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bodacious poetry section, man!

9In the next few days, leading up to coverage of the 2009 Overload Poetry Festival, the Overland Overloaded team will be ‘chatting’ with poets, organisers and other contributors to the festival. We thought we’d start with speaking to Overland editor Jeff Sparrow about how it feels to have the Overland blog hijacked for two weeks. Note that at the start of the interrogation Sparrow seems calm, almost apathetic, about relinquishing control over the Overland blog. He then moves through a brief period of fear before he manages to focus back on the questions at hand. Let the poetry begin.

sparrowjSeriously, why would you give the Overland blog over to a bunch of poets for two weeks?
It means I don’t have to come up with any content
Are you insane?
Career as a left-wing writer? You be the judge
What’s the worst thing you think could come of all this?
Poetry
You clearly haven’t thought this through very well, have you?
Hey, it was your idea
Panicking much?
Am now
What’s the most fantastic thing you think could come of all this?
More poets recognising the age-old truism: if you want a flourishing poetic culture in Australia, you need to support it’s institutions. Overland is a not-for-profit journal that depends upon subscriptions. If a fraction of the people who wanted Overland to publish their poems actually subscribed to the journal, it wouldn’t be in perpetual financial crisis
How likely do you think that is to happen?
In all seriousness yeah, I think some of them will. Overland subscriptions are now at a fifteen year high, precisely because, as the state of literary culture becomes increasingly dire, more people recognise the importance of supporting community-based literary institutions
Ever written a poem?
There was a young man from Nuntucket…
You serious?
I know it off by heart, so I must have written it
Plug the Overland poetry section
At the moment it’s guest edited by Tim Wright who won the most recent Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets. The poetry section is usually diverse and eclectic, though there’s an underlying commitment to Overland’s core project – the examination of the culture of politics and the politics of culture
Honestly?
Yep
Really?
Really, truly
What would Murray-Smith (the founder of Overland) say about the Overland poetry section today?
“Dude, you guys rock!”
Are you avoiding the question?
Nup
What would he really say?
“Bodacious poetry section, man!”
Any chance of an all poetry edition of Overland in the near future?
Only if it became clear that there was sufficient support from poets. At the moment, the discrepency between poetry submissions and subscriptions from poets means that it’s simply not viable.
You wouldn’t give false hope to your poet contributors, would you?
Nah. Am telling it like it is
Why should we believe you?
Because I’m honest as the day
Are you going to any events at the Overload Poetry Festival?
Most likely. I have to survive the Melbourne Writers’ Festival first
Are you trying to avoid that question too?
Yes
Poetry.
Why?
Woodie Guthrie once said that, where three communists meet, the fourth one ought to be a guitar player. Well, it would be nice if the fifth one was working on some poems
What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get your blog back?
Most probably, I’ll go back to overcoming a shortage of inspiration for blog posts by putting up cheesy You Tube videos

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Comments

  1. I was just thinking Jeff has never sounded so sane and human. You’re doing a great job under very difficult circumstances, Jeff and we appreciate it. I’m not sure about poets supporting institutions though. I always thought it was the job of poets to challenge institutions, especially literary ones, but maybe challenging them and supporting them turn out to be the same thing.

  2. I think you’re on to a thing Paul – challenge them to support us more and then we, in turn, will support them… it’s all a bit dinosaur and egg really I guess.

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