1     “Literary Magazines” By Rosemary Sorensen editor of the Australian Book Review.

Some years ago I went to a conference organised by the Australian National University's prestigious Research Centre. The topic was little magazines, or literary magazines (a distinction that needs some comment), and among the invited guests were two gents from London, editors of rival literary-review newspapers. An American came too, the editor of a highly intellectual literary magazine, who received, if I recall accurately, a certain amount of cynical scrutiny. This was years before I ever thought about editing one of the wretched things myself. My passions were elsewhere, and I don't think I had read a new Australian novel, poem, or history since school. I had, absolutely by chance, hooked myself up to a local production, a little magazine with pretensions, much taken to imploring British writers for a little bit of anything they might have in their bottom drawer, and then publishing these little bits to much fanfare and grandstanding. I was completing what seemed to be my formal education at the time and felt what many Australians must feel -- that I knew very little indeed about the literature of my own country, and still less about what was being written here and now. That local literary magazine, with its stuffy snobbery and constant yearning glance overseas, suited my own pretensions then, since I was perfectly in agreement that it was unthinkable anyone would bother to read an Australian book when so much was on offer from elsewhere. The two male editors needed someone to keep subscriptions up to date and type letters, and I needed to see what was going on. Gradually, as my sense of the literary community grew, I became aware of why I was sitting in that smelly little office tapping obediently at a computer and listening to the voices of men drone over me. Without a catalyst, a part of me had been dormant, the reading and interpreting part, and it was beginning to stir. That there was in Australia a literary "scene" at all was certainly not evident to me, even though I had been through several university courses in different Australian states. What had become urgent was the consequences of the realisation that if you are not part of a prosperous cultural production, if there is not around you a sense of excitement and wonder at the possibilities of writing and imaginative thought, then life was impoverished. You might as well leave. We'll go back to that conference in Canberra and our visiting literary editors, but first there are two important points about the role of magazines in Australian literature that can be heard behind my anecdote about how I became interested and involved in all this. First, it is obvious that for practical and logical reasons literary magazines often overlap with academic journals, but it is also true that the narrowing of the distance between them is periodically the target of criticism. That many magazines either come out of universities or have associations with them through their editors or advisory boards means that the editorial direction is generally biased toward academic criticism, although how this bias might affect the noncritical content (poetry and stories) is less clear. What is clear is that one of the few shelters magazines have is the academic institution that might see the fostering of creative and critical writing as part of their aims. The majority of literary magazines do have, therefore, some connection (accommodation, for example, but sometimes they may share staff or even be produced and printed on campus). This may be one of the reasons literary magazines are not easily perceived as being for general audiences. The second point flows from the observation of the prevalence in Australian cultural life of yearning glances elsewhere. The Cringe is almost an Australian institution, made mythic because of the

) Throughout the 1980s and into the more conservative opening years of the 1990s. or literary magazines. it could be said that literary magazines position themselves for change and that the metaphorical use of the word edge dominates their self-image. institutions that try to be more British than the British. that same magazine is now published by the local branch of a British university press.tion. then it is assumed to be the writer's fault. Although fascinated by its temptations. and other writers alike spend a fair amount of time composing witticisms about dead authors and obscurantism. The irony is that their bid for freedom took them to one of the colleges of that same Australian university. one little magazine that has struggled to survive under various forms is called Fine Line. it had been set up within a university English department but taken over by editors who believed that independence was all-important. (In fact. The debate between those who defend a traditional notion of excellence and those who say that this notion is a legacy of our colonial experience sparks up at regular intervals. the other was very taken with the local football and kept disappearing off to another part of the conference building to watch direct telecasts. So much for change and innovation. What marks the best production of Australian literary magazines is a positive use of this tension. There are very few magazines in this mould. Irony on irony. critics. Pulling against this is not just the nostalgia for tradition (with its mollifying standards of excellence) but also a firm and loving respect of past effort and achievement. None of this seemed especially apparent at that conference on little magazines of the literary variety that took place in the nation's capital seven or eight years ago. looking always for the impressive name and bent on soldering links with tradi. however strongly felt and however much it marks the literary production of a community. the claim to innovation has become predictable. The American academic responsible for one of those magazines most of the conference delegates would have killed to be in was consequently put on the defensive immediately. so that the zip and clatter of innovation ends up in interesting balance with the sonority of tradition. In the main. influenced as even the literary community is by the fashion to forefront surface change and repudiate deep structures. It is the case fairly generally in Australian publishing. is challenged in a number of ways. you might say. There is a certain amount of fine-line-walking done on this edge. clearly uninterested in finding out what was going on in Australia. . The British gents sneered a little.) The American chap sensed that theory holds a very special place in Australia's literary heart. (One said that he figured he should accept the offer of an airfare out to Australia since he'd been curious as to what the place looked like and probably wouldn't get a chance to see it again before he died. books.2     peculiar circumstances of our history. it's the thing we love to hate. collectively all these fires are gradually razing the old and preparing ground for new growth. and although it never gets far beyond producing a few brush fires. But that resistance. whether newspapers. and it was from the mock-hallowed halls of the college that they sent out their pseudoinnovative literary magazine. In the case of the magazine I am telling yams about here. all of which are exemplified by the little magazines. academics. perhaps in recognition of the ambiguities inherent in defining your area as being an edge. that if the reader cannot understand the language and principles of what is being said.

