Behind the Scenes at Verity La

Six months ago, one of my poems, ‘Grand Mont’, was published in Verity La—I was chuffed. While checking out the site I noticed the journal was calling for volunteers to read submissions. ‘Why not?’ I thought, ‘no harm in asking’—so being bold, I did.

The (then) editor, Nigel Featherstone, was incredibly gracious and replied that he’d love a bit of help with the poetry subs. So fellow poet and friend Stuart Barnes and I happily joined up to trade opinions on the amazing array of poems that flow into the journal each week. It was (and still is) a lot of fun—agreeing, disagreeing, and occasionally agreeing to disagree on work written by some of the best in Australia and internationally. What an honour! I felt incredibly proud to be part of it all.

Then a few months later, another email from Nigel—after five years he was stepping down as editor of Verity La to pursue more of his own writing. Did anyone else feel up to the task?

I certainly didn’t. I was happy just to have a poem in the journal! I was happy just to be reading poetry behind the scenes! But it seemed that no one else felt equal to it either, and the journal was at risk of folding. So taking the advice of Richard Branson (‘If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity… say yes—then learn how to do it later’) I bravely (naively?) said Yes!’, Nigel said ‘Great!’, and before I knew it, I was Verity La‘s incoming managing editor. Excitement soon gave way to panic, however—as I began waking in the middle of the night, hyperventilating with the realisation of what I had done—me, editor of Verity La? Preposterous!

Nigel, thankfully, was incredibly supportive, and patiently taught me the ropes; bit by bit I began to take over the editorial duties, and eventually was able to sleep. (Except, that is, late on Friday nights when, after pressing the publish button, I still lie awake imagining I’ve made all sorts of errors—should that be an en dash or an em dash? A colon or a semicolon? As I’ve discovered, an editor’s life is full of such pernickety, sleep-stealing concerns.)

But guess what? Apparently I AM now editor of Verity La, and so far so good—due, in large part, to the talented team that works behind me, reading subs, writing, reviewing, and generally putting in their two-bob’s worth whenever needed to ensure that the high standard Nigel set is maintained.

We’ve even dared to go further, and have some brave new things planned for next year and some brave new people to help us deliver them. We welcome Robyn Cadwallader as our reviews editor (I’d kiss the ground at Robyn’s feet if I could, so happy am I to have such a competent and talented lady at my side), and a slew of new reviewers including poets Robbie Coburn, Benjamin Dodds, Mark William Jackson, and journalist Amanda Hickey. We have emerging writer Rachael Nielsen stepping up to divine The Stars, and our new visual arts editor, photographer Leigh Backhouse, champing at the bit to view your art submissions. Plus we have an Emerging Indigenous Writers Program ready to roll out under the experienced mentorship of Dr. Phillip Gijindarraji Hall, and poet Janet Galbraith will be collaborating with us to establish a Writers in Exile project, focusing on the creative work of refugees. And our Travel Write Travel and Out of Limbo projects continue to expand as we scour the nation for travel obsessed writers, and writers from the LGBTI communities (or both!).

All we need now, dear reader, is you. So please like, share, and follow us, and subscribe to our weekly posts. We publish only one very, very fine thing each week, and it’s absolutely free into your inbox. And to those who have something to submit, I say—’Be bold, as I once was, and send us your creations!’ You never know where it might lead you… after all, as another wise man once told me—it’s always better to make the braver choice. Good advice, no?

Michele Seminara, Managing Editor