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Magma 86: FOOD

Magma X Vittles

A collaboration with food and culture magazine Vittles

Edited by Ella Frears & Sean Wai Keung
Closing date: 31st December 2022


It's so beautifully arranged on the plate, you know someone's fingers have been all over it.  Julia Child

Food is one of the great commonalities. No matter who we are, or where or when we're from, each of us carries with us memories, recipes, and associations related to our individual food journeys. Whether it's a family meal or community banquet, a specific off-brand product or a home-grown ingredient, it's the things we eat that often help build who we become. At the same time, food can be a great divider – one person's favourite flavour is another's acquired taste. Food is political – those who have and have not, those who make decisions about what others eat, our ever-increasing need for food banks, radical cooking, the environmental or ethical impact of what we eat. Communities still argue over whose version of a particular dish is the original, or the best. It's precisely because of all these similarities and differences that food can become a swinging door opening into greater explorations of that very human question: what are we eating tonight?

Imagine for a moment
the still life of our meals,
meat followed by yellow cheese, 
grapes pale against the blue armor of fish
From “The Invention of Cuisine” by Carol Muske-Dukes

If a blank page can be described as a canvas then so can a blank plate, or even better, skip the canvas altogether and call the page a plate. Your poetry could lay across it like a nouvelle cuisine main, the kind of thing you might find described in a Michelin Guide. Or else fill the space like a hearty stew overflowing from a cauldron – an open invitation for readers to gather around it with spoons raised. Poetry can be a ready-meal with pierced lid spinning in a microwave, or a ripped open pack of instant noodles, or a greasy bucket of takeaway chicken. Poetry can taste good and nourish both body and heart.

We're looking for poems which fit into any and all of the above styles of cooking and eating, as well as poetry that pushes the boundaries of what cuisine means and can be. Whether it's following a set recipe or a form of your own creation, the most important aspect of these poems will be the ingredients you use and the how and why of your flavour combinations. We're looking for 'authentic' expressions of what food means to you, as well as expressions of what exactly 'authentic' food might mean to your tastebuds. We'll bring our own cutlery. All we ask is that you send us something that you would happily eat yourself.

We’re thrilled that this issue will be in collaboration with food and culture newsletter Vittles. A selection of poems from the issue will also be featured there, selected by Sharanya Deepak, Rebecca May Johnson and Jonathan Nunn.

Ella Frears & Sean Wai Keung
Editors, Magma 86: FOOD


  • The submissions window for ‘Food’ is open 1st December – 31st December 2022.
  • We welcome poems that have not been previously published, either in print or online.
  • You may submit up to 4 previously unpublished poems: 

ONLINE via Submittable in a single Word or PDF document.


BY POST to Magma 86 Submissions, 23 Pine Walk, Carshalton, SM5 4ES. Postal submissions are accepted from the UK and Ireland only. Postal submissions are not acknowledged until a decision is made.

  • We accept simultaneous submissions, but please withdraw your submission or contact us if it is accepted for publication somewhere else first.


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

Victoria Kennefick 

Winner of the Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize 2022 Victoria Kennefick will be 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 in each category 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 2023.

Last years' winners are published in Magma 83 Solitude which you can purchase for £18.50 here, and also online together with all commended entries – downloadable PDF here.

The entry fees are £5 for the first poem, £4 for the second poem 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 poem, and £2.50 for the third and each subsequent poem. You can subscribe to Magma from £22.00 via our Get Magma page. The competition closes 11.59pm on 31 January 2023.


  • 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.    
  • 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 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 at 11.59pm on 31 January 2023


  • 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 in April 2023. 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