Vol 2, No. 2 ISSN 1442-0023
From the Director's Desk
In April, I travelled to Canada to take up a Leighton Studio Residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Situated in the picturesque Rocky Mountains, the Banff Centre is a focal point for the arts in North America, attracting artists in many disciplines from all over the world. It boasts cutting edge New Media facilities, as well as support for the performing arts and, of course, writing and publishing. The Centre hosts festivals, creative competitions and displays throughout the year, including such high points as the summer Banff Festival, and a Rocky Mountain Cultural Festival. Colin Graham, artistic director of the Opera Theatre of St Louis says: There is nowhere else in the world where an artist has the benefit of working beside every other art form that can be listed. This cross-fertilization is of inestimable worth.
My primary reason for accepting the residency was to complete my work on The Gallery, a multimedia, interactive CD, fusing text, audio and video. And the Centre gave me the right mix of privacy and technical support to do just that. My home for the residency was the Hemingway Studio, one of eight self-contained studios the Centre provides for self-directed artists wishing to work on a project in relative solitude. You can be as much of a hermit as you likeeven the telephone respects your privacy. But even artists get hungry from time to time, and its in the dining room where you meet an amazing range of artists and compare notes on how your project is going.
I hosted a reading for writers in the Hemingway Studio one evening and also gave a talk on New Publishing in Australia. I also discussed the possibility of doing a co-production with the Centre on my next project, which will be multimedia from the ground floor up, rather than an adaptation of an existing work. Like Rome and Paris, once you've been to Banff, it's hard to get it out of your blood. Maybe again in 2001? I certainly hope so!
Besides The Gallery our Spring Season 2000 will see the launch of Manfred Jurgensen's twelfth collection of poems carnal knowledge. I invite you to have a look at our site featuring the book and some readings by Manfred.
Audio recordings are now part of the sites we devote to our new titles, and Manfred's have the distinction of being the first ever to be recorded at Treetop Studio, IP's new home. While not offering a hermetically sealed facility, the Studio has a semi-soundproof room dedicated to multimedia work, and this is quite adequate for recordings such as these.
I'm also pleased to announce that our third title, Bermuda and the Other Islands, by Juliana Burgesen-Bednareck was Highly Commended in the 1999 Mary Gilmore Awards. Have a look at the Judges' Report.
2001 is shaping up to be our busiest year to date. Have a look at the next issue of IP eNews for a sneak preview of the titles we'll be publishing.
Years ago, when I was still living in Canada, a book came out called Cape Breton is the Thought-Control Centre of Canada. I don't remember much of the contents, but the premise stuck with me: here was a back-water region of the countrynot even its own Provincethat was declaring its importance, against the weight of the cultural power-brokers in Toronto and Montreal. The author wasn't serious, but he did have a serious point. Sometimes we should look outside the accepted corrals of opinion to see if innovation might just be happening in unexpected places.
Queensland is hardly the Cape Breton of Australia. Although, if you look at the treatment of authors up here by the agents of cultural power down south, you could be forgiven for drawing comparisons. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to the poetry scene. Two years ago, I attended a national poetry festivalin Sydney, of course, and raised a few eyebrows by saying I was from the Poetry Capital of Australia. They thought I was kidding. In part, I wasbut I was looking to the future.
I could talk about IP, and how we are leading the way in digital production and challenging accepted practice even in the area of print publication, but of course that would be self-serving. It's up to you to decide how well we're doing. But you may not know about the vibrancy of the Brisbane poetry scene, and how it really is setting the pace for the rest of the country.
I have attended many poetry festivals in this country, but none can hold a stick to the annual Brisbane Poetry Festival. Four years on, it is still being staffed by volunteers, who, through sheer dedication and astounding reserves of energy, bring it off in style.
Two years ago, the organisers took the risk of moving venue. The Festival had worked fairly well at the Sailing Club, on a sleepy reach of the Brisbane River. Problem was, the events were mostly preaching to the convertedpoets and their friends. And it was out of the way of most of the cultural traffic in town. The third Festival shifted to Fortitude Valleya sort of local Kings Cross. But The Valley, as it's known here, has lost a lot of its sleaze of late, and is regarded as one of the in places to go.
