There’s not been a literary journal—or anything much like one—in the Northern Territory since Northern Perspectives ceased publication a few years back. The Borderlands project seeks to address that gap in the wordly market. The following is an introduction to Borderlands and a shout-out for your thoughts on the who, what, where, when & why.
What is the Borderlands project?
Borderlands is a 2018 strategic arts research project funded by Arts NT and Charles Darwin University to develop a literary journal of the Northern Territory in three phases.
The first phase is to research and develop a sustainable business plan and format for the journal (Phase 1), plan secure funding for a 2019 pilot edition (Phase 2), and plan for an ongoing publishing enterprise from 2020 (Phase 3).
Literary journals are an important component of Australia’s literary culture and can help to foster a range of Indigenous, non-indigenous and multicultural voices. However, the Northern Territory has no such platform, and its lack is a significant shortfall in the artistic lives of Territorians.
This is especially significant at a time when public interest in literature is growing and Indigenous voices are achieving greater prominence within the Territory and across the nation. Furthermore, with so many hopes, dreams and funding pinned to developing Northern Australia, Territorians remain bereft of a regular forum where creative and critical thinkers might evaluate the rhetoric that grand schemes such as ‘Develop the North’ can entail.
The proposed journal is for readers, writers, storytellers, artists, poets and critics, is nonacademic, and intended to capture the culturally diverse voices of the Centre and North.
Its format takes a broad view of storytelling with the aim of maximising audience reach and engagement, and to assure the sustainability of the venture in a small and challenging market. The journal will take the very best from print and digital realms to offer a unique reading experience.
Phase 1 of the project assesses current best practice in the literary publishing sector by literature review and interview of key stakeholder groups inside and outside the Northern Territory. It develops a Borderlands business plan, identifies funding for a pilot edition (Phase 2-2019) and establishes a sustainable framework for a working journal (Phase 3-2020).
Phasing the project aims to ensure ongoing financial viability of the journal, avoiding further dependency on regional funding bodies like Arts NT.
The project is being led from Alice Springs by Central Australian writer and researcher Dr Glenn Morrison with a team comprising Darwin writers and researchers Dr Adelle Sefton-Rowston and Raelke Grimmer, reflecting a cross-Territory, inclusive and writerly aim for the project.
Dr Morrison is working on the project up to two days per week for six months, with advice and help from the research team to undertake business planning, public talks and media, all aimed at building plans on an evidence-base, spreading the word and building enthusiasm for the project.
It is still early days for this project and I look forward to seeing Borderlands develop and prosper. Please leave your thoughts here as comments or pass them onto me via the usual social channels, including at the Borderlands Project Facebook page.