How to escape the “literati”
Soft Punk is a political literary magazine now in its fifth issue, themed ‘Unequal’. The central essay, by John Merrick, sets out a bleak view of the current literary climate: “The literary elite is a coddled one, with books serving as respite for weary London BoBos and written by the kind of people whose families can provide them with the necessary modern equivalent of £500 a year and a room of one’s own (preferably one overlooking Margate’s old town and within easy reach of a Campari Spritz, please.)”
Soft Punk, considered in the context of this essay, is a space to publish work that has not been created within easy reach of a Campari Spritz. Many magazines profess socially progressive values, but Soft Punk is compelling to me because the pieces in here are detailed and ambitious enough to merit that claim. While Merrick’s account of the literati is, by his own admission, “hyperbolic”, the essay as a whole is a balanced account of why British culture functions, historically as well as presently, as a means of exclusion.
Not every contribution to this issue of Soft Punk is so persuasive. Some of the content feels a little rushed. But it’s exciting to see a relatively new magazine publishing with this much conviction.