I’m pleased to be editing the 50th issue of Magma, with Mary Tymkow as assistant editor. We’re planning some special celebratory features, and thinking about the distance Magma has travelled has inspired our theme.
I invite you to submit poems on the subject of journeys. Every poem should in itself be a journey – as Robert Frost said: ‘A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.’ But the theme also suggests three areas of writing that I’m interested in.
Firstly, I’d love to see some exciting travel poetry – poems about encounters with otherness, or what it means to be a western traveller in today’s globalised world. I hope your journeys into other cultures might also produce translations or versions.
Secondly, I often write whilst walking, and know this has been a source of inspiration for many poets – Wordsworth, Baudelaire and the flaneurs, Frank O’Hara. Talking to other writers, modes of transport from train-carriages to aeroplanes are also cited as a stimulus – there’s something about moving through the world whilst being slightly detached from it that seems conducive to poetry. Think ‘The Whitsun Weddings’, ‘Adlestrop’ or, a poem I enjoyed recently, Heather Phillipson’s ‘The Distance Between England and America’, where she is seated next to a large man on a United Airlines flight.
Finally, I’ve realised that a lot of the classic poems I love include some kind of quest – The Odyssey, ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came’, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Yeats’ ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’. I’d love to see some narratives of epic journeys – from a search for the Grail to a contemporary road–trip.
And then, of course, at the risk of sounding a bit X-Factor or Tony Blair, there are the emotional journeys we go on…
I look forward to seeing where you will take me.
Clare Pollard, Editor, Magma 50
The deadline is 28 February 2011. Off-theme poems will also be considered. Please see the Contributions page for details of how to submit your poems.