Issue 4

Anomaly Literary Journal: Issue 4 seemed, almost, to build itself. I was so busy on a daily basis with work – we all were – that it seemed as though it came into formation by itself. The thing that consistently fascinates me when putting an issue together is that, because we don't operate under the idea of a theme, at first pieces that are accepted appear to have no connection to each other at all. Sometimes the majority have an underlying theme in common, others are unique in their own world.

This issue surprised me as over–all, there did seem to be a common theme: introspection over place, emotional situation, memory or relationships. Though not all pieces directly dealt with this common theme, a lot of the work involved in this issue did and totally by chance.

The search for artwork for this issue was intensive and prolonged. We almost never receive submissions of artwork/photography that suits our style and so we end up frantically having to solicit work. By February I was really starting to panic, until I came across the work of Steve Mitchell. He was immediately excited about having his work featured and as I test–placed pieces in an early mock–up of the layout, they just seemed to fit. I had to request more. I could have used far more artwork in this issue than I did– I slightly wish I had– because his work just fit the feeling of the issue so well. The colours, the moods, the textures– it had some kind of soft, comforting emotion throughout, even in pieces like 'The Explorer' (the painting of wolves in a snow-smothered landscape) which is at once full of isolation but the movement in the piece saves it, lends it an energy that stops it being suffocating. Once again, at the last moment, artwork elevated the issue to a new height.

We keep saying it– and at some point I'll stop, I promise– but artwork is SO enormously important to Anomaly, without it I think the writing itself would be too all consuming and we enjoy being just as careful and selective about the artwork and photography we include as we are about the writing itself.

As for the written words, well, I think I said everything I could say in the editorial. We are consistently so lucky to get to include work by so many talented writers, who are all so friendly and so kind, that it makes us feel so incredibly lucky and grateful that we started this magazine in the first place. There were pieces in this issue that surprised us because had they been handled by lesser hands (or minds, as the case may be) they should never have worked. Or they'd have been too clichéd to truly succeed.

Sandy Olson–Hill's poem 'Nursery Rhymes, Mythology, in the Cancer Ward, My Sister' is one of those pieces that, by a lesser writer, could have been painfully sentimental to the point of failure. Olson–Hill stays away from sentimentality, instead focusing on the cold, blunt facts. She writes 'a doll in her bed aspirating Zofran, Protonix/and she would like an apple pie, a bag of hope...'. Employing a relentless, onward charging rhythm that refuses to let up right until the very end, in a breathless cascade of viciously rapid–changing imagery that spins out conflicting emotions faster than you can absorb them and then ends, almost abruptly, with 'again and again/dragging her back, with a prayer, from the dead' that suggests, though by the end point of the poem the reader is aware of the speaker's sister's passing, that it had been a long, protracted fight with round after round before hand. Personally, I felt somewhat emotionally bruised by this poem. Whenever you see the word 'cancer' in the title of any piece, your initial reaction is to go 'Really? Are we doing this?' and silently beg to yourself the writer can handle it – Olson–Hill sure could handle it and afterward, you're glad she did. It's painful, cathartic and emotionally jarring and I think it's fair to say anyone who's ever had experience of a loved one battling this fucker of a disease will come away feeling the emotional power of the poem. I'd suggest several re–readings, but it doesn't get any easier to read on an emotional level.

Emer Lyons, in ten lines, managed to practically paint a portrait of a run–down area complete with graffiti, weeds and a hint of tenderness. I'll admit, I read this once and didn't quite catch the subtlety. I read it a few more times and fell in love with it. Had it been longer, it might not have worked. For me, 'Lit Up Phone Boxes' is one of those examples of when a very short poem can actually manage to communicate something succinctly that in a longer form would fail. Short–form poetry is difficult, perhaps the most difficult form, of poetry to write. It demands a level of such fraught control that, often, the balance required is easily lost. Lyons was not trying to elicit emotion, she was painting a picture, a Polaroid almost. In my mind's eye, had this been a Polaroid, I can see the disused phone box, the too–bright, flickering florescent lighting, the graffiti on the walls, the weeds and untended wild flowers peeping out of concrete crevices and in the background a young father with a group of restless kids following along behind, while stray dogs loiter in the distance. The only emotion is in the reading of the line of graffiti scrawled on the wall of the phone box. It gives the scene, otherwise a bit grim, a hint of tenderness. It is all that is needed and it is in this understated kind of control that makes this slip of poem function as it should.

