Saturday, February 7, 2009


Magma is a great poetry mag ,square shaped , glossy fronted and full of photos alongside the poems.(they were good enough to put a rake of my pics in issue 40)Here are some tips about first lines from the Magma News letter.I've often wondered if a first line can make or break a submitted poem and if you can throw them a juicy worm will they take the hook? Anyway here's what Robo Macko says (I notice they have chosen one of fellow blogger LIZ GALLAGHER 's first lines , maybe Liz, if ye get a minute or two ,you could tell us a bit about it and how you came by it etc?)

What Do We Look For In The First Line Of A Poem?
Written by Rob Mackenzie at February 6, 2009 21:19
What do we look for, as readers, in a poem’s first line? There are many answers to that question. I’ve picked out a few of my favourite first lines from poems in Magma 42

‘Exit my bedroom through cavity walls and fuse box’ (I Decide To Go To You As The Crow Flies by Sally Clark)

‘…I see you on a red carpet, a fresh rose between’ (Sometimes When You Are Bent Over Chopping Leeks by Liz Gallagher)

‘Mother loves Chicken best’ (Hen-House by Sarah Jackson)

‘Where two men heard a boy with a limp had been seen, smelling’ (Retreat by Meghan Purvis)

‘The first man to worship my feet’ (Thirsty-two Fouettés by Emily Berry)

‘Assuming humans work like machines’ (Machines by Carl Griffin)

‘Hunger sends us seeking its cheap white thickness’ (Toast by Rebecca Goss)

In a poem’s first line, we may want a strong, distinct tone, an imaginative description that seems to transform a landscape as we read it, an emotional connection, a unique use of language, the surprise of the unfamiliar…
I also think that a bad first line can kill a poem. If it gives away too much from the outset, or is bland and prose-like, or if it feels as if it’s been used in a thousand poems before.

About Magma,
The poetry magazine with a different editor every issue
What makes Magma unique?
Like all the best poetry, Magma is always surprising. Every issue of Magma has a different editor, either members of our board or a prominent poet acting as a guest editor. It’s that fresh eye in each issue which gives Magma its unique variety.
What kind of poetry can I expect to see in Magma?
Our aim is to promote the very best in contemporary poetry. Poetry that’s alert to the world we livein, that’s honest and above all, unexpected. It may come from previously unpublished or emerging poets or the more established. We make a point of including unknown poets alongside known names, and we’ve published Seamus Heaney, Don Paterson, Sean O’Brien, Alice Oswald, Al Alvarez, Wendy Cope, George Szirtes, Gillian Clarke, John Burnside and Mark Doty among many others.
What else can I expect to find in each Magma issue?
Every issue includes a surprising variety of content. There’ll be prose features, articles as well as reviews, and each with the individuality made possible by our changing editors. The features include:
Presiding Spirits: A well-known poet writes a new poem for Magma inspired by a favourite from the past and then we discuss it with them.
Magma Showcase: Highlights the work of an up-and-coming poet with a selection of their work.
Poetry in Practice: Helpful and entertaining advice on writing from established poets.
Reviews: Recent collections of contemporary poetry are reviewed in each issue.
Guest Choice: A famous person, usually from outside the poetry world chooses a favourite poem and explains why they’ve chosen it.
SatNav: a look at the poetry scene from a region in the UK.
Where else can I find Magma?
Every poet appearing in each issue is invited to read alongside guest poets at Magma Launch Nights which take place at the Troubadour café in London.
Magma appears regularly in Road-Show Events at poetry festivals where we stage readings, workshops and sessions during which editors explain their different approaches.
Magma publishes three issues a year — Spring, Summer and Winter
Contributions and Correspondence
If you wish to contribute to Magma, please follow the guidelines on our Contributions page.
For general correspondence, please write to David Boll at (Do not send contributions to that email address) or to the following address:
David Boll, Magma43 Keslake RoadLondon NW6 6DHUK


Liz said...

Hey TFE, cheers for the mention...this is a real shortie poem - got it out in one sitting, so to speak, we are big leek eaters and have them instead of onions...; ) This poem was inspired by one eye on the Oscars awards and another eye on the cook ... : )
Good write-up.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Hello Liz, you are welcome:)And thanks for the insight into the poem.I see now where the red carpet comes from!Had a look at the poem again in Magma and still really liked it for sure but if it's striking first lines we're talking about how did he miss one of your others on the same page '(Sing me a sort of Lily-the-pink-song)Wring out the liquer from the backs of my knees' ? wonderful!