The organisers decided to decentralise the festival. Main events take place up the stairs at the Institute of Modern Art. Which is fine except for people who find the three flights of narrow stairs a challenge. The evening events, with their mix of performance/spoken word as well as literary poetry and music attracted upwards of 150 people. You can only guess how many of them had ever picked up a book of poems before, but I imagine that at least some of the younger people in the audience had certainly never lifted a quill to paper. They might have been there for the music, but some of the words might just have rubbed off.
Other venues included the trendy Latin Café-Bar, the gritty Zoo, and the funky Tongue-and-Groove at West End, all of which attracted good audiences at prime times. And seldom were the hard-core versifiers in the majority.
My only concern is the problem of attracting readers to serious browsing and buying. The Festival set up a shop at the IMA, but it seemed largely neglected. We need better strategies to remind the public that publishers appreciate approbation, but we depend on sales. More time needs to be set aside for sessions showcasing new work, with extra time at the end for book signings.
But you can be sure that if any team of organisers is up to solving this problem, it'll be the Fringe Arts Collective. I have every confidence that the Brisbane Poetry Festival will continue to be the premier event of its kind in this country. Long may it reign!
There's been a lot of grinding of teeth lately about where artists stand in relation to the GST. The final insult seemed to be the determination of the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to essentially deregister artists who do not earn a substantial income from their practice. They are to be classified as hobbyists for the purpose of the new Tax System, meaning they do it because they love it or have time on their hands, not because it's a serious profession.
However, IP has learned that there may be a silver lining to this particular storm system. As the legislation reads to date, if you're not registered for GST you don't have to charge it. This means that an author can buy stock from his or her publisher and then undercut the publisher or bookseller by selling books without charging GST. That is, as long as you make less than $50,000 a year from this activitythat being the threshold above which you must register for GST.
This is good news for self-publishers and authors who tour with their bookseffectively they can offer buyers a 10% discount without losing a cent. But you'd better not bank on it for long. Publishers may very well lobby the Government to close the loophole. Or they may introduce clauses in contracts forbidding authors from selling stock before such and such a time. Impossible, you say?
Nothing's impossible when it comes to protecting the slim margins of publishers these days.
This feature begins with an email from the ASA describing a new initiative in the area of digital publishing, followed by an open letter in response by IP's Director [editor]
Dear ASA Member
By now you will have read in the ASA Newsletter and in the Australian Author magazine about a new online venture between the ASA and IPR Systems, called OzAuthors. OzAuthors is a digital publishing service for Australian authors that is being built and trialled during 2000. It will bring together a range of Australian writing and resources in an easy-to-find, easy-to-use format, and it will make this material available via the Web. The service will allow creators and rights owners to promote and sell their work in a safe digital environment - individually setting the levels of access and payment. Visiting the OzAuthors site at http://www.ozauthors.com.au will provide you with a brief idea of the scope of the Project, prior to its launch in early August. (At present, this Web page is a 'placeholder' with no interactivity.) During the trial phase, the OzAuthors site will be marketed mainly to the writing community. The purpose of the Trial is to further develop the site with input from people like you: refining its presentation and functionality before launching it in earnest to the broader public. We also want to assemble a range of works, develop our editorial content and streamline our submission and management processes. We anticipate that the trial phase of OzAuthors will run for three months. At that time, we will take the project to a broader audience and begin to bring a wide range of readers to the site. Development is now well underway and we would now like to invite you to contribute your expertise and your work to the site. We are seeking interest from authors wanting to explore secure online publishing. The OzAuthors model involves self-publishing, so that authors set the price for the sale of their works, and retain a much higher percentage of the sale price (in general, this will be between 50% and 60%, after GST and credit card merchant charges). Why is online publishing a good idea? Because it's a way of expanding your readership, increasing your remuneration and promoting yourself to your audience. Most importantly, it gives you control over how your work is sold. You set the price and the conditions under which it can be sold. You can decide whether people can read all of the work or just a part of it, and whether they can read it only on screen or also in print. Recent developments in software mean that it is much more secure, so the risk of piracy is low Furthermore, the OzAuthors site does not involve any exclusivity. Putting your work on the site does not preclude you from publishing that work elsewhere, or tie you to OzAuthors in any way. You are the publisher of your work, and retain control over it. We encourage you to contact OzAuthors directly to register your interest and to provide any feedback. You can do this by emailing email@example.com or calling OzAuthors on (02) 9458 6425. Libby Jeffery (Project Manager) or Rachel Dixon (Content Consultant) will be available to answer any of your questions and walk you through the process of submitting a work. They will also be available after hours on 0438 398 604 (Libby's mobile) or 0414 884 775 (Rachel's mobile), so please do not hesitate to give them a call. This is an exciting opportunity to explore the new on-line publishing environment and we hope you choose to be part of the adventure with us.
