An Australian literary journal, Studio, is an impressive example of independent publishing of creative works that offer spiritual perspectives. Its founding editor, Paul Grover, reflects on its first 40 years of publication.
Studio, a journal of christians writing, features poetry, short stories, articles and reviews from subscribers, as well as commissioned and unsolicited contributions.
Our beginning in 1980 saw a handful of copies printed, folded and stapled using an old hand-operated print- ing machine. In 2022 Studio is professionally printed in the hundreds using high-quality stock and a professional presentation.
At the beginning the voices of doom were all around – small magazines don’t last, you won’t get quality creative contributions, it’s already been done and failed, there’s no market.
Les Murray encouraged us in our first year with the comment that Studio should strive for excellence because God is excellence itself. In 1987 Andrew Lansdown, the Australian poet and novelist, made this observation as guest editor for our 25th Studio number (we were called Christians Writing in those days):
“I have followed the development of ‘Christians Writing’ with interest over the last four years and commend the editors for their efforts to combine (so it seems to me) several objectives that do not always sit comfortably together – namely, to publish work of literary merit, to offer a venue for new and aspiring writers, and to create a sense of community of ‘christians writing’.”
We continue this tradition in 2022, and we are about to publish Studio number 154. Christians Writing became Studio when we realised that many people pre-judged the journal after only reading its title rather than the work inside. Tim Winton suggested early on that we needed to change the name to avoid ugly preconceptions becoming a barrier to people who would gain much from reading and contributing to the journal. So, why the name Studio? The inside cover of each edition carries our ‘credo’:
‘A studio is a creative place where people explore their art and experiment with ideas. Studio journal explores creative and spiritual perspectives, publishes work of literary merit by established, new and aspiring writ- ers, and develops a sense of community among Studio members and friends.’
The journal contributes in a small way to an ongoing conversation about our place in the world and spiritual perspectives in life and relationships. It adds motivation and momentum for a greater appreciation of the arts, and contributes to our rich exploration of spiritual journeys within and beyond.
It is not a journal of poetry, stories, articles and reviews about religious belief. Some people assume we only publish writing about religion or Christianity itself. Studio is a journal for writers who are comfortable being published in ‘a journal of christians writing’ (lower case ‘c’ & with the broadest definition of a much- maligned word that needs reclaiming). We publish from a spiritual world-view, across the whole spectrum of human experience – all the stuff of this life and this world.
Studio has featured many hundreds of established, new and aspiring writers over its forty years, and we look forward to featuring many, many more into the future. It has always been a non-profit magazine with a volunteer editorial team, and members are drawn from all walks of life, from all ages, and from all around the world. Studio members have gone on to publish their work in a wide range of literary journals, edited collections and their own books.
Good writing reaches well beyond display and self- promotion. The presence of good writing in the marketplace and an openness to other voices are like the chorus of ancient Greek drama, or the clown in Shakespeare’s plays, or the slave in Roman imperial processions. You are brought to face the essence of things, to consider the truth beneath outward show, the value of relationships, and the significance of people and events in life’s journeys. Honesty and generosity of spirit are so valuable in a troubled and transient world.
Novels, plays, poems and stories open doors some people would rather keep closed, or do not even know exist. Poetry is one of the most intense forms of human communication, and the spiritual journey the most valuable one we can ever undertake.
The roads less taken will be important and revelatory. Together, fine writing and a searching spirit can change the way you live. And nothing is too sacred or too secular for God.
Studio, a journal of christians writing. 727 Peel St Albury NSW 2640. e: firstname.lastname@example.org