Editorial: Issue 5
Editorial: Issue Five
Welcome to Issue 5 of The Compass. We have a substantial Issue prepared for you, one that’s been rewarding, exciting but also at times difficult to mould. We’ll say more about the difficulties in a moment. Most importantly, over the next ten days you’ll see poems by familiar names alongside newer voices that excite us and that may be new to you too. We also have interviews, features and reviews that, taken together, represent a diverse, international cross-section of poetry and—bound-up within that poetry—of contemporary experience and thought. We’ve always viewed The Compass as an event as much as a publication and we hope you’ll feel a part of it, particularly by sharing on social media anything you enjoy, or discussing it there.
Significantly in this Issue, we‘re delighted to welcome our new Reviews Editor, Suzannah V. Evans. You can read all about Suzannah on our Editors page. Based in London and Durham, Suzannah brings fresh insights to the role, along with lots of energy and ideas that will be revealed in coming issues. We’re honoured to have her on board; she’s already been brilliant to work with.
We’d like to give our grateful thanks to our previous Reviews Editor, Kim Moore, for helping us get the Reviews section of the magazine off the ground. We also want to thank the other applicants for the Reviews Editor position. The amount of interest in this spoke volumes for how highly The Compass is regarded.
It won’t of course go unnoticed that there has been a gap between this issue of The Compass and the last, and we want to thank all our contributors for their patience in waiting for a response from us; we still have a backlog of submissions and are working our way down them. Like many publications, the magazine is put together solely by its editors, including the design and uploading of the site. It’s a very rewarding thing to do, but over the last year it’s had to take a backseat to other commitments, and one of the editors has been seriously unwell. This has been immensely frustrating for us because we’re able to see a huge amount of potential for the magazine, and also for many of the poets who submit to us.
It would be interesting to hear from other voluntary editors about how they maintain schedules in such uncertain times. One solution is of course to try to secure funding, but there is a freedom that comes with independence from meeting targets; for the time being, we’re happy that The Compass isn’t subject to the requirements of funders, and we’ve put structures in place that will maintain the regularity of the magazine.
We’ve always said, and we maintain, that quality online magazines will be a crucial part of poetry’s future, becoming places where some of the best new writing is showcased. As consumers of poetry ourselves, we appreciate coherent websites that pinpoint and discuss a discriminating selection of the best new poetry—not a deluge of it, which can be overwhelming—and that provide easy links for books and pamphlets to be bought. There are few such websites, which is why we first established The Compass.
Perhaps many of you can empathise when we say something a little contentious: not often, but sometimes—those times when everything around seems chaotic—we wonder what happened to the thing called Poetry that first spoke to us insistently. Sometimes, it appears only in glimmers, often in silence. What semblance do these glimmers bear to the clamour of online information and social media? It’s vaguely ironic—isn’t it?—that poets, whose strength often lies in quietude, should be in a position of trying to be something noisy. We are aware, of course, that this doesn’t hold true for all poets. We enjoy, but are also serious about, the further irony that in an online poetry editorial we’re voicing uncertainty about the internet. Perhaps the magazine is, in one sense, the ‘impossible possible’, as Derrida would possibly have it. Our question, then, is to do with how we compromise our need—as poets, readers and maybe editors—for a wide community, with our need to be disconnected from technology. In this digital age, how do we secure both our space and our work?
Many readers who’ve contacted us mention how they look forward to each day’s poems as a ‘quiet space’ or a ‘break’ from their day’s work. We’ve noticed that the magazine is often described as ‘a breath of fresh air’. We see three points here. First, the magazine is easily accessible from phones, tabs or work computers, and there’s opportunism involved in clicking a link. Reading a printed journal requires more planning and commitment, even if most of our readers are also keen readers of books. Second, the form of the magazine as an event, being time-released over several days, sets it apart from everydayness, from the unrelenting aspects of newsfeeds and inboxes. It’s something to look forward to each day: an anticipated space to spend a few minutes, or longer. And thirdly, the magazine as a whole, beyond it’s ten-day publication period, seems to provide a continued calm space amongst the clamour of the internet. We would like this to be the case. We’d like the magazine to be, for our readers, a metaphorical a boulder in the flood, the certain in the uncertain.
Looking at it one way, poetry is the opposite of what the internet usually represents, and this is why a magazine like The Compass is of importance. Looking at it another way, poetry embodies what the internet usually represents: it’s a meeting and talking point, as well as being a reflector of society, so it’s natural that it finds a home online where it can so easily be shared, but that too is a reason for magazines such as this being worthwhile. These contradictions intrigue us.
Please do email us to let us know your thoughts about any of this, or catch us on Twitter and Facebook.
Separate from these longer term considerations, we’re committed to the magazine as a regular ongoing concern. The schedule for the next few issues appears on the submissions page. Any magazine is only as good as the poems submitted to it, so please do keep your work coming.
We’ve also been genuinely touched by the messages of support over the last year, and the pleasure with which people greeted the news that the next issue of The Compass would soon be appearing. We have clearly succeeded in establishing The Compass as a significant part of the poetry scene and look forward to continuing to develop it over the next issues.
We hope you’ll love Issue 5. As we mentioned, it’s a mammoth issue in terms of its scope, and because of the vision of our brilliant new reviews editor, Suzannah (you can read her own Reviews Editorial here). Lastly, please do sign up for our newsletter—you can do this in the column on the right—and share any poems or reviews you enjoy; it makes a huge difference both to the magazine and to the poets!
Editors The Compass Magazine