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Water is many things: rain, sleet, snow, ice; oceans, seas, rivers, salt water lakes, fresh water lakes; sweat, blood, tears. Water is life. Water is death. Water is rebirth, renewal. For Australia, a continent two-thirds desert with 90% of its population located in its slender coastal regions, water is a national obsession. It pervades our consciousness as both threat and promise, manifesting in drought, storm, flood; a continuing dichotomy of lack and excess.

Literally and metaphorically water is the essence of SWAMP. For what is a swamp but land and water in such a combination that it is classed as worthless for the purposes of humankind’s physical expansion? Yet still it breeds life, life, life. The University of Newcastle was built in part on reclaimed swampland and in turn SWAMP was built on that. It is the element of water that has secured this territory for us and all we endeavour.

For myself water means a long bath, a leaking roof when it rains, watering the garden every second day at dusk during summer. It means watching the news footage of flooding, of severe storms, of tsunamis. It means thinking realistically that one day, who knows when, that the sea levels may rise over the house where I now live. Water is physical, water is symbolic. It is finite yet infinite. It means something to everybody somehow.

In this issue water has been used and interpreted by our contributors in all its literal and metaphoric senses. In Suzanne Hermanoczki’s “Shoes” and Eliza Snelling’s “MacMillan Deep” water is a physical presence that brings both pleasure and threat. Water is the beach of Ben Churchill’s “Hot Sand”, the estuary of Lou Smith’s “The Mangroves”, the rockpool of Karen Lockney’s “Ardnamurchan”. Water means death and renewal in Jennifer Hodson’s “Swimming Lessons”. Water is the immensity of nature versus the insignificance of man in Alexia M Slade’s “Varieties of Oblivion”. Water is the tears of Marama Salsano’s “Salt Green River”; the water gurgling in the plumbing of Pamela Benjamin’s “Down the Pot”.

For SWAMP our water issue has brought with it a shifting of the tides. This issue marks the departure of Scott Brewer, Editor-in-Chief, and a leave-of-absence from Cassandra O’Loughlin, Head Poetry Editor. Their great contributions in times past and the ever-continuing support of co-founder Peter Bower has allowed a smooth transition for me to step into Editor-In-Chief. I am also very pleased to welcome Nell Robertson to the Prose Editorial Committee.

Due to the amount of work involved in getting each issue up and running we have had to make the regrettable decision to reduce the number of issues released annually from three to two. But, fear not, the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle has just pledged its continued support, for which we are incredibly grateful. Issue 9 will be our second and final issue of the year and will centre on the theme “Obscurity”. Submissions are now open and will close on 1 July; please refer to the Submissions page for further information. We look forward to reading what you have to say!

Samantha Dagg




.Published: 22 March, 2011.
Editorial Team: Samantha Dagg, Nell Robertson, Peter Bower, Keri Glastonbury (Editorial Advisor).