take the harp, take / the Fitbit and the band-aid box. Fold the whole / grey sheet of sky, lumpy and unalluring / into your rucksack.
A strong theme of journeys is threaded through Take the Compass. In a sense, every poem is itself a journey – into the past or the present, or toward what we hope and fear for the future. Poems can be journeys of repair and recovery, adventure and discovery. However, even in these pandemic times when our journeying is curtailed, or at least confined, when we are abiding in one physical location with chafing and restiveness, we are still travelling. One of those journeys is discovering where language can take us.
Maureen Hynes’s poems travel through cities and their outskirts, to rivers, forests and graveyards. They travel in time into the troubled present, across decades into early childhood, and into our perilous collective futures, seeking guides for these explorations. The title poem addresses the search for tools and instruments that will “ward off adversity” – tools to help us move forward to our chosen destinations. Take the Compass calls on art and nature as invisible helpers, and on uncountable things – personal values and traits, like courage – to “break the bad news into nine living petals.”
As with all her collections, Hynes shows a commitment to social justice, to acknowledging historical and contemporary inequities, to the search for sources of remedy, repair, and renewal, and to the sustaining power of love. The variety of poetic forms she has chosen lets this search carry the complexity and seriousness of its themes.
About the Author:
Maureen Hynes, winner of the Gerald Lampert poetry award and shortlisted for the Petra Kenny, Raymond Souster, and Pat Lowther awards, has published six books of poetry. She lives in Toronto.