Monday, April 12, 2010

Resisting the corporate model and preserving a place for writers to start

Some comments from literary magazine editors, quoted in an article in the McGill Daily entitled We're losing our literary mags. The article keys off the new Canada Periodical Fund, which limits funding to magazines with less than 5,000 paid circulation per year, something that is the case for many of Canada's best-known literary and cultural titles:
“In every way that I can think of, the government has tried to graft the corporate model on to the literary magazine. [The circulation floor is] an attainable number for many magazines but it changes the way these magazines operate, in terms of turning more into businesses and less into artist-driven projects.” -- Jean Paul Fiorentino, editor-in-chief of Matrix magazine, Montreal.
“Where else are writers supposed to start? Writers need opportunities, they need somebody at some point to give them a paycheque, and [literary magazines] offer that. We give them chances to work with editors before they launch into larger projects, and it builds up a [writer’s] fan base as well.” -- Mike Thompson, business administrator at Grain magazine, Saskatoon.
[The government] is really treating literary journals as commercial enterprises. They’re not. They’re not that at all. None of us are in it for profit; we don’t make any money; we never will make any. The government should not be applying profit-oriented metrics to this kind of journal. It just doesn’t fit.” -- Gerald Trites, co-editor of The Antigonish Review.
“If you look at the guidelines for the periodical fund, there’s absolutely no mention of qualitative criteria. The only criteria there besides circulation is Canadian ownership and Canadian content. And both are quantifiable. You can count the number of pages of Canadian content. There’s no recognition of contribution [to culture]. There’s no recognition that literary magazines, all arts magazines, are incubators for the culture of tomorrow.” -- John Barton, editor of Malahat Review.

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