again, seeing something new in them each time. In the words of André Breton, always for the first time.

Petra Kamula writes: An ‘avatar’ implies a transmutation, a (re)creation, a reassembling, a sense of ‘passing through’ or ‘crossing over’ to make tangible a thought, idea or identity. Claude Cahun, whose photographic self-portraits so often study her own image within a myriad of avatars and alternates writes: ‘Under this mask, another mask. I will never be finished removing all these faces.’ This manifesto for ever-renewing examination – for Cahun through a lens, but for writers through their mediums of space and line – asks us to re-examine and explore our ever-fluid constructions of where the world meets self, and performance of self. We are interested in receiving poems that engage with this sense of identity and transmutation, but also poems that embrace hybridity either in form or subject, that enact the concept or emotion of ‘avatar’.

We look forward to reading your poems!

Petra Kamula, Golnoosh Nour & Richard Skinner, Editors, Magma 80

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Wanting to submit to Magma 80? 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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