Daniel Kuriakose stunned us with his poem 'World: Unoccupied, Me: Unqualified' detailing a love–affair and it's emotional aftermath in such a unique way, I'm still re–reading it. Maybe that's got something to do with the fact it reminded me of a short–lived relationship I'd had years ago that strangely bruised me at the time more than it had any right to, in any case, it's something I think everyone can relate to but his choice of words, imagery and phrasing was uniquely brilliant and the idiosyncratic choice of layout suited the poem so well, I don't think it would have had quite the same power had it been formulated in a more traditional manner.

Noelle Sullivan manages in her poem 'Penumbra' to describe a photograph of her younger self in a classroom in such a way that had she omitted the words 'pictures' and 'classroom' the poem would nearly be so vague as to be a riddle. Instead, it is rather touching and gives some shadowy indication of what sort of child the speaker feels they were at the time of the photograph. Again, another example of short–form poetry that is handled deftly and to great effect.

I could pretty much continue on and write a second editorial, but suffice to say these three pieces are only an example of the level of stunning ability that came together in this issue. Don't get me started on the fiction and non–fiction, if I complimented one I'd have to elaborate on the strength of all the others– I mean where do we start?

This issue is important for another reason: it was the last issue presided over by the very talented hands of Mr. Joseph Birdsey. Jo is genuinely one of the nicest people I know and he put in so many hours since the start of Anomaly simply because he believed in it. He can't be replaced (though we will have to replace him) and we owe Jo everything for creating the look and style of Anomaly which I personally adore. His design of the journal has received so many compliments from writers and readers that he'd be embarrassed if he knew the extent of them. His work and dedication made the journal what it is and we literally could not have done it without him. I owe him very many, many drinks in payment!

We hope you all enjoy this issue, it is our largest issue yet and we are so proud of it. I should mention that if anyone is interested in seeing more of Steve Mitchell's artwork, it can be found at his website http://stephenmitchellart.com/ where you can pick up the real thing or a print (and I will, when I can afford to, avail of a print myself) and the prints are extremely affordably priced I think. Read, explore, write and share! Thank you to everyone who submitted and contributed (whether you made it in or not), you're why we keep this going!

All the best,
Lorcán, Oliver, Roseanna & Jo.
 

Vacancy at Anomaly: Graphic Designer

Our lovely Joseph Birdsey is, sadly, retiring from Anomaly Literary Journal. We're sad to see him go, not only because his work in designing the over-all look of the journal itself has been incredible, but also because he's just Jo.

However, this leaves a vacancy we very much need to fill. Everyone knows Anomaly Literary Journal is free, it's a labour of love and because of this we are reliant on giving our own time to keep it going without any financial reward. I actually lose about £12 every month to keep the website running (which thankfully is small change in exchange for running the journal in the first place) and as such, we cannot afford to pay a graphic designer. This basically leaves us at the mercy of advertising a role for which there is no financial compensation except experience and a professional credit for the work (that part's kind of important to note!) that would be involved.

The job role requires someone who has a good working knowledge of Photoshop/InDesign and is willing to give their time, twice a year to two issues a year to work on designing the look of the journal. I myself use Word to create the layout (inputting artwork alongside text) and hand it off to the graphic designer to create a PDF format of the finished product. So we need someone who can recreate the design Joseph has established or, indeed, create a new look and feel for the journal (an idea we're open to).

If you or someone you know is interested in doing this and being part of the team for Anomaly Literary Journal in this capacity and would be committed to coming aboard in this respect, please let us know! You can email me, Lorcán, at anomalylit@gmail.com and if you have the relevant experience we can go from there (most likely we'll give you a mock-up and let you do your thing with it and see what happens!). It is vital as artwork is immensely important to us.

This is a fairly urgent vacancy to fill, as we are pushing back Issue 4 until next month but ideally we'd like to stay on track for Issue 5 in the Autumn (September/October) so we really need to spread the word on this one. It's not necessary for the applicant to need to be in London or indeed the UK, as we can more than easily communicate online. Indeed, if any applicants are writers themselves with an in-depth working knowledge of Photoshop and you have the time and skills to commit to two issues a year, by all means get in touch but that's not a requirement.

