Ann Nugent and Bill Tully were co-founders and co-editors of Blast Magazine which they started in Canberra, Autumn 1987. Blast's first editorial committed the magazine to the 'Passionate "I" of the personal voice', stating that 'with allegiance to no political party or to any programmatic ideology Blast is open to all iconoclastic writers who desire to expose cultural shams, social pretensions, political deceptions and all manner of hypocrisies in Canberra and beyond' (Blast 1. 1: 1). The name Blast was borrowed from vorticist Wyndham Lewis's short-lived journal Blast (issues 1 and 2 of Lewis's Blast appeared in 1914 and 1915 respectively). Craig Cormick joined the editorial team at Blast No.17 Summer 1991. Ann Nugent left the editorial team after the publication of the summer issue in 1993. Blast continued with Bill Tully and Craig Cormick alternating as editors, until issue 46 when Bill Tully left. Craig Cormick continued to publish Blast until May 2004 (issue 50) when Blast ceased publication.
The original Canberra Blast was in a trimmed A4 format and appeared 4 times a year. Blast began with 13 pages and built up to 50 pages by issues 17 and 18. Blast usually had a theme for each issue: Canberra Hidden City (No.16, 1991), Gulf Patterns (No. 15, 1991) Belonging, Exile, Rootedness and Uprootedness ( No. 11, 1989/90), Free Speech ( No. 9, 1989), Literature and the Land (No. 6/7, 1988).
There was a conscious effort to combine image and text in Blast. Early issues featured drawings by the 19th century French satiric artist Grandville. His 'volvoce', a ferocious small creature, became a Blast logo. Covers and centre pages of later Blasts featured the work of Rocco Fazzari (cartoonist with The Canberra Times and the Sydney Morning Herald). It then adopted the practice of featuring emerging and established artists. For example, Keith Looby, Chris Denton, G.W. Bot, Barbara Zerbini, Joyce Allen and Pamela Challis. Blast also promoted the work of emerging poets writers.
Several writers published in Blast went on to establish literary careers. Some established writers supported Blast with contributions. For example, In response to a critique of White's Memoirs of Many in One (Ann Nugent, Blast 1, p 2, 1987) Patrick White published an article in Blast in 1988. This was his only published work in the bi-centenary year. Blast maintained a European connection through 'special consultant' Prof. Jean Chesneaux who contributed ideas and articles. Issue 4 of Blast (1987/1988) contains an index illustrative of contributors and content of Blast.
Blast aimed to be cheeky and this was most clearly shown in its regular back page paragraphs titled 'Blasts and Bluebells'.
In the early years Blast was financed from sales and subscriptions, with some financial support from the editors. From issue No. 16 (1991) onwards, Blast received some modest, occasional grants from ACT Arts Development Board (ArtsACT). Some of the funds were used to pay contributors. Ann Nugent says: I cannot comment on the years 1994 - 2004 except to say that it is a long time for a little magazine to survive.
When Blast ceased publication, Ann Nugent registered Blast Magazine's name (7 May 2004), and re-started the magazine as a biannual publication in a different style and format. The new Blast is a perfect bound trimmed A5 book of 56 pages with soft cover. The aim of the new Blast is to provide space for the publication of high quality contemporary Australian poetry and other critical writing. Blast No. 1 was published in March 2005. (Ann Nugent with input by Bill Tully)