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When I chose the theme of obscurity for Issue 9 of SWAMP, I didn’t really think about what I would have to say on the topic come editorial time. I thought more about the submission deadline and what I liked in a theme to write about from the creative perspective. I was thinking that obscurity was a theme that could be related to almost any type of writing and narrative. It could be addressed directly, indirectly, literally, literarily, metaphorically, metaphysically, obscurely.
The poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction included in Issue 9 represent this diversity. They differ significantly in style, genre, tone and flavour. They all come at the concept of obscurity from a new angle. Obscurity is treated as an effect of time, a veil to be lifted in the pursuit of knowledge, as in Angela Argent’s “No Man’s Woman”, a creative non-fiction piece looking to uncover the truth behind an historic personage, or Karen Powell’s genealogical quest “Great Grandfather”. Obscurity can be caused by locality and landscape (or seascape) in the case of Luke Spry’s “Abyss”. Obscurity and the nature of memory and truth were also explored in works such as Jacqui Wise’s “I close my eyes”, Kathy Gilbert’s “The Dream and the Lie” and Toby Fitch’s “Coverage”. The theme also encouraged surrealist explorations of the concept of truth and reality in such works as Mairin Holmes’s “Death Flash” and Mercedes Webb-Pullman’s “Internationale Rescue”.
Finally, obscurity was addressed most commonly as something to be feared or fought against, as exemplified in Oliver Michell’s “The Toad Who Loved Glory”. This brings me around to the only thing that I can think to say so directly about obscurity: Writing is both an act of and against obscurity. It’s a solitary activity and, due to the competitive nature of the literary market, one that is undertaken usually with little acknowledgement or support. We know all this yet we continue to write. In many ways, not only writing but studying writing at a post-graduate level is a way of fighting against this sense of obscurity. It puts us in contact with people with whom we might have never otherwise met, who are in the same position that we are, driven by similar motives and undertaking similar experiences. In many ways SWAMP is an extension of this and I am pleased to acknowledge that our Obscurity issue is our largest yet.
I would like to thank Cassandra O’Loughlin, who, after having a break last issue, has decided to retire from SWAMP. All her hard work as Head Poetry Editor on Issues 5 – 7 of SWAMP allowed for the publication of some great poetry from around the globe. I would also like to thank Sarah Jane Barnett of Massey University, New Zealand, who joined us for Issue 9 as guest poetry editor. Her skilful reading and keen observations have been very much needed and appreciated. I would also like to thank Nell Robertson and Peter Bower for their continued efforts in getting SWAMP organized and online.
Our next issue will be our 10th, an achievement that we are all very excited about considering that our journal is an under-staffed labour of love! To commemorate this milestone we have chosen the theme of “Gravity”, which, as always, we encourage you all to interpret in any way that you choose. Submissions close on Monday 13th February 2012, and more information can be found over on the Submission Guidelines page.
.Published: 26 September, 2011.
Editorial Team: Samantha Dagg, Nell Robertson, Sarah Jane Barnett (Guest Poetry Editor from Massey University, New Zealand), Keri Glastonbury (Editorial Advisor).