Update: Robert Woodin response

Quiet Conversations in a Very Noisy Room

Written in response to:

Quiet Conversations in a Very Noisy Room

It is interesting to reflect further on the reasons for the short life span of most literary journals. One contributing factor, which I want to highlight, is the economic difficulty. Funding is hard to come by in literature, especially when we compare it to other artforms. Stinson mentioned that The Lifted Brow was unaffiliated, but we need remember that it is the worthy recipient of several grants. It received, for example, $30,000 in 2013 from the Australia Council. That is, I imagine, how they keep on keeping on.

In that sense, one wonders about the poetry ecosystem, which Stinson does not discuss. He fails to mention, for example, Cordite, which now runs to 53 editions or the Australian Poetry Journal, even as the latter is regarded as a key literary organisation with guaranteed multi-year government funding. APJ’s lack of institutional support in the form of a university or direct partner makes it something of an oddity. The journal is, of course, one expression of the organisation’s broader activities, but a key part. Since 2008, Australian Poetry has received $689,831 from the Australia Council. Of that, $63,000 seems to have been for ‘Publishing: Literary Magazines’, received in 2013 and 2014. The vast majority ($425,111) is simply for being a ‘Key Organisation’. Compared to other literary journals this is a substantial amount of money; compared to other poetry journals it is a colossal figure.

But compared to other arts this is a woeful, pitiful, negligible amount of money. For example Opera Australia in 2011 received $78, 594, 991 from the Australia Council. Imagine what literary journals we could produce with a tenth of that funding? And that is what literary journals need to keep in mind as they participate in an arts world far bigger than their own.

Robert Wood

Editor’s note: The initial version of this letter claimed that The Lifted Brow was supported by RMIT. This is incorrect, and we apologise for the misrepresentation.