After enjoying reading Etchings’ sixth issue, I thought I’d head down to Etchings Issue Seven’s launch at Lentil As Anything. For those of you unfamiliar with the publication, Etchings is a high quality art/writing journal that is published by Ilura Press. It publishes themed work from established writers such as Alice Pung, and J M Coetzee, as well as up and coming peeps such as Geoff Lemon, Ryan O’Neill, and Chris Currie. I’ve just got my hands on Issue Seven: Chameleons, and it looks like a riot with Bundit Puangthong’s artwork splashed across its covers; hopefully, the text on the page will be just as colourful.
The launch opened with words from the two guest speakers, Shanaka Fernando and Kevin Rabalais. Being the founder of Lentil As Anything, Fernando was the most qualified to explain the ‘Pay As You Feel’ theme for the night. In what might be an unprecedented move, Ilura Press ran a special offer of ‘Pay As You Feel’ book sales and subscriptions at the launch, upholding the independent press ideal of focusing ‘mostly on literature and believ[ing]…strongly in creating a culture, rather than selling books’ (Lisa Dempster from Vignette Press, 14 July 2009).
Following Fernando, Kevin Rabalais described small literary journals as ‘the news of the literary world for serious readers and serious writers’, and cited Etchings’ inclusion of an excerpt from J M Coetzee’s Summertime as an example; Summertime has since been longlisted for the Booker Prize.
A couple of readings followed. I didn’t stay for very long; it was a more mature crowd at Lentil As Anything and I felt a little out of place, attracting the scrutiny of Christopher Lappas (help!) and several nappy-wearing babies, but I wasn’t the only one feeling nervy: Vivienne Christie seemed to be speeding through her piece ‘Things we can’t tell’. A. S. Patrick seemed to enjoy performing the truncated version of ‘Ducks’, whilst Geoff Lemon was a no show, which is a shame since I had enjoyed his ‘Albatross’ reading from a while back.
The submission deadline for Etchings‘ next issue is coming up. Issue Nine’s theme is ‘Love and Something’, so if you’re babysitting some quality love stuff, send it in before mid-August. Two weeks: that’s plenty of warning.