We are looking forward to seeing responses from this and hopefully welcoming a new member to the team! Give us a shout, as I said, at anomalylit@gmail.com and we can take it from there!!

Exciting!

Question & Answer!

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Depth, talent, skill

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: At Anomaly we read other literary journals religiously. If we had to break down our favourites the list would be enormous but would have to mention The Adroit Journal, The Stinging Fly, Crannóg, POETRY, Southword (which I'm a huge fan of because I grew up reading it), Rattle, St. Ann's Review, Mud Season Review, [PANK], The Los Angeles Review, Apogee- I mean, where does it end? Really? And other journals like Stirring, Blue Lyra Review, Noble/Gas Quarterly, The Flexible Persona, TCR, Booth-  I could literally just list things. All day. It would get ridiculous. You can pretty much list any and all. There are lots up and coming magazines that will be interesting to watch. Whilst all quite different, we like to keep a wide view on the current poetry scene but a read through of any one of these, for us, is never a disappointment and if there's a subscription it's always worth it for the money!

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: We all have very different tastes but for me, Lorcán, I come back to the same poets in particular again and again. I'm a big fan of Vona Groarke, her voice is so beautifully rendered and evocative, the poems wonderfully executed. Eavan Boland, as well, she employs a near flawless turn of phrase at times. Jack Underwood too is interesting and other poets such as Blas Falconer, Derek Mahon, I really enjoy Sarah Howe, Wendy Chen and Kate Tempest is really doing some quite enthralling stuff I feel- bit of a thing for Patrick Kindig, Alessandro Jacop Brusa and Arlene Ang was an early love. There are too may others to mention.

Well... also the classic loves like Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Yehuda Amichai, Anna Akhmatova- I mean, you can see where my tastes lie? I have a huge thing for Amichai and Akhmatova. The list could go on and on- but that's like scraping the top of the barrel. There are too many and with fiction there is too much. I feel like it's almost asking someone "What are your favourite movies- and you'll never see any others?" You can't pick them. Different writers do things that I love at different times, in different ways and I don't always love everything a writer I admire does. It just doesn't happen. In my opinion even your heroes have off days. Unless you've drunk the cool aid. In which case, that's short lived.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: We try very hard to curate a space in which the ability in the work is immediately impactful. We don't do themes, though often themes emerge by accident, but if we had to describe ourselves it would be to compare ourselves to a market bazaar- each piece is a stall selling something a little different and the elements which bind them together are skill, talent, intelligence, a willingness for some intensity and a kind of muscularity in the work that shows its power and the skill of the artist handling it.

The artwork- be it paintings or photography- is absolutely integral to the feel and mood of each issue itself. Without artwork or photography there wouldn't be an issue, it's as simple as that. We could just release an issue with just the written word but it wouldn't feel right to us. We spend a lot of time going through artwork or even approaching artists or photographers about their work because it means so much to us. We want to create the feeling in writers and artists that we are approachable. You can talk to us, before or after a submission. We don't want writers or artists to feel like they've submitted their work and now they have to wait in silence and leave us to do our thing, out there, somewhere veiled in the ether, mysterious and unreachable. We're always open to being approached about anything and we hope that comes across. We said on a podcast, I think for Issue 1, that we don't want to be perceived as the wizards behind the curtain. We're human, we're available, you can approach us when you need to! Oh, and we have a podcast. We barely know what we're doing with that. We're learning!

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: Every journal or magazine will say this but... please read previous issues. We're free! You literally have no excuse. Especially where poetry and artwork/photography are concerned. We will not publish work that is not trying and trying hard. It's obvious when a writer isn't interested in growing or improving their work because it lacks depth- we do not want shallow work or work that is not trying. Read what we've published so far, they are your best examples of what we enjoy. Also, don't submit again immediately if you get a rejection- we may well want to see more of your work but wait at least three months before submitting again.

Q: Describe the ideal submission and cover letter.
A: We'd prefer a short cover letter, brief biography listing any publications (if you have any, it's not a requirement!), normal font such as Times New Roman and an attachment in .doc, .docx, .rtf but NOT .pdf- I know people like it, we don't. Or simply put it in the body of the email. That's always easy. We don't need a life history- as Roseanna would put it, "If you wouldn't tell your gynecologist, don't tell me."