and there is often an emphasis on experimental writing. The muddling of little and literary has lost its currency now in an era in which literary magazines are becoming increasingly professional. although some. but it was killed off several years before the recent frightening changes in Australian media ownership (increased foreign ownership and a decreased number of owners) and has not been since replaced. there is often a sense that our local publications are not as highly regarded or desirable as the "successful" overseas publications. The Age is. the Australian Book Review. The conference was about little/literary magazines. If these magazines are not part of a creative-writing course initiative set up within an institution. for our purposes. by definition. sells as well as the two newspaper reviews that were represented at the conference (the London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement). in this way: they appear at irregular intervals. Stylistically it married the richly allusive. at the expense of the content. a quality tabloid published in Melbourne and now affiliated with the Sydney Morning Herald. they are very likely to be self-funded. eschew the lure of gloss and conform to the plain and simple style of low-cost publishing. is interesting. Little magazine is a hangover term from the days when Australia's central literary focus was England and the tradition of transgressive and innovative small presses associated with that country was fixed in many minds as the desirable model to follow. The rapid improvement in desktop publishing and the consequent decrease in production costs has meant that these magazines tend to imitate the look of more commercial publications. the Age Monthly Review. if it has any currency at all. in retrospect. while they are sometimes loosely connected to a university or other institution. apparently. It was resolutely "serious. No doubt the Monthly Reviewwould have seen its swift demise this far into the era of so-called economic rationalism. a professionalisation that has not necessarily increased their circulation but which has been necessary in a period of rapid technological change and concurrent homogenisation of publishing product. and the newspaper discontinued it. At that time in Australia there was one such newspaper being published." in a way that. Now. In such a case the appellation little had clearly lost its desirability and become a liability. little magazines are probably not. in fact. sure-footed erudition familiar to readers of British review newspapers with the flamboyant obtuseness and eagerness of American literary criticism. but it was generally felt that the kinds of articles it contained were not attractive to the kinds of readers it was supposed to be reaching. rather than monthly or quarterly. because it indirectly spelt out several words that were implicit in its orientation and its outcome and that provide anchor points for considering the role and development of literary magazines in Australia. While in comparative terms Australia's only monthly review magazine. both of which were recently sold off to the Conrad Black group.3     That Canberra Conference has been useful. or was. Its sales did not justify its production. Over the past two decades the major source of funding for literary . they tend to be reactions against the university-sponsored magazines (which are therefore identified as established. That we should invite two such personages to a conference in a country that abounded in little magazines of every type except the newspaper-review fortnightly. not really representing either literary or little magazines but in fact fortnightly newspapers specialising in book reviewing. such as Ulitarra and Otis Rush (a rare survivor in the rapid coming and going of little magazines). both of them London-based. containing a dozen or so long essays on recent books and favouring complex theoretical argument. The guest editors from elsewhere were. it might refer to the constant crop of new literary magazines which could be defined. a definition that is on the one hand flexible and inclusive and on the other hand rigid and exclusive. they tend to strongly represent the work of previously unpublished writers. and therefore "establishment" in their orientation).

