What state are literary journals in? How are they changing? Those questions were at the heart of a discussion led by the editors of the White Review, Jacques Testard and Benjamin Eastham, at the launch of Issue Six at Foyles bookshop last week.
Christian Lorentzen, an editor at the London Review of Books and the editor of the n+1 anthology, was quick to remark on how many more literary magazines there were in the US: “They’re even at war with each other . . . . [As a writer] you can go from one to the other, trying things out”. It was with that fact in mind that the White Review was founded: its editors told Bookforum last year that
“In lit-mag terms, the literary scene in New York is infinitely more happening than London's. There are so many great magazines, many of which are youngish, that would have made the White Review almost pointless had they existed in London. We’re thinking of n+1, Guernica, Cabinet, the Paris Review, Bomb, Bookforum. In London, Granta is close to us only in that it publishes fiction and reportage, although they work with more established writers”. (See an interesting article about US literary magazines here.)
It follows that when Rachael Allen co-founded Clinic – a poetry, arts and music collective – in South London in 2009, in her late teens, the idea was to fill a gap: “We just found that a lot of the poems and poets we were reading weren’t being read by our peers . . . .We don’t have a game plan – we wanted to promote poets we were reading and were involved with. Then other editors and poets started to notice what we were doing”.