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Call for submissions: Magma 87 Islands

Closing date: Friday 31 March 2023

Editors Niall Campbell and Fiona Moore welcome poems on the theme of Islands. 

We also hope to discover poems by island poets around the world, from Madagascar to Orkney, Fiji to Trinidad. We’d love to read inter-island collaborations – call and response between two poets, or a chain of poems, from one island to the next to the next… We’d like to feature poems in island languages, from Gaelic to Javanese to endangered Pacific languages – please provide an English translation too, preferably as a poem. 

Send us up to four poems in a single Word document (poem + translation counts as one poem). Poems should not have been previously published in print or online. We accept simultaneous submissions – please withdraw your submission on Submittable if it is accepted for publication somewhere else first.

* This is a shortened version of our full call for poems, which you can read on the Magma website.


Literal, metaphorical, mythical, sinking or surviving. Microcosms. Island languages, music, landscapes, wildlife. Closed communities: refuge and sanctuary, prison or trap. Enislement, isolation - isola is island in Italian. Focus of romantic longing, place of hardship. Islanders at the centre of the world, and islomaniac tourists lured by the periphery. Islands full of the sound of sea, or large enough that it’s hours away. Archipelagos. Islands in books and film. 

Written island in a paper sea. Library island, traffic island, kitchen island. 

Islands of the mind; island carried inside you. In the words of Trinidadian poet Jennifer Rahim in Wherever I go…

there will be an island, / and an ocean will be / what rings me.

Island as paradise – and/or site of colonial exploitation where ‘the roads constrict like throats’. As Kei Miller’s Jamaican rastaman says in The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, you may find placenames... 

like bright yellow caution - careful man! This here is bruising land

Island as advance warning system for ecosystems. St Kildans forced by hardship to abandon home. Chagosians deported by the UK to enable a US military base - see this new HRW report. Marshall Islanders displaced, as told by poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, after

we mistook radioactive fallout / for snow

‘Shall we make island a verb?’ asks Kiribati poet Teresia Kieuea Teaiwa,

As a noun it’s so vulnerable to impinging forces / Let us turn the energy of the island inside out / Let us island the world 

The poetry of the island is often also the poetry of the risky uncharted waters that has left behind the mainland of regular life and charts an unusual route, out towards new emotion, new perspectives, that seeks new green, fertile land. We are thinking here of Derek Walcott beginning Map of the New World:

At the end of this sentence, rain will begin. / At the rain’s edge, a sail.

which by the end of this poem has reframed the great old poem of The Odyssey in a fresh and vital manner. This is poetry that is also a setting sail, a pushing from land and out into the open waters of the line and rhythm. What do we make of this poetry of new and old discoveries? What does it uphold and remake by the tilting of its light?

Or perhaps your poetry of the island is more homely, more treasured and close at hand? As George Mackay Brown, the great Scottish island poet, describes and captures it:

The neighbours come with gifts – / A set of cups, a calendar, some chairs. / A fiddle is hung at the wall. / A girl puts lucky salt in a dish. 

Can the poem of the island be a type of setting amber that holds in place the traditional, folklore and meaning of our less-frequented, less heralded places? 

How do we engage and impact on islands around the world? When our bird colonies are pestered by plague, what is our relationship to these wild outposts? 

We are ready to be shown new scenes, new panoramas, new long stretches of water that lead to unusual shores. To be welcomed on to your own home islands, real or imagined, far-flung or nearby but overlooked and misunderstood. 

We are ready to depart. Take us there. 

Finally, please share this call for poems – we’d like it to island hop across the world.

Niall Campbell & Fiona Moore, editors Magma 87 Islands


  • The submissions window for ‘Islands’ is open 1st – 31st March 2023
  • We welcome poems that have not been previously published, either in print or online.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions, but please withdraw your submission or contact us if it is accepted for publication somewhere else first.
  • You may submit up to 4 previously unpublished poems (poem + translation counts as one poem): ONLINE via Submittable in a single Word or PDF document, OR BY POST to Magma 87 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.
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