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In August 2023 an exciting opportunity to work with poetry in an unusual way was offered to us by MagNews, the UK Magnetics Society's quarterly international academic journal. 

Magnetics is the science and technologies behind the electrification of the modern world,
and which are, and will be, an important answer to climate change.
Electric cars, fusion reactors, wind turbines, electric aircraft,
and much, much more, are all parts of this set of solutions. 

A commission was launched to select three members of City of Poets to contribute, and each to earn £100 for their works to be published in three journals, publication dates yet to be announced.

To our knowledge this will mark the first in modern times where poetry appears in an international academic scientific journal.
The selected poets were announced on New Year's Day 2024.

Spencer Mason
Elisabeth Flett
Anne Sikking

with Honourable Mentions for

Vicky Hope
Dev Kornish
Joe Murray
MagneticMap v2.jpg

• magnetic map • 

• stylised hysteresis loop • 

This commissioning decision by MagNews was inspired by the recent spotlight on the work of theoretical physicist, Julius Robert Oppenheimer, who , according to a recent BBC report was driven by his “belief that science needed the humanities in order to better understand its own implications …and recruited a raft of non-scientists including classicists, poets, and psychologists”. By inviting poets to submit work to MagNews, the UK Magnetic Society is making a bold move, unprecedented among scientific journals.




the work should provoke a response...

  • Encourage people working in the field, give them a vision to work for, an idea of where they fit in

  • Inspire the inspired – most of these people know the importance of the work they’re doing, but it does no harm to reiterate the difference they are and will make, that their work is and will literally change the world

  • Inform and excite the reader about the intricacies of the work and the technologies – how technologies fit together, from the small to the global, and how details can make the difference between success and failure; also how iterative approaches solve problems – try, tweak, try, tweak, try, etc repeat until success

  • Promote the idea that changing the world for the better should be impressive and awe-inspiring

  • Celebrate the satisfaction that dedication, in the face of ignorance over decades of people’s careers, has paid off massively for humanity – a few people have spent their lives working in small corners on stuff society has ignored, only for their work to be proven to be the answer humanity needs, and demand to ramp up exponentially in a few short years.



the work should reflect some of the following themes...

  • Magnetics - the technologies behind the electrification of the modern world, and which are, and will be, the answer to climate change - electric cars, fusion reactors, wind turbines, electric aircraft and much, much more, whilst also recognising the downsides, for example, the environmental costs of getting the raw materials shouldn't be forgotten. Below are some links to more information. 

  • The importance of 'small' people and things, (how the whole is greater than the sum of parts).

  • The importance of leaders who are championing the whole picture, but who also understand what’s involved in delivering it – ie not necessarily the politicians (although some certainly), but the technology leaders who paint the picture and project manage its creation

  • Saluting/honouring those who focus on one small thing, a tiny part of a larger 'machine'. A scientist designing and engineering a single component, for example, as with a road-sweeper, a dinner lady. The 'machine' would not function without them. Widgets matter. (But don’t mention widgets, or boffins!)

  • An understanding that no one person, no one solution will ever, has ever, changed the world (despite what is suggested about J Robert Oppenheimer). It's more like Newton, "standing on the shoulders of giants"

  • The value of unity of purpose in problem solving 

  • The importance of love and hope as propellents in fitting together the parts of a complex picture

  • a celebration of the human condition – perhaps the perceived ‘eccentricities’ of the engineer and the scientist


the work should NOT mention MAGIC despite etymologically sharing a root with MAGNETIC. 



  • probably up to 42 lines - this is guidance, not a requirement

  • striking metaphors welcome

  • clever wordplay welcome

  • humour welcome – but beware potential international and cultural issues

  • concrete poetry welcome (where the words are placed on the page to represent

  • a picture that reflects the theme of the work)

  • nothing experimental

  • modern English only

(the work will likely be reproduced in Times New Roman, 10 or 12 point font, on an A4 page

other formats can be accommodated if deemed important) 



50% of the journal's readers are non-native English speakers...

imagine a young Chinese engineering graduate

who has also learned English in order to work in the UK ...

they are extremely dedicated to their work.


  • The above illustrations - the magnetic map & stylised hysteresis loop - are often associated with magnetics.

  • Here are some links that may be useful for information and inspiration

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