Monday, August 27, 2018

Fifteen Years of Literary Lava

It's hard to believe that fifteen years have gone by since the first volume of Catalyst hit the 'shelves' of independent bookstores and libraries. Borne out of a series of writing workshops and the foundation of the Catalyst open mic, the literary arts journal of the same name was the brainchild of Doc Drumheller with ship's mate Ciaran Fox. With graphic design by Andy Gilmore, the first volume of Catalyst featured an all-NZ line up of writers, promising to showcase emerging, fringe and experimental writing and art.

So began a decade and a half of annual anthologies featuring young and/or emerging writers alongside established names both across NZ and also the world. Catalyst has published poetry in translation from a dozen languages and cultures as well as art work from around the globe. It has produced three albums of recorded spoken word and music collaborations. Still committed to supporting emerging talent, Catalyst has grown into an international journal with subscribers and contributors from almost every continent.

Despite international recognition, the journal is still scraping along on the smell of the proverbial oily rag, except even the whiff of oil has long since departed and we are publishing on the basis of a homeopathic pile of thread. In a time marked by the death of multiple, long-standing literary journals in New Zealand, the remarkable determination of one of the 'new kids on the block' is worth celebrating indeed. The number of established print literary journals in NZ is pretty much countable on one hand these days, so long may this oddity wander. If you still like reading poetry in print, may we humbly recommend hitting the 'Subscribe' tab above and joining the odyssey.

On Thursday 30th August, Catalyst launches its 15th volume at The Last Word on New Regent St in Christchurch, as part of WORD Christchurch literary festival. Join us to hear readings from several featured poets as well as stories from the founders and a sizeable whisky selection.