Monday musings on Australian literature: VerityLa

I’ve mentioned the literary blog-cum-journal, VerityLa, a few times before here, partly because one of its founders is local writer, Nigel Featherstone. For those of you who haven’t come across it, however, it is, in its own words, “an on-line, no-way-for-profit, creative arts journal, publishing short fiction and poetry, cultural comment, photomedia, reviews, and interviews.” I have subscribed to it for some years now – it was established in 2010 – and have loved receiving in my email inbox its intriguing mix of content, from contributors both known and unknown to me. (My only complaint was that I wanted it to be like a “traditional” blog that I could comment on, as there were many times that I wanted to respond to the content.)

However, I was thrilled to receive an email last week announcing VeritaLa mark II, a stylish new website for the “journal” that significantly expands (and better organises) its content, including, the email, says, two new publishing streams:

  • Slot Machine (spoken word and performative text) curated by David Stavanger; and
  • Rogue State (bold nonfiction) edited by Kathryn Hummell

Overall, there are 14 streams, covering such areas as emerging indigenous writers, deaf and other disabled writers, travel writing, LGBTQI writers, visual artists, plus interviews and reviews. The full list as well as instructions on how to submit to the journal are available on their Submission Guidelines page. The excitement doesn’t stop with this expanded content, though. In other news on the same page, they announce that, due to financial support from Australia Council for the Arts, they will be paying, this year, $100 for each piece published (except for previously published book extracts). This amount, they say, is a “grand (in literary circles) sum.”

It just goes to show what can be achieved by plugging quietly away, gradually proving that what you are doing has value. That it does indeed have value is evidenced by the site’s being archived by the National Library of Australia’s Pandora, by its being comprehensively listed on the AustLit database (paywalled, though some content can be accessed free-of-charge), and by the archiving of selected pieces at Deakin Research Online.

The hunger

VerityLa Anthology 1, The HungerTo celebrate this new phase in its existence and “to recognise what’s been achieved” the VerityLa team has also produced its first anthology, chosen to reflect the journal’s diversity. Titled The hunger, it’s an eBook and costs only $10. A bargain, so I’ve bought it!

This anthology was edited by novelist and playwright Nigel Featherstone, poet and editor Michele Seminara, and poet and critic Robbie Coburn. It is described as follows:

Hunger is defined as an intense desire or craving. Artists published in Verity La crave a creative purity and truth, forging a place outside of what might be considered fashionable and publishable in the mainstream. The work appearing in this anthology is defined by the journal’s mantra, Be Brave: be hungry for your voice to be heard and to articulate your soul, no matter the cost.

It includes contributions from both well-known writers like Robyn Cadwallader, Leah Kaminsky, Wayne Macauley, Anna Spargo-Ryan, Prime Minister’s Literary Prize winner Melinda Smith. They also include indigenous contributors such as Graham Akhurst, Brenda Saunders and Teena McCarthy the Iranian poet and asylum-seeker Mohammad Ali Maleki, and many more. What the diverse group of contributors in this volume shows is the liveliness of the arts in Australia.

Now, I haven’t read it properly, yet, but dipping into it, I’ve been moved by, for example, Brenda Saunders’ poem, “Taxi!” about the ongoing racism experienced by people with black skins, and entertained by Kristen Roberts’ clever, cheeky piece “Urban alphabet”:

P is for toilets and sometimes behind trees, never for footpaths or front doors, and definitely never for faces. Not cool at all.

Q is for tickets, or the dunny at a good gig (see? Use the  toilets!). Not too sure about those people who sleep out the front of a shop the night before a new phone comes out though. I mean, it’s just a bit of technology that’s gonna be superseded by another one in a few months, yeah? My time is too valuable for that.

(from “Urban alphabet”)

“Be brave”, as the volume’s promotion says, is VerityLa’s mantra. And the pieces I’ve read so far certainly are – in content and/or in form.

So, if you haven’t checked out VerityLa before, now might be the time. You might even consider donating (as little as $5 is appreciated) to help them keep paying contributors, among other costs. Or you could buy The hunger (at the link above). At these prices, you can’t really lose!

Do you read on-line literary journals, and if so, which ones and why?

10 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: VerityLa

  1. That little “Urban Alphabet” excerpt takes minding your Ps and Qs to a whole other place! It’s always wonderful to hear about the success of things like this. Makes me glad to know there are still lots of people reading good literature. Thanks for sharing about it!

  2. I can’t have been paying attention as I haven’t heard of VeritaLa before though have run into Nigel Featherstone, electronically speaking. And as an unhappy ABR subscriber am glad his magazine is succeeding. I’ll definitely take a look.

    • The references may have been before you started reading the blog Bill. It’s very different to ABR, as the reviews are occasional. It’s more creative content than reviews about works. But it’s great because there’s no sense of contributors having to subscribe to established forms.

  3. Literary journals, online or otherwise are cool. VerityLa Sounds very good. I really wish that I had more time to read them. The fact that VerityLa can now pay writers a small amount is an encouraging development.

  4. Hi Sue, I don’t subscribe to online literary journals, but I have today – VerityLa I hope I find time to read it as it looks very interesting. I love the Urban Alphabet.

    • Oh good Meg, they’ll be pleased. I love the variety of their contributors, and it’s nice to think they are being paid. (I should make clear that the Urban alphabet is the whole alphabet, not just those P and Q. I hope that’s obvious?)

  5. Hi Sue, yes VerityLa is varied and different. I went for a walk along the beach and was wondering what the other letters of the Urban Alphabet would represent – so yes obvious. I always think ‘c for cat’ is so meaningless.

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