Sam van Zweden




Three lit journals in time for Christmas

In the two-and-a-bit weeks since my return from travelling, I’ve felt more inclined towards people than I have in quite a while. There’s something about going out into the world and realising that there are indeed places where you know nobody at all. It’s a bit of a treat – even in the city now anonymity isn’t something I get to enjoy often. Returning also makes you more thankful for those bright, shining stars you have back home on your return. And so coming back to open arms and vibrant community has been soothing. It’s been at once calmly familiar and energising.

Seeing so much of good people has meant also seeing much of their fantastic work – I’ve been to a few launches and received a very welcome parcel in the mail. I’d like to call your attention to three magazines whose latest issues have been released in the last fortnight, and which will no doubt make fantastic Christmas presents: The Lifted Brow, Voiceworks and Funny Ha Ha.

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I can’t review these at this point – I’ve read a few pieces from each, but haven’t read any of them cover-to-cover yet. What I am sure of is that each of these publications are incredibly hard-working, generous and represent some of the very best in Australian writing. I’m particularly excited about Funny Ha Ha, which has gotten chubby in the space between issues 2 and 3. It’s made by Rebecca Varcoe, who’s also recently been on a City of Literature travel fund trip. On that trip, she talked to some very, very clever comedy writers and those transcripts are part of Funny Ha Ha issue 3, along with writing from other hilarious people.

The Lifted Brow‘s latest is ‘The Art Issue’, and it looks suitably gorgeous. Today the Brow also announced their entrance into the world of book publishing, kicking off with Briohny Doyle’s debut novel. The hugest of congratulations to both TLB and Briohny!

This new venture for TLB is exciting – with their growing reputation (and proven track record) as a publisher of challenging and important nonfiction, I’m hoping to see a strong nonfiction list from them in future, in addition to this debut novel. While they’re only aiming to publish a few books each year, I have no doubt that those titles will be chosen with great care, and will fill a gap in the market, as the journal does already.

Voiceworks #102 is themed ‘Defiance’, in honour of the brilliant and dearly missed Kat Muscat. The launch of this issue also saw the launch of the Kat Muscat Fellowship; a developmental fellowship for female-identifying writers and editors, which hopes to honour “Kat’s legacy and further [develop] the future of defiant and empathic young Australian women.” Applications for the fellowship are open until January 11.

The three journals pictured above are all beautifully produced and well thought-out, not just as things that house great writing, but also as lovely objects. Go get one for yourself,  and go put one in someone’s Christmas stocking (or holiday receptacle of choice).

Post Box Perks and Presents…

I’ve recently acquired a post-office box. It’s a bit of a loser box, it’s little and down the bottom and around the corner from the main row of post boxes. But it’s a PO Box! I think there’s something professional about being able to provide people with a PO Box address, and I like the forced exercise that comes from having to walk a bit to check the mail. I live above/behind a shop, and have no mail box here, so our mail always arrives late or not at all. The post box has been great for receiving things promptly and actually!

Having a bit of a shitty day yesterday, I walked up to the post office and found all sorts of presents waiting for me. There was a copy of Voiceworks (who have utterly outdone themselves – frosted dust-jacket, people!) and a review book from The Big Issue. That perked my day up considerably.

Apart from these wonderful presents, I’ve recently invested in a present for myself that I’m particularly excited about. It’s this beautiful giant:

Co-worker flicked through it and gave me a distaste-face, before asking, “How does it work?”

Oh, my friend! It works every way. The most obvious use of it is to look up phrases and fables, and be provided with the history and meaning behind said phrases and fables. However, it’s much much more than that, too. It contains famous people, pretty much every influential text you could ever think of. Under “First” there’s an entry about first lines, containing the first lines of a heap of classics and well-loved texts. Under “Last” there’s a listing of famous last words. This is an intertextual wet dream. Remember wading through The Wasteland and getting… oh, about 1% of it? Should’ve had a Brewer’s. A probable ditto for Ulysses, though I’ve never dipped into it myself.  At the risk of Super-Nerddom, I’d say this is a reference book that it’s possible to read. As Philip Pullman says in this foreword, you can easily spend hours just browsing in Brewer’s.