so that each year the process of preparing an application and justifying inclusion in the magazine programme must be gone through. have recently revamped their image. This odd conjunction of beliefs -. as distinct from what I've been calling little magazines." That this so important magazine . Overland. of one-year funding. And the introduction of twoyear funding has not increased the sense of security to any degree. since it is principally a review magazine and the only monthly in Australia that is dedicated to books. Literature Board funding has been crucial to the health of literary magazines. has been in continuous production for thirty years. It is all very well to be brave and independent. is about seven years. It is nevertheless logical within the Literature Board's strategic development of Australian literature. There is. in effect. On the other hand. And yet Australian Book Review celebrates its twentieth year in its present form next year. The idea of a grant-dependent literary magazine runs counter to the myth of the brave independent. tested before eligibility is achieved. contributors. The life of a literary magazine. so that the situation is always precarious. In order to receive funding. magazines were only assured. it operates on the principle of funding magazines with proven records rather than acting as entrepreneurs in a risk-taking venture. There is no doubt that the consistent funding by the Literature Board is a privilege that cannot be taken for granted -. calling on the services of large local publishers to gain distribution to bookshops and readers beyond the university. with each new election the Australia Council seems to come under threat itself.is gradually dissolving. to produce your magazine on heavy glossy paper with trendy fonts and flamboyant graphics. recently celebrated its fiftieth year. Even in periods of relative stability. like many others. until very recently. there is a sense of funding being a right. and in a country where. One of the problems inherent in this policy is that it favours established magazines and disadvantages those who might have good ideas but no funds to develop them. critical articles. a magazine must have produced at least four issues.and indeed. has been the Literature Board of the Australia Council. but it is taking its toll as it goes. which is more in the mould of the literary magazine since it is a quarterly that includes stories. and book reviews. poems. offering a courageous alternative to the mainstream. a recent case of a magazine not fulfilling the criteria for its grant brought a barrage of outraged abuse from the magazine and its supporters. only to find themselves out of business soon after. the most commonly expressed criticisms of government funding of the arts are those that mention words such as waste and taxpayer's money. all along the lines of "How dare the Board cut off the lifeblood of such an important magazine. so that the commitment and resources of the magazine are. At the same time. and this is a situation not without its opponents.that commercialisation is a good thing when it comes to design but that literary editors. of course.4     magazines. which has a magazine programme as part of its portfolio. and it fits neatly into the myth of avantgardism and innovative courage. and Meanjin. and the like are morally obliged to do it for the love of it -. but it is perhaps not the best example. but the money that is spent on such farandoles is not then available to pay the contributors and the editorial workers. Several magazines with literary and other cultural content have made the leap into expensive commercial-looking production. as I hinted when I suggested that some little magazines favour surface spectacle at the expense of content depth. Other more distinctly academic journals. the myth prescribes. not a privilege. such as Australian Literary Studies and Southerly. proofreaders. similar in content and published by the University of Melbourne. the expectation that literary magazines should imitate the design fashions of commercial publishing clashes with this mythic prejudice. something glorious about such demise.

Rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne is renowned. the respective cities brand each other as brash and shallow (Sydney) and stodgy and pessimistic (Melbourne). Writers are. from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. Imago. not territory) have their own literary magazines. Outside of the eastern seaboard linking Melbourne and Sydney. visiting festivals. the process is also very useful. Regional centres in the more populous states also provide opportunities for local and interstate writers to be published. even though it is free and widely available. The Literature Board itself comes under a fair deal of scrutiny from the general public. together with articles of interest to writers and readers. Tasmania's Island magazine is published in Hobart. it seems. but once again. published in Canberra. publishing "the best in Australian short stories and poetry. has never really settled in to its desired place. Some define the focus a little differently. the Sydney version. All the other smaller states (in population. On the positive side. A different kind of newspaper that still has a fair amount of literary content is the Sydney Review. the growing popularity of literary festivals across the country has meant that the network between states is more visible. and reviews of recent books" (Imago). and Redoubt. Sydney resists." This desire to link into networks pinpoints one of the most common anxieties for those who publish literary magazines in Australia: distribution. While so many other magazines have taken on the challenge of the new era. there was bound to be a dinosaur among the pack. One of the puzzling phenomena of the literary magazine scene in Australia is the dominance of Melbourne as the centre of successful magazine production. the cost of transport and communication becomes daunting. but not exclusively. which demands professional standards and accountability. where the South Australian Adelaide Review was welcomed almost immediately by the locals and has become an institution. Westerly comes out of the University of Western Australia in Perth. and it is the closest thing to the defunct Age Monthly Review that exists. including magazines. from Charles Sturt University in the Riverina district of New South Wales. and to foster that rivalry. but it is a fact that Melbourne supports more magazines than Sydney. as is suggested by the aim of Four W. in which local writers are published. and so constantly scrutinises itself all the programmes. since it intends to feature longer articles on local and overseas books. Most of these magazines follow a similar content structure. Northern Perspective emanates from the Northern Territory University in Darwin. constantly on the move between states. A couple of examples are Four W. and that such a dinosaur should see itself as a rare new species is probably something experienced within the literary community of most countries. which is "to collect together some of the best of 'regional' writing and to link local writers with national networks. spawned from the very successful Adelaide Review. taking part in writers-in-residence .5     happens to be that very same one that I began this article by describing is another of the ironies of its history. yet the population even within the clusters of large cities has not ever been sufficient to make local publishing and distribution very attractive. especially within organisations that are often run by volunteer boards or small committees which may have the tendency to neglect such constant self-examination in favour of the more immediate tasks of getting to press. What this says about the qualities required to keep a literary magazine in print is not perhaps worth conjecture. Although this can result in difficult and timeconsuming tasks of self-justification and accreditation. and that a recent attempt to get a new review newspaper up and running within sight of the Harbour bridge collapsed -.only to be revived in Melbourne! That newspaper is Editions.

