Button 2 Session 3 Sun




It took me a while to realise that what I thought was the Cause was really the Market Segment from a sales viewpoint.

I wrote this poem some years ago.

To Be a Poet

Saying that this was what it felt like to put
the right foot forward, and then the left, saying
that this was the taste of morning porridge,
that of milk, and this other of a niggling
but persistent pain, saying —
that, I suppose, was what was distinctive —
being unable to keep my mouth shut,
my mind from working. But a poet lives
like any other creature, talks perhaps
more than is normal, her doom no brighter,
nor her death less dismal than any other.

A poem rises between the writing of it and the reading of it. For a poem to live both writer and reader are needed. And for a poem to be read, a publisher is needed. The process can be idealistic or commercial or both. For some writing is a vocation, not a career. Reading is engaging with a text, not mindlessly consuming it.
And publishing is a service to society, not a means of making millions. But it’s the language of commerce that usually governs the three-way relationship between writer, reader and publisher; and it’s in trying to produce good work that is commercially viable that difficulties arise.

Suniti Namjoshi




Renate Klein and I co-founded Spinifex Press in 1991. In the decade before that we had each been involved in organising around and writing about multiple oppressions: what is today called 'intersectional' or 'diversity'. So when we started Spinifex Press we immediately set about building a list that was radical feminist and through which we published books on class, race, Indigenous issues, disability, lesbians, multiculturalism and age (not in any particular order). I heard the word 'bibliodiversity' in 2007 and knew this word also applied to our publishing program. We publish books that challenge the status quo in all these areas with special focus on violence against women through pornography, prostitution, violence by men in the home, surrogacy, torture, violence against women in poverty as well as the varieties of violence against the planet through war, globalisation, capitalism and environmental destruction. I will talk about the joys of being a radical feminist publisher as well as the additional challenges




Feminist publishing experienced an unprecedented moment between the late 1960s and early 1990s. Women’s books and bookstores, periodicals, publishers, editors, printers and distributors acted as a mechanism for feminist theory to circulate and develop. I argue that periodicals made up the mortar that glued together the writers, audiences, and theoretical underpinnings, building the irregular but impressive superstructure of the women’s liberation movement. This bonding glue, in the form of circulated, printed text, is what I more closely examine for its political strategy.


As Lisa Gitelman states, the “specific moments in the expansion of the scriptural economy” are important “less because of the technological innovations associated with them than because of the enlarged and enlarging constituencies that those innovations had a role in enabling.” [1] I explore how this feminist glue developed its adhesive qualities not merely through the medium of periodicals, but rather through the way the circulation of print communication enabled textual counterpublics to emerge. This is especially evident from the “letters” sections of feminist periodicals, in which women could and did express their appreciations of, as well as disagreements with, previously published articles and often also other letters.


The mapping of these communications and tensions provides a nuanced and lively account of issues that secondwave feminists were grappling with, while it also shows how feminist periodicals allowed for their readers to understand themselves as writers and contributors. I argue that by unravelling the communication and networks found in these periodicals, we tap into the contemporaneous dynamics of textual discourse. In this process, the historical communication between feminists is recirculated, extending the life of the documents, which can become the basis for further representation and, perhaps, re-engagement with disagreements that remained unresolved. The recirculation and unravelling of feminist periodicals shows how a counterpublic can persist over time, that the women’s liberation movement tends to behave in a cyclical, periodical pattern, which offers avenues for the development of a meaningful, material feminist analysis.


[1] Lisa Gitelman, Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents (Duke University Press, 2014). x.