Sport 3: Spring 1989
Clearing the Box
Clearing the Box
At Sport's first editorial meeting one of the committee's three writers insisted that the magazine must appear with a manifesto. 'You've got to get people's backs up, or they'll ignore you!' However, good taste prevailed, there was no manifesto, no sieve of theory. In press releases Sport's editor was at pains to say we had no programmatic approach — all we wanted was 'good writing'.
Good writing, yes, we got some of that — and the poor, the hungry, the huddled masses of photocopied photocopies and fluffy-edged, sweat-printed pages in the envelopes that spilled out of Box 11-806 whenever it was opened. We were thrilled, we had come of age, we were getting a lot of mail attention.
The committee enjoyed prophetic discussions on the future of NZ Literature, each submission was a clue to the long view. In producing our magazine we could fancy ourselves as Baptists, making strait the way. We planned to serve up the works of little known writers, like gourmet chefs with experimental dishes (to flog Michael Gifkins's metaphor from his review of issue one). We were interested in variety in our product, not homogeneity in our packaging, we were no mere fast-food multinational showing only the shape of things to go.
Yet relying on our luck, the perpetual birthday of the Box, is a publisher's equivalent of lying back and thinking of New Zealand literature. We decided to step up our campaign of soliciting letters to writers we admire, and began to frequent the kind of places where writers hang out and talk about their software. 'Do you have anything for us?' we would ask.
So here we are, issue three, and the nightmare of as many issues as there are numbers. Yes, we will continue to publish the treasures and surprises that slither out of the Box, but we will also commission work: letters will be sent, certain people will be asked to do certain things, and bears will dance to tunes.
Sport was undertaken, with a great deal of enjoyment, by a group comprised of one editor and three writers. Three issues on, the glow fading and the two remaining writers become vague about typing rejection letters or proof-reading copy. They have their work to consider (like that actor who used to stand in the wings focusing his Hamlet by holding the palm of his hand two inches from his eyes). The editor spends an evening paging. I am drifting off to sleep when a voice starts up behind me: 'I can't write a bloody editorial! It was you who said we needed one!' As I pick up something heavy with which to club the voice ( The Faber Book of Seductions) I say: 'I didn't mean it! I was only humouring you.' Across town, the third party sits flensing the fat from his latest story.
Sport 3: perhaps we should have called them Sport Green, Sport Blue, Sport Red — because there are more colours than names for colours.