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The Magma Open Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2020


The Magma Open Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2020 — Shortlist Announced



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The Magma Open Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2020 is open for submissions! Find out how to enter here.




Scroll down to read about our previous competition and winning pamphlet:


We are delighted to announce the publication of the winning pamphlet in our inaugural Open Pamphlet Competition, set up in celebration of Magma’s 25th Anniversary Year.

The author of this stunning work is Alice Willitts, and our editor Cheryl Moskowitz writes:

“The poems in Dear, can neither be classified as grief poems nor eulogy, yet they manage the intensity and ecstasy of both. These are poems of embodiment, evoking the presence of something which is disintegrating or already gone; they do not seek to mend what is broken but rather to see it absolutely in its beautiful broken state. As the title suggests, much of the writing is framed as a direct address to absence, centrally from a daughter to a mother with dementia – intimate but distant.

In this pamphlet Alice Willitts masters the language of transience. She is concerned with the real and the ethereal, the here and the not here. Here are poems about effects of forgetting in the natural world, climate change, extinction, disappearing, dissolution and the urgent need for regeneration.

Willitts calls herself a ‘plantswoman’. In Dear, she has sown the seeds of something truly special.”

Pamphlet – “Dear,” by Alice Willitts
Special instructions e.g. gift









Magma Open Pamphlet Competition 2018 —  Results

The results of the Magma Open Pamphlet Competition can now be revealed. Since the end of September right up until last week, we have been sifting, evaluating and re-evaluating our choices. When we decided to run a pamphlet competition to celebrate 25 years of Magma, we were excited as well as a little apprehensive. What would the standard be? How would a board of poets with diverse tastes come together to decide on a winner and 10 other pamphlets out of the hundreds sent to us? Would we all fall out in the process? The answers to these questions are: high; with surprising ease; and not yet!

Of course, there were differing views along the way, but even when poems in a pamphlet might not be to every board member’s taste, it is impossible to ignore well-crafted and strong poetry. In the sifting process, pamphlets that stood a chance of being appreciated by other board members went through to the next round. When it came to selecting the winner and top ten, even closer reading was necessary before we narrowed the list down to possible contenders for the top spots.  Looking through the comments from the judges over the past months, it is interesting how views and responses altered. This was not always the case – some firm favourites remained firm favourites, but other pamphlets appeared to blossom on re-reading, and find further favour and wider support.

We wish we could publish them all, but at the same time, we are confident that many of the poets who submitted will find a home that is right for their pamphlet, or indeed extend it to a full collection.

Several of the entries that didn’t make it to the final selection had many poems to admire, and if your pamphlet is one of those that didn’t get through, it is worth looking at it again with fresh eyes to see how it could be potentially reworked to make it stronger.

Some pointers that might help are to check that the title captures the imagination and the ear; that your pamphlet opens with a strong poem; that there is some sense of overall coherence or tone – this doesn’t mean that all the poems have to be on the same theme, but a guiding principle reveals a poet in control of their work. How do the poems look on the page? Are there a few ‘fillers’ in the middle that could be removed and be replaced by stronger work? Do any poems outstay their welcome? What journey has your reader gone on by the end?

Our winning pamphlet, Dear, by Alice Willitts, which will be published next spring, received unanimous support from the Magma judges. Every one of us liked it for its imagination, the way it takes interesting risks and the effective use of form to express dementia and loss.

We are looking forward to publication and to celebrating with Alice in the spring as her pamphlet becomes part of Magma’s 25th anniversary celebrations and we continue to promote the best in contemporary poetry.

Many thanks to all our winners and to every poet who submitted a pamphlet.

We wish you a very merry festive season and a wonderful 2019.

Lisa Kelly


Magma Open Pamphlet Competition Results


Winning pamphlet

1. Dear, by Alice Willitts

Shortlisted pamphlets

2. /si:d/ by Ben Egerton

3. Satyress by Audrey Molloy

4. I invented a metaphysics by Alison Winch

Commended pamphlets (in alphabetical order)

A Lone Poem by Jeri Onitskansky

Boi by Nicola Bray

Crabapple by Cherry Doyle

Farm Boy and the Avenue of Saints  by Pat Winslow

Kisu by Soul Patel

Paper Dolls by Katherine Lockton

Re:Creation by Claire Cox










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