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Nicholas Liu

Singapore
59 Posts

Posted - 27 Jan 2005 :  23:31:03  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Anyway:
quote:
-- should QLRS publish a poem by LKY that comes its way if it weren't Pushcart quality? I doubt it'd be blithely dropped without due consideration of its implications as a document.


I wish you would spend less time reading between the lines I post and more time on the lines themselves. Your response has nothing to do with the point it's addressing: that 'sure, if it's good enough to be publishable' is a non sequitur, as a poem by Singapore's first openly gay MP would be of great historical interest whether or not it's good. Full-stop.

It's difficult to maintain a discussion when one party spends so much time shadowboxing.

quote:
Some stuff you keep because it's art,
Some stuff you take because it's news.
I'm not saying publish what is merely news, but I am saying it's worth publishing what isn't purely art.


Fair enough. I must ask, though, what in QLRS would you say is an example of this?

quote:
-- we've had a good go at covering the ground.


Perhaps you think so, but I still don't know what you mean by 'historical'. Definition, please.

quote:
-- if we picked only A+ material we'd run out of material for a regular journal. Surely, that's what HM is saying when he refers to a floating level of quality and the reality that half of his stock aren't instant "yes"es. And that's QLRS. The other pubs fare worse.


Thank you for the clarification. Okay:

1) That depends on how many pieces you need each issue of the journal to contain, surely.

2) 50% of each issue's acceptances is, I think, a pretty good instant-yes percentage for a journal that doesn't pay, stockpile or solicit.

3) Not sure if it's true that the other publications fare worse. Cyril Wong effectively claims to take only instant-yeses ('this journal is updated only when a poet arrives in my inbox with work that blows me away').

quote:
-- well, as it is in your view there are some (< A+) pieces in QLRS this issue that you'd have thrown out...and I've already stated that some of them I feel are worth the documentary value at the least.


I was referring to pieces that slip through the cracks, i.e. fail to find a home anywhere.

quote:
-- Not quite yet. You're assuming that the creators of fine ficton, verse, criticism etc. are also equally competent in generating forums/publications to support their breed of work. That's only partly true, surely.


No particular competency is needed. At its simplest, go to Blogger.com --> create blog --> post review on blog --> publicise blog. There you go.

Slightly more complicated: --> register a domain --> put up a website --> invite people to send you work --> put up work people send you that you like. Voila! PBB is born.

This is not to suggest that maintaining an ezine is necessarily easy--if it were so, the Whatnot wouldn't be only just gearing up for issue two more than a year after issue one--but its basic challenges require perseverance, not competence. And the mere starting of an ezine requires neither.

quote:
--- We're talking about practitioners including HM, and Sor Fern the erstwhile books editor of ST LIFE! -- who HAVE done what they can to create a space for it and yet see the paucity of criticism/critical space as an issue.


Those are two people--what have all the others done?

Still, I admit I was being a bit too sweeping. All right, maybe most of the people who complain about a lack of space have done their bit to help the situation and are entitled to complain. My larger point still stands: publishing bad criticism does nothing to help the state of criticism in Singapore. Quite the opposite.

quote:
I'd question the implication of your statements -- that if a work doesn't get published SOMEHOW = it must be crap.


The real implication of my statements is that if a work doesn't get published somehow, it must be crap AND/OR its creator doesn't care enough to see it through to publication. Which attitude, incidentally, he has every right to have.

quote:
That said, I do think there is room for more stringent/critical reviews, and that's where your "filters" might properly be applied.

By all means, have a critical go at the work you feel is substandard in some way, but at least the work is out there for others to consider.


By that reasoning, Alvin, why do you not publish every single piece that comes your way? Even if you think a poem has no redeeming qualities at all, shouldn't you still put it out there for others to consider?

quote:
-- "meaty; prompting thought". What else did you think?


I thought it might be any of of its defined meanings--not one of which oncludes 'prompting thought'. Thank you for clearing that up; I'll address this is in a separate post.

quote:
-- It's a matter of position in the market, and the pt is pursuant to your claim that venues like PBB provide "fair-fit" markets for QLRS rejects. Some of these "table scraps" other publications will consider fair-fit -- that's true and that's perfectly fine.

But if that is indeed the market perception, and it is not going to get anything BUT table scraps in its inbox, then there is no point operating it as a separate publication.


Second paragraph does not follow from the first. Why is there no point in publishing a journal composed of the stuff editor X didn't like, but that you do? You talk about subjectivity but you don't walk the talk.

quote:
If a writer had a poem he/she considered of Paris Review quality would he/she submit it to Paris Review 1st or to QLRS? And would QLRS want to be in the position of ONLY receiving whatever Paris Review does not (for whatever reason) want and worse, being seen permanently as strictly 2nd-choice? I think not.


Oh come on. Perceived tiers do exist and there's no getting around that. Every small-to-middling venue in the US is in some sense subsisting on, say, The New Yorker's table-scraps--if a piece appears on the editor's table at--oh, hell, even a well-reputed journal like Black Warrior Review, for example-- it's an odds-on chance that said piece has either been rejected by The New Yorker already or the writer didn't think he had a shot at getting it accepted there. Big fucking deal. If you're happy with what you're publishing, if you think it deserves to be read, tiers shouldn't matter. Above all, the submissions history of the pieces shouldn't matter.

quote:
Instead, publications like QLRS have value regardless of its relative int'l literary standing to Paris Review, precisely because it (also) has access to and carries quality material that isn't necessarily available to PR (work, say, of direct relevance to Singapore)


True (though I'd think it's more a case of local-centric work not having access to TPR than TPR not having access to local-centric work), but do you mean to say that QLRS would lose its value if TPR started to publish Singapore writing (or more local writing, if it's done so in the past)?

quote:
Curiously, how would Metastatic play this?


As far as I'm concerned, the Whatnot (I'm dropping the 'Metastatic') is and will be just another ezine, hopefully a good one. I don't believe a venue needs to bring some startlingly new concept or specialisation to the table--other than its editor's vision, necessarily unique--to be of value.

Edited by - Nicholas Liu on 28 Jan 2005 19:33:55
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Nicholas Liu

Singapore
59 Posts

Posted - 27 Jan 2005 :  23:39:44  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Thanks for that, Alvin.
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alf

Singapore
92 Posts

Posted - 28 Jan 2005 :  01:17:51  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
quote:
Your response has nothing to do with the point it's addressing: that 'sure, if it's good enough to be publishable' is a non sequitur, as a poem by Singapore's first openly gay MP would be of great historical interest whether or not it's good.


-- if the poem had something to do with the fact that he is Singapore's first openly gay MP, then SURE, it's of historical interest from a literary POV. How "great" depends on how effective/confrontational/confessional etc etc. the poem is.



quote:
Some stuff you keep because it's art,
Some stuff you take because it's news.
I'm not saying publish what is merely news, but I am saying it's worth publishing what isn't purely art.

Fair enough. I must ask, though, what in QLRS would you say is an example of this?


