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.

Jillian has experienced depression first hand and as a carer. As a teacher of adolescents, she often finds herself on the frontline of identifying and referring young people to find support for their mental health. She believes that mental health is as important as physical health and is passionate about breaking down the taboos surrounding mental illness.

As a reader and English teacher, Jillian has spent decades reading, analysing and sharing poetry. She now spends down time surrounded by poets and footy fanatics and regularly lends her ear and eye to workshopping and editing both.

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, 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:

 Animal Liberation
 I: Hounded
 for Charlie Brown, my first rescue greyhound
 I was the dregs hitting the floor but still
 I could cup the palm
 of my hand over your cranium, fingers scratching
 that spot
 behind your ears, courting for you
 a ceasefire in this alien
 space of comfort & love & treats
 What mass grave
 of neglect might have been yours
 after a life unsuccessfully racing, when camera/lights/action
 are whittled down to a concrete pen
 You came to me biting
 yourself, your face a host of tics & yawns, too scared
 for outside – the trace
 of misuse
 And yet, in saving
 you, our self-harming is more or less
 & in my townhouse turned kennel
 we are becoming

II: Sir Jay Jay Raids Rich
 for Billy Blue, my second rescue greyhound
 raced    for the punters
 a homebred genuine stayer     hooked
                                          out wide for speed star spoils
 & his trainers manage the racing 
                    agenda     after deep pockets fracture
      his accessory carpal bone
 to get him back
 on track     surgeons     amputate
              front right toes
 Sir Jay Jay is out there
                   a distance superstar     rent asunder
                                         from the field
 but a hundred grand in prize money is stillborn
                      when it comes to post-racing care so a hobbled
      champ     is up for grabs
      as Billy Blue he is my knight
                                           in shining brindle
                   velcro-hound     snoot to snoot     limping from 
 treat to soft toy squeak 
               these new-fangled lures lugged to a den
          now his snooza snuggler
                        long-haul dog-love     redeeming     Charlie & me

Phillip and Jillian

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