Main Street Magazine Tour fails to deliver
// JJ Brewis

I really wanted to like the Main Street Magazine tour. As someone who buys a handful of print issues every payday, it seemed like the perfect way to spend a Thursday night. But this event, despite glossy advertising and prime locales, came up short in
terms of living up to its name.

On Thursday, August 18, the Magazine Association of BC organized a series of talks, workshops, and seminars promising to be a “celebration of local arts and literary magazines and the community spaces in which they thrive.” This event is the Association’s latest attempt to bring awareness to an industry that needs constant promoting. For a group that represents and connects over 75 publications, a small tour like this seemed like a great resource for reaching people individually.

The tour began at Dr. Sun Yet Sen Classical Chinese Garden, where attendees were given the evening’s schedule and told to pick one of the two tours available. Sadly, each tour only seemed to have one interesting selection, yet we were told that dividing time between the two tours would be next to impossible given that both tours strayed in two different directions. I opted on ‘Tour A’ which promised to focus on a ‘how to get published’ talk as well as a ‘smattering’ of four local writers in ‘Local Literary Excellence.’ Whoever marketed this event did a great job of really playing up resources and events, because both components ended up sounding much better than they actually were. Tour guide, Sara Bynoe, did a great job of keeping the group excited about the event despite its obvious flaws. Bynoe is well-known around town as a host of “SAY WHA?”, a reading series based in Vancouver. As she was familiar with many of the readers and publications involved in the tour, Bynoe seemed like a great candidate. Her personality and ability to showcase the exciting parts of the stops was a definite asset. Sadly, despite her vibrant nature, the tour components didn’t really add up.

The first stop was a panel discussion with two editors from Room Magazine, held at the Everything Cafe. The venue itself was kind to lend its space to the tour for nearly an hour, yet the sounds of espresso machines overpowered the speakers. Room deserves acclaim as Canada’s eldest publication by and for women. Now in its 35th year, the literary journal has stood the test of time, with contributors including big names like Alice Munro. Many of the tips the women on the panel shared were great for those wanting to submit to literary journals, such as targeting your market, reading your contemporaries, and being very careful with submission guidelines. However, most of what they said applied strictly to literary journals, not to the more diverse magazine format that the tour was supposed to be promoting.

The tour’s second stop was at local arts space Blim, and featured a lineup of four local poets whose works have been published under the umbrella of sister publications Prism and Event. Both are UBC-related literary journals, which focus on both fiction and non-fiction, such as book reviews and poetry. The lineup itself was tolerable, with highlight by Gillian Jerome, who shared a touching rendition of a John Keats poem before launching into her own works. Freshly home from a trip out East, Jerome used the piece as inspiration to calm and ground herself and to connect with the crowd. However, once the final stop of the evening was back at the Chinese Garden, where Bynoe and alternate tour guide Jaz Halloran led an evening of even more readings, in collaboration with OCW Magazine. While this portion of the tour was certainly entertaining, it, like most of the tour, didn’t give the outlook into the lives or offices of the magazines that I’d hoped the tour would. It would have been more preferable to speak to insider professionals and gain knowledge of the publishing world of magazines as a medium, rather than hear readings from people who have submitted poetry to literary journals.

The Main Street Magazine Tour is a great concept that can hopefully be expanded on to include more magazine content beyond the literary journal components that were included in my half of the tour. With great sponsors including The Georgia Straight, Yelp, and Vancouver Is Awesome, and with some strong publications willing to take part, it would be fantastic to see this become an event that grows and flourishes more each year. Our city has some other wonderful publications to its name, led by a strong group of publishing and editorial gurus who likely have a lot to say about their industry. Hearing from them and gaining some real insight into this exciting and constantly changing medium is definitely a good platform to build and grow from.

// JJ Brewis
Art Director

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