They have always operated as sounding-boards. and a fair amount of tokenism goes on. It isn't precisely the bust that follows the boom. but there is certainly a leaner time ahead in terms of the numbers of books publishers are willing to add to their lists. published at the University of Queensland). had to give up that aim. no doubt. perhaps. who is now internationally successful and joins an elite band of Australian writers who have had such success. Equipped now with cost-efficient desktop-publishing facilities. this has also meant that the literatures of the rest of the (rather large) region are mingling with and enriching ours.ironically. and since Australia is a country that is learning (despite much debate) to think of itself as belonging to the AsianPacific region.6     programmes. Australian publishers' lists grew rapidly in the past ten years. which used to promise to notice every new work of literature published here. Carlton. the defunct Tabloid Story. by the Literature Board. Victoria 3053 . It is well known that Peter Carey. The scope is much wider. but the variety of magazines ensures that enough space exists for development to occur. the production of the last decade (which was being seen as overproduction until very recently) appears to be over. funded for some years. even though the magazine has nearly doubled in size. so much so that Australian Book Review. as places for new writers to try out their work. the debate about multiculturalism that has raged in the past few years has had the cumulative effect of making it very much a part of our consciousness. This increase in the connectability of different regions in a large country has brought with it a much stronger sense of Australia's literary map and has broken down the staunch parochialism possible when communication required a big effort of will. As with any change. was "found" in a literary magazine -. of course. And this is the most consistent function of the literary magazines in Australia. But whatever the origin of the desire to include writing that reflects different cultural experiences. much that is pastiche or underdeveloped results. or promoting new books. And this. means that the literary magazines are in for a new period of growth following what has been a time of consolidation and professionalisation. I think you will agree that we seem to have come a long way from the Canberra conference and the British chaps lecturing us on the way to put out a fortnightly-review newspaper. it has resulted in a revitalisation of our magazines. Victoria SOME OF THE LITERARY MAGAZINES PUBLISHED IN AUSTRALIA: Australian Book Review Suite 3. 21 Drummond Place / Carlton. and indeed. The last ten years have. and as training grounds. and with the widened arena made possible by the recognition of the way that postcolonialism both breaks with the dominant paradigms and enjoys the advantages available from being schooled in those same paradigms. What has influenced the content of literary magazines dramatically in the short time even since that conference is a growing confidence in what has been called multiculturalism. since it has been a boom time for publishing. While there is only one magazine that specialises in publishing the work of Australians from nonEnglish-speaking backgrounds (Outrider. been a period when the centrality of the literary magazines as testing ground for new writers has diminished. literary magazines in Australia are well prepared for this potential period of growth. Certainly there is a flavour-ofthe-month taste to some of the inclusions in literary magazines. attending literary lunches. A country developed in periods of boom (goldmining built the city of Melbourne to a period of glory at the end of last century) understands that bust might always follow.

Manning House / University of Sydney / Sydney. Box 42 / Apollo Bay. Contributors: Rosemary Sorensen . Box 42 / St.O. Box 3514 / Manuka.O. 4067 Island / P. ACT 2603 Four W / LSN School of Education / P.O.O. Issue: 3.author. / Malvern. NT 0811 Overland / P. Box 41246 / Casuarina. . Victoria 3070 Blast / P. Publication Year: 1993. Victoria 3144 Westerly / Department of English / University of Western Australia / Nedlands. Victoria 305 Northern Perspective / P.O. Victoria 3233 Australian Women's Book Review / P. Box 14146 / Melbourne.O. Journal Title: World Literature Today. Page Number: 481. WA 6009 Literary Magazines. NSW 2039 Ulitarra / P. Lucia.O. Box 64 / Coburg.O.7     Australian Short Stories / P.O. Tasmania 7005 Mattoid / School of Humanities / Deakin University / Victoria 3217 Meanjin / University of Melbourne / Parkville. Victoria 3058 Hermes / Publications Centre / Level 1. Volume: 67. Qld. Box 354 / Northcote.O.O. Box 633 / Taree. NSW 2678 Going Down Swinging / P. NSW 2430 Verandah / Victoria College / 336 Glenferrie Rd. Box 207 / Sandy Bay. Box 187 / Rozelle. Victoria 3000 Redoubt / School of Communication University of Canberra PO Box 1 / Belconnen. NSW 2006 Imago / University of Queensland Press / P. ACT 2616 Southerly / The English Association P. Box 588 / Wagga Wagga.