To the point, professional and hopefully work with a wallop of an impact- but that WOULD be ideal, wouldn't it?

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: It's rare but sometimes it's clear they haven't properly read the Submission Guidelines. Often we'll update the page to say we don't want anymore fiction, or an issue has closed and all submissions are considered for the next issue etc., and it doesn't get read and then we have ten or twenty (well, now it's more like 50-100) more submissions in a category we're not reading anymore because the current issue is full up. I wish we had Submittable but we just can't afford it.

We have to respond to those submissions and that takes up so much time that didn't need to be taken if they'd just read the submissions page more carefully. We'll still hold them over for consideration in the next issue, but it's just one of those small things that can be frustrating. We look at every single submission individually- more than once. I'd imagine this is the same for a lot of journals out there, not just us, so a little more attention paid to any notices we put in bold font on the Guidelines page is always appreciated! :) (See what I did there? Eh? Eh? *winky face*).

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: This is so NOT the Duotrope answer but let's be honest: we don't care. Make the work count. We LOVE professional cover letters but when it comes to education- and this is perhaps more a European thing- we don't care that you have a degree or an MA or a PHD. If the work can't stand on it's own legs, who cares what your CV says? So you have an MA. So does everyone else. But can you write? A bio is asking for previous publications and maybe something about yourself- we don't care about your education, we care about how you write and an MA in creative writing doesn't mean you can write- it means you qualified in it. But then we're European/Irish and we see things very plainly. There are plenty of idiots out there with PHDs. Give us the born writers. They're two different things. You can, or you can't. Show us the goods. You can have degrees up the wazoo but what do we care? We want breathtaking writing. You can't teach that. We couldn't give a shit about the theory, we want to see the performance.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: We all have varying degrees of OCD, so I've put an entire system in place- various labels and folders, all colour co-ordinated. It's probably actually quite startling to look at but very effective! We will read everything more than once, usually about three times at various different stages just to be sure. So everything is read, in its entirety, usually more than twice. It sounds exhausting but there are just enough of us to do it and we like to be extremely thorough, so even the pieces we reject have been read by all of us several times. We don't skim anything. I certainly don't, I'm awful- I'll read everything several times over. I'm constantly re-reading submissions from other issues just to be certain. I'm sure there's probably a psychoanalyst out there who'd have a field day with me.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: The same as any other journal I'd imagine. Talent is an obvious one- it's either there or it isn't and we like to look at the pieces almost in the way a tutor would, technical skill if applicable, language (flow, use of language), rhythm, etc. Occasionally we will check previous publications, if it hasn't been previously published and we're considering it, we'll double-check this is accurate as far as is possible but obviously we can't do this for everything, it would be far too time consuming.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: Coffee and an inbox full of submissions. I'll check we've sent out confirmation of receipt, then one by one go through each submission, colour code it to be read by the others in the team and once everyone's had a read or two of the submission, we'll come to a decision on it.

If we have time and someone has asked for it, we'll offer some feedback where we can. I do this because I have the most time. Sometimes it's not possible due to real life circumstances (we each make our living in very varied careers, so our hours on Anomaly are often occurring at different times) but if we see that we can offer some welcome advice, which is more than welcome to be disregarded (but if you ask for it, don't get mad when you get it!) we will. Should time permit. All email responses are personally written because, frankly, we don't have the money to afford a service like Submittable (though it would make our lives so much easier if we could) so we pretty much have to Stone Age it and manually type responses. To be honest, we don't mind that so much. It's time consuming but there is nothing worse than a robotic, sterile response from an editor when you've sent your work out. We try and give as personal a touch as we can with responses but with a full inbox of emails to respond to, it does get exhausting.

