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Sans Theme

Given this issue has no theme, I feel like I kind of drew the short straw. Editorials are difficult enough for a first-time Editor-in-Chief, and now I can’t even wax lyrical about pollination (see Issue 12) or serendipitous moments (see Issue 13)!

Perhaps I should begin at the beginning, or rather where a beginning should begin (see Alex Lockwood’s piece ‘How to gain a PhD while losing a father’). Hello and welcome to Issue 14 of SWAMP Writing. My name is Amy Lovat and I am the newly appointed Editor-in-Chief and PhD student at the University of Newcastle, Australia. The last six months have been a riot and I want to preface all this editorial business by first saying a huge thank you to Malcolm St Hill, Samantha Dagg and Peter Bower for passing the torch with such enthusiasm, fuelling my excitement for SWAMP and taking me under their collective wing in welcoming me to the team.

While I’m on the subject, thank you is due once again to our international editors – Sarah Jane Barnett (poetry) and Sarah Dobbs (prose); your hard work is appreciated, as is your ability to deal with my compulsive emailing at strange hours of the night.

It was great to see so many international submissions this issue; special mention goes to the United Kingdom – Issue 14 sees published poetry and prose from talent at Keele University, The University of Chichester and The University of Newcastle, UK, as well as The University of Cincinnati, US.

I suppose that the lack of theme for this issue is a theme unto itself, and one that has the potential to bode well for writers around the globe.

It is both a blessing and a challenge to write to theme. Being given a brief, or a topic, or an idea on which to base a piece of writing can be a relief from finding creativity and inspiration within oneself, day in and day out, particularly when working on a PhD or Masters. On the other hand, writing to theme doesn’t always click; there’s no magical button to press that assigns creativity to a particular issue. We can’t necessarily collect ideas in jars to be saved and labelled for a later date (see Zoe Gilbert’s piece ‘Sunpowder’).

I recently watched a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, during which she speaks about creativity and its elusive genius. In Ancient Greece and Rome, the idea of creative genius was as a high power – a separate entity, god-like forces – that looked over their subjects and appeared at the most random times, in the corner of the room, to fuel a frenzy of writing, or painting, or sculpting, at a level of creativity that in this age of post-rational humanism we would call “genius”. But it wasn’t the artist, it was this elusive creative “daemon” or “genius” doing all the hard work. Humans have become the vessel and the source of the creative genius. What Elizabeth calls the “fragile human psyche” is compromised by all of this anxiety to create something amazing, unique, genius, all on their own.

In saying all that, you all rose to the challenge, and what follows is just a small selection of the fantastic submissions. Congratulations to these nine writers for finding their elusive creative genius that allowed the ideas to flourish.

Submissions for Issue 15 are now open, until 15 June 2014. The theme is “Surreal, Ethereal and The Real”; do with that what you will!

Amy Lovat





Published: 24 March, 2014.
Editorial Team: Amy Lovat, Samantha Dagg, Malcolm St Hill, Sarah Jane Barnett (from Massey University, New Zealand), Sarah Dobbs (from University of Lancaster, UK), Keri Glastonbury (Editorial Advisor).