As we write this, we are living in cities that are both in lockdown. Our days see us bouncing from one device to another, room to room to room. In these days that feel increasingly unreal, it’s invigorating to look back over the selections for this edition and step back into the magic circles marked out by each poem.
In this GAME issue, we have collected poems that took their play sincerely. Their constraints – be they formal, thematic, or functional – are not a cage, but an opportunity for transformation, an invitation into a new logic. Play here is a mode that supports Paul Valéry’s image of the poem as ‘a little machine, one that for the reader produces discoveries, connections…again and again, as many times as we need’.
We have chosen works that we feel exceed the lightweight connotations of the word game. Not every game we play is opted into, and in this selection are responses to labour under capitalism, dealing with loss, familial conflict, and international borders. Many of these poems sought a lateral dialogue with the invisible rules we gestured to in the call-out to this edition – depicting resistance, resignation, and the ambiguous manoeuvres that are needed to coexist within these complex and often cruel systems.
At the same time, we were equally invested in the work collected here that engages with silly, undiluted joy. Whether they are revelling in the inner workings of language, or making space for the absurd and dreamlike, these poems create an intimacy that can only exist through the communion of play and confirm our belief that solemnity is not a requirement for affecting poetry.
We were happy to see many enticing digital-born works submitted, a reflection of the efforts of publishers and organisations that have supported the overlapping worlds of writing, games and new media art: from Emerging Writers Festival and Freeplay Festival to Voiceworks, Liminal Magazine and Running Dog to name but a few. There are also some poets in this edition being published for the first time, or for the first time in Cordite, Poetry Review, which is an immense joy and honour to us!
Finally, we’d like to thank these writers and artists for trusting us with their work, and to thank you, the reader, for giving us your trust, and entering the magic circle with us. We hope the games, discoveries and connections here serve you, again and again, as many times as you need.