Poems are considered for one issue only. We write to contributors as soon as a decision is made. As Magma receives a very large number of poems, we cannot consider more than four poems per poet per issue which must be sent in a single document.

Poems published in the magazine may also be published on this website and as a PDF version for Exact Editions. Poems remain the copyright of their author. Contributors receive a copy of the issue in which they appear and and can purchase further copies at a discount. They may also be invited to read at the issue’s launch reading.

The submissions window for ‘Work’ is open from 8th October – 8th December 2018.

We welcome poems that have not been previously published, either in print or online. Poems may be sent via Submittable, or by post if you live in the UK. Postal submissions are not acknowledged until a decision is made.


You know what work is — if you’re 

old enough to read this you know what 

work is, although you may not do it. 

Forget you. This is about waiting, 

shifting from one foot to another.

          — from ‘You Know What Work Is’ by Philip Levine


As Philip Levine says, we know what work is. But of course, work is many different things. It serves different functions for different people – apart from the need to eat and provide shelter. Work can, for some, become an expression of who we are or what we aspire to be. Or it can be humdrum, dull and boring. We want to see poems about all kinds of work, poems that transfigure the humdrum or normalise the extraordinary, poems that take us to your desk or your farm or your grandmother’s sewing machine. 

Work can happen in offices, factories, hospitals, on the stage and in schools. There are many well-known poems about teaching and medicine, but perhaps not quite so many about factory work and office work. People work in the sky, on the sea, underground and in the forests and fields. Some cannot work — they are unemployed, redundant or retired. Some are disabled or have children and unable to afford childcare costs. We want to hear all your experiences, real or imagined. 

You are

the lone no

on the shop-floor –

the habitual reader

of all the wrong news,

the public library ghost,

the vote cast for some

Old School

that’s long since closed.

          — from ‘The Shop-floor Gospel’ by Jane Commane

We can withdraw our labour. Join a picket line. There’s the experience of the middle manager, those who are managed and the chairman of the board. Perhaps you can write a protest poem about a time when you refused to work or disobeyed your boss, or a time when someone was insubordinate to you.

Work pervades identity. Some jobs like nursing, medicine and teaching are seen as vocations and carry a professional code which influences behaviour in every aspect of life. Work comes with uniforms and dress codes. Special languages — jargon and banter — which define a set of workers, the jokes which dispel tension. We’d like to see poems that take the special languages of workplaces and translate them into something we can all identify with. 

Work can help to ease us through life and stave off thoughts that might overwhelm us.

As all the others do who with a grin

Shake off sleep like a dog and hurry to desk or engine

And the fear of life goes out as they clock in.

          — from ‘Autumn Journal’ by Louis MacNeice 

Computers have transformed most jobs and generate the ability to monitor workers closely — as well as a punishing demand for data. It also allows more people to work from home (is it possible to be professional in your pyjamas?) or even as ‘cyber nomads’ across the globe. What does AI mean for work? What does it mean for poetry? 

Work is often brutally exploitative — roads and railways were built from the sacrifice of cheap labour. Power plants and factories place people at risk every day. There is forced work — in labour camps and gulags. And slavery in plantations. And what about the modern-day slavery of nailbars or the newest recruits to the oldest profession in the world? However, you earn your pound, your dollar or the roof over your head, we're sure there’s a poem about it. 

The stories of those who travel to other countries in search of work. The experience of the dust-bowl migrants in The Grapes of Wrath.

The coal dust lies too far inside, it will lie there forever like a hand squeezing your heart, choking at your throat. 

           — from 'Yonnondio: From The Thirties'  by Tilly Olsen

This is a call-out to new poets, previously unheard voices, as well as established writers. We are particularly interested in hearing from those underrepresented in poetry publications. We are interested in the politics of work, unions and history — change and speculation about the future. We want to go beyond the cliché of the 9-5. And we are interested in hearing about the arcane and unusual occupations — as well as flights of fancy. 

Send us your craft, artistry, passion and playfulness.

Benedict Newbery and Pauline Sewards

Editors, Magma 74


We welcome poems that have not been previously published, either in print or online. You may submit up to 4 poems in a single Word document via this Submittable form, or by post if you live in the UK. All information for postal submissions can be found here.

Poems published in the magazine may also be published on this website  and as a PDF version for Exact Editions. Poems remain the copyright of  their author. Contributors receive a copy of the issue in which they  appear and and can purchase further copies at a discount. They may also  be invited to read at the issue’s launch reading.

Ends on January 12, 2019£4.00 - 37.00
£4.00 - 37.00

The Magma 2018/9 poetry competition is now open for entries in both categories.

The Judge’s Prize – poems of 11 to 50 lines
The Editors’ Prize – poems of up to 10 lines

Award-winning poet Andrew McMillan is the judge for the Judge’s Prize for poems of 11 to 50 lines and he will be reading all entries – there are no sifters. 

The Editors’ Prize is judged by a panel of five Magma Editors and is for poems of up to 10 lines. The prize money for both competitions is the same, so double your chances and try your luck at both.   

First prize for the Judge’s and Editors’ Prize is £1000, second prize £300 and third prize £150. The six prize-winning poems will be published in Magma and there will also be five special mentions for the Judge’s Prize and for the Editors’ Prize.  Winning and commended poets will be invited to read their poems at a Magma Competition Event in Spring 2019.   

You may enter as many poems as you like in each category, but you must submit them in separate documents. Please upload the poems in one document for each category. Please name the documents Judge’s Prize or Editors’ Prize as applicable and submit all of the poems for that category in the relevant document.   

Do not include your name or any other identifying marks on the poems themselves.   

You can then pay for all entries by picking the appropriate payment amount for total poems submitted. Subscriber and non-subscriber entries will be cross-referenced against our subscriber list and incorrectly paid entries may be disqualified. You can subscribe to Magma from £18.95 via our Get Magma page but please do this before you enter.   

The entry fees are £5 for the first poem, £4 for the second and £3.50 for the third and each subsequent poem. Magma magazine subscribers benefit from reduced fees: £4 for the first poem, £3 for the second, and £2.50 for the third and each subsequent poem. The competition closes on 12 January 2019.

No alterations can be made after receipt, nor fees refunded.
All poems must be previously unpublished.
The judge’s and editors’ decisions are final and no correspondence can be entered into. No entrant may win more than one prize in each section.
Should the named judge be unable to proceed, we aim to substitute an alternative judge of equivalent standing as a poet.
Prizewinners will be notified individually before 1 March 2019. The results will also be published on the Magma Poetry website after the prize-giving event.
Copyright of each entry remains with the author, but Magma Poetry has the right to first publication of the winning poems in print and/or online within six months of the competition deadline.  
Entry implies acceptance of all the rules. Failure to comply with the rules will result in disqualification.

Magma Poetry