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The Magma Poetry Competition 2014/15 closes at midnight TONIGHT

This is your last chance to enter the Magma Poetry Competition 2014/15!

Magma’s Poetry Competition has two contests, one for short poems of up to 10 lines, and one for poems of 11 to 50 lines. Poems of 11 to 50 lines will be judged by Jo Shapcott for the Judge’s Prize. Poems of up to 10 lines will be entered for the Editors’ Prize and, reflecting Magma’s unique rotating editorship, will be judged by a panel of Magma editors.

First prizes £1,000
Second Prizes £300
Plus 10 Special Mentions £15 each

In addition to receiving attractive cash prizes, winners will be invited to read at Magma’s prize-giving event in Spring 2015. All winning entries will be published in the magazine.

Click here to find our more and to enter your poems. Good luck!


This Post Has One Comment

  1. This is a comment to Lauri Smith’s article in your issue 48 about beauty in poetry. I have written a series of Writing Journal Entries of which this was #91 to post on my website A Mirror Obscura and thought it might be of some interest. KB
    Laurie Smith asks: where are today’s beautiful poems?
    For this issue of Magma we asked people to send us poems on the theme ‘it was beautiful’ because we wondered if it was still possible to write poems about experiences, people, objects or places that the writer finds beautiful. We also wondered whether this would produce some beautiful poems. No-one can set out to write a beautiful poem, of course, but perhaps a poem on almost any topic may turn out to be beautiful.
    The response was enormous and it was clear that most poets had difficulty approaching the beautiful except by way of its opposite – the ugly; not a few seemed to have little idea what the beautiful in poetry, or beautiful poetry, might look like. I think this lack is ominous for the future of poetry, that unless poets can sometimes write poems that are widely regarded as beautiful, poetry will regrettably have no future worth having. This is most obviously true of lyric poetry but, without the possibility of beautiful lyric poems as the reason that most people initially enjoy and become interested in poetry, other genres – narrative, descriptive, satirical, dramatic – will also have no future.

    Sunday, January 25th, 2015—1:00 PM

    A friend sent me the above article from which I have copied the opening paragraphs. But it would be well worth your while if you have any interest in writing poetry to read the entire piece.

    My answer to Ms. Smith’s question is that beautiful poetry exists, is out there, is being written. Unfortunately those who make the decisions concerning to publish or not to publish in many, especially university based magazines, are part of an industrial mill called the MFA program which supports what is called “Contemporary Poetry.” I have, in a previous entry expounded on the fact that one seems to need an MFA degree to be published and that those programs are taught by former MFA graduates who were taught by other former MFA graduates and so on. That being said I will not rehash old things.

    I do not have an MFA. I earned a Masters of English at a well-known university in 1980. Back then there were no MFA programs for writing. If one wished among literature courses one could sign up for numerous ‘writing’ classes in many genres. One did not go to school to learn to be a poet. Poetry was something I learned from reading and writing and sharing with others. The idea that one can go to school with the intention of ‘learning’ to be a poet seems as silly to me as planting trees and flowers on the moon—it can be done but they won’t survive.

    I have two rules for judging poetry that I like; the first being is there something in it I would steal to use in a different way, the other is simply saying, “I wish I had written that.” Any poem that falls in those two categories is, regardless of subject or style, invariably what I would consider beautiful. By beautiful I mean well done, artistically conceived and brilliantly executed. In a nutshell that is how I approach my own writing most often. I begin by wanting to make something beautiful.

    I am not concerned with a certain style, or worried about my ‘voice’; those things will out over the long haul. Unfortunately students going to school to learn to be poets, want to be poets and think that the basis for being one and doing it is to acquire as soon as possible both a style and voice. Why? Because it is drummed into them, because they want to be among the favored few by their writing instructors and become so focused on either writing like those instructors or finding some gimmick that sets them apart for a time from the pack. Beauty is something I believe exists—it is the whole rational for art just as truth is its backbone. In order to do that, write beautiful poems a writer must be willing to tackle the larger issues of both truth and beauty even if they use the smallest devices to do it. It seems that writing about ‘big issues’ is somehow looked down upon as being sophomoric by the powers that be.

    I am not saying that there isn’t a lot of ‘bad’ poetry out there that attempts to talk about love, hate, despondency, etc. but there is also much good poetry being written that does hit the mark. Regardless, good or bad, at least the attempt was made in that direction. Recently I read a poem published by a prestigious magazine. The focus of the poem was a ‘hen house.’ I read the poem, it was lengthy, but with an open mind—curious to find out what about this hen house is so intriguing. By the time I came to the end of the poem to my dismay I realized it had nothing to do with anything outside of being a poem about a hen house. There was no twist to it, there was no deep underlying meaning to uncover, no truth to discover—it was all about a f**king hen house and felt as though I wasted my time waiting to find out why the ‘hen-house’ was so important. William Carlos Williams in “The Red Wheelbarrow,” a very short, short lined poem said more that was important and beautiful than all that.

    I am writing this now even though it is covering some of the ground I covered earlier about being expansive and this has become way too long. Leave it to say, to write a beautiful poem you must begin by wanting to write something beautiful. The rest depends on work and experience.

    More to follow…>KB

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