Editing GROUP 5 (the literature issue)
I recently joined the editorial board of The Group Online Magazine. It fell to me to edit GROUP 5 – the literature issue, which was an absolute delight. The following passage was included as an introduction to the eclectic selection of essays, poems, stories and reviews from some of Australia’s most interesting writers.
Each year, after the annual book fair in the quiet Swiss town of Romainmôtier, the artist Jan Reymond, in a wondrous use of second-hand books, creates an installation in honour of literature. The book fair is held at the town cathedral, a Romanesque structure that dates back to the fifth century. Last year, Reymond situated his installation within one of the cathedral’s deep arches, signifying the power books have in our lives. The image above captures the spirit of Reymond’s intention: the books are suspended, half-open, and seem to surround those who pass through the arch. It’s a perfect metaphor for the ways literature can affect our lives. It’s always possible that a remarkable story, a vivid characterisation, a half-remembered poem, or a particular arrangement of words might—if we’re lucky—accompany us as we walk through our day. Reymond reminds us that books are doors to other worlds that we may enter and re-enter at will.
In the essays, reviews, poems and stories that follow, the power of literature is shown in all kinds of ways. A writer discusses his new short story collection. A homesick poet remembers his country. A make-believe event in a literary life is energetically animated. In the face of tragedy, a promise to write becomes a call to action. Reading poetry is shown to be an invitation to participate in the act of creation. Words enthrall and tantalize. Books are plundered. We discover over and over that we read not only for pleasure but also to learn how to live. For many of us—the fortunate ones, in my opinion—we read because not to read is a kind of death.
This is the literature issue. I invite you to meander through the selection that follows. Take a moment to respond to what you read and reflect on the powerful ways books, stories, words affect you personally. Most of all, enjoy.
Please have a look at the issue and let me know what you think. Also, you might consider submitting something of your own to future issues. Please contact me about the process.