Editorial: Issue 4
Welcome to the Summer 2016 issue of The Compass.
For many of our readers, whether in the UK, Europe, US or elsewhere, these are uncertain times, be it politically, financially, socially or environmentally. Poetry as an art form can embrace this uncertainty—we’re nodding gently here to Keats’ idea of negative capability, a concept that a poet later in this issue also mentions—combining poetic skills with imaginative flights. It is, perhaps, when we are at our least certain that we most realise the potential of poetic forms.
The poems in this issue once again find ways to tackle big themes by glimpsing new possibilities within them, feeling their way around truths, or semblances of truths, speaking out afresh. These themes range from women’s experiences of war, as explored in Sasha Dugdale’s long poem sequence published here on Day One, to love, family, the natural world, the redemptive power of art and more.
We’ve been energised by the increasing volume and overall quality of the submissions we receive. There are many good poems—poems that strike us for the strength of their voice, images, overall vision, use of form or language—and very few ‘bad’ poems, by which we mean ones that are less successful in these ways, perhaps suggesting that the poet doesn’t read as much poetry as they might. What we most enjoy are the poems that stay with us, opening us up to something in a new way; poems that don’t put a foot wrong—sometimes a single muddled line can be all it takes for us to not take a poem that we otherwise love—; poems that demand to be heard, either by whispering and drawing us close, or by speaking from the heart, singing, never banging a drum but handling a subject in ways that would put politicians or salespeople to shame: poems of controlled passion, clarity, urgency, skill. What is a poet, if not the commander of words? Some may argue that the poet is the slave of words. We are uncertain. We’ll leave the problem with you.
Over the coming days you’ll find our regular mix of reviews, features, and poetry by new and emerging poets, experienced poets, and major poets writing at the height of their powers.
Today, we have the first of our two Featured Poets for this issue, Mike Barlow. Our mystery Featured Poet’s showcase will appear on the final day. As we’ve said previously, we invite poets to be featured because we believe their work deserves a large audience, or because we find it particularly interesting, vibrant or skilful, and coherent as a body of work. We’re confident they’ll send us poems we’ll admire and want to publish. Each poet also sends us a piece of poetics but we leave the content of this open to their interpretation. It’s a blank canvas. For us, this is all part of the fun.
This issue will also include poems by Matt Howard, who will be the first poet to appear in The Compass twice, and an interview with … we’ll keep that a surprise. If you haven’t read our previous interviews yet, you can find them in the Articles section.
Thank you all for your continued support, both in emails and on social media. We hope you’ll enjoy this issue as much as you’ve told us you enjoyed the previous ones.