CONTRAPPASSO is an independent biannual magazine of international writing published in Sydney, Australia. It contains fiction and non-fiction, interviews and poetry, and appears both in print (POD) and e-book formats. Much of the magazine material, embellished with multimedia content, appears concurrently at this blog.


Contrappasso, n. (Italian). Lit. counter-step, counter-blow. The law of an equal, opposite and meaningful atonement for sin. The punishment that fits the crime. See: Virgil, The Aeneid, Book VI; Matthew 5:38; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Q XXI, Art. 1, Reply Objection 3; Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy—by which point the idea finally acquires some irony.

Why the name?

In Australia, starting a literary magazine is in itself a counter-step or counter-blow. We appear on the margins of a troubled industry. Publishers cling to their traditional methods. Our few major newspapers give less and less space to the world of books. Serious reading, we’re told, is in serious decline.

Fortunately, recent advances in print-on-demand and ebook technology offer alternative publishing possibilities on the margins. While this magazine isn’t trying to single-handedly fix Australian literary culture, it does open a channel to creative voices. What’s really needed is a flurry of contrappassi—independent publications to counter a moribund industry.

Since our home is Australia, we’re likely to find many of our writers and readers here for the time being. That said, we’re hardly waving the flag. To date we have published writers and translators from New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Russia, Switzerland, Italy and China. Australia is simply where the journal lives and where it was born.

Above all, Contrappasso is an attempt to present good writing for its own sake. The fear of the decline of intelligent reading is so widespread that it proves what a huge audience is really there, primed and waiting for something new—publications with no particular agenda beyond helping writers and readers find each other. Therefore we avoid imposing themes on our regular issues; only from time to time will we publish themed issues, as companions to the regular ones. We publish long-form pieces and don’t swear off any genre or technique, traditional or experimental. The only criterion is that the writing fulfils the deep need to make sense of the world. For that, there is always an audience.

Editor: Matthew Asprey Gear
Email: magazine [dot] contrappasso [at] gmail [dot] com

For writers interested in submitting: submissions are currently closed, but will re-open later in 2016. To be included on the mailing-list for the announcement, please contact the editor at the address above.

14 thoughts on “About

  1. Hey there, Matthew & Theodore,

    Your editorial vigour in establishing your own Australian lit. journal already beguiles and excites: along with a Tokyo-based screenwriter, I’m the editor of an independent literary annual entitled, “Red Leaves / 紅葉”, which is a bi-lingual print publication that seeks to curate and foster original (and even stylistically or conceptually difficult) creative work, and showcase this to an international readership — so the ambit of your journal is definitely aligned with my own. On this note, are you guys actively seeking contributions for issue #002 of “Contrappasso”? If so, do you guys have an editorial email address or submission guidelines which you might be able to share for prospective contributors?

    I’d love to be able to wrangle together a fiction submission your way, so please don’t hesitate to touch base or to point me in the right direction. In the interim, keep up the estimable work. It certainly demands much whooping and festive celebration, particularly in the context of a local literary community littered with OzCo-funded, navel-gazing, conservative lit. projects. Thanks for ushering in some lifeblood.

    • Thanks for getting in touch, Kirk. It sounds like “Red Leaves / 紅葉” is another of the contrappassi we’re promoting in the Australian literary marketplace. Glad to know you’re out there.

      We’re not actively accepting submissions right now, but that will change next year. Issue #2 is due for publication this December.

  2. I discovered Contrapasso during one of those extraordinary miracles of perfect timing yesterday when I met Theodore in Lane Cove. This is such an exciting, worthwhile and much-needed addition to the literary landscape in Sydney and I wish you all the very best. Hope to be at the launch next week.

    • Hi Erikleo, I’m about to post some information about submissions, in reply to the next comment (below), so I hope it’s useful to you. Thanks for your interest!

  3. Absolutely love the international, multi-lingual concept !

    Do you have specifications regarding length of submissions etc. ?


    PS : Is the print version available in Melbourne ?

    • Thanks, Rutegar and erikleo, for your comments.

      Regarding submissions, we don’t impose word limits and we’re open to considering new work in any genre, although if you write prose we prefer to read chapters or single stories, rather than full-length novels or suites. If it’s poetry you write, then between 6 and 8 poems is the most manageable number we can read at a time, but once again there are no restrictions on length or genre.

      The only thing is that since we’re a very small operation, we can’t look at new submissions year-round. That said, you can always go on our mailing list and when submissions next open (in late November) you will hear about it. If you’d like to do this, just send an email to the address given on this page.

      Rutegar: sadly the print issue isn’t yet available on shelves in Melbourne – currently our print runs are small and restricted to Sydney bookshops (we’re based here) – but you can order copies from this website, including the new issue, soon.

      Thanks again and all the best!

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