José Borghino Executive Director
Thank you for your recent letter regarding the ASA's pilot project in the area of digital publishing. As a long-time member I value the work by the ASA on behalf of the writing community, but I cannot support this initiative.
The ASA is a professional organisation. Its mandate is to support the professional aspirations of its members. While it may seem that starting a digital publishing venture is consistent with this aim, I would argue that it actually could be contrary to the interests of authors. This is substantially different from the AWARD site, which has as its purpose the showcasing of individual authors who pay a fee for this service. Exploring the new digital environment is different from trying to make money from it. If the ASA takes on a blatantly commercial role, it will inevitably come into competition with other digital publishers, which will eventually include "mainstream" publishers.
This will compromise the ASA's role as an advocate for its members in situations where it negotiates on their behalf with publishers and other commercial organisations or agents. Why should a digital publisher in competition with the ASA consider it a credible body for mediating disputes? That would be like asking Random House to invite Penguin to mediate a dispute with one of its authors!
I also question the advisability of starting even a pilot project without the expressed permission of the membership. I cannot recall such a proposal being raised for discussion at a membership meeting, yet substantial membership funds are being expended without proper consultation.
I urge you to place a moratorium on these activities until the matter can be raised at the ASA's next general meeting, at which I would certainly make representation.
Dr David Reiter, Director
This is certainly an issue that needs a full and fair hearing. Members of the ASA who are concerned should make their views known to its Executive Director. Or you can air your views here.
In the next issue, we'll publish any we feel would add to the debate.
Next month marks the third anniversary of Interactive Press, our flagship imprint. We'll have published nine titles in that time, including two that have been shortlisted for major awards. Last year saw the start-up of two new imprints, Glass House Books, which publishes non-fiction titles and provides support for self-publishers, and IP Digital, which handles our digital publishing activities. As our work expands, so does our need for more work space and extra storageyes, even CDs take up space!
So we've made a move to Treetop Studio. It's not a huge space, up there gazing out on the palm trees, but it'll do for the next while. We have sufficient space for up to three staff working at a time, as well as our equipment. One room is dedicated to multimedia production, and has been semi-soundproofed to make it possible for CD quality audio recordings.
There's sufficient space also to accommodate visiting authors for a day or two. This will enable out-of-town IP authors to visit and consult with us at crucial stages in the publication process. We also plan to host a series of Treetop Salons, which will see intimate readings and specialised workshops offered by authors visiting Brisbane. But our visitors need not be IP authorsthe only condition we'll apply is that what they offer must be exceptional, somehow enriching the local writing community. The benefits won't be limited to the Brisbane community; we also hope to broadcast sessions via our website and set up a realtime chat room, though this won't happen for a while. We have already called for Expressions of Interest from writing centres in Australia, but the invitation is also extended to authors visiting from overseas. If you're keen to hear more, contact Dr Reiter directly.
course the occasion of a third anniversary and the opening of a new studio
is a good excuse to lift a glass of champagne, so we'll be holding an official
Open Studio on 20 August, from 2 p.m., with the Honourable Matt Foley, Attorney-General,
Minister for Justice and Minister for the Arts, officiating. There'll be
tours of the studio, demos of IPD's first multimedia production, The
Gallery, and a chance to hear more about IP's publishing program. There'll
also be sneak preview of Manfred Jurgensen's latest work carnal
knowledge, as well as an open mike for authors to read.
