Last week, Westerly’s editor Dr. Catherine Noske visited the City of Literature office at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne.
I have just arrived home in Perth after a huge week at the City of Literature office in Melbourne. Housed in the Wheeler Centre, and with David Ryding at the helm, the City of Literature office represents Melbourne’s listing on the UNESCO creative cities network.
The office acts as an advocate for literature in Melbourne and Victoria. It supports writers and organisations alike in their endeavours, and looks to promote a reading culture more generally. The morning I arrived, for example, I was offered the wonderful city of literature map. This is provided free for tourists and offers a pathway around the literary haunts and highlights of the city, including libraries, bookstores, organisations and places of interest. During the week, I got to sit in on some of the City of Literature’s goings on. The network does wonderful work in supporting a global appreciation of writing in all forms. I also had the benefit of David’s thoughts on Westerly’s plans and programs, offering insight for which I am very grateful.
The office itself shares a space with a number of different organisations all with offices in the Wheeler Centre. I had the chance to meet with some wonderful people. I learnt more about the Victorian scene in talking with Writers Victoria, Express Media, and the Emerging Writers Festival. And meeting with the Small Press Network, Meanjin, Peril, The Lifted Brow and Rabbit magazines gave the chance to talk about networks nationally.
This has been a wonderful opportunity for me. The obvious outcomes are a new joint subscription with Meanjin, and better connections with Melbourne networks of readers and writers. More developments will follow. But beyond this, the advantages are in a greater sense of community across the literary sector as a whole. This visit gave me a chance to promote Western Australian writing. It has moreover allowed me to better understand the nature of the Victorian writing community, and how Westerly might engage with that audience.
All across Australia, journals are functioning with reduced funding. If publications are to survive, we need to develop sustainable audiences. This will only happen if the sector as a whole can make clear the importance of literature as an art form to our national society. Talking with these organisations in Melbourne was a step in this direction. It helped in understanding how Westerly might overlap with each, and how we can work together to promote literature in general.
So, overall, it was a wonderful and very productive visit for me. I’ll look forward to keeping you all up to date with new developments as they emerge. We’re hoping new things will come out of our talks with several groups, which is an exciting prospect. In the meantime, we enjoyed offering Westerly’s latest issue to them, to help promote what we are about.
Many thanks to the Australia Council for funding this visit, and making this networking possible. And all my gratitude to David Ryding, for his support and enthusiasm!
Until next time,