Eighteen Bridges’ editors aspire to become Canada’s New Yorker
Writers Lynn Coady and Curtis Gillespie have had ambitious plans for their literary magazine, Eighteen Bridges, since its inception in 2010.
“As readers and writers, we saw a yawning gap in Canadian publishing culture that we’re determined to fill,” says Coady, who acts as the quarterly’s senior editor (Gillespie is editor). “Canada, we felt, should have its own New Yorker, its own Granta, or, at the very least, a publication that aspired to fill that role.”
The Edmonton-based duo recently launched the fourth issue of the 68-page print publication, which is named after the number of bridges within city limits.
Although Eighteen Bridges is broadly focused on long-form narrative journalism and “really fine writing,” Coady says: “The emphasis is on ‘literary’ in the description literary journalism. But we also hold our writers up to professional journalistic standards. We require legwork, research, facts checked, and quotes sourced.”
Coady, who was nominated for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel The Antagonist (House of Anansi Press), and Gillespie, who took home the inaugural Danuta Gleed Literary Award in 1998 for his collection The Progress of an Object in Motion (Coteau Books), have attracted an impressive roster of writers, including Richard Ford, Marina Endicott, Romesh Gunsekera, and Linden MacIntyre. Lisa Moore and Timothy Taylor are listed on the masthead as contributing editors. Each issue also features poetry, including works by Karen Solie, Jan Zwicky, and Don Domanski.
Eighteen Bridges is partially funded by the University of Alberta’s Canadian Literature Centre, with more money coming from advertisers, donors, and subscribers. The magazine is available for free online, which the editors hope will help introduce narrative journalism to a younger generation of readers.
“There are a lot of us out there, and we’ve been ill-served by the assumption, over the past decade, that no one reads anymore,” says Coady. “As digital technology adapts itself to readers, it’s become very clear how wrong-headed that assumption was. We get thanks a lot [from] our subscribers for keeping the faith with the reading public.”