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Editor’s note issue 5

The South Circular issue 5 © M&E

Then we could pick it up and spin it again. This is just what people do, isn’t it? Keep it spinning.

From the one that got away, Alice Walsh’s original submission to THE SOUTH CIRCULAR last summer, we take our lead for this issue.* Keeping it spinning, thinking about throwing the first punch, rubbing the wrong way and residing in drawn-out goodbyes are these stories’ routes out of conflict, out of love, out of grief.

I’m calling this the fightin’ and ridin’ issue. Certainly the most perpetual acts in life provoke fabulous and familiar renderings in literature. Often daily life is only the movement in and out of orbits of old and new acquaintances, each encounter more or less interesting, more or less useful, more or less healthful than the last. And with each penetration of another’s (un)safely guarded orbit, the stories here by Patrick Gleeson, Barry McKinley, EM Reapy and Alice Walsh show us a little more about our own limits and our own tastes.

I used to think it impolite to lose the flavour of another’s environment after I’d moved away out of it. I’d honour that person by remembering their many properties; I’d swear to never think less of them for as long as I should breathe; and I’d relive our moments over and over again. But now I know that this exhausting baggage of liaisons come and gone was only really possible when their number was few. And with emigration’s paws reaching out for my nearest and dearest, with circumstances and needs growing inwards, finding a new way to honour that past is itself a lesson in the limits of the shades of friendship and love.

Our cover stars M&E have created a sublime work which captures the exquisite complexity of life’s necessary liaisons. And like all good visual responses it will exist and triumph apart from the stories in issue 5.

Finally, I must admit to a certain pride in reaching a fifth issue of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR. We are one year old, we have learned much, we are still young and we still care to bring you the work of new writers four times a year. I’m proud of throwing a punch at the digital publishing revolution and I’m glad to still be in the ring. And I’m especially proud of the small but growing orbit of writers, artists, editors and readers who have gathered round this spinning top.


Aoife Walsh


* Alice’s story, ‘It’s Crazy What You Could’ve Had’ went on to be published in issue 13 of wordlegs.


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The New Generation of Publishers: ebooks vs books, Dublin Book Festival 2012

Dublin Book Festival 2012

There was a lively and sparky panel discussion last night in Smock Alley Theatre, as part of the 2012 Dublin Book Festival, when Kemberlee Shortland (Tirgearr Publishing), Antony Farrell (Lilliput Press), Eoin Purcell (New Island, Irish Publishing News, and I came together to compare experiences of working in digital publishing and to hazard guesses on the future of the industry. Eoin chaired the discussion and I must say, he played a blinder in prompting honest and stimulating responses from us, giving time to each of our distinct and lucid positions and steering the debate between us and our informed and ready audience.

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to talk about the beginnings of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR, our experience so far and our dreams for the future of our ejournal. Preparing for the discussion, as it would place our work alongside such literary stalwarts as Lilliput Press and dynamic personae as Eoin and Kemberlee, was an extraordinary way to focus my mind on one particular aspect of our work which has become more and more important of late. Where to next? And how do we get there?

A lively debate also ensued on Twitter after the event and now seems a good time to finish a train of thought I began during the talk itself. It has since been suggested that I don’t actually like digital. I never said I don’t like digital. I said that ePub, the free publishing tool we use to produce each issue, has suited THE SOUTH CIRCULAR for starting out and for the time being. But that in order for our ejournal to compete on an international stage of digital periodical publications (like the McSweeney’s app, Letter to Jane, Moving Tales) we must gather a team of extremely talented, technologically creative practitioners; those who work every day in creative discovery via interactive design, graphic design, art direction and digital development. Those who are willing to consider the sociological, philosophical and anthropological consequences of the development of digital texts, what we now call eBooks. Those who are able to take the basic principles of text consumption, as it happens now and to think about and then create ways for the form to meet the challenge of the hypervoluminousness of digital.

Because I thoroughly agree with Craig Mod when he says the question is not ‘How do we change books to read them digitally?’ The more interesting question is, ‘How does digital change books?’

In order to bring these people together, in the hope that they may find a way to work together, I and my present team will continue to study the movements in these disciplines and will work towards an opportunity for collaboration. This is one of the huge advantages of working on a labour of love like THE SOUTH CIRCULAR; we can learn so much as we move towards a better format for our ejournal. Our aim is the same as any self-respecting literary publisher: to publish good work. It seems to us that the most expressively and coherent digital manifestations of this work are and will continue to be the textual products made for iPads, iPhones & Android phones. This is why we look at newspapers, magazines, other periodicals of short content. And so we applaud and we respect those publishers who are actively engaging with these coherent expressions as they are realized by interactive design, graphic design and digital art. And because we are not driven by sales or markets, we can afford to take the time to find the best digital form for the best textual content.