Burrow at Old Water Rat Publishing

Where Mental Health Meets Crisis: The Geography and Psychology of Place (Under Threat)

We are a bi-annual e-journal publishing poetry and other micro texts each February and September. While our focus is what it is to live with poor or good mental health, we are very interested in where this intersects with such priorities as: ecocriticism & ecopoetics, postcolonialism, ekphrasis, progressive religion & secularism.

Phillip has lived with depression for a long time. For over twenty years he was a teacher, sports coach and hike leader, often working with disengaged teens. He has never been very successful at achieving a ‘work/life’ balance, and loved his job a little too much, so carried many emotional loads. As a young adult he was also rocked by three bereavements in the space of a few years. All of this reached a crisis in late 2014 with a breakdown and suicide attempt, a period of hospitalisation, and a diagnosis of severe depression, PTSD and high levels of social anxiety.

Phillip continues to live with poor mental health, and it defines too much of his experience. This e-journal is our act of defiance.

Rhiannon had depression​ as an adolescent and has experienced feelings of anxiety. As a teacher of teenagers, she recognises that mental health is a high priority and encourages the young people she works with to seek support from professionals, such as school counsellors. She is hopeful for a time when there is no shame in asking for help and she recognises that everyone has mental health challenges from time to time. We all need to work in order to maintain good mental health.

As a poet, doctoral candidate, reader and English teacher, Rhiannon is passionate about writing, reading, analysing and sharing. She has worked with Spineless Wonders to edit Maree Dawes’s verse novel brb: be right back (2014). Rhiannon is also a member of poetry workshops active in Wollongong and the Southern Highlands of NSW and values all she has learnt from discussing such technical matters as titles, line breaks, punctuation, word choice and imagery. 

Burrow is a poetry journal, but it is not aimed at any elitist or exclusive readership. Poetry is best when it is for everyone!

So, when you email through a poem, you might like to include with it a single paragraph essay that outlines some of its context, origins and sources. This paragraph will be published with your poem, as a welcome, greeting your audience with some possible reading paths.

As an example of what we like to read:

The Good Samaritan

I had four university graduations I desperately wanted

and worked hard to attend       but went to none

the dread of humiliation in public

was a fact felt more

than my own name       inevitable

like life or death       to hide

inside neatly packaged roles       resisting the deathly pull

of a way out       I am beat      stuck

in a mud of anxiety       and there are (oddly)

universes to love       such a trunk of goodness

I do not wish to die       to halt

in failure       but

the railway tracks all end

in hurt      though I lived to be

a donor

Phillip Hall

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