Here are a few highlights from our February collection of poetry magazines:
Ten poems written by secondary school students from Oxford Spires Academy are the highlight of this latest Poetry London, in its luminous emerald-green cover. These young poets rework language in startling ways in their poems of memory, of war, and of everyday life. “My nail polish is chipped as if / I am flaking away among the flowers”, writes Helen Woods, while Rachel Gittens asks: “Where do dreams go? / Submarine volcanoes.” These images are difficult to forget. Then there’s a shimmering poem by Julia Copus on the subject of “my first mascara”, a beautifully unsettling response to Vita Sackville West’s garden by Miruna Fulgeanu, and an illuminating discussion between American poets Suji Kwock Kim and Danez Smith: “Poetry isn’t just craft, which you can teach in a workshop, but a spiritual act, a prayer and spell, an ancient ritual.”
We are always keen to hear from new poetry magazines and Raceme is a magazine that came to our attention last autumn (although it’s been publishing since May 2015). Our holdings are now up to date and what has impressed us about this magazine is the balance between quality poetry and quality writing on poetry. Reviews are generally devoted to one collection at a time and are foregrounded by poems from the collection being discussed. In this latest issue some of the reviews are followed by poems by the reviewers. This gives a more rounded picture of both the collection under discussion and the poetics of the reviewer. There's also thought-provoking prose from Katy Evans-Bush on becoming homeless and giving up your book collection, and Deborah Harvey and Colin Brown ask what poets can do in times of political, social and environmental crisis. And the magazine has a great title. 'Raceme' is a botanical term meaning “a flower cluster with the separate flowers attached by short stalks along a central stem”, a great metaphor for poets and the poetry community.
Throughout its long history, The London Magazine has printed many well-established poets, including Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats and TS Eliot. The continuation of this tradition is evident in the latest issue which features new material from Will Harris, previous nominee for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018, and prolific poet Peter Robinson. There's an interesting re-evaluation of the life and poetry of American poet Delmore Schwartz alongside numerous short stories and essays covering a wide range of themes, from homelessness to architecture. The stunning art works included in the reviews exploring artists’ publications add further colour and creativity to the pages.