The crux of what makes a great anthology is not always immediately obvious. Like tasting something that’s not quite right in a family recipe, it involves unpacking, searching, and drawing on instinct rather than formula. A great anthology requires examination at all stages.
The unique process of selecting the final pieces is only the beginning – what follows is a series of smaller, equally vital questions for the editorial team. What order will the pieces go in? Should they explicitly state their form (fiction, non-fiction, poetry) or not? In what ways can the very best pieces be accentuated?
The editorial team at Writer’s Edit has done a splendid job in answering these. Writer’s Edit has been a stalwart of the online literary scene since 2013, providing a community for emerging writers and, more recently, its second print feature in Kindling Volume II.
In Kindling II, the reader is not only treated to a vast array of forms, but also a nuanced and thoughtful arrangement of pieces. It’s a nifty proposition: an anthology filled with both punchy contemporary fiction and poetry, as well as insider knowledge and tips for aspiring writers.
To me, the latter is Kindling II’s strongest suit. As an emerging writer myself, I devoured the pieces devoted to understanding the behind-the-scenes of the literary process. Benjamin Stevenson’s ‘How to Write the Perfect Query Letter’ is an amusing analogy about the prickly world of dating. Daniel Murphy’s ‘Joining a Writers’ Group’ is a peek into a world of charming country characters.
Writer’s Edit has managed to curate a sparkling collection of voices to guide writers – from the sage and seasoned to the newcomers – and let them in on some valuable industry secrets. But its fine fictional pieces are not to be overlooked, either. Some stand-outs include Michelle Brock’s ‘Autumn Winds’ and Cecilia Harris’s ‘On the Road Home’.
Perhaps the anthology’s best piece is Kristin Prescott’s ‘The Quest for the Magic Book’. She details, with catching enthusiasm, the journeys of people finding that one book that makes them go ‘A-ha’… One that they will forever treasure. She also emphasises how one mustn’t force their magic book on others (particularly their own children, who must seek with their own eyes). She interviews a couple of my favourite childhood authors, Jackie French and Libby Hathorn. Prescott stirs up a nostalgia within this piece that is purely pleasant and warm, never regretful or saccharine. With this perfection in tone, she binds together a lovely, at times magical anthology.
Louise Jaques is a poet. In 2015, she was editor of the 29th UTS Writers’ Anthology, Strange Objects Covered With Fur. She has been published in The Vocal, Cordite, Vertigo, and the 28th and 29th UTS Writers’ Anthologies. You can find her on Twitter here.