-- Casually, I'd say Cyril's THE DIFFICULTY - it's "newsworthy" coz he's never tried a strict form before.


quote:
-- we've had a good go at covering the ground.


Perhaps you think so, but I still don't know what you mean by 'historical'. Definition, please.

-- another post.

quote:
Thank you for the clarification. Okay:

1) That depends on how many pieces you need each issue of the journal to contain, surely.

2) 50% of each issue's acceptances is, I think, a pretty good instant-yes percentage for a journal that doesn't pay, stockpile or solicit.


-- yes, it's quite good really, so I'd not really be quite so hung up about their floating quality (which was what started off this debate) because it certainly has not lost its credibility as the premiere Singapore journal despite it.

I feel the editors do what they have to to produce a more-than-decent issue every quarter of a reasonably high standard. To insist on instant-yes only is perhaps too much of a burden for a labour-of-love, non-stockpiled, non-solicited, volunteer journal. Kudos to them (I'm just the tech guy trying to make their work easier).


quote:
3) Not sure if it's true that the other publications fare worse. Cyril Wong effectively claims to take only instant-yeses ('this journal is updated only when a poet arrives in my inbox with work that blows me away').


-- Cyril solicits work (esp pieces he likes) and has no obligation to produce regular issues, so that's rather a different paradigm, really. It's an interesting model for producing a quality publication tho -- much more curating than editing.


quote:
-- Not quite yet. You're assuming that the creators of fine ficton, verse, criticism etc. are also equally competent in generating forums/publications to support their breed of work. That's only partly true, surely.

No particular competency is needed. At its simplest, go to Blogger.com --> create blog --> post review on blog --> publicise blog. There you go.

Slightly more complicated: --> register a domain --> put up a website --> invite people to send you work --> put up work people send you that you like. Voila! PBB is born.

This is not to suggest that maintaining an ezine is necessarily easy--if it were so, the Whatnot wouldn't be only just gearing up for issue two more than a year after issue one--but its basic challenges require perseverance, not [url=http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=competence&r=67]competence[/url]. And the mere starting of an ezine requires neither.


Easy for the tech savvy, but even in our generation (ok, mine) there are those who aren't up to it. Yes, even blogging. Go ask the writers over 35.

Which is why PBB was the 1st literary/poetry website in Singapore back in '95 / '96. I just haven't pushed it much since then. My bad. Doesn't mean it's easy to run a publication that people read, as you'd know.


quote:
My larger point still stands: publishing bad criticism does nothing to help the state of criticism in Singapore. Quite the opposite.


-- Can I ask a counter-qn -- any reason why WhatNot doesn't plan to publish (good) reviews? I'm just not seeing enough reviews where readers/book buyers etc. will read em. Simple as that. Of course I'd rather have a cracking good review, but better a review that covers some ground (and perhaps provokes further critique) than not.


quote:
The real implication of my statements is that if a work doesn't get published somehow, it must be crap AND/OR its creator doesn't care enough to see it through to publication. Which attitude, incidentally, he has every right to have.


-- so there's in your estimation no such thing as a creator/author of quality who doesn't happen to have connections to the necessary resources to get published seriously? The internet has made it easier but still, that's rather blithe....

quote:
That said, I do think there is room for more stringent/critical reviews, and that's where your "filters" might properly be applied.

By all means, have a critical go at the work you feel is substandard in some way, but at least the work is out there for others to consider.


quote:
By that reasoning, Alvin, why do you not publish every single piece that comes your way? Even if you think a poem has no redeeming qualities at all, shouldn't you still put it out there for others to consider?


-- I'm actually thinking of letting the PBB go that way (with a comments engine), and then hiving off the editor's pick in a separate section. That way I separate editorial endorsement from the chance for people to exercise their impulses (which they do anyway by hijacking my YOUR SAY section...) but it's all there.

-- as for critical reviews -- honestly, right now, I'd be happy to publish anything of decent length and grammar that reviews a recent local work, its that dry.


quote:
-- "meaty; prompting thought". What else did you think?


I thought it might be any of of its [url=http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=substantive&r=67]defined meanings[/url]--not one of which oncludes 'prompting thought'. Thank you for clearing that up; I'll address this is in a separate post.

--- "meaty; having substance and prompting thought; "a meaty discussion" (www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn)

quote:
B"ut if that is indeed the market perception, and it is not going to get anything BUT table scraps in its inbox, then there is no point operating it as a separate publication."

Second paragraph does not follow from the first. Why is there no point in publishing a journal composed of the stuff editor X didn't like, but that you do? You talk about subjectivity but you don't walk the talk.



-- (QLRS minus X) is simply not broad enough a catchment in itself to sustain my editorial interest in running a separate publication. Part of my purpose in keeping PBB open is to add an extra net to community, yes, to catch some of the drippings if necessary, certainly, but ALSO (indeed, primarily) to expand the total pie.

so that the total potential submissions is

QLRS submissions + PBB submissions + t2R submissions + whatnot etc.

and NOT

(QLRS - XYZ) + PBB (X) + t2r (Y) etc.

tho my math is no doubt rustier than when I dropped it at A lvl.


In short, I don't see it as a matter of being hypocritical about QLRS rejects by deeming them of a lower quality (the so-called subjectivity issue). But I want PBB to help increase the total catchment area of literary work. Doesn't work if it's a trickle down system ALONE.

hope this is clear enough?


quote:
True (though I'd think it's more a case of local-centric work not having access to TPR than TPR not having access to local-centric work), but do you mean to say that QLRS would lose its value if TPR started to publish Singapore writing (or more local writing, if it's done so in the past)?


-- if TPR were to start being dominated by the sort of Singapore writing QLRS has a specialisation and stake in, then yes, I'd say QLRS might want to rethink its editorial strategy. Or worse, if people gave it all to TPR

better yet if TPR DOESN'T do so because it defers to QLRS as the expert forum for Singaporean literature. QLRS does have a stake in "S" as it has in "L" after all.


Edited by - alf on 28 Jan 2005 01:21:41
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Nicholas Liu

Singapore
59 Posts

Posted - 28 Jan 2005 :  19:29:13  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
quote:
-- if the poem had something to do with the fact that he is Singapore's first openly gay MP, then SURE, it's of historical interest from a literary POV.


I'm tempted to reply 'more like literary interest from a historical POV', but then I would be pretending to know what you mean by 'historical interest from a literary POV'--which I don't.

quote:
How "great" depends on how effective/confrontational/confessional etc etc. the poem is.


Confrontational and confessional, fair enough, but I don't see how its effectiveness would affect its historical interest.

quote:
-- Casually, I'd say Cyril's THE DIFFICULTY - it's "newsworthy" coz he's never tried a strict form before.


FREE VERSE POET STUNS WORLD BY WRITING SESTINA; DETAILS AT 10

quote:
-- yes, it's quite good really, so I'd not really be quite so hung up about their floating quality (which was what started off this debate) because it certainly has not lost its credibility as the premiere Singapore journal despite it.


The premier journal out of maybe-half-a-dozen. Yes, that's cause for complacency all right.

