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.

Ends on April 30, 2019

MAGMA 75: The Loss Issue

edited by Yvonne Reddick and Adam Lowe

Call for Submissions

closing date: 30th April 2019


One Art

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (
Write it!) like disaster.

                                                Elizabeth Bishop

As Elizabeth Bishop writes, loss takes many forms – from losing a precious watch to the loss of an important romantic relationship. Events of all kinds can bring feelings of loss. Loss comes in a spectrum of experiences: the shattering death of a loved one, the loss of a country you’ve had to leave, the loss of a job you enjoyed – right down to the mundane annoyance of losing your phone. 

Grief following bereavement is one of western society’s last taboos. Many people feel comfortable sharing intimate details of their lives on social media, but risk becoming isolated during grief. However, from the Torajan people to the Ancient Egyptians, different societies have had diverse attitudes to death and mourning. Malika Booker vividly evokes Caribbean funerals in her Forward Prize-shortlisted poem ‘Nine Nights’:

The Set Up

If you did see people that first night. People for so. Who come from town, from far like St David, from near like St Mark to this little St John parish. It had the makings of a good funeral. Pure bus park up by Gouyave roadside like ants. Them mourners arrived, shuffling with the shock. The priest opened up that wake with plenty prayers. Corn soup bubbled in the iron pot, red beans slowly converged with rice, thyme and coconut milk. 

                                               Malika Booker


We’d like to see poems that give us a window into the ways that cultures beyond the west deal with loss. Send us your poems about mourning rituals, funeral songs and beliefs in the afterlife. Send us your poems about losing, leaving and being lost.

Objects such as family heirlooms and old clothes are redolent of their former owners. Check out Fiona Moore’s poem The Shirt for an example. We’re interested in poems that channel grief by using the things of this world as focal points – a battered teddy, an heirloom watch, some forgotten old clothes at the back of a wardrobe.

Are there any losses that end up bringing gains? Can a loss be empowering? What about the loss of a binary gender label, the loss an awful job that freed you to find a better one, the loss of your virginity to someone you liked? Send us your poems about beneficial losses – imagined and real.

The poetry of loss can be political as well as personal. Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs? asks Derek Walcott in The Sea is History, that stirring elegy for slaves. Could you create a memorial for something or someone that history has overlooked? Could recent political events inspire poems about loss – and could they be satirical, ironic, even humorous? 

Gillian Clarke’s elegy The Pontfadog Oak mourns a thousand-year-old tree that has witnessed all of Welsh history, while Juliana Spahr regrets that I didn’t even say goodbye elephant ear, mountain madtorn – some endangered species in Well Then There Now. We’d like to invite you to create elegies for our age of environmental damage: an island vanishing under the waves, a disappearing glacier, a ghostly passenger pigeon. 

Beloved pets are the subjects of some famous elegies, from Lord Byron’s tribute to his dog Boatswain to heart-rending epitaphs written by Romans for their deceased pets. Send us elegies for animals that will move and surprise us.

Bereavement counsellors sometimes encourage people to make a ‘memory box’ – a treasure trove of keepsakes to help someone remember a loved one. How could you use a poem as a memory box?

All kinds of things can bring us comfort after the upheavals of loss: a pep talk from a colleague after losing a sales deal; reconnecting with old friends after heartache. Tell us uplifting stories of survival after loss – imagined and real. 

Are there any innovative poetic forms that the elegy could take? Elegiac couplets are an obvious classic, but we’d like to invite you to push the boundaries. Send us your shape-poems and concrete poems. 

Send us your poems about loss, in all its forms – you’ve got nothing to lose!


Submission Rules

  • The submissions window for ‘Loss’ is open from 1st March – 30th April 2019.
  • 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. 
  • Word documents are preferred but if your work contains graphic design, or unusual text flow or shapes, JPEGs or PDFs will be accepted.
  • SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS: we accept work that has also been submitted to other publications but require you to notify us immediately if the work is accepted for publication elsewhere. Your work must be withdrawn via Submittable, or for partial withdrawals, please add a note to your submission.
  • POSTAL SUBMISSIONS: we accept contributions by post from the UK only, addressed to:

                              Magma Issue 75 Submissions
                             23 Pine Walk
                             SM5 4ES

  • Postal contributions must be accompanied by an s.a.e. The writer’s name must appear on each page. Postal submissions post-marked on the closing day of the submission period will be considered. Postal submissions are not acknowledged until a decision is made.
  • 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.

Magma Poetry