Good news and bad

Cordite Poetry Review is now back online!

The good news is that I’ve now narrowed down over 700 pages of submissions for Cordite 28: Secret Cities to just 50. The process was both fun and exhausting, although there’s a couple of pieces in there that (if I were the writer) I’d really want to change, or edit, or adjust.

I’m hesitant about making that jump from anonymous submissions process to one of active intervention and encouragement. Then again, the last time I edited an issue of Cordite (2005’s Editorial Intervention issue) I did in fact approach several contributors with suggested amendments or queries about their poems. Their responses were overall encouraging.

This kind of intervention makes an issue stronger and also confirms for the poets involved that their work has been read more than once, by someone who actually cares. Then again, with hundreds of other submissions that could also benefit from editing, and which don’t even make the shortlist, such an approach might also be labelled unfair.

In the end, I don’t think the volume of submissions itself is a problem for us – we’re thrilled that we receive work from so many people. The problems seem to be lying in the kinds of systems we set up in order to receive these submissions more efficiently. Email submissions, with multiple file attachment types, is just not working.

I’ve been experimenting with several online submission plug-ins, and hope to have some kind of trial online submission system (for eventual use in Cordite) up either here or on the Cordite site, in time for submissions to our 29th issue, the theme of which remains a secret, just like the contents of its predecessor, Secret Cities (due online in July).

The bad news is that first my web hosting provider’s servers and then the upstream provider for both the and domains have suffered a series of brown-outs, jitches, mind-warps and hernias over the past week, leaving my poor little websites quivering and twitching on the ground.

We hope to restore normal access soon. In the meantime,

Feng Haag Shuiling,


Going Down Swinging 24: the editorial

This is my first [and only!] issue as co-editor of Going Down Swinging.

It’s been a wild ride.

First, the submissions. I have to admit I was amazed and then slightly frightened by the sheer number (and quality) of submissions we received this year. This just confirms for me how many people are out there writing crazy poems, drawing kooky comics and coming up with surreal and interesting storylines. I hope you’ll agree that this 24th issue of Going Down Swinging is as strong, if not stronger than any issue of any magazine that’s ever been published. Anywhere.

Second, the editorial process. This is the first time I’ve ever worked closely with a group of fellow-editors and let me tell you, the GDS editorial meetings are barnstorming affairs, where the seemingly impossible task of selecting a book’s worth of content from thousands of submissions takes on epic proportions. I’d like to be able to say that these meetings were full of tears, tantrums and tie-breaks but the truth is, working with Steve and Lisa has been a fantastic experience.

Third, the comics. GDS has featured comic art before but I believe this is the biggest and best selection of comic art I’ve ever seen. Anywhere. Huge props to our comics editor Mandy Orr for her work in soliciting work from some very exciting artists. It was hugely exciting to sit down and look through the work, and while the task of selecting the best pieces was just as hard as it was for the poetry and prose, I think we’ve achieved the right balance.

Fourth, the contributors. That’s you. I know, you may not have got into this issue but the fact of the matter is that GDS would not exist were it not for the writers, the poets, the genii (you know it). The artists, cartoonists, haikunauts and rhymesters. The readers and supporters of the magazine. Yes, you. We love you all. Believe me, I have been you. I may not know you in the way Henry Rollins says he does but then who would want to, really?

Finally, the book itself. I mean, how cool is this book? From the cover to the layout and the bumper comics section (some of it in colour!), this issue oozes professionalism and quality. Quality! The world’s crying out for it! Thanks to Steve and his incredible production skills, that’s just what you get. In bucket-loads. I’m proud to have had even a small hand in bringing this issue to life. I’m left wondering how GDS can get any better.

Well, the big news is that Going Down Swinging is now bi-annual! This means you have twice as many chances to be published in Australia’s coolest, funkiest and most untold literary periodical!

So get cracking!

covers: poems by nick whittock

covers: poems by nick whittock
(Cordite On Demand, 2004)

COD’s second book, by cricket tragic and librarian Nick Whittock, was a lot of fun to make. Nick wanted the book to be shaped like the old Footrot Flats comics. Once we got this in our minds, everything else flowed naturally and what you get for your buck is a strange, experimental and brave collection of poems about cricket and cricketers, including poem-title-of-the-century nominee, “Doosra Locomotion”.

However, as with Tom See’s book, the publishing experience was also full of ‘learnings’. Anyone who has published a book or launched something similar (eg a CD, an art exhibition etc) would know of the dreaded-worst-nightmare-situation when the thing to be launched does not show up on time. Unfortunately for Nick, this fate befell the first launch of his book, which was conducted sans product.

This was more than made up for, however, by a launch in Nick’s home town of Candelo in southern NSW, where we packed out the local cafe and had a great time.

OI: poewemz bii tom see

OI: poewemz bii tom see
(Cordite On Demand, 2004)

Earlier this year, deciding that my life wasn’t nearly as busy as it could be, I set up an imprint for Cordite Press, known as COD, or Cordite On Demand. Its aims were pretty ambitious – basically a complete shake-up of the Australian publishing industry. While this is obviously still light years away and despite COD’s all-too-brief lifespan, we did manage to publish two books, the first of which was written by Melbourne-based poet and cricketer Tom Clark, under the pseudonym tom see.

The book was designed with the dimensions of a vinyl record single cover in mind, and the book was also notable for its great cover illustration (by Charles Lake) and its listing of the table of contents on the book’s reverse. We printed 250 copies, and I’ve got a few left. As this was my first attempt at publishing a book, I obviously learnt a good many lessons the hard way. The launch was great, though!

Nevertheless the process of publication was really fascinating and interesting for me – not least because we used the services of BPA, a Melbourne-based printer who offer digital printing, at a lower price than traditional offset printing. While I have my reservations about the pros and cons of POD as opposed to offset printing, this first book proved to me that it is possible to produce a good-looking book according to your own design specifications, and that it won’t necessarily cost the earth to get it printed.