Call for Contributions: Magma 70 on the theme of Europe
1. Europe. Whether it derives from the name of a Phoenician princess, a queen of Crete or a proto-Indo-European word meaning ‘darkness’, the term Europe has been used to define a geographical region since at least the 6th century BC. Is it merely Bismarck’s ‘geographical expression’? Does it stretch to the Urals? Or the North African coast? Historical, sociological, cartographical, cultural – we’re open to explorers.
2. Is it sun, sex and sangria? Does Europe always mean tourism for you, or does it represent something less pleasurable? The memory of a first encounter, love and loss? Something foreign, once exotic, now not? We’re looking for travelogue poems that travel further than the place itself, poems as homestay, language exchange, gap year or warm retirement.
3. Or is your Europe about Brussels and Brexit? Leave and remain? Free movement and precarious citizenship rights? Is Europe an ideology, philosophy, science or way of thinking? We encourage political poems, but don’t overegg the Brexit pudding – new poems will have to be brilliant, shock or surprise.
4. We’re particularly keen to see experimentation with form and creative uses of prosody, and for poets to engage with long-standing European poetic traditions and poetic games. Imagine the poem as island-hopping or back-packing – how would it look on the page?
5. Who is Europe to you? Is Europe Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Napoleon? Or is it embodied in modern celebrity: Zinedine Zidane, Julio Iglesias, Raymond Blanc, Sandi Toksvig or Carla Bruni?
6. What do you see? Plates smashing or bulls running? Concrete coastlines or pristine estuaries? Traditional dress and medieval tradition, or Zara and H&M at every corner?
7. We are happy to hear about the Hermitage and the Prado, but we also want to read about the unknown place, the minor monument, the strange fountain or park that holds a place in your heart. Is it a foreign field, a war memorial, a lieu de mémoire?
8. We’re especially interested in reading your English translations of European poets and encouraging new poems that play with bi-, tri- or multilingual elements, or that mix in foreign vocabulary. Who do you become when you learn to speak a foreign language? Can you write a hommage to a favourite word in Finnish or Czech, or use it as the beginning of a journey?
9. What does Europe taste like? Vodka or Guinness? Tapas or tripe? Your food experiences may help you cook up a culinary poem taste sensation. We’d like to see the poem as dégustation or last orders.
10. Is there a poetry collection that affects you? From Rilke to Rimbaud, Lorca to Cavafy, we’d love to see conversations with a poem by a European poet (Miłosz’ ‘Child of Europe’) or with a poem on Europe by a British poet (John Greening’s corona of sonnets ‘Europa’). See PN Review 235 for Anthony Rudolf’s 16-city grand tour of Europe in his poem ‘European Hours’, a poem for Paula Rego.
11. You might also explore poets and their relationship with Europe: Keats and Pound in Italy, Auden and MacNeice in Iceland, Hughes and Plath in Spain, Eliot in Switzerland.
12. Finally, how is Britain, its peoples, languages and cultures European? How do we contribute to the idea of Europe?
We all think we know what Europe means. Show us what Europe means to you.
Send us up to four poems, preferably via Submittable online.
Susannah Hart and Paul Stephenson, Editors, Magma 70