You also make a habit of avoiding my points. This particular point being: given that QLRS manages a 1:1 instant-yes vs. kinda-maybe ratio as it is, you exaggerate when you claim that it's impossible to fill a regular journal without resorting to work the editor finds (to use your terminology) less than A+. It is difficult. It is not impossible.

quote:
I feel the editors do what they have to to produce a more-than-decent issue every quarter of a reasonably high standard. To insist on instant-yes only is perhaps too much of a burden for a labour-of-love, non-stockpiled, non-solicited, volunteer journal. Kudos to them. . . .


I feel the same way. This doesn't in any way affect the points I've made.

quote:
-- Cyril solicits work (esp pieces he likes) and has no obligation to produce regular issues, so that's rather a different paradigm, really. It's an interesting model for producing a quality publication tho -- much more curating than editing.


Nevertheless it is part of the set 'other publications', which you claimed 'fare worse' than QLRS vis a vis proportion of acceptances that are instant-yeses.

It's not such a drastically different paradigm from your own, anyway. Cyril solicits, you (I gather) don't. What else?

quote:
Easy for the tech savvy, but even in our generation (ok, mine) there are those who aren't up to it. Yes, even blogging. Go ask the writers over 35.


Do you mean aspiring writers or established ones?

quote:
Which is why PBB was the 1st literary/poetry website in Singapore back in '95 / '96. I just haven't pushed it much since then. My bad. Doesn't mean it's easy to run a publication that people read, as you'd know.


I acknowledge that it isn't easy in the very post you're quoting from. My argument is that it requires perseverance and genuine interest, not expertise per se.

quote:
-- Can I ask a counter-qn -- any reason why WhatNot doesn't plan to publish (good) reviews?


It's about target audience. The Whatnot was never meant to be a dun-dun-DUN Local Zine, and I can't justify including reviews of local books a large proportion of my targeted readers won't have any particular stake in and probably aren't even able to buy in stores.

I'm considering a separate journal just for reviews, though, because I do think the state of criticism here is weak. I haven't solidified anything yet, though.

quote:
Of course I'd rather have a cracking good review, but better a review that covers some ground (and perhaps provokes further critique) than not.


I do not share this view. Better to leave the ground uncovered than to cover it ineptly. A blank piece of paper is better than a map that's 10% crayon scrawls and 90% Here There Be Monsters.

quote:
-- so there's in your estimation no such thing as a creator/author of quality who doesn't happen to have connections to the necessary resources to get published seriously? The internet has made it easier but still, that's rather blithe....


What is this 'published seriously' of which you speak?

quote:
-- I'm actually thinking of letting the PBB go that way (with a comments engine), and then hiving off the editor's pick in a separate section. That way I separate editorial endorsement from the chance for people to exercise their impulses (which they do anyway by hijacking my YOUR SAY section...) but it's all there.


That's sensible. My view, though, is that publication is endorsement, and so your approach is not for me.

quote:
-- as for critical reviews -- honestly, right now, I'd be happy to publish anything of decent length and grammar that reviews a recent local work, its that dry.


Why don't you write them yourself? Is it a matter of limited time? You already have the venue.

For that matter, if you'd be happy to publish such reviews, perhaps you should say so on PBB. As it is there are *no* submissions guidelines at all.

quote:
--- "meaty; having substance and prompting thought; "a meaty discussion" (www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn)


All right. Nevertheless, the sense in which you were using the word was by no means self-evident enough to do without a definition. Just for your future reference.

quote:
In short, I don't see it as a matter of being hypocritical about QLRS rejects by deeming them of a lower quality (the so-called subjectivity issue). But I want PBB to help increase the total catchment area of literary work. Doesn't work if it's a trickle down system ALONE.

hope this is clear enough?


Yes, it is. Now your position makes a sort of sense. Personally, though, 'increas[ing] the total catchment area of literary work' would be low on my list of priorities. I'm curious: why, exactly, do you think this is so important? And how do you think PBB accomplishes this?

quote:
-- if TPR were to start being dominated by the sort of Singapore writing QLRS has a specialisation and stake in, then yes, I'd say QLRS might want to rethink its editorial strategy. Or worse, if people gave it all to TPR


What sort of Singapore writing does QLRS have a specialisation and a stake in? Beyond 'the good sort', I don't believe any such thing exists.

quote:
better yet if TPR DOESN'T do so because it defers to QLRS as the expert forum for Singaporean literature. QLRS does have a stake in "S" as it has in "L" after all.


Now that's crazy talk. TPR showing a particular interest in local writing would be a huge blessing. Where is the downside, apart from making Hsien Min's job a little harder in the short run?

Edited by - Nicholas Liu on 28 Jan 2005 19:38:16
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alf

Singapore
92 Posts

Posted - 28 Jan 2005 :  20:51:18  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
quote:How "great" depends on how effective/confrontational/confessional etc etc. the poem is.

Confrontational and confessional, fair enough, but I don't see how its effectiveness would affect its historical interest.

-- well, does it make an explicit, articulate and newsworthy point about being Singapore’s 1st openly gay MP-poet? If not, there’s really nothing to differentiate it from any other poem by any other non-openly gap non-MP poet.

an example might be LEE TZU PHENG's "MY COUNTRY, MY PEOPLE". Not the best of poems in the last century, yet controversial in its time, banned, repackaged, misappropriated etc. Says a lot about the culture and circumstances from which it arose and within which it operated. ie of "historical" interest, in one sense.


quote:
FREE VERSE POET STUNS WORLD BY WRITING SESTINA; DETAILS AT 10


-- CRITIC SEES DIFFICULTY IN POET’S NEW OEUVRE, URGES CAUTION.

quote:
You also make a habit of avoiding my points. This particular point being: given that QLRS manages a 1:1 instant-yes vs. kinda-maybe ratio as it is, you exaggerate when you claim that it's impossible to fill a regular journal without resorting to work the editor finds (to use your terminology) less than A+. It is difficult. It is not impossible.


-- You say “difficult”. I say “too difficult” (at least for now). We differ over our assessment of the marginal cost vs marginal benefit of doing what you suggest. Is there any way to measure this empirically?

quote:
Nevertheless [SOFTBLOW] is part of the set 'other publications', which you claimed 'fare worse' than QLRS vis a vis proportion of acceptances that are instant-yeses.

It's not such a drastically different paradigm from your own, anyway. Cyril solicits, you (I gather) don't. What else?


-- Softblow essentially operates a closed tender system. If you solicit suitable work you’re going to have 100% “instant yes”es by default. The rest including QLRS, have to choose from whatever is offered to them.

quote:
:Easy for the tech savvy, but even in our generation (ok, mine) there are those who aren't up to it. Yes, even blogging. Go ask the writers over 35.

Do you mean aspiring writers or established ones?


-- Both, of course. Might be an interesting research project.

quote:
I acknowledge that it isn't easy in the very post you're quoting from. My argument is that it requires perseverance and genuine interest, not expertise per se.


-- naturally, expertise is also a function of perseverance and genuine interest. But is it fair to expect everyone to invest that sort of time/effort in building as well as managing and using the infrastructure? It’s the whole entrepreneurship thing again...

