Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Happy 150th Island Magazine

Sesquicentenary roll your tongues around that fine word for a moment Sesquicentenary.


It is Island magazine’s sesquicentenarial edition this season, it’s 150th. A significant issue to mark a magazine that began its life as The Tasmanian Review in June 1979. It includes the work of Andrew Sant, one of the magazine’s first editors as well as work from Cassandra Pybus who was editor in the early 1990s, her tenure not without controversy and one that still has tendrils in our literary community today.
Island has seen the first published works of many of the country’s most respected writers, indeed many who have graced the contents have been recognised internationally.
It has been an early publication outlet for figures in our broader literary community, including Amanda Lohrey, James Boyce and Richard Flanagan. Recent publications have seen work from Susie Greenhill, winner of the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers and Robbie Arnott, who has recently signed a contract for a novel with Text.
The first issue states that the two criteria which determine the selection of material are “excellence and variety” and these factors remain the same after nearly forty years of publishing. Issue one includes an essay about ‘Creativity and the Australian Media’ by Michael Denholm, one of the founders, whose work today on Tasmanian literary history will become an important resource for us all in future.
In contrast to the purely black and white first edition, and though the magazine has existed in many forms, for decades under the wise design eye of Lynda Warner, the magazine now sits comfortably alongside stylish design magazines, and it wears its arts on its sleeve.
150 features the endlessly fascinating and arcane work of Tricky Walsh and I’m so glad that we, the reader can experience her Tiefenzeit in a form different than on the gallery walls. There is fiction from Amanda Lohrey, who has been involved with the publication to varying degrees from day one. As also from day one, there are topical essays, 150 featuring work from Behrouz Boochani, ‘Chanting of Crickets, Ceremonies of Cruelty’. Berhrouz is a Kurdish-Iranian journalist and he is detained on Manus Island.
My favourite edition is issue 63. Mainly because of the perfect incongruity of the cover image, It is a photo of Michael Mansell, Tasmanian Aboriginal Activist, meeting the Queen. Inside Henry Reynolds interviews Mansell, alongside an essay by Richard Flanagan ‘The Stars and the Mountain’ and poetry from Tony Birch ‘Ladies’ Lounge’.
The other edition I adore is 125, featuring the painting ‘The Collector’ by Geoff Dyer of David Walsh, standing bloody and indignant, flanked by slabs of meat from one of the works in his collection. This edition was produced under the astute eye of Sarah Kanowski, who suffered the indignity, new in her tenure, to have lost funding from Arts Tasmania, though a keen and aware rallying from literary community around Australia afforded the magazine continued life. It was beautiful to see that support rising loudly, from day one.
A recent initiative of the magazine has been a wise partnership with Chatter Matters, opening, acknowledging and working with our state of illiteracy, to celebrate reading and writing in all its forms. Island is a beautiful, relevant and crucial publication and while I’ll toast the
sesquicentenary, I’d also like to toast the tercentenary:quinquennial and the quatercentenary. Oh such lovely words.

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Happy 150th Island Magazine

Sesquicentenary – roll your tongues around that fine word for a moment Sesquicentenary. It is Island magazine’s sesquicentenarial ed...