With my brand new Brewer’s close at hand, no reference will ever pass me by again. Ever. I will be a close-reading queen. Just so ya’ll know.

Oh, and a heads-up for anyone interested in one: the price has just recently dropped. I went to a nearby independent book-store, and found they charged $55 for it. Ordering it through work, I found the price has dropped to $39.99. A considerable difference (even more considerable with a staff discount on top). A lot of publishers seem to be panicking about the shift to online sales, and are dropping prices on some books. Brewer’s is the lucky recipient of one of these price drops, so if you want one, now’s the time!

National Young Writers’ Month

Express Media, that amazing bunch of enthusiastic helpful people behind Voiceworks, are gearing up for National Young Writers’ Month. During the month of June, there will be heaps of events, as well as web-based discussions and exercises to help get the brain doing brainy things.

I’ve just registered for NYWM on the Express Media website, and there’s already some great discussions going on in the forums. When you register, you’re asked to set yourself a goal. My goal is to write and polish (whole process, from scratch) at least five pieces of poetry or prose throughout the month of June. Reading other people’s goals on the forums is making me think that maybe I should try to incorporate LGWABP into my goal in some way too…

The NYWM launch proper will be part of the Emerging Writers’ Festival

Voiceworks Launch!

It’s come around so quickly! Tomorrow night (23rd September), Voiceworks is launching issue #82, “Hunger”.

It’s at Bertha Brown, from 6pm. Head on down!

Featuring work from Sophie Clark, Dom Amarena, Krystin Low, Peter Dawncy, Trish Griffiths, Katherine Pollock, Eli Glasman, L. Phillip Lucas, Samuel Williams, Sam van Zweden, Amber Beilharz, Jack Madin, Anna Westbrook, Erin Lockington, Emily Dacy-Cole, Adam Carr, Jessica Seymour, Aaron Benson, Jenna Sten, Marco Antonio Ruiz, Suzannah Marshall Macbeth, Kavita Bedford, Vince Chadwick, Jessica McCausland and Tammy Law.

That’s right, that’s my name right in the middle there. So come on down, grab a copy, have a chat and a drink, and celebrate my first piece in PRINT! Real pages. With my words on them. Real pages that you can turn with your actual hands. NUTS!

Hope to see you there.

A much clearer kind of expression

Express Media, oh beloved, have just launched their brand spankin’ new website!

If you spent any time on the old one, you’ll know what a pain it was to navigate. This new site is a little ray of sunshine, brightening up my world.

Thanks, Express Media!


Have you heard about Virgule?

Virgule is the Voiceworks blog, which has been up and running for about a month now. At this stage, Virgule is penned (…keyed?) by members of the Voiceworks team, but I believe in future they’ll be looking for guest bloggers to help with content. Having said that, there’s no shortage of brilliance up there at the moment.

There’s a pretty steady stream of material going up, all of it worth a read. Earlier this week Sam Cooney made a post about his favourite opening lines. Quite an entertaining read, and one that really made me consider the importance of my own first lines. It’s strange, I can really appreciate a great first line from someone else but I never really think about making my own first lines jump off the page. EdComm members regularly post about something interesting like this.

Virgule also helps writers keep abreast of what’s coming up, not just at Voiceworks (who are currently looking for EdComm members), but also other opportunities out there in the big wide world of Melbourne publishing.

Perhaps the most helpful posts that have been going up though, are the Friday Writing Exercise posts. The exercises are open enough to have fun, but provide some ideas for more structured writing, and help develop the skill of writing to a theme, which is an important part of competitions and publication.

So add Virgule to your Google Reader, keep up to date with what’s going on at Voiceworks and partake in some of their conveniently digestible posts in your lunchtime!

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