Reviews Editorial: Issue 5
Reviews Editorial, Issue 5
Welcome to the Reviews Section of Issue 5 of The Compass. I’m delighted to introduce my first issue as Reviews Editor, and to share some of my thoughts on the current issue and future plans.
The Compass is based in England, but its outlook is international. The magazine is interested in a range of voices from across the world, and I hope to reflect this in the poets we feature in our reviews pages. This issue features collections by poets born in Cyprus, Cornwall, Zambia, Inverness, and elsewhere, although many have now moved and settled in other places. In a nod to our American readership, we have reviews of collections by Matthew Olzmann, Jodie Hollander, and Maggie Nelson, and I intend to feature more work by poets across the Atlantic in upcoming issues, as well as poetry in translation. I also hope to widen the scope of our review pages, with writing on pamphlets and smaller publications as well as full-length collections.
In putting together the current issue, I have aimed to include collections by emerging poets as well as established ones, and publications from smaller presses as well as the more well-known. Conversations with poets, the reviewers, and the other editors have further fed the decision of which books to include, as has my own reading and attendance of poetry events and launches. As this is my debut issue, I and the editors decided to include an ‘Editors’ Picks’, featuring collections we felt particularly drawn to. I chose to write on Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, a book which has been alternately classed as poetry, memoir, and lyric essay, holding that, if poetry is language at its most heightened, then Nelson’s writing is certainly poetry, and deserving of consideration within the review pages of The Compass.
The most joyful part of the editorial process, however, has been reading what the reviewers thought about collections that I had also been thinking about for some time. I was struck by how each reviewer threaded together different themes and ideas from the books, catching things I might have missed, or bringing different issues to the foreground. Sometimes their own reviews seemed to reach poetry, and I delighted in the moments where I would go through drafts with a pen writing ‘YES!’ in large letters, caught by a turn of phrase or astute observation. Penny Boxall’s description of Lightkeepers, a book ‘in which Burns’s voice glows’, struck me, as did Rachel Chanter’s eloquence in speaking about how poetry can inform our ecological actions, and Stephen Grace’s discussion of belonging in his review of three debut collections. It was also a pleasure thinking about how to ‘match’ books with reviewers: considering which reviewer might be most capable of drawing out and critiquing the qualities of each book, and seeing in the end if my intuitions had been correct.
Work on the next issue of The Compass has already begun, and I am excited to get to grips with a new set of collections and reviews. For now, however, I wish to thank the editors and reviewers for their hard work. I very much hope that you enjoy reading this issue of The Compass.
Suzannah V. Evans