Going Down Swinging, No.30
Going Down Swinging Inc., $24.95 pb and CDs, 145 pp
Reading the editorials and listening to editor Lisa Greenaway speak at the recent Melbourne Writers Festival, you could have been forgiven for noting a feeling of defeatism in Going Down Swinging’s sense of its own trajectory: a journal that has from the start, and each year since, been ‘destined to fail’.
Editors Greenaway, Nathan Curnow, and Ella Holcombe contend in the editorial for No. 30 that GDS is the ‘little magazine that could’; that seems to run on its own momentum. Thirty years old, the unlikely annual journal of new writing, poetry, graphic art and spoken word is certainly a little miracle. Which makes it something of a paradox. It seems to have spent the last thirty years going down and swinging furiously, but any devoted reader will tell you that GDS is an artistic institution. I think we can safely put such defeatism to rest.
For its thirtieth anniversary, the journal has involved a host of guest editors, including the founders, Kevin Brophy and Myron Lysenko. The resulting collection is unashamedly varied, ranging from the conventional to the divisively experimental. An inventive prose poem by Eddie Paterson, ‘Barbara Cartland Love Poem’, will frustrate as many as it pleases. The poetry, in particular the haiku, is strongest feature in this year’s offering. However, Going Down Swinging’s unique feature is also its best. The graphic art is a worthy addition to the literary content. Each work is beautifully drafted, with some funny, quirky, intelligent and sad pieces that never take themselves too seriously. The cover art lacks the sparkle of previous editions, which have boasted some inspired artistic contributions. Love it or not, GDS’s pervasive interest in the spoken word shines here, with an international offering full of fine content.