Interview: Geoff Lemon on Going Down Swinging and the grassroots scene

Going Down Swinging, the only literary journal in Australia to regularly publish a spoken word CD with its regular issue, is launching issue #33 this Sunday at the Melbourne Writers Festival. It has also recently relaunched its website now with regular content.

Melbourne Spoken Word’s Benjamin Solah asked GDS’s editor Geoff Lemon a few questions…

Why should poets and performers in the Melbourne spoken word and poetry scene take an interest in Going Down Swinging?

Because GDS is one of the biggest supporters of local spoken word in Australia, and has been publishing in Melbourne since 1980. We’re the only Australian journal (and one of a handful worldwide) to publish audio CDs with every print issue, which we’ve been doing for 13 years.

We commission new long-form spoken word pieces each year, and stage regular gigs, giving opportunities to local performers to find an audience and be paid. We publish national and international artists, but still have a distinctly Melbourne presence and flavour, including touring Melbourne artists interstate. We’re also branching out into multimedia digital publishing, opening up more opportunities to publish performance work via video and audio.

Also, and maybe more importantly, we do our best to set the standard for quality spoken word. There are a lot of performers out there who aren’t living up to their potential. We want to set an example, and we also just want to put together a bloody good record, every time.

This is great for those who are selected, as we put local poets alongside star writers like Neil Gaiman and Cate Kennedy, rappers like Joelistics and Mantra, and musicians like Sietta and Angie Hart.

Can you tell us a little bit about how Going Down Swinging was born out of the grassroots scene? How is it different to other literary journals?

Other journals tend to have a single focus, which is print publishing. Their e