Magazine for writers by writers

2008-09-23 00:00

An excellent literary magazine, Wordsetc, has been available in good bookshops for the past few months. It has in-depth feature articles about writers by writers and, unlike many of the literary journals which have been around for a long time, this publication has the look of, and reads like, a quality magazine. And best of all, it is a home-grown product nurtured by Umlazi-born editor Phakama Mbonambi.

The August edition honoured women in Women’s Month. Mbonambi says that was because he has long wished to pay tribute to the resilience of women.

A quick glance at the main features shows an in-depth and entertaining article on Olive Schreiner written by Heather Parker Lewis, an article by Jo-Anne Richards entitled Writing Women Characters and another by Anne Landman on The Curse of the Second Novel.

Previous issues have highlighted forerunners of South African writing Sol Plaatje and Es’kia Mphahlele, just for starters.

Mbonambi, a former Rhodes University journalism student, spoke to me about why he started this publication. “I’ve always been fascinated by the written word. I’m from Umlazi township and I loved the public library in the city. My parents would send me to town on an errand and I would duck into the children’s library for hours.

“Journalism opened my horizons.

“At university I stumbled upon fine magazines such as GQ, National Geographic and Ebony. Within GQ’s pages I discovered literary journalism. The effect of reading a piece that read like a novel was fascinating. It was only later that I learnt of Hunter S. Thompson’s pioneering role in this genre of reporting. To me it seemed like a perfect marriage of books and magazine. I then discovered a fine writer called Mike Sager. He’s now Wordsetc’s editor at large, thanks to the wonders of the Internet.

“In 2000, while I was in the library at work at Johnnic, I came across The New Yorker. I was blown away. The more I read its successive copies, the more I envied the depth the editors gave to its content. I wanted to develop something similar locally. Not a copycat production but a publication with substance but which remains accessible. I also wanted it to have beautiful writing. So Wordsetc was born.”

Wordsetc is available at Exclusive Books and other good book stores. It’s essentially reading for any lover of good writing.

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