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‘Its weird blooms exceed the edifices of demand, utility, capital and state’: Bonny Cassidy on Poetry Australia

By Harriet Staff

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At The Conversation, Bonny Cassidy presents this rich assessment of the current state of web and print publishing in Australia. Our favorite part is towards the end, where she writes on the advantages of digital publishing. But we’re partial to the beginning, where she writes about print publishing, too! Check out the former, and click this link to begin again and start with the latter (by which we mean the article’s beginning of course.)

[...] The web has certainly influenced the way Australians publish poetry, and it reflects the way we write and read it, too. Our industry of printing poetry is spread all around the country, but web publishing takes it further.

Visit Jacket2, Cordite Poetry Review, Mascara Literary Review or Snorkel, and find yourself in a link-labyrinth of poetry tourism.

These online journals are transnational and transcultural publications: with editorial beginnings in Australia, their mostly voluntary staff and advisors include diverse cultural and geographical representation, and they make a feature of translated work and critical writing from various international fronts.

In this sense, web poetry journals may be the most truly representative publishers of Australian poetry: presenting local work through its linguistic, critical and thematic links with Asian, Indigenous, North and South American, European and Trans-Tasman authors and exchanges.

Web journals such as these are living archives of current poetic culture, freshly updated and expanded.

As editorially rigorous as their more rarefied print cousins, web journals offer something more: a full sense of contemporary poetry’s intersection with other media. Sound poetry, concrete poetry and poetry written for oral performance are best served by online sources that can support the media in accessible, high-quality and cheap forms.

Without leaving the house – or their country – a reading audience can become a listening one by tapping into multimedia delivery. This is still an area of potential for our poetry journals. And it seems that online is where the weight of poetry’s ancient tradition – and the edges of poetic experimentation – can be most imaginatively japed, as in the case of the Bot or Not? project created by local writers Benjamin Laird and Oscar Schwartz.

The financial model for Australian poetry publishing is rich and rare: personal investment and in-kind support is its core; government arts funding is a significant enabler; and income from sales, subscriptions and patronage helps to sustain essential costs but seldom equals profit.

A vulnerable yet persistent ecology, its weird blooms exceed the edifices of demand, utility, capital and state.

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Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 by Harriet Staff.