It's by far the most time consuming part but we still enjoy it. Rejection letters are awful though, we hate sending them and for me at least, it never gets easier. It's always terrible. I constantly feel like apologising to people! I think a lot of editors don't really mention that part all too much- you do just have to get on with it and do it, if it's bad writing it's just bad writing and you can't lose time over it. It's just not a pleasant thing to do though, even still. A month or so before deadline time, I will start putting together the layout. Choosing artwork for the cover, selecting placements for each piece. We used to list pieces alphabetically by author name for ease but as of Issue 3 we're decided it's just more effective and more interesting to place them by instinct. Aside from submissions themselves, which obviously over six months between issues takes a lot of man hours, this process is the most intense. I pretty much leave decisions over the artwork/photography to Joseph. I will place the artwork in the layout where I feel they are suitable but he's always in control of the final edit on that, he always does such a flawless job that I trust his instincts on it. He has a great eye for colour and detail and his choices are always quite effective. The actual design of the journal is down to him, he created the look of it which is very eye-catching I think. This takes a while both for myself and then for Joseph- and God help him if he does something and I ask him to change it. And then change it again. Which has happened but he's always wonderfully patient with me. After that, there is always Twitter, social media, surreptitiously leaving business cards at poetry readings and in cafés around London and pretty much any other free way we can manage to promote the journal. If anyone has any more ideas on that, they are welcome to tell us! Pretty much a typical day is all of the above. It does take a lot of free time but it's immensely satisfying- never more so than when the writers compliment us for our efforts. After all, our whole thing is that it's for writers, by writers.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: It's essential, utterly. As I said to Troy Cabida in an interview, with our generation it has become integral to embrace the use of the internet, social media- you name it. For us it would be impossible to function without doing it, besides the obvious fact that we are a digital-based journal but we wouldn't have survived without utilising the power of social media. Journals or magazines that don't are either so well established they have surpassed the need to do so, or they have disappeared. I don't, personally, see how we have a choice. The world today interacts so seamlessly with the digital world, you have integrate both. I'm not saying print is dying- in fact, had we the resources we would be a print journal and maybe limit the digital content but that requires a lot of finance and then we would need to make that up in sales of the magazine (without charging a submission fee, which frankly we just do not agree with- you shouldn't have to pay for someone to read your work and make a decision) but right now, for tax purposes that's just not worth it. What we'd earn in revenue would go out again in tax at the end of the year, it wouldn't be enough to put much back into the production of the journal. Which is fine, we're happy being digital and at least this way it's free. If we had the backing, we'd consider it but it's not likely and even if that were the case, social media and the internet still have an enormous role there. I don't think it makes any difference these days whether or not it's print or digital based, you must have a digital presence. Definitely, it's become essential, so we're all for it.

Q: How much do you edit an accepted piece prior to publication?
A: Well, we're editors so it does happen but right now, only because we can take the time. We don't usually ever want to edit anything, unless it's spelling mistakes or grammatical errors- but that's part of the job as long as it's not laziness on the writer's part. We might suggest to the author they maybe try to expand on an idea or something but they can always tell us to fuck off (I'm Irish- I've no qualms on language) and we've done that- that's what we're here for. We'd prefer it came in perfect but I've had plenty of editors say to me, "Look, we like it but do you really think this and this and this works? Can you work on it?" And I have never said no because they know what they're doing and the few times that happened, they were right. I just didn't see it until they said it and I was glad they did.

We wlll do it if something comes so close we don't want to let it go but we feel it needs tweaking. Otherwise we don't change anything unless it's for formatting purposes (to fit on the digital page). Because we're digital, we don't need to worry so much about page volume, we just can pack it in and not worry that there isn't room to fit it all. We don't have a set page limit because we don't have to have one. Each issue is just the best of what we've received by deadline time- and we hope our readers agree!

WARNING: Deadline!

Our fiction and nonfiction submissions are closed as of end of day Wednesday 22nd February & we are only considering poetry, artwork and photography after this point.

We have had a huge number of fiction and nonfiction submissions but we really need more poetry, artwork and photography in particular. Any fiction submissions sent after midnight 22nd February (London Greenwich Mean Time) will be considered for the Issue 5: Fall 2017 edition of Anomaly Literary Journal- no exceptions.

From here on out, give us all the poetry, artwork and photography submissions you beautiful, beautiful people have got!! When we have an announcement of a final deadline for Issue 4 we will, of course, be shouting to high heaven about it.

We can't wait to see those submissions!

Building up to Issue 4!

Anomaly Literary Journal: Issue 3 was such a joy to put together- well, every issue has been- and Issue 4 is no different. While we have chosen some artwork already, we definitely need a lot more & are encouraging artists and photographers to get in touch & submit their work. Just as with Issue 2, we are aiming for a March or April release date, so time is beginning to be somewhat of the essence if we want to release the journal on time.

