The Lifted Brow issue 28
Delivered to Stack subscribers in  Jan 2016

by Stine Fantoft Berg in January 2016
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The self-titled “quarterly attack journal”, The Lifted Brow is a literary magazine featuring exciting, new writing from Australia and the world. For its original and engaging storytelling, The Lifted Brow won the award for Best original non-fiction in the 2015 Stack awards.

Keep reading for our interview with publisher Sam Cooney…

Sam Cooney

Job title

What is The Lifted Brow?
The Lifted Brow is a literary organisation that publishes magazines and books, stages events, and collaborates creatively with other organisations as well as individuals to make interesting and challenging work. Our flagship project is a quarterly print magazine also titled The Lifted Brow. It’s a journal of writing and ideas that is from Melbourne, Australia, with eyes and ears all over the world. A high-quality artefact, the magazine is printed using alcohol-free vegetable-based inks on paper which is FSC Chain of Custody certified and monitored from the paper mill to the end user. We feature essays, columns, comics, photography, fiction, poetry, and things made of words and art that can’t be easily categorised. We publish work that seeks to challenge and provoke readers, work that intends to entertain and arouse, work that asks readers to learn and change. We also publish marginalia, tiny universal stories, roundtable transcripts, and screeds.

What makes it different to the rest?
1) We are largely Australian, whatever that means, and we largely represent an Australian viewpoint, whatever that means. (In short: most of the folks who make the magazine and most of our contributors are Australian. Australians are unique in that we are very faraway and isolated as a nation, and yet we are very keenly plugged in and connected to the happenings of the world. We’re a nation whose first peoples have been on this land for over 50,000 years, and whose recent migrants hail from all corners of the globe. When making a magazine, we are both local and global at every moment, which makes for uncommonly intriguing pieces of writerly and visual art.)

2) We are a mutant beast, a Frankenstein monster, with body parts taken from all of our favourite publications: The Believer, Harper’s, n+1, PANK, The New Yorker, HEAT, HTMLGiant, ADULT magazine, The New Inquiry, Paris Review, BOMB, etc. By stealing the best elements of each of these magazines and fusing them into one upright creature, we are making something new and different.

3) The contents: we present the best and most interesting Australian writers and artists alongside the world’s best. Various past issues of the Brow have featured the following contributors: Christos Tsiolkas, Helen Garner, David Foster Wallace, Neil Gaiman, Rick Moody, Karen Russell, Tom Cho, Douglas Coupland, Heidi Julavits, Tom Bissell, Tao Lin, Rebecca Giggs, Margo Lanagan, Jim Shepard, Frank Moorhouse, Romy Ash, Matthew de Abaitua, Diane Williams, Margaret Atwood, Sam Lipsyte, Eileen Myles, Sheila Heti, Chris Somerville, Elizabeth Gaffney, Andrés Neuman, Blake Butler, Benjamin Kunkel, Alice Pung, Laura Jean McKay, Eddie Campbell, Anna Krien, Wayne Koestenbaum, Rebecca Harkins-Cross, Lorelei Vashti, Briohny Doyle, Dion Kagan, Benjamin Law, Simon Hanselmann, Eddie Campbell, Noel Freibert, Jonny Negron, Katie Parrish, Michael Hawkins Leonie Brialey, David C. Mahler, Marc Pearson, Mandy Ord, Renee French, Jo Waite, Ben Sea, Ben Juers, Bailey Sharp, Mel Stringer, Michael Fikaris, Pat Grant, and Sam Wallman, among many others.

Who makes The Lifted Brow?
The magazine is made by a large crew. These people are by-and-large artists and arts workers who volunteer some time every week to dedicate to The Lifted Brow. These people are essayists, poets, journalists, visual artists, teachers, zine-makers, podcasters, cultural critics, and event coordinators outside of the Brow, and each brings invaluable experience and zest to the task of making the best magazine we as a group can possibly make.

Who reads it?
People all over Australia, and all around the world. People who want to learn about the world and who are open to hearing new viewpoints. Not people who simply wish to be mindlessly entertained. People who like to laugh, cry, snigger, frown, growl, and clench. People who appreciate the chance to slow down every once in a while. People who want to know more about more. People who like other people, except sometimes when they hate them. People who want a magazine to attack their minds and not just caress their egos.

Why do you work in magazines?
There is work that should only appear in print magazines — or more accurately, there are particular pieces of writing and artwork that are best suited to be read in a print magazine, and if such work is published and read in another format, something is lost. Books are excellent, the internet is phenomenal, zines are ace, television is television, films come at you, gallery spaces are sepulchral, music lives in your core, and virtual reality is all-encompassing, but sometimes a piece of writing or a narrative comic or a double-page infographic hits home truly and only when it is encountered by a person who is inside that bubble that is formed when someone is head-down reading a magazine.

Aside from the print magazine, what are you involved in?
The Lifted Brow in 2016 is expanding into book publishing. From now on we will publish a book or two a year: provocative non-fiction, compelling fiction, and things in beween. We also stage many events — gigs, panels, lectures, and parties.

What would you change about The Lifted Brow if you could?
We would have more money so that we could pay all our staff, and pay our contributors properly, and so we could stop spending so much of our time worrying about money and trying to find money so that we can have a brief break from worrying about money.

Also: if we could become the catalyst that breaks down the entire capitalistic system within which we are forced to live, that would also be a good change.

Where do you see The Lifted Brow in five years?
There will be a whole slow avalanche of fresh faces coming down the hill: new people helping make the magazine, new contributors inside the magazine, new folks reading and loving and sharing the magazine. I imagine and expect that the print quarterly will still be coming out in print, and quarterly, and that we’ll still be interesting to our audience both in Australia and around the world.

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