So what are we trying to do? I've been thinking about this a lot this week. Because, for one thing, what we can't do is pay. We would if we could: payment, quite rightly, is a very live issue at the moment. For those people who are trying to make a living from writing, offering their work for free can be counter-productive. There's a larger argument, too: that continuing to offer your work for nothing helps to perpetuate a system in which this is deemed to be acceptable. It "devalues my labour", as a writer said to me this week. It's a cogent point. So what are we trying to do?
In essence, what we're doing is trying to give artists and writers and musicians a broader platform. If you've got your nose pressed up against the glass then publishing (and the art world and the music industry) can feel like the most inaccessible of closed shops. The idea of more famous and successful people helping to open up an audience for those who are still attempting to make a name for themselves seems to me to be worth pursuing. Someone said to me on Thursday that my "model" might not work without accommodating the idea of payment, and I do have very tentative plans for this. (Advertising? It's a long way off.) But I haven't got a model. What I have is a passion for literature and for the arts and a very strong belief in amplifying voices that might not otherwise be amplified. I like to think of this venture as a collective; as everyone supporting everybody else in a journey that we're all taking together. I also believe that, if I do my job properly, then that may well lead to more remuneration for our contributors later on.
So, in the spirit of the above paragraph, I'd like, once again, to thank Nick Coleman and (posthumously) Al Alvarez and to introduce you to the following artistic treats: new, and as yet unpublished, poems from Neil Astley's Staying Alive anthology series; poems by Fran Lock, Patrick O'Malley, Pascale Petit, Maya Jewell Zeller, Nkateko Masinga, Cythia Manick and June Wentland; stories by Josh Holton and M. L. Martinson; the continuing saga of One Hand Clapping; an art auction organised through Drawing Projects UK; photographs by Richard Helyar; a beautiful improvisation by Matthew Bourne; terrific songs by Hen Ogledd, Crayon Angels, and Phil Minton with Veryan Weston (filmed by Helen Petts); Brandon Robshaw's writings on etymology; and Noah Rasheta on Buddhism. I genuinely think that everything here is worth your time. Enjoy it, and please do tell your friends.