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Magma & Its Mix at Poetry in Aldeburgh 2017

It was lovely to meet poets at the Magma & Its Mix event at the Poetry in Aldeburgh 2017 festival and discuss ideas for future Magma themes and which issues readers especially enjoyed. Bold themes and political topics were high on the list, but the theme that received the popular vote was, wait for it…‘Kittens and Daffodils’. Something, we suspect, to do with the transgressive appeal of defying those lists of ‘banned’ words in poetry.

Poets looked through back issues of Magma, which was founded over two decades ago, and discovered poems by not-so-familiar names alongside prize-winning poets. With this spirit of ‘The Mix’ in mind, the competition was to write a near enough on-the-spot Inspired poem (a regular feature in Magma) by selecting a poem published in a back issue and writing a response. Poets began writing in the workshop and then had 24 hours to deliver their finished submission. Some poets felt that was not long enough, but we were delighted by the creative power of pressure, and we hope you enjoy the winning entries.

First prize goes to Selina Rodrigues for ‘The Quiet House’ in response to Cate Marvin’s Inspired poem, which responded to Charlotte Mew’s poem of the same name in Magma 67, Bones and Breath edited by Rob A. Mackenzie and A.B. Jackson. (Are you following?) The Aldeburgh setting, the haunting quality of the elements against flimsy human barriers, and the undercurrent of repressed violence is remarkably expressed. Selina wins a year’s subscription to Magma.

Second prize is awarded to Lynne Nesbit for ‘Pic-Nic’, which skilfully takes up the baton of Jacqueline Saphra’s ‘Lipsicated’ in Magma 58, The Music of Words edited by Laurie Smith with Richard Morris. The brio, sense of fun and the chewy neologisms made it a winning entry. Lynne wins a copy of our latest issue, Magma 69, The Deaf Issue, co-edited by Lisa Kelly and Raymond Antrobus

Third prize goes to Lisa Reily for ‘Wreckage’, a spare, imagistic poem that makes wonderful use of the white space to achieve its effects of frozen communication. It was written in response to ‘Voicemail’ by Stephen Claughton in Magma 63, The Conversation Issue, edited by Susannah Hart and Lisa Kelly. Lisa wins a back issue of Magma of her choice.

Many thanks to everyone who attended the Magma & Its Mix event. We look forward to seeing you next year in Poetry in Aldeburgh 2018 for which we already have big plans!

The Quiet House

By Selina Rodrigues

In Aldeburgh, during storms, people opened their front and back doors to let the force of waves run through and beyond their houses.

Quiet, but for the slap
of fish against the tiles, a knife
unstitching skin and scales.
A shut-door house,
where you never speak.
But yesterday you were reeds

as your love sang – calla
hoolay-shah – as you played.
And you played her opening
and falling notes. Now her glee
echoes in your ear in this quiet home

under your parent’s grey
eyes. Today the North Sea opens
its doors. But for winter’s faceless
breath, you would go to her, kissing
and knotting in reeds,
her thrill-shouts
pealing in the shell of you.

Open the doors of quiet home. Let force
undo you. Bottles rise like ships,
knives glint free
as fins. Are you split
or salt-wounded,
hurt but rising, rising?

Magma 67, Bones and Breath. After Cate Marvin’s ‘My Father’s Liquor Cabinet’; a response to Charlotte Mew’s poem, ‘The Quiet House’. Mew was a poet of the late 19th and early 20th century, who supported close family members through mental illness and is also thought by biographers and commentators to have had lesbian tendencies. Marvin’s latest collection is Oracle (Norton, 2015).


By Lynne Nesbit

Down on the beach,
a sea gasped,
ossifying pebbles
as it strolled from rift to life.

I crabbed it with both feet
and my shoes munchled Brighton Rock
stratified from a height
with pink and white.

A laconic gull webbed my wafts,
sensing sandwich-smorgled herring.
So, I bargained, gained ground
and we reached a scrawk of sorts
which echoed round the whilvers
as they lapped.

Magma 58, The Music of Words. After Jacqueline Saphra’s poem,’Lipsicated’. Saphra is a former Magma board member, co-editor of Magma 51, Magma 46 and Magma 42. Her collection All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches Press) has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Poetry Prize 2017.


By Lisa Reily

Silver flutter.
Green ice. Silence.
Remember, you said.
Silence. Cold
leaves and sky.
A bird, pebbles, trees
and water. You.

Clack of stone,
silent messages,
the empty beach disappears
into fog. Space, nothing
but space, air, wind; I trace
the sky, sand;
find silent pause.

Fragments, moments
behind glass, grey wind and rain,
I listen, stopped listening
years ago, strain
to find you,
hear your voice,

Magma 63, Conversation. After Stephen Claughton’s poem ‘Voicemail’. Claughton is a widely published poet. He has twice been nominated for the Forward Best Single Poem Prize.

















Lisa Kelly and Susannah Hart running the Magma & Its Mix workshop





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