My sense is that, in real life, for better or worse, many writers can’t/won’t and are more likely to rely on existing channels like QLRS or Whatnot than, say, pick up HTML . Doesn’t mean their writing is crap. I think those of us for whom the entry barriers are lower provide a service that helps bridge a genuine gap.

quote:
I'm considering a separate journal just for reviews, though, because I do think the state of criticism here is weak. I haven't solidified anything yet, though.


-- Bravo!

quote:
I do not share this view. Better to leave the ground uncovered than to cover it ineptly. A blank piece of paper is better than a map that's 10% crayon scrawls and 90% Here There Be Monsters.


-- Well I have to disagree. Better a candle in the dark if I can’t have the floodlights.

quote:
-- so there's in your estimation no such thing as a creator/author of quality who doesn't happen to have connections to the necessary resources to get published seriously? The internet has made it easier but still, that's rather blithe....

What is this 'published seriously' of which you speak?


-- published in a fashion/medium in which the content has a reasonable probability in typical circumstances to encounter a suitable audience. ie. get read & get reviewed by an audience of more than immediate acquaintances.

The book industry brings tremendous advertising and marketing clout to bear, for instance, on making its products available and noticed.

quote:
That's sensible. My view, though, is that publication is endorsement, and so your approach is not for me.


That’s fine, of course.

quote:
:-- as for critical reviews -- honestly, right now, I'd be happy to publish anything of decent length and grammar that reviews a recent local work, its that dry.

Why don't you write them yourself? Is it a matter of limited time? You already have the venue.


-- I used to (and still try to) for ST, QLRS etc etc. Time is always a problem with us day-jobbers, strangely. There’s another factor. When you have the same few people reviewing everyone else (or worse, poets reviewing each other), the scene starts losing a certain objectivity. New perspectives (and outside perspectives) are always good.

quote:
For that matter, if you'd be happy to publish such reviews, perhaps you should say so on PBB. As it is there are *no* submissions guidelines at all.


-- it’s left deliberately casual. Don’t need another QLRS / WHATNOT / SOFTBLOW-like mission statement. Mebbe that’s an antiquated attitude on my part tho.

quote:
All right. Nevertheless, the sense in which you were using the word was by no means self-evident enough to do without a definition. Just for your future reference.


-- Guess I’d better start writing those W-I-S-H-B statements now - got years of academic, professional and literary life and colleagues to correct.

quote:
Yes, it is. Now your position makes a sort of sense. Personally, though, 'increas[ing] the total catchment area of literary work' would be low on my list of priorities. I'm curious: why, exactly, do you think this is so important? And how do you think PBB accomplishes this?


-- Well I come from a pre-internet generation where the ability to get published was in the hands of a certain mafia. I feel we’re still catching up on this -- the attitude of many is still one of keeping their work to themselves. What results is the impression in certain strata of the establishment that not much is being produced (and therefore even less of quality) culturally in Singapore. It becomes a vicious circle --> no writing (present) = no basis for support = no writing (future). But it’s a more complicated issue that I won’t elaborate here. Perhaps another time. Suffice to say it’s a role I value.

-- PBB catches the attention of some folks who’ve never otherwise encountered writing in/from/about Singapore, and who don’t know about QLRS or whatever. So each is helping in its own way and from its own direction to expand knowledge about Singapore’s cultural/literary life (and I’d like to think it’s just credible enough to not be a scam in terms of quality of work present). Again, I personally value that sort of contribution.

quote:
What sort of Singapore writing does QLRS have a specialisation and a stake in? Beyond 'the good sort', I don't believe any such thing exists.


- the same sort of stake you say whatnot does NOT have.

“It's about target audience. The Whatnot was never meant to be a dun-dun-DUN Local Zine, and I can't justify including reviews of local books a large proportion of my targeted readers won't have any particular stake in and probably aren't even able to buy in stores.”

Edited by - alf on 28 Jan 2005 22:16:52
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Hsien Min

Singapore
49 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2005 :  01:24:59  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Wow, the way you guys are going at it, I can hardly keep up! Same as before, I'll try to just pick out points where I can add something.

quote:
Here I'll risk making a terrible faux pas in proving my point--QLRS, PBB *and* t2r have all taken rejects from (the one and only issue of) the Whatnot. What of it?

Not a faux pas at all. The only statement that can be made with any certainty about any work that has been rejected is that one editor with one particular set of tastes (and, some might add, standards) has not found it to his/her liking. There's no reason at all why the writer should not send the piece in question in to another journal. (Of course, if the piece has got its tenth rejection...)

quote:
You never veto anything, then? More power to you of course--I suppose the idea just takes a bit of getting used to.

I have done, once or twice, in the first volume, but generally this team doesn't present me with that problem. I may not necessarily agree with the respective editors' choices, but I do respect these choices.

quote:
Kudos to them (I'm just the tech guy trying to make their work easier).

Thanks Alf. You do make our work easier. However...

quote:
???? What happened to Nic's last reponse ???

No idea. I don't login when I post, generally, just use the handy identifier at the top. Alf, you're the techie! :)

quote:
I'm actually thinking of letting the PBB go that way (with a comments engine), and then hiving off the editor's pick in a separate section.

Not in favour. Not meaning to tell you how to run PBB, just saying that I think venues such as PBB (or QLRS, t2r or Softblow) take on so much more value when there is editorial activity.

quote:
It's not such a drastically different paradigm from your own, anyway. Cyril solicits, you (I gather) don't.

If you're meaning to suggest that the act of soliciting doesn't change much, then I must disagree. Soliciting changes everything about a journal: to degrees varying with the proportion of works solicited to works otherwise received, soliciting changes the selection dynamic, it affects aesthetic objectivity, it restricts the opportunity offering, it makes of the editor much more of a cultural commissar...

quote:
I'm considering a separate journal just for reviews, though, because I do think the state of criticism here is weak.

Don't just consider...

quote:
TPR showing a particular interest in local writing would be a huge blessing. Where is the downside, apart from making Hsien Min's job a little harder in the short run?

I agree. Go on, make my job harder already! :)

Cheers,
HM
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Nicholas Liu

Singapore
59 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2005 :  16:33:52  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
quote:
-- well, does it make an explicit, articulate and newsworthy point about being Singapore’s 1st openly gay MP-poet? If not, there’s really nothing to differentiate it from any other poem by any other non-openly gap non-MP poet.


Sensible enough. What, then, of Cyril Wong's sestina, which you claim does have enough 'historical interest' to be worth printing? What differentiates it from any other clumsy sestina by another other *non-famous* (ha) poet?

quote:
an example might be LEE TZU PHENG's "MY COUNTRY, MY PEOPLE". Not the best of poems in the last century, yet controversial in its time, banned, repackaged, misappropriated etc. Says a lot about the culture and circumstances from which it arose and within which it operated. ie of "historical" interest, in one sense.


But, going on what you've listed in its favour, not of '"historical" interest' at the time it was actually published?