For further information, contact
IP is about to launch two new titles in our Spring Season 2000, which will be held from 2 p.m. on 10 September at The Latin Café-Bar, 336 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley. If you'd like an invitation, please let us know. Novelist Venero Armanno will be launching the Season.
For further information, including ordering details, click on the cover of the title.
The Gallery is David P Reiter's first foray into multimedia work. An exciting fusion of text, audio and video, The Gallery invites the viewer to enter a series of 110 virtual galleries in which key passages from Letters We Never Sent are presented with other interactive elements that enhance the universal implications of the work. The digital CD can be played on most Windows or Macintosh computersor any system capable of supporting Adobe Acrobat (pdf) and Quicktime Player files.
Refined at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, The Gallery had a demo at the recent Brisbane Poetry Festival and will feature in a special session at the Brisbane Writers' Festival. Reiter plans to tour with it in New South Wales and Victoria in late October and November. His itinerary is still flexible at this stage, so if your group would like to invite him by, pleaseget in contact with him.
Also to be launched will be Manfred Jurgensen's provocative carnal knowledge. A surprising mix of classical technique with very modern attitudes and wir, Jurgensen's twelfth collection of poems delves into sexuality from every possible erotic perspectivedare we say position? A sample from the book, complete with audio clips, is only a click away!
Manfred Jurgensen is a Brisbane poet and academic, who has extensively toured with his work to North America and Europe. Besides the launch at The Latin, carnal knowledge will also be launched at the Brisbane Writers' Festival on 22 October. We'll give you more details closer to the day.
Read more about Manfred's poetics in the Focus below.
For some time now I have committed myself to theme-related, unified collections emphasizing the 'musical', compositional quality of lyrical writing. In this, the central preoccupation has remained language in all its manefestations.
Like most poets, I aim not for 'representational' or 'realist(ic)' speech, but for a 'codified' sign language. (My very first collection bore the title signs & voices. Perhaps it is not, in this context, irrelevant that English is my third language (after Danish and German) and that I have a deaf brother, a photographer, with whom I relate in sign language.
To me, poetry is a medium constantly exploring and reflecting its own limits and possibilities. I write in small letters only as an expression of my belief that all words are potentially of equal value. The basic assumption of my writing can be summarised by James McAuley's dictum For what we are/can only be imagined... (significantly it continues: The story never lies).
In an attempt to uphold the musicality of language, many of my poems follow traditional lyrical forms of rhyme and metre. Within such seemingly 'conservative' structures I attempt to create new variations and effects. carnal knowledge adopts the musical concept of 'theme and variations' to approach its subjects from diverse but interrelated perspectives.
I am presently working on a sequence (tentatively called 'a farewell to words') dealing with the cultural changes of language in contemporary global society, the transition from word to code, as manefested in digitalisation, computer games and the like.
In the meantime, I hope you like carnal knowledge.
All the best
We've been digitising existing IP titles over the past few months. This makes it possible for you to save a few trees and some money by ordering some of the best writing in Australia today in electronic form.
While it may be not be quite as cozy to curl up with a digital work, you'll find that these versions offer some advantages over their print cousins. We can include colour inside, and a table of contents that's always at your fingertips. Plus you can search and find, just as you would in any electronic document. Navigating through is a breeze. And some digital versions will come with sample readings by the author, as well as a means of writing back to the author via the Net. This makes the experience of reading a work more immediate than it has ever been.
So what are you waiting for?
You have two options for getting your digital text. We can send it to you as an email attachment in pdf format. What's a pdf, you ask? It's a file that works on Windows, Macintosh or Unix computers via a software program called Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't have Acrobat Reader on your computer at the moment, you should, because more and more things are being published in pdf. Best of all, you can get it for free from the Adobe website.
Or, if you prefer to have something in hand, you can order a CD of the work. We have to charge you a bit more for a CD, but it'll still cost less than the print version. And postage is a fraction of what it costs for a print version.
Again, what are you waiting for?
If you're an author and interested in going digital with your work,. please get in touch with us. IP Digital can offer a complete package of editorial, design, publishing and promotional services, whether it be for a work being published for the first time, or an existing work that you want to digitise to access markets overseas.