Peter Robertson, the Founding Editor of “The International Literary Quarterly” was born in Glasgow and lives in London and Buenos Aires, having spent more than ten years in Argentina. To date he has published fiction, literary translations of French and Spanish authors, and critical articles. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2007, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2008. Here he talks about his literary review and his sense of literature as a broad church.
How did it get started?
I launched “The International Literary Quarterly” in November 2007 so we are almost two years old. Before I founded Interlitq, I was an Associate Editor of “Mad Hatters’ Review”, a New-York based webzine. In that capacity, I conceived and edited two features for MHR: “Viva Caledonia”, a feature that showcased work by many Scottish writers alongside artwork by Calum Colvin; and the first part of “Eclectic England”. I had planned to do a second part for EE but, even though this project had been my idea, I came to find such an approach too narrow and decided to start my own literary review. My objective was to create a forum that would be truly international and, in literary terms, do all it could to open up the whole world on the one site.
What is the publication’s purpose, and what makes Interlitq different from other literary reviews?
As I say, Interlitq is truly international in scope, and bearing this out is the fact that in Issue 9 we will be publishing a poem by Richard Berengarten, a tribute to the Greek poet, Giorgos Seferis, alongside translations into more than 60 different languages. And this venture will set the stage for the publication in Interlitq of more and more translations, demonstrating that our focus on internationalism is no mere lip-service. You will also note that we feature a Guest Artist in every issue, and one of my goals is to bring the world of literature and that of the visual arts closer together. Yet another is to provide a common forum for the writerly and academic domains, too often perceived as being discrete entities. In essence, we are interested in the dissolution of narrow categories.
Please give me some examples of authors you have featured. I am thinking here both of individual names and of a type or category of author whose work you seek to feature.
As can be seen from perusing our latest issue, we publish work in all genres—Issue 9 features essays by John Stauffer and Karen Thornber, poetry by Shanta Acharya and Jem Poster, prose by Mary Caponegro and Edie Meidav, and translations by Peter France and Mori Ponsowy. As an inclusive forum, we will continue to showcase a wide range of work but, as I mentioned earlier, we are particularly interested in publishing more work in translation, as indeed we are about to do.
Talk about the role the blog has played in building an audience for the publication.
I incorporated the blog about a year ago now. Given that the review comes out every three months, I thought it would be highly beneficial for Interlitq to have its own blog, with daily postings, thereby fostering a sense of continuity and an ongoing relationship with our readership. At the time of writing, it is an integral component of the review. Furthermore, the blog does its utmost to promote the work of all of our Consulting Editors and contributors, taking a keen interest in their new publications, literary development, and participation in readings and literary festivals.
What are some of the challenges that writers face in a world where speed of thought is increasingly prioritized, and how does Interlitq try to help authors to meet them?
It is certainly the case that Interlitq can offer writers a forum that is large-scale in nature given the reach and momentum of the Internet. But when it comes to the process of writing itself, no matter how much technology is harnessed, there are, I am sure, no shortcuts to literary excellence. This will always be an arduous process and one that calls for steady evolution and the often fortuitous coalescence of many factors.
Who is your ideal audience?
All those who appreciate literature. When I founded the review, I resolved that it would be a broad church in the world of letters. To be frank, I have little time for cliques or coteries of any kind, and have never remotely belonged to one. I am determined that “The International Literary Quarterly” will continue to publish a gamut of writing from all over the world, that it will as such promote diversity, and that it will always fight shy of adopting any official “line”.