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“Some of our writers referenced the theme liberally, while others chose to ignore it completely, as is appropriate…”(Patrick Bryson, founding editor, SWAMP #3). Each issue’s theme is a lightweight frame for our contributors. As editors we also imbue theme into submissions where it might never have existed. It’s a touch-point from both viewpoints, never a noose.
To “besprinkle with pollen” (Concise OEDO 1964) is one definition of pollination which resonates (because of its quaintness) for me. Pollen, the fertilising substance, is a catalyst for manifesting something new, bigger than the sum of its parts, and not always with a soft touch. There is an explosive kind of pollination in Kezia Perry’s poem ‘Dynamite’. Agents of pollination, birds, feature in several poems. Hornets sting rotting plums in Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s poem, ‘Plum Orchard.’ History’s most devastating explosion simmers in Christine Piper’s ‘Undertow’ and the painting of hermit crab shells in ‘Hermit Crabs,’ Lynette Washington’s idiosyncratic short story, represents the delicacy of pollination in the face of bigger issues.
Pollination, in essence, is what all of our contributors have done. They have fertilised, besprinkled with their words, provided life to SWAMP, the receiving organ for your creativity and out of which #12 is born. Thankyou.
If pollination is a beginning, the importance and difficulty of endings struck home as well in #12. The protagonist, Luce, in Rochelle Hairman’s ‘Of Lovers’ Discourses’ is a creative writing lecturer. “Next lesson,” Luce says to her students, “we’ll look at endings.” The ending has the power to ruin or elevate a work, and is perhaps the most difficult thing in fully realising it. When I read the pieces I thought about the reaction that the endings might engender in the reader. Do they provide a soft landing, a sigh of relief or an ‘ah-ha’ moment? Are they arresting or a let-down? Often with poetry we suggest that the last few lines be dropped. There’s a temptation to go on, to sprinkle too much of the pollen. It’s a fine line and the judgement of success is as subjective as the author’s own decision. There is, however, a natural point of conclusion beyond which further words sully the previous ones. I invite you to look at the endings of the pieces in this issue and apply what you see to your own work.
In my new role as Editor-in-Chief I pay tribute to SWAMP’s previous editors and founders, particularly Samantha Dagg, helmsperson, ship’s captain, and all too often the cabin person for SWAMP #8 to #11. I thank Sam also for nursing me through #12. In SWAMP there is a history and a burgeoning maturity, now twelve issues old. This substance forms a resource for post-grad writers across the globe, to which they can contribute, share and learn. I’m humbled and grateful to be but a part of SWAMP’s evolution.
Many thanks to our current editors, Sarah-Jane Barnett (poetry), Samantha, Nell Robertson (prose) and to our guest prose editor, Sarah Dobbs, who we published in #9, and now has her PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Lancaster. Special thanks to co-founder, sage and webmaster extraordinaire Peter Bower for keeping the dream alive. I’d also like to acknowledge the ongoing support of the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle.
The due date for #13 is 30 June 2013 and the theme is “luck, chance, serendipity…” As always you are welcome to submit off theme and the theme for Issue 14 (submissions due on 30 September) will be open. Keep submitting. We love reading your work and please ask any other postgrads you know to submit as well.
Malcolm St Hill
Published: 14 March, 2013.
Editorial Team: Malcolm St Hill, Samantha Dagg, Nell Robertson, Sarah Jane Barnett (from Massey University, New Zealand), Sarah Dobbs (from University of Lancaster, UK), Keri Glastonbury (Editorial Advisor).