Writers have changed. No more are they sitting pretty in brothels and brocade drawing rooms diligently scribbling into their goat paper. No more are they sipping absinthe in bohemian cafes while etching poems into their skin. Heavens, no. Today’s young writers are roughing it on bedbug mattresses and polyester tents in small(ish) Australian towns.

This was made clear at last month’s National Young Writers Festival (NYWF) in Newcastle from September 27 to 30, held as part of the annual This is Not Art Festival (or, in its more tender acronym trappings, TiNA). And wasn’t it magnificent? The literary world of Melbourne was excessively well represented. Going Down Swinging was also there. Like a confused spirit crossing rivers into the underworld, I pressed gold coins into the palm of my ferryman to cross from my campsite in Stockton (selected partly to avoid ‘backpackers culture’, but mostly because I left everything to the last minute and all the beds were booked out) to the Newcastle mainland each morning. But when I arrived those mornings fresh-faced after primping in the communal campsite bathroom, what wonders stretching before me! Free panels, workshops, performances and discussions stuffed with everything practical and unpractical and inspiring. It was like tumbling into a barrelful of delights from Willy Wonka and his choir of chocolate-covered angels.

To cut to the gooey core of this (extremely belated) blog post, one of the first of the TiNA and NYWF events was the much anticipated ‘Lit Journal Launch Orgy’. GDS actually volunteered to participate in this thing and launch Issue #33 at The Great Northern Hotel’s cosy and kitsch Tiki Bar, joining fellow literary journals Meanjin, Voiceworks, The Lifted Brow and Stilts in a sticky mass of quick-fire ten minute launches.

“I’ve always wanted to be part of a lunch orgy,” poet and GDS contributor Fiona Wright told me a week before the event. I did not want to be part of a lunch orgy, a launch orgy, or any orgy, but editor Geoff had his NYWF co-director hat on and didn’t want to confuse anyone with his dual personalities.

I was happily sipping whisky an hour before the launch when I discovered to the horror of my introverted mind that I would have to participate. I immediately plunged into my glass like a thirsty ostrich.

Swingers, this was my very first orgy.

I had the naked body of The Lifted Brow dancer leap across my face like a gazelle. I felt the masochistic blows of Meanjin as they ripped apart the self-esteem of every journal in the room and smiled onstage as we cried like little girls. I saw the entire editorial of Voiceworks Macarena past my eyes as one great, grotesque, synchronised body. It really is amazing what a journal will descend to when they have just 10 minutes to interest an already tipsy crowd.

Going Down Swinging, I vowed, would be different. We would represent the soul, not the image, of the body of the Swinger. I stood up, swayed slightly, and slurred.

Contributors will be pleased to know that this little launch of Issue #33 was saved by the extremely eloquent and hypnotic Briohny Doyle as she read an excerpt from her very excellent piece, ‘Little Monsters’ (you can read another excerpt here), while Deputy Editor Katia had the room (and herself) in little bubbles of giggles with her reading of Eric Dando’s insight into the life of creative writing professors in ‘The Novel Teacher’. In fact, NYWF correspondent Melissa Wellham had some very nice things to say about our contribution to the orgy:

Going Down Swinging read a selection of pieces from their latest issue, which (from the sounds of it) is an absolute cracker. If cracker is still a word that means something is very, very good. Chalices (that is, cups) were discussed at length in a piece about how fucking terrible it must be to teach creative writing, and “interspecies birth videos” got a mention.

I have to say, I was also mighty proud to see Issue #33 looking so swish and godlike on the merch desk.

And I was going to wrap this whole post up with yet another indiscreet allusion to orgies, but I think too highly of our readers to press on with this for too much longer. Just find yourself a copy of Issue #33 and read and listen to the words and fall in love. This is the real thing, people.

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You can read more TiNA disaster stories from Megan Anderson by clicking here.