Reviews Editorial: Issue 4
Welcome to the Reviews Section of Issue 4 of The Compass. When the first issue went live last June, our Editorial said:
‘Our reviews pages aim to celebrate poetry, by consuming, reading and talking about it. As well as discussing new work by established poets, we hope to use this section of the magazine as a way of highlighting work that may not always get the attention it deserves.
We’ve kept this ethos throughout the four issues, with work by established poets reviewed alongside books that I felt might be missed in the review sections of magazines. In this latest issue, I’ve written a review of Matthew and Michael Dickman’s latest dual-authored collection by Faber, already receiving reviews in The New Yorker, and a recent interview published in The Guardian, alongside books that I think are worthy of as much acclaim – new collections by Anne Caldwell (published by Cinnamon Press) and Carmen Bugan (published by Shearsman).
Many of the books that are reviewed in The Compass are collections that I’ve loved, that I think are deserving of discussion, or suggestions from publishers. Sometimes reviewers suggest collections that they would like to review. I draw up a list of suggestions for Andrew and Lindsey, who also have their own ideas of books that they’d like to be reviewed, and we then finalise the 12 or so collections we have space for. I’m very aware of ensuring that the gender balance of each issue is roughly equal, for both reviewers and the books we review. This has not been difficult which does make me wonder why it is so difficult for other magazines to do the same thing (see Fiona Moore’s analysis of this over at her blog).
For each issue there are many, many books that I would love to see reviewed, that we just don’t have space for. This has been both depressing (there is so much poetry that is published, which slips past without notice) and encouraging (if your book is chosen to be reviewed it means that someone thinks it is worthy of notice, discussion and attention) and exciting (there is so much poetry being published!)
What I didn’t quite expect was how nerve-wracking it would be to wait for the reviewer to send through their review, especially if it is a collection that I’ve loved. Will the reviewer feel what I felt when I read the book? Will they see what I saw in it? Will they love it as much? Whatever the answer to this question, I have to let go – as long as the review engages with what the poet is trying to do, then I must keep my opinions to myself. It has been illuminating, uplifting, surprising and frustrating at various times throughout this year to see a book through someone else’s eyes and each time, it reinforces to me the importance of reviews, and how much fun it can be to agree or disagree about poetry.
Going forward for our next issue, we’d like to open up submissions for reviews. Publishers can submit books to be considered for review by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.