And will you please, please attempt a definition of what you mean by 'historical interest'? I've asked you a number of times already. It's pointless us continuing to argue about it if you're not going to define your terms. No useful exchange is going to occur if what you call 'apples', I understand as 'oranges'. As I increasingly suspect is the case.

quote:
-- CRITIC SEES DIFFICULTY IN POET’S NEW OEUVRE, URGES CAUTION.


Nice try, but my sarcasm has a point and yours does not: that published poet Joe Shmo McBlow has bravely gone where no Joe Shmo McBlow has ever gone before and dared to try, ah, a *new form!!* is not newsworthy. It is barely footnoteworthy. I expect you will find it interesting when Cyril Wong does his first poem written using only lines from Aerosmith songs, his first poem in Dutch and his first poem written whilst hang-gliding. I would not, however, want to see them included in QLRS on the basis of their unusual provenance.

quote:
-- You say “difficult”. I say “too difficult” (at least for now). We differ over our assessment of the marginal cost vs marginal benefit of doing what you suggest. Is there any way to measure this empirically?


'Too difficult to be worthwhile' is a value-judgement, and that's one thing; 'too difficult to be possible' is a measurable claim, and is quite another. I thought you meant the latter. If all you mean is the former, fair enough--it's for every editor to decide what's worth the bother and what's not.

quote:
-- Softblow essentially operates a closed tender system.


That's a bit unfair, I think. Cyril *does* invite submissions from anyone ('To submit, simply paste 4-6 poems with a short bio in the body of an email and send it to the editor@softblow.com'), and if Softblow's been heavy on solicited work so far (I have no way of telling if it has), that's usual for any magazine that's just starting up.

quote:
If you solicit suitable work you’re going to have 100% “instant yes”es by default.


Suitable work or poets who seem suitable? If you really mean suitable work, that restricts your choices to reprints; if on the other hand you mean poets who seem suitable, in no way does soliciting guarantee 100% instant yes-es. An invitation to submit work is just that; it is not a promise to publish any old piece of crap the invitee then sends you. Given that no one can turn out poem after perfect poem indefinitely, there are bound to be occasions, assuming one solicits a fair bit, when one ends up turning down a submission one had previously asked for.

quote:
-- Both, of course. Might be an interesting research project.


Fair enough. I have to admit that I had younger writers in mind; I suppose there's a natural temptation to think of one's generation as the future of the art, and anyone older as either a towering figure already or as good as dead and gone. A mistake on my part.

As a one-time (probably soon-to-relapse) blogger myself, though, I have to say I can't think of many big-shot bloggers under thirty (though my memory may be inflating blogger age based on their clout--who knows?). I don't think blogging is as closed to 'your generation' as you make out. At its most simple (Blogger.com), it really is pretty simple.

quote:
-- naturally, expertise is also a function of perseverance and genuine interest. But is it fair to expect everyone to invest that sort of time/effort in building as well as managing and using the infrastructure? It’s the whole entrepreneurship thing again...


Some acquaintances of mine started a crit site that ran (and is probably still running) on nothing but Blogger.

(It was mostly shit, but that's besides the point.)

quote:
My sense is that, in real life, for better or worse, many writers can’t/won’t and are more likely to rely on existing channels like QLRS or Whatnot than, say, pick up HTML . Doesn’t mean their writing is crap. I think those of us for whom the entry barriers are lower provide a service that helps bridge a genuine gap.


You have a point. I still feel, though, that we shouldn't need to feel an obligation to cater to absolutely everyone who wants their work to see print (so to speak). Perhaps what we ought to be encouraging is the foundation of new zines! There are resources for aspiring writers, but what about aspiring editors?

quote:
-- Well I have to disagree. Better a candle in the dark if I can’t have the floodlights.


Ah well. Metaphors--choose your poison.

quote:
-- published in a fashion/medium in which the content has a reasonable probability in typical circumstances to encounter a suitable audience. ie. get read & get reviewed by an audience of more than immediate acquaintances.


Ah, see, I never mentioned 'seriously'; that's a clause you introduced. A large part of my solution involves setting up one's own venues, and naturally such venues will not always start out 'serious'.

quote:
-- I used to (and still try to) for ST, QLRS etc etc. Time is always a problem with us day-jobbers, strangely.


Surely only a carefully written review would take much time to write. I'm sure you could dash off a careless one in minutes--and better the candle than nothing, no?

quote:
There’s another factor. When you have the same few people reviewing everyone else (or worse, poets reviewing each other), the scene starts losing a certain objectivity. New perspectives (and outside perspectives) are always good.


True.

quote:
-- it’s left deliberately casual. Don’t need another QLRS / WHATNOT / SOFTBLOW-like mission statement. Mebbe that’s an antiquated attitude on my part tho.


I'm not talking mission statements; I'm talking submissions guidelines. At its most basic, something like, PBB is open to poetry and reviews of poetry. Please send submissions to editor@poetrybillboard.com.

quote:
Well I come from a pre-internet generation where the ability to get published was in the hands of a certain mafia. I feel we’re still catching up on this -- the attitude of many is still one of keeping their work to themselves. What results is the impression in certain strata of the establishment that not much is being produced (and therefore even less of quality) culturally in Singapore. It becomes a vicious circle --> no writing (present) = no basis for support = no writing (future). But it’s a more complicated issue that I won’t elaborate here. Perhaps another time. Suffice to say it’s a role I value.


I'd be interested to hear more. A new thread, maybe?

quote:
PBB catches the attention of some folks who’ve never otherwise encountered writing in/from/about Singapore, and who don’t know about QLRS or whatever. So each is helping in its own way and from its own direction to expand knowledge about Singapore’s cultural/literary life (and I’d like to think it’s just credible enough to not be a scam in terms of quality of work present). Again, I personally value that sort of contribution.


That is commendable, but I'm not sure if this comes under 'increasing the catchment area' of local writing.

quote:
the same sort of stake you say whatnot does NOT have.


When I ask what you mean by X, 'not-Y' isn't always a satisfactory answer.

Edited by - Nicholas Liu on 29 Jan 2005 16:50:23
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Nicholas Liu

Singapore
59 Posts

Posted - 29 Jan 2005 :  16:54:53  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Hsien Min:
quote:
Not a faux pas at all. The only statement that can be made with any certainty about any work that has been rejected is that one editor with one particular set of tastes (and, some might add, standards) has not found it to his/her liking. There's no reason at all why the writer should not send the piece in question in to another journal.


Yes. Exactly the point I've been making to Alvin.

quote:
I have done, once or twice, in the first volume, but generally this team doesn't present me with that problem. I may not necessarily agree with the respective editors' choices, but I do respect these choices.


I see.

quote:
If you're meaning to suggest that the act of soliciting doesn't change much, then I must disagree. Soliciting changes everything about a journal: to degrees varying with the proportion of works solicited to works otherwise received, soliciting changes the selection dynamic, it affects aesthetic objectivity, it restricts the opportunity offering, it makes of the editor much more of a cultural commissar...


Wow, okay. That's strong. What makes you say this?

quote:
Don't just consider...


