Literary Types Only

And The Book Show Is Not Literary Enough!

I just wanted to share this lovely little open letter with you from David Musgrave to the ABC:

Dear Producer

I’m writing in my capacity as board member of Australian Poetry Limited (a not-for-profit national arts organisation), as Publisher at Puncher & Wattmann Pty Ltd (the foremost independent publisher of poetry in Australia) and as one of this country’s leading poets to request that you change the name of your program to the “Non-Poetry Multinational Publisher Product Show” to accurately reflect the content of your program. I am sure that the several thousand like-minded people in Australia who are my colleagues, peers or customers would agree that the rigorous exclusion of poetry from your program, as well as the extreme difficulty an independent publisher has in having their books discussed on your program, means that the current program title “The Book Show” is misleading, implying as it does that all books are given equal consideration.

Poetry is a vital part of our literary culture, yet your program, as with most of the mainstream media, does not even pay lip-service to this important literary art-form. If changing the name of your program is more difficult than merely changing the content to include poetry, I’d be happy to talk to you about how you might go about this.

Yours sincerely,

David Musgrave

Publisher

Puncher & Wattmann

P.S. You may want to read my blog about this subject.

And if that wasn’t tart enough, here’s his Blog entry. The middle bit reads thusly:

Poetry is an important part of the press, but not the only part – we’re publishing more literary fiction than ever, and in early 2014 we will be releasing the novels Out of Print by Julian Croft and Slush-Pile by Ian Shadwell. A small but growing press like Puncher & Wattmann has to be prepared for the long haul, and to build its readership slowly but steadily. I’m always amazed at how popular poetry readings at the Sydney Writers festival are: every one that I have been involved in has been full to capacity, and I am sure that this is not because I happen to be part of it. The thing about poetry, and interesting writing in general, is that if you present it to a captive audience, they will find it very interesting and engage with it. It’s just that in this day and age it is very difficult for the average reader to seek out new and interesting work apart from the small number of titles which are pushed through the mainstream press, largely by multinational publishers. Even people with a lot of time on their hands, retirees who are interested in reading literature, often don’t know what is worth reading because reviews don’t necessarily help them (even if they do appear in the newspapers) when there might be, say ten books of poetry or literary fiction to choose from in any given month, and they might only really want to read one or two. That’s why small presses, those that hang around for decades, are extremely important for literary culture in this country.

So, take that, boring old establishment!

On another note, it’s interesting that after years of sneering at this blog for being a blog (“what the hells is a blog anyway?”) David has taken to writing his own. 🙂 So, I’ve added a link to it on the right.

Now. If only I could get him to return my calls…

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