We at Magma were thrilled last week when the Forward Poetry Prize shortlists were announced. One of the poems shortlisted for the Best Single Poem prize, is Julia Copus’ ‘An easy passage’ – first published in Magma 45. The fact that the prize is, for the first time, in memory of Michael Donaghy, a poet known and loved by many of us on the Magma team, makes it particularly special.
Having chosen to give Magma 45 the theme of ‘Telling Tales’, I knew Julia’s poem was remarkable as soon as I read it – a master-class in narrative poetry, it seems to compress an entire coming-of-age novel into a few dazzling lines. As a teenage girl in her bikini tries to break into her family house through a window, we pan out to see the whole world around her: her friend, her mother, suburban frustration, empty lives, ‘the long, grey eye of the street’, the bravery and resourcefulness needed to survive small-town adolescence. The poem’s devastating question is: ‘What can she know / of the way the world admits us less and less/ the more we grow?’
The shortlist for the Forward Poetry Prizes is available to download from the Forward website. We will be cheering for Julia on the night!