More 'discussing' than 'considering' actually, I guess. I'm done considering.
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alf

Singapore
92 Posts

Posted - 30 Jan 2005 :  02:22:37  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
I've just had my new PC assembled (P4 3.0 Ghz on Intel 925XE chipset with 1GB DualChannel DDR 533 RAM, dual/RAID 1 SATA 160GB HDD and Geforce 6600GT graphics card)

Will be busy setting up my new toy for operations; will reply over the week to come. Have a good one.
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Hsien Min

Singapore
49 Posts

Posted - 31 Jan 2005 :  18:46:32  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
I said: "Soliciting changes everything about a journal: to degrees varying with the proportion of works solicited to works otherwise received, soliciting changes the selection dynamic, it affects aesthetic objectivity, it restricts the opportunity offering, it makes of the editor much more of a cultural commissar..." and you asked "What makes you say this?"

Isn't it quite quickly evident? For any given amount of journal space, the more an editor sources from his/her own network, the less opportunity there is for a new writer coming from out of the ether. Some of the biggies, e.g. Poetry Review (though the scuttlebutt has it more so in the past than now), do this, even though admittedly it's hard to tell to what extent since their normal submission piles already have brand name poets. Besides, if you've asked Seamus Heaney for a poem (say), and he's actually given you one, would you write back to say, I'm sorry, ol' chap, but this isn't awfully good is it? Moreover, an editor who solicits is likely to advance more aggressive aesthetic agendas than if he/she were merely to simmer what comes in over the transom.

Consider the extreme: a journal that only solicits (e.g. Jacket, as far as poetry is concerned). Wouldn't my points be true in such a case?

Cheers,
HM
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alf

Singapore
92 Posts

Posted - 31 Jan 2005 :  21:00:45  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Oh, it was definitely of historical interest at the time it was published (more so than now in a sense).

Historical (interest) : clearly arising from, indicative of, at odds with, or providing particular insight into the cultural, social, political, chronological circumstances in which a particular phenomenon originated and/or took place. Level of interest then being the extent to which this is evident/provides special insight/of unique value to the informed observer (eg a historian).

quote:
I expect you will find it interesting when Cyril Wong does his first poem written using only lines from Aerosmith songs, his first poem in Dutch and his first poem written whilst hang-gliding. I would not, however, want to see them included in QLRS on the basis of their unusual provenance.


-- yes, but the sestina is such a clearly recognisable formal structure (in the way that an Aerosmith-inspired free-verse poem might not be.) What is it about the free-verse confessional poet that was draw to this particularly involved strict verse form, in a literary scene where few writers of his generation care for traditional forms other than perhaps the sonnet? How does it stack up (to his free-verse work and to other sestinas esp those written in Singapore)?

Point being, it raises questions that perhaps the publication in question cares to pose to readers, even if not all readers care to answer them.

quote:
'Too difficult to be worthwhile' is a value-judgement, and that's one thing; 'too difficult to be possible' is a measurable claim, and is quite another. I thought you meant the latter. If all you mean is the former, fair enough--it's for every editor to decide what's worth the bother and what's not.


-- “Too difficult to be possible” applies to too few things to be worth talking about in an unqualified manner. “Too difficult to be viable” is still measurable given the right specified parameters, and HM has already mentioned sustainability as a relevant factor. Of course, it may not be worthwhile to conduct the exercise of measurement...

quote:
If you solicit suitable work you’re going to have 100% “instant yes”es by default.


I’ll leave HM to tackle this since he’s started.

quote:
-- Both, of course. Might be an interesting research project.


quote:
As a one-time (probably soon-to-relapse) blogger myself, though, I have to say I can't think of many big-shot bloggers under thirty (though my memory may be inflating blogger age based on their clout--who knows?). I don't think blogging is as closed to 'your generation' as you make out. At its most simple (Blogger.com), it really is pretty simple.


-- Simple for you, mebbe. S’poreans over 30 can be surprisingly tech-duh esp compared with their overseas counterparts. I mean, I still get strange looks for being a writer with a tech job.

I don’t think blogging quite caught on with us in the same way it has for the 20s and teens. PLUS, Blogger is a relatively recent innovation, and I’m talking about people who write in longhand because they never quite got used to MS Word or the Internet. And believe me, I’ve set up enough laptops and internet connections (“here’s how you check your email”) for established writers from all over the world to know that tech-literacy is not in the basic job description.

quote:
I still feel, though, that we shouldn't need to feel an obligation to cater to absolutely everyone who wants their work to see print (so to speak).


-- sure, but feeling an obligation is a personal conscience call, no?

quote:
Perhaps what we ought to be encouraging is the foundation of new zines! There are resources for aspiring writers, but what about aspiring editors?


-- and this is where I come in with a sales pitch for LEMMINGS -- the literary content management system that powers QLRS --- Literary Editorial Management Made INGeniously Simple! Bad joke, good system (really)

quote:
Ah well. Metaphors--choose your poison.


-- not really -- in this case, our mutual choice of metaphors is indicative.

You mention “maps” -- implying that there is an openly travesible territory in which it is possible and even desirable to explore on your own than to rely on a badly put-together guide that could get you lost.

I mention light and darkness, implying of course that the subject of our discourse is pretty much impenetrable to the uniniated or ill-equipped -- perhaps dangerously so. In which case it’s better to have some sort of tool in hand, however modest, to get you started rather than nothing at all.

quote:
Surely only a carefully written review would take much time to write. I'm sure you could dash off a careless one in minutes--and better the candle than nothing, no?


-- I could. I don’t want to. Besides, it takes time just to read the primary text.

quote:

I'm not talking mission statements; I'm talking submissions guidelines. At its most basic, something like, PBB is open to poetry and reviews of poetry. Please send submissions to editor@poetrybillboard.com.


-- That one got lah.

quote:
the same sort of stake you say whatnot does NOT have.


When I ask what you mean by X, 'not-Y' isn't always a satisfactory answer.
[/quote]

-- Come on, read the mission statement : “QLRS (in full, the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore) is the Internet literary journal of Singapore. Our mission is to promote the literary arts in Singapore, to stimulate the feedback mechanisms in the literary scene, and to develop Singaporean writers to international standards.”
-- it does have a clear stake in developing the literary arts IN SINGAPORE (vs say New Mexico or like whatnot, being a locale-free journal). Therefore it can, for instance, “justify including reviews of local books a large proportion of readers may not have any particular stake in and probably aren't even able to buy in store.”
It’s of course possible to run a lit journal with a much narrow ambit than QLRS. You could, for eg, only look at singapore writing that is published in print internationally (the Tan Hwee Hwees, the Catherine Lims, the Goh Poh Sengs). But by its own mission statement, that’s not what QLRS is about.

Edited by - alf on 31 Jan 2005 21:03:09
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Nicholas Liu

Singapore
59 Posts

Posted - 31 Jan 2005 :  23:22:25  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Hsien Min:
quote:
you asked "What makes you say this?"

Isn't it quite quickly evident?


