The next issue of Eastlit will be the 50th. It will be out in early April just before the Thai New Year. Back in 2012 when Bryn and I launched the journal we never thought it would go that far. The idea of having a journal for literature focused on East and Southeast Asia was mainly one of interest to us and a way to give something back to a region that had treated us well.
Now, however with almost 5 years having passed it still seems like only yesterday. In that time we have featured hundreds of writers, poets and artists. A few have featured many times. Most have appeared only once. Around 30% have been first time published writers.
Well over 50% are now non-native writers. And that was one of our initial aims – to raise the profile of local writers using English as a medium. So this statistic is particularly pleasing.
Along the journey we had the short two issue incarnation of Southlit as an independent journal before it was integrated into Eastlit as the Southlit Supplement featuring the writing and poems of South Asia.
And as we approach the 50th landmark, things are now very different. There has been a rise of literary journals across the region led by local writers and publishers. The English literary scene is more advanced and confident than it used to be. With this change it leads us to think what direction should Eastlit take in the future. Should it remain the same? Should it move in a new direction? Is there still a need for it? All of these are things that I find myself mulling over and the 5 year anniversary towards the end of this year seems a good time to see.
In the meantime we still see the readership increasing. It is currently expanding at a rate of 40% seasonally, which is about double of last year. The number of submissions is reaching a level that can we only just about handle without expansion. All of these are also things that we will need to think about in the future.
However for now, I just want to let people know that Eastlit has reached the half-century with some primary goals achieved.