It's been a tumultuous 2015 for the arts but here at Seizure we're proud of the great writing, design and performance that we've showcased this year. As we take a break to do our own reading and relaxing, here, for your summer reading pleasure, are some of our favourites from this year:
This was a year of contrasts for me, sunny blue-sky highs and mucky lows. April was the London Book Fair and meeting with like-minded publishers as well as some of those monolithic multinationals. And on the other side of the world in September, I attended a publishing and translation conference in Beijing. Both trips highlighted the importance of experimentation and play for literary journals. In many ways, the Australian publishing industry has enjoyed excellent conditions for as long as I've been a part of it and as the challenges mount (funding, potential removal of parallel importation restrictions, local Amazon etcetera) it's more crucial than ever for us to push the form and develop the work of writers, editors and producers alike.
It's been an excellent year for collaborations with standout commissioning and editing from Emily Stewart (Edition 1&2) and Justin Wolfers (AltTxt) – check out Emily Meller's stunning work, testing the limits of online storytelling, 'I Thought This Was Something Else'. As ever, I am continually surprised by the power and reach of bite-sized hunks of delight from Flashers. These are excellent grottos to lounge in on a quiet summer afternoon.
This year we launched a new round of Obstructions that comes with an original story, videos, challenges and responses. It’s been one of my favourite new projects because it’s an open dialogue about the creative process and is a discussion of craft. Plus Rebecca Slater is a marvellously talented writer.
On the non-fiction front, ‘Memory Box’ by Roz Bellamy is a moving and generous essay on her grandfather’s time in a nursing home. It’s a rumination on family, grief and how our society manages old age. For many in my generation this piece will be all-too-familiar. A pleasure to publish.
It's been a big year for Seizure and I was particularly proud to expand our reach into regional areas. Taking Rant to the Mudgee Readers' Festival was a great success and in particular Clare Wright and Luke Carman's rants were just superb. We also teamed up with Mudgee Underground to present the interactive storytelling event Alien Attack! (with special thanks to David M Henley's sci-fi story-writing skills). It was also rewarding to see the Flashers exhibition in the Australia Council foyer, as Flashers is a wonderful ongoing project that displays the writing, editorial and illustrative chops of some very talented individuals (and Mudgee artist Sam Paine was a great addition to our terrific illustrator line-up this year). But what you want is some reading! So without further ado:
Scroll through Edition 2, including beautiful pieces by Fiona Wright and Lee Kofman. For professional development, check out Kate O'Donnell's illuminating piece on manuscript assessments. And for sheer poolside pleasure pick up one of this year's Viva winners; you can read extracts here. I also really enjoy reading Lucy Faerber's Round-Up each fortnight – she has such a great sense of humour and I look forward to the first Round-Up of 2016!
The pieces of writing I kept returning to this year were Amy Ireland's 'Catastrophe by Default' and Emma Marie Jones's 'Death in the First Person'. Amy's essay, published back in Feb as part of Edition 1, plays out a nightmare scenario in which the rise of human-level machine intelligence precipitates human extinction. And Emma's story, which I published in Edition 2, is a devastating, hallucinatory account of a dying woman and her lover. These writers are sophisticated thinkers with ambitious ideas; AKA The Real Deal. They were a pleasure to edit and I can't wait to read more from them in 2016 and beyond.
[Outgoing] Flashers Editor [*sniff*]
I gotta go with three highlights which all spoke to me on some level:
I'm choosing this because it's a fantastic idea and I'm always hanging around forums, so I know the lingo. This is a spot on representation, and is the perfect example of AltTxt.
A great hot take on arts funding and an interesting perspective that got a few people talking. Plus, there weren't nearly enough rants published this year.
Nothing works better than the serendipity of reading, and I read this just after my own grandmother had died. A touching piece that really gets to the heart of the issue, and felt personal which is always important when you're reading someone else's story.
Flashers Editorial Manager
The Flashers in 2015 were all amazing, and working with the editors was in itself a real highlight for me. I loved seeing their respectful, thoughtful interactions with writers. I loved seeing writers pushing themselves, too, and sending in material that maybe didn’t always succeed, but wasn’t depressingly similar to lots of other stuff I’d already read, either. It’s a really great program.
Lily Mei Murray
I’ve really enjoyed Rebecca Slater’s Obstructions series with Alice Grundy. It piqued my interest because it went live earlier this year not long after I watched Lars Von Trier’s The Five Obstructions with Jorgen Leth for the first time. As well as enjoying watching Rebecca's original work change, following the series has opened up my own writing to new considerations and challenges – when am I slipping into the familiar and writing something safe? And when or how can I use my writing for a purpose?
Yiscah Simons’ illustrations deserve a special shout out and were a major highlight this year for me. The textures she used added a depth to the pictures that I loved and all the colour tones and gradients were just beautiful. Her illo for 'Unwelcome Warmth'is a gem!
Another favourite is Aurora Scott’s 'but keep very serious and ask them to smile'. It includes lots of screenshots of google searches, which is always fun, but it’s also a very entertaining piece of experimental nonfiction.
The strangest thing about Flashers is how such a short piece can evoke a feeling that sticks with me for days. My picks all did this, but in totally different ways. 'The New Guy' made me laugh at its very familiar feeling of office claustrophobia, and 'Unwelcome Warmth' made me look twice over my shoulder whenever I had to drive somewhere for a week. Then there was 'Up High', a story all wrapped up in itself and with my favourite illustration for the year by Sam Paine to go with it. My other highlight was from AltTxt – Aurora Scott’s 'but keep very serious and ask them to smile' is the most inventive and weirdly beautiful examples of online writing I have seen all year.
That's it for now, have a terrific holiday!