I must admit my question was a product of caution (i.e. not wanting to concede anything unnecessarily) and not really an honest question at all. Sorry about that.

quote:
Isn't it quite quickly evident? For any given amount of journal space, the more an editor sources from his/her own network, the less opportunity there is for a new writer coming from out of the ether.


As you have mentioned before, with ezines, there is no given amount of journal space. The space is there for the taking. Accepting a poem by Tom Goodbuddy doesn't leave me with one less slot for a poem by Howard Stranger.

By the by, why do you equate soliciting work with 'sourc[ing] from [the editor's] own network'? Whatnot #1 was all solicited work except for C.E. Laine's, and I knew none of the writers.

quote:
Some of the biggies, e.g. Poetry Review (though the scuttlebutt has it more so in the past than now), do this, even though admittedly it's hard to tell to what extent since their normal submission piles already have brand name poets. Besides, if you've asked Seamus Heaney for a poem (say), and he's actually given you one, would you write back to say, I'm sorry, ol' chap, but this isn't awfully good is it?


Well, if it were crap and I were the editor of Poetry Review (or Poetry), I don't see why not.

Where there is no gulf, there is no dilemma. The editor who solicits work from writers he finds interesting rather than writers with bionotes more impressive than his publication shouldn't end up having to sell out his standards.

quote:
Moreover, an editor who solicits is likely to advance more aggressive aesthetic agendas than if he/she were merely to simmer what comes in over the transom.


It never entered my mind to think in terms of aesthetic agendas. An editor chooses the best work he can find according to his own standards--this applies whether the work finds its own way into his hands or if, encountering a writer who interests him, he solicits work in the hope of receiving something (he'll think is) good.

quote:
Consider the extreme: a journal that only solicits (e.g. Jacket, as far as poetry is concerned). Wouldn't my points be true in such a case?


I suppose--but only by virtue of the active decision to exclude unsolicited work, not by virtue of the decision to solicit.
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Nicholas Liu

Singapore
59 Posts

Posted - 01 Feb 2005 :  00:19:35  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
Alvin:
quote:
Oh, it was definitely of historical interest at the time it was published (more so than now in a sense).

Historical (interest) : clearly arising from, indicative of, at odds with, or providing particular insight into the cultural, social, political, chronological circumstances in which a particular phenomenon originated and/or took place. Level of interest then being the extent to which this is evident/provides special insight/of unique value to the informed observer (eg a historian).


I was going by what you gave me as proof of its historical interest: 'controversial in its time, banned, repackaged, misappropriated etc.'--all observations after the fact. The definition you're giving now is different, and more useful.

Although it leaves me stumped as to its applicability to 'The Difficulty'.

quote:
. . . the sestina is such a clearly recognisable formal structure (in the way that an Aerosmith-inspired free-verse poem might not be.) What is it about the free-verse confessional poet that was draw to this particularly involved strict verse form, in a literary scene where few writers of his generation care for traditional forms other than perhaps the sonnet? How does it stack up (to his free-verse work and to other sestinas esp those written in Singapore)?

Point being, it raises questions that perhaps the publication in question cares to pose to readers, even if not all readers care to answer them.


These seem more like questions for a study of Cyril Wong's work than for a more general literary review. If you wrote a pantoum, should QLRS publish it simply because it is a pantoum and unusual for it?

I don't meant to suggest that there's any clear-cut worth publishing/not worth publishing divider that we can apply to this poem or any other; that would be ludicrous. I only find the 'historical interest' tack a questionable one with regard to this poem.

quote:
“Too difficult to be possible” applies to too few things to be worth talking about in an unqualified manner. “Too difficult to be viable” is still measurable given the right specified parameters, and HM has already mentioned sustainability as a relevant factor. Of course, it may not be worthwhile to conduct the exercise of measurement...


You are right; where I said 'too difficult to be possible', I should have said 'too difficult to be viable'. Because I do think it is viable--it should not, I think, be so difficult for Hsien Min to solicit a few writers every three months and make up the other 4-6 instant-yeses that way. The reason he does not (I gather) is not that it is difficult but, due to its attendant effects, undesirable.

quote:
I’ll leave HM to tackle this since he’s started.


No reason why you shouldn't as well. Soliciting seems to be a very person-specific issue; I should be interested to hear your views.

quote:
Simple for you, mebbe. S’poreans over 30 can be surprisingly tech-duh esp compared with their overseas counterparts. I mean, I still get strange looks for being a writer with a tech job.

I don’t think blogging quite caught on with us in the same way it has for the 20s and teens. PLUS, Blogger is a relatively recent innovation, and I’m talking about people who write in longhand because they never quite got used to MS Word or the Internet. And believe me, I’ve set up enough laptops and internet connections (“here’s how you check your email”) for established writers from all over the world to know that tech-literacy is not in the basic job description.


I'll take your word for it, then, as someone who would know. In retrospect, I suppose ~% >30 yrs who know how to blog can't, after all, be meaningfully extrapolated from ~% bloggers >30 yrs.

I take back what I said about writers who can't get published, but I still feel that existing publications shouldn't try to accomodate all the sorts of writing and writers that exist; if not all writers who can't get published in existing publications know how to set up their own venues, certainly a large proportion do. There are enough aspiring <30 writers and aspiring, tech-literate >30 writers that a handful of editors shouldn't need to run around catching every baby to fall from Michael Jackson's balcony. (Or somesuch analogy.) Why aren't there more online journals? As I said, perhaps this is the question that needs attention.

quote:
and this is where I come in with a sales pitch for LEMMINGS -- the literary content management system that powers QLRS --- Literary Editorial Management Made INGeniously Simple! Bad joke, good system (really)


I'm no techie, but I just thought I'd mention this journal run by a friend of mine off (an I assume modified version of) WordPress and see what you think. I seem to remember having seen a few other such sites powered by blogging software, but I can't be sure.

I wasn't talking just about the nuts and bolts of the site itself, though, but also the more general running of a journal. How to deal with submissions, how to spread the word, where's a good place to host it, do you need to pay or will a free host do, etc.

quote:
not really -- in this case, our mutual choice of metaphors is indicative.

You mention “maps” -- implying that there is an openly travesible territory in which it is possible and even desirable to explore on your own than to rely on a badly put-together guide that could get you lost.

I mention light and darkness, implying of course that the subject of our discourse is pretty much impenetrable to the uniniated or ill-equipped -- perhaps dangerously so. In which case it’s better to have some sort of tool in hand, however modest, to get you started rather than nothing at all.


You're right. Our choice of metaphors is indicative.

quote:
I could. I don’t want to.


So how valuable, actually, do you think a poorly written review is?

quote:
Besides, it takes time just to read the primary text.


Aren't there books you've already read but haven't reviewed?

quote:
That one got lah.


I can't find it. Do you mean that little line at the bottom of the page?

quote:
Come on, read the mission statement : “QLRS (in full, the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore) is the Internet literary journal of Singapore. Our mission is to promote the literary arts in Singapore, to stimulate the feedback mechanisms in the literary scene, and to develop Singaporean writers to international standards.”
-- it does have a clear stake in developing the literary arts IN SINGAPORE (vs say New Mexico or like whatnot, being a locale-free journal). Therefore it can, for instance, “justify including reviews of local books a large proportion of readers may not have any particular stake in and probably aren't even able to buy in store.”


