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Luck, Chance & Serendipity

‘Learning to Write’ was a panel curated by SWAMP at the tenth annual Critical Animals creative research symposium in SWAMP’s hometown earlier this month. Expertly led by Amy Lovat, the newest of our prose editors, we heard from Ryan O’Neill (short stories), David Kelly (creative nonfiction), Therese Dryden (romance) and Chris Palagy (novelist) about their postgraduate writing experience. The panelists agreed that the discipline, structure and collaboration available in the postgrad environment made the journey a rewarding one. Trust was cited as a beacon in postgrad creative writing because the writers bared themselves, particularly in workshopping their work, in ways they rarely did in the wider world. The exegesis was their nemesis but a necessary evil in understanding and explaining their writing (and of course for graduating).

SWAMP is a microcosm of this postgrad writing life. It too is collaborative and iterative. Our editors often work with contributors to suggest ways to polish their gems. We are by postgrads for postgrads and our editors are in similar straights to our contributors.

‘Luck, chance and serendipity’ was the theme for Issue #13. I’m reminded in reading the issue just how much these things play in our daily lives. Luck does, no doubt, play a part in being published too, however it cannot unless you are in the game. Words and writing are not unlike the mother in Carole Poustie’s poem ‘Undone’ who was stitched ‘into every fibre’ of the poet’s being or like the indelible fingerprint smudges of Wanda in Heidi North-Bailey’s prose piece, ‘Fries’. At times language fails us, as it does to the lover in Kirsten Le Harivel’s poem ‘On the second floor’. These are reasons for writing. Our words, however difficult to express and despite how inextricably embedded they are in our being, must be wrought. These are reasons too why we must send them out, to disengage, to let them freewheel for a while. Submitting is as much a part of the learning process as reading and workshopping.

There is plenty of engaging reading in this issue and there are many to thank in getting it up. Our editors, Sarah Jane Barnett (poetry) and Sarah Dobbs (guest prose editor), Samantha Dagg (prose and behind the scenes in all manner of ways), Amy Lovat (prose and for introducing her verve to the team), the perennial Peter Bower, who amongst other strokes of genius launched our new website, and to the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle. Speaking of the website, check out our new blog section where SWAMP editors and guest bloggers explore the writing life.

This will be my last issue as EIC. I’m taking leave from my PhD for a few semesters as well. Please welcome Amy Lovat into the breech. SWAMP will be safely cradled in her hands. I’ll remain as poetry co-editor. Thank you to all who have supported me during my tenure. The journey has been extremely rewarding.

Don’t forget that submissions for Issue #14 close on 31 October. The theme is open, our first open themed issue. We love getting your submissions so keep them coming.

Malcolm St Hill







Published: 22 October, 2013.
Editorial Team: Malcolm St Hill, Samantha Dagg, Amy Lovat, Sarah Jane Barnett (from Massey University, New Zealand), Sarah Dobbs (from University of Lancaster, UK), Keri Glastonbury (Editorial Advisor).