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An Interview with Leah Jing McIntosh

You ran a workshop at the Centre for Stories on starting a journal. What advice would you give to an emerging writer or artist—like a pre-2016 Leah—looking to start their own publication?

Start! But really: just start. There’s no point waiting. I was really afraid to make mistakes and I think that’s a big part of starting a project: just dedicating yourself to growing your project, believing in it, and hoping for the best. Another piece of advice, I suppose, would be to lean into growing pains—they’re inevitable, and when you listen to them, your project becomes better for it.

LIMINAL is a collaborative publication by Asian-Australians for Asian-Australians, with content and conversations driven by its subjects. Can you share how and why you set up LIMINAL in this way?

I love meeting and working with my community. When you grow up not seeing yourself on television, in books, in films—I think it becomes really important to find your community in person.

In terms of setting up LIMINAL as a collaborative project, I think it’s important to decentralise curatorial power, so I work with writers who often suggest interview subjects. And—often these writers have been interviewed themselves, which I love: this sense of growing LIMINAL together, into a kind of community, was my dream from the start. I feel lucky for the grants we’ve received, which allows us to pay our writers, and to continue the work we do as a community.

A beautiful portrait of Leah Jing McIntosh.

You’ve spoken about how the arts in Australia can be quite Melbourne-centric. You’ve just spent a week here in Perth, meeting and working with local creative people. What was surprising or memorable about your time here?

It was such a joy spending time with Perth creatives: meeting with so many talented people was an immense privilege. It was wonderful visiting the Centre itself; it’s such a warm, inviting space, a kind of beautiful, literary home I’ve always dreamed of. Which contrasted with (or rather, complimented!) the image of a beachy Perth I’d constructed in my mind!

Can you link us to one of your favourite LIMINAL pieces? 

It’s cruel to make me pick a favourite—it’s like picking a favourite kid! Can I say that I’m really looking forward to this month’s Centre for Stories collaboration? Ha.

Lately, I’ve actually returned to Roj Amedi’s interview (read it here) from 2017, where Roj underscores the difference between politics and ethos:

“When I meet people I don’t put my politics first, I put my ethos first. To a certain degree, I don’t believe in cutting people out because of their politics. Besides, I find most of the time your ethos and your value systems tend to affirm your politics.”

Roj’s interview is full of gems, but I’ve honestly learnt something from each interview we’ve conducted—which is over 100 by now.

What’s on the horizon for LIMINAL? 

We’re about to announce the Liminal Fiction Prize winner, and we are also publishing an anthology of the Fiction Prize longlist with Brow Books, out early 2020.


Leah Jing McIntosh is the editor of LIMINAL magazine. Check out their good work over at www.liminalmag.com and follow them on the gram @liminalmag

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