Let's be clear on what the issue is. You said, 'if TPR were to start being dominated by the sort of Singapore writing QLRS has a specialisation and stake in, then yes, I'd say QLRS might want to rethink its editorial strategy.' I asked what sort that might be exactly; now you are telling me that it is as stated in the mission statement. In which case I must point out that your scenario--The Paris Review deciding to 'promote the literary arts in Singapore, to stimulate the feedback mechanisms in the literary scene, and to develop Singaporean writers to international standards'--is not the one I had proposed, wherein TPR merely starts publishing a significant quantity of Singapore writing.

I also wonder how, in that case, the existence of QLRS does not require you to rethink PBB's editorial strategy--the mission statement is broad enough that it might easily be applied to PBB as well.

Edited by - Nicholas Liu on 01 Feb 2005 00:24:04
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Hsien Min

Singapore
49 Posts

Posted - 01 Feb 2005 :  00:28:46  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
quote:
As you have mentioned before, with ezines, there is no given amount of journal space.

Theoretically that is the case; but, practically speaking, I suspect readers of online journals have a finite amount of patience and therefore it is likely that editors of effective online journals seldom test the theoretical.

quote:
By the by, why do you equate soliciting work with 'sourc[ing] from [the editor's] own network'?

Good point in theory, but again in the soliciting practice most editors don't, for whatever reason (lack of time, cost-benefit inefficiency) go searching beyond writers who are in their first or second degree networks.

quote:
Where there is no gulf, there is no dilemma. The editor who solicits work from writers he finds interesting rather than writers with bionotes more impressive than his publication shouldn't end up having to sell out his standards.

Again, your argument is elegant in theory but doesn't necessarily translate well into practice. First of all, it's not always the case that there is no gulf. If I were to ask Alvin for a poem, true enough there might be no gulf, but then he's likely to send poems in anyway, every 3-4 issues or so; so if I had to solicit I'm likely to aim for those who wouldn't necessarily send something unless I asked, say Andrew Motion or Jo Shapcott, and then there would certainly be a gulf, no? Secondly, there isn't any guarantee that writers whose work the editor might find interesting would upon being asked send something that the editor would find quite up to his/her expectations. Such a failure of (well, for brevity's sake) theory sparks off a whole other dilemma of whether to reject the piece that he/she had asked for in the whole place and risk alienating a writer whose work he/she finds interesting, or to close one eye and take the piece anyway.

As for having an aesthetic agenda, you will notice that I was careful to say that some element of this is always in play; but you will, I think, also find it hard to argue that the practice of restricting oneself to what actually comes in from the ether does not place more restrictions on an editor than the practice of actively searching for what one likes.

Or to put it in other terms, I would suggest that I've been reasonably catholic in reading and selecting what has come in for QLRS, but if I had to solicit I would be likely to choose very different poems.

Cheers,
HM

Edited by - Hsien Min on 01 Feb 2005 00:39:42
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alf

Singapore
92 Posts

Posted - 01 Feb 2005 :  02:16:23  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
ON SOLICITING:

I suppose we ought to spell out the spectrum of soliciting practices for arguments’ sake

0. Inviting general submissions (either fully open or via a known network say a mailing list)
1. Inviting general submissions from specific writers, famous or otherwise.
2. Asking explicitly for “recent work” (published or otherwise) from specific writers, for (a) consideration or (b) use.
3. Asking explicitly for thematic submissions from specific writers, for (a) consideration or (b) use.
4. Asking explicitly for specific pieces (published or otherwise) from specific writers for use.

Did I miss anything?

I’d disregard lvl 0 and 1 for the purposes of our discussion since I feel they fall sufficiently into the category of general submissions. Lvl 2 is borderline for me. 4 is perhaps the clearest cut eg of soliciting (case in pt, Cyril asked me for those specific pieces to use in Softblow).

The practice of soliciting is not uncommon with say anthologies, retrospectives or showcases, where the intent is to (re)present a particular slate of voices/themes/styles/personalities/landmarks. I’ve done all of the above in pursuit of my anthologies and as guest editor (for say overseas journals doing a special feature on Singapore). As I’ve mentioned, it’s pretty much curating rather than editing.

However, the practice (of to an extent 2 but esp 3 and 4) strikes me as inappropriate in a general literary review / journal with at least some explicit intent of surveying the contemporary field of play at any given moment.

Softblow in that sense is more gallery than journal (it’s even organised by “artist” rather than by “issue”). Nothing wrong with that; but to compare Softblow to QLRS would be like comparing the Singapore Art Museum with the Straits Times.

The level of predetermination (of content) which soliciting implies is at odds with the role of the general edtior in selecting from (and thereby “reporting”) whatever comes his way on a day to day basis. His role is that of an informed observer of his field of expertise (eg. the literary scene in Singapore), not unlike a senior correspondent or News Editor in a media outfit.

Yes I know news organisations often solicit, but that’s often because a particular expert is uniquely qualified to answer certain questions, OR when the news outfit is short on resources and staff on the ground. In that regard, it’s not all that different from QLRS asking someone to do a review of a book.

Even when referring to (2) and (3), I’m aware that you’re referring to Option (a) - ie you would invite work but not commit to it. In practice the distinction between (1) and (2) can boil down to wording, submission terms, and diplomacy.

But no editor (bar omniscience) is going to know what’s being written at any given time. Who then does one ask? The usual suspects; one’s acquaintances and necessarily limited circles. To ask explicitly for work (“please submit” rather than “we’re open for submission”) is to incur a certain obligation. Who then do you NOT ask, and why not? The editor’s job can quickly spiral down into an unhealthy political morass -- as has happened elsewhere in the arts scene and literary cliques here. You may also get the phenomenon of writers WAITING to be asked before they submit work, which does the journal no good at all.

Remember, my view of a journal is as (at least in part) a record of contemporary literary activity (ie. as "news"). A certain detached objectivity, the sort that a general survey requires, applies in a way that would not in the case of a curated showcase. I believe open, unsolicited submissions, for better or worse, best serves this ideal.

If one purports to give an overview of literary activity, it might be argued that it's perfectly appropriate to solicit a soundbite or more, as it were, from someone/something topical to the moment (say, something from a recent Foyle Young Poet). Certainly, that's where the interviews, reviews and criticism come in.

But for primary texts (eg poetry), there's a certain cachet in writers offering their work to the journal voluntarily and without obligation, because they want to be published in that journal for whatever reason, and not just because they were asked to. The editor is then free to select from the range of open submissions presented to him, without fear or favour.

Caveat: I do know credible journals that solicit as well as accepts open submissions (eg the Atlanta Review), but it's almost always in the context of a specific theme (eg Seamus Heaney for "Irish Poetry").


Edited by - alf on 01 Feb 2005 18:54:24
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