We are getting plenty of poetry and fiction submissions, which is amazing but we do need a lot more- and we've had no nonfiction at all so far (what is going on?! Where's our nonfiction at?).
It's fantastic to always have new submissions ready and waiting to be read but we're greedy, we always want more, so if everyone can spread the word we would be greatly appreciative!

I feel like we're always saying this but we always get such lovely responses from writers and artists who submit and we can't stop saying thank you because the support you've shown us really matters.

We can't wait to start properly putting together Issue 4, so if you write (or paint or you're a photographer) or you know someone who does, our submissions page is ready and waiting!!

We can't wait to see what you've got for us!

Lorcán Black, Oliver Tatler, Roseanna Free & Joseph Birdsey.

Issue 3!

The last six months have been busy- at least in our lives. Injuries (me, of course), moving, new jobs, little bit of travelling, work, work, work but thankfully some gorgeous bits of weather in between! And now we have it- almost- Issue 3. While we’re not quite there yet, Joseph has a little bit to do and he’s quite busy at the moment but we promise it’ll be September at some point and will, of course, keep everyone in the know through Twitter and Facebook.

We hope you all enjoy Issue 3 because we really had a good time putting this one together. There is so much poetry we had to split it into two parts, to break up the fiction sections with plenty of incredible artwork by Alyam Moser- and if you don’t know who he is, you won’t forget him once you see his artwork. I’ve been a fan of Moser’s work since I stumbled upon it as a teenager and he was more than generous to send us some pieces to exhibit in Anomaly Literary Journal Issue 3.

There is so much work to talk about that it was a startling prospect writing the editorial- and we were unable to mention everyone, there was just too much to say. This issue is very special for us because not only do we have work from emerging and up and coming poets and writers, we are also joined by the work of three established poets, two Irish and one American.

Kevin Higgins, according to The Stinging Fly, is possibly one of the most widely read poets in Ireland. Higgins won the 2003 Cúirt Festival Poetry Grand Slam and was awarded a literature bursary by the Arts Council of Ireland in 2005 and along with his wife, poet Susan Miller DuMars, organises the Over the Edge literary events in Galway.

In speaking of widely read poets, the same could be said of Vona Groarke, whose work includes seven collections, most recently her collection X, and has won such accolades as the Brendan Behan Memorial Award, the Hennessy Award, the Michael Hartnett Award, the Forward Prize and the Strokestown International Poetry Award. She’s also a member of Aosdána and we are humbled and delighted to present her work in this forthcoming issue.

Blas Falconer brings us three poems from his up-coming third collection from Four Way Books in 2018, Forgive the Body this Failure. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange, and a Tennessee Individual Artist Grant, his poems have appeared in various literary journals, including Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and Puerto del Sol. He is currently the Poetry Editor for The Los Angeles Review and teaches in the low-residency MFA at Murray State University. His work is heartfelt, eloquent and deftly delivered and it is a pleasure for us to present them in Anomaly Literary Journal.

That is to say nothing of the immense list of other beautifully crafted and wonderfully executed work in this issue. We eventually had to stop accepting fiction submissions as there were too many to choose from and so much poetry we almost stopped accepting that too.

Though Issue 3 is still forthcoming, we felt it only fair to inform you it is all on its way and this issue’s contributors are listed on the Contributors page in the order in which they appear in the journal. There will be a podcast to follow as soon as the issue is released, as per usual- so my thanks to Jack Warren and Christos Kalli for their enthusiasm and involvement in talking to us about their work.

Thank you, again, to everyone for their incredible submissions (whether accepted or not). We couldn’t do this without everyone’s support. You have our collective appreciation and affection.
On that note, we are now open to submissions in all categories for Anomaly Literary Journal Issue 4, in Spring ’17, so get writing, snapping, painting and submitting! Listen out for us shouting all over social media and its many forms as soon as Issue 3 hits- we’ll let you know!

Lorcán.

Where we are so far...

Submissions for Issue 3 have been strong and continue to come in, much to our delight.

We've had a lot of fiction in particular to consider this time around. We've started a mock-up of Issue 3 (because why not! Also because I started it later than I meant to for Issue 2 and it was a lot of work, so I won't be doing that again) and we've split fiction into two parts again, just to break it up and figure we have so much poetry already that no doubt there is more beautiful poetry to yet come in