Despite facing some recent difficulties, the Queensland writing scene remains vibrant and active. The establishment of an independent Queensland Literary Awards is just one example of the irrepressible life in our local writing community. Another is Stilts—a journal devoted to showcasing and developing Queensland’s unique array of literary voices.
With two issues in the bag, a third about to be released, a bustling online presence, strong local arts and community links, and an impressive and growing list of contributors, Stilts is a great showcase for the lively Brisbane writing scene, and a journal that is well worth keeping an eye on.
Speakeasy recently caught up with Stilts editor, Katia Pase to chat about the journal, Queensland writing, and upcoming opportunities and events.
Speakeasy: Can you tell us how Stilts came about and what place it hopes to occupy in the Queensland literary scene?
Katia Pase (KP): A few years ago Maggie, Bronte, and I were living together in an old Queenslander in Brisbane. We all come from writing and arts backgrounds and we just got talking one morning on the back deck about wanting to see more opportunities for young writers to publish their work, about wanting to go to more literary events and storytelling events, and mainly, about wanting to land a creative job when we finished uni. So we decided to fill the gaps ourselves.
I think we surprised ourselves when we actually pulled it off. The project has its own momentum now and we hope it occupies a space in the Brisbane literary scene that is energised, youthful, and interested in stories told across different mediums. There are lots of young people in Brisbane interested in reading, writing, and storytelling and Stilts is the space to share this.
Speakeasy: Can you tell us a little about the importance of promoting or establishing a particular Queensland voice, and how this might be done?
KP: I don’t yet believe there is a particular Queensland voice. We’ve found common elements – most impressive is the natural sense of humour – but the voices we’ve found are varied and sometimes conflicting. But I find this exciting; it is the richness of character, the nuances, and the individual detail that I’m interested in promoting.
Speakeasy: Each issue of Stilts is based on a different theme; can you tell us why the journal chose to go with a thematic structure and what sort of editorial scope this offers to the journal?
KP: The journal is themed for a number of reasons. The first and crass reason is to differentiate it from other literary journals that have come out of Queensland. But the meatier reason is that we want each journal issue to provide an absorbing and holistic reading experience, which unthemed collections of disparate works sometime fail to achieve. We try not to be didactic in the way we set themes and I’m often surprised by what comes back to us. The themes simply serve as the point around which we thread the different voices we find, around which we collate the differing images and perspectives.
Submissions for our upcoming issue were simply prompted by the title The Stilts Handbook of Adventure. We’ve got pieces about travel, family, folklore, and turning points in recent history.
Speakeasy: I understand that submissions for upcoming issues are currently closed; when will they reopen and what kind of work will you be looking for? Are there any other contributor opportunities currently available?
KP: We’re releasing The Stilts Handbook of Adventure in December, and the digital version of this issue in February. We’ll be opening submissions for issue four soon after that. There are other ways to write for us: we publish book reviews on our website and also run different projects on the site including writer’s residencies. I’d suggest anyone hoping to get involved should have a look through our website to get a feel for what we’ve done, and shoot us an email ([email protected]) with a pitch for an idea or a project, or just an introduction and a bit about what you’re interested in.
Speakeasy: The Stilts website states that you host regular events with other creative groups; can you tell us a little about the journal’s engagement with the Queensland creative community? Are there any exciting upcoming events you might like to mention to our readers?
KP: This year we collaborated with Charis Holt and Jessica Miller to develop ‘Yarn’, a bi-monthly storytelling night which has grown into an integral part of the Brisbane literary calendar. We also work with Avid Reader to curate the emerging author’s section of their regular Salon events. We recently hosted a special Halloween event in both Brisbane and Melbourne, and we’re keen to work more with Addition, the fabulous independent gallery and artist collective who hosted the Brisbane event.
Speakeasy: Stilts publishes both print and online editions, as well as publishing through the website; can you tell us a little about these different avenues of publication?
KP: For the first two issues of our journal we published all the content for free online. We wanted our writers to be read by as many people as possible. But the digital version of issue three will be a bit different; it will be more than just a reproduction of the print model. For the first time we’ll be incorporating multi-media elements and other modes of telling stories that don’t necessarily involve the written word. We don’t value one form of publication more than the other; we see the print and digital journals as complimentary halves. We’re really just interested in sharing stories in different modes.
Speakeasy: Are there any other upcoming developments or opportunities you might like to mention?
KP: We’re launching issue three, The Stilts Handbook of Adventure on December 1 in Brisbane. Follow us on Facebook for more details and come along and say hi. To keep in touch with upcoming events and opportunities you can join our mailing list and keep an eye on the website.
Julian Thumm is a freelance editor and writer. He has degrees from The University of Queensland and The University of Adelaide. He has worked with the Australian Journal of Communication, The University of Queensland Press, and Corporate Communication International through The City University of New York. He is currently based in Brisbane.