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 mat if you like, greeting your audience with some possible reading paths.

As an example of what we like to read:

Flash Art
for Rosalie Gascoigne in the NGV
I sit, back against
the cantilevered opening that was once my Beer DeLuxe, to consume self
indulgence in long black and lemon tart
            a sorrow diagnosed as separation from God, though a partner’s
            constancy is the cladded marvel
of Fed Square’s sandstone, zinc and glass; a carbon neutral, catered
                        coherence within triangular
                                                            pinwheel grids:
                        I am outside
            the NGV’s hermetic seal
having outlived professional
usefulness, a pensioned
pile of retro-reflective discord
and half-understood assembled
            jigsaw precariously propped
                        in the verge:
At Rosalie Gascoigne’s Flash Art, I stammer
towards entropy and corrugated bitumen blasted
                        bushfire light; a cache
of geometric and retro
ravaged lines recycled
                        in a beehive’s golden crossword
                                    and concrete poem:
Later, over more coffee and cake, I shape up
            to this joy in signage, grand
                        and redundant
                                                on a gallery’s walls.

‘flash art’
Rosalie Gascoigne has been a passion of mine for a long time so when I met ‘Flash Art’ (1987, tar on reflective synthetic polymer film on wood) in the NGV, the meeting had to become a poem. And Gascoigne’s title is so delightfully resonant with irony.

Phillip and Jillian

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