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Thank you for submitting to Magma, we look forward to reading your work.

Magma 80: Avatars

Edited by Petra Kamula, Golnoosh Nour & Richard Skinner

Closing date: 30th November 2020

The submissions window for ‘Avatars’ is open from 1st October to 30th November 2020. We welcome poems that have not been previously published, either in print or online.

Up to 4 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.

Who is the third who walks always beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road.

There is always another one walking beside you

Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded

I do not know whether a man or a woman

—But who is that on the other side of you?

                              The Waste Land by T S Eliot 

Richard Skinner writes: The theme for Issue 80 of Magma is ‘Avatars’. This theme has a clear meaning in the gaming industry, an idea used so brilliantly by the poet Owen Vince in his pamphlet “The Adrift of Samus Aran”, an account of ‘the myriad and mired livings of Nintendo’s greatest heroine.’ 

But, aside from this usage in gaming, and its religious meaning, we wish contributors to extend the idea of ‘avatars’ more widely, to allow scope for imagination and interpretation. It could be Eliot’s guardian angel (or angel of death?). It could stretch to encompass the voice and perspective of a real life, as the poet Anthony Costello did so memorably with Vincent van Gogh in his pamphlet, “I Freeze, Turn to Stone”. It could extend to include body doubles, doppelgängers or decoys; the person you used to be, or the person you always wanted to be; hungry ghosts, role models or alter egos—any ‘invisible other’, or spirit guide, that accompanies us throughout our lives. 

Golnoosh Nour writes: As a term, ‘avatar’ covers a diverse range of meanings and connotations. In Hinduism, for instance, it is the bodily manifestation of a deity on earth. This definition is rather different from the one in the Cambridge Dictionary – that of an image that represents a person in online games, and chat rooms. According to Merriam Webster, an avatar is ‘an incarnation in human form’. Whilst at first glance these definitions might seem confusingly different from one another, there is a commonality – an ‘avatar’ is a visible concept, and it is this visibility that is its principal function. An avatar is something we see of something we cannot physically touch, whether it be a deity or a digital self. One of my favourite artworks is a song called “Avatar” by the experimental rock band Swans - Swans - Avatar [link] To me, this song, which is about nine minutes long, embodies most of the variations and nuances of the word ‘avatar’. 

I am interested in poetry that makes me see something, that represents something vividly and powerfully – even if the representation isn’t completely truthful or conventionally moralistic. I’m interested in how avatars force us to see things their creators want us to see. I’m intrigued by poems that not only offer great imagery, but also make me contemplate. I would like to read poems that make me return to them, again and again, seeing something new in them each time. In the words of André Breton, always for the first time

Petra Kamula writes: An ‘avatar’ implies a transmutation, a (re)creation, a reassembling, a sense of ‘passing through’ or ‘crossing over’ to make tangible a thought, idea or identity. Claude Cahun, whose photographic self-portraits so often study her own image within a myriad of avatars and alternates writes: ‘Under this mask, another mask. I will never be finished removing all these faces.’ This manifesto for ever-renewing examination – for Cahun through a lens, but for writers through their mediums of space and line – asks us to re-examine and explore our ever-fluid constructions of where the world meets self, and performance of self. 

We are interested in receiving poems that engage with this sense of identity and transmutation, but also poems that embrace hybridity either in form or subject, that enact the concept or emotion of ‘avatar’.We look forward to reading your poems.

Petra Kamula, Golnoosh Nour & Richard Skinner, Editors, Magma 80

Wanting to submit to Magma 80? 

You may submit up to 4 previously unpublished poems in a single Word document.

We are now accepting simultaneous submissions – but please withdraw your submission or contact us if it is accepted for publication somewhere else first.

Postal submissions, please send to:  

Magma 80 Submissions

23 Pine Walk


SM5 4ES 

The Magma 2020/21 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 Theresa Lola is the judge for the Judge’s Prize for poems of 11 to 50 lines and she will be reading all entries – there are no sifters.

The Editors’ Prize is judged by a panel of 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 2021.

Last year's winning poems are published in the Act Your Age Issue (Issue 77) available now from our website.


You may enter as many poems as you like in each category, but you must submit for each category 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 £22.00 via our Get Magma page but please do this before you enter. The Act Your Age Issue (Issue 77) edited by  Gboyega Odubanjo, Selina Rodrigues, and Christine Webb  contains last year's winning poems and will remain the current issue until Issue 78 is published early November 2020, after which it will be available as a back issue.

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 15 January 2021.


• 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 2021. 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