From 19 new issues added to our shelves in March, here are a few highlights:
Magma is a unique magazine in that a different editor curates each issue, meaning that you truly never know what you're going to get from issue to issue. Editors of the Spring 2019 issue, poet and visual artist Ella Frears and T S Eliot Prize-shortlisted poet Richard Scott, have clearly taken up the gauntlet most seriously with their call for submissions "We look forward to meeting your ugly babies". Featuring numerous well-known poets, including CAConrad, Hannah Lowe, Jane Yeh and Inua Ellams, this issue explores the theme of ‘Changeling’ with poems exploring everything from establishing the right tone in an email to vampires. The magazine also features poems from the winners of Magma’s recent open poetry pamphlet competition, plus Rishi Dastidar, Jane Routh, Katrina Naomi and Ian McEwen review the latest poetry collections.
Despite what its title may suggest, Issue 11 of the Cambridge Literary Review - ‘The Manifesto Issue’ - is not simply a collection of manifestos. Manifestos are indeed present, often wildly varying in tone and format - the Dostoyevsky Wannabe Manifesto, Nicholas Makoha’s The Metic Experience: A Manifesto, and The Noirwave Commandments for example. But these sit among poems that act as mission statements, essays reflecting on historic manifestos and a variety of other pieces which are harder to define: a scrambled reflection written by Sean Bonney on notions of the “inexpressible” in Pasolini’s work; an extract from Audre Lorde’s teaching notes; and a pair of poems by Nisha Ramayya to name a few. For anyone interested in the intention behind poetic processes, in the liminal space between poetics and politics, or in the manifesto as a form in itself, this is a must-read.
Modern Poetry in Translation’s first issue of 2019 is ‘Our Small Universe’ and includes a focus on languages of the United Kingdom. This was to be a Brexit issue, coming out in the same month that the UK was due to leave Europe. In her editorial Clare Pollard writes that “‘Leave’ rhetoric played into a fantasy of a pure, white Englishness” going on to say that “to suggest these islands have ever been monocultural or monolingual is a brazen falsehood”. The poems and introductions by the poets that follow prove this point wonderfully; from the Shetlandic of Christine De Luca, Philip Gross in Welsh, Dean Atta in Jamaican Patois, Liz Berry’s Black Country dialect, the Romani of David Morley in which as a writer he confronts the Roma Gypsies belief that writing something down can be dangerous or disloyal, through to Bebe Ashley’s poems on learning British Sign Language and the pitfalls of regional differences. There is also a fascinating review of Inua Ellams’ #Afterhours, his collection of poems after other poems, written in the National Poetry Library, in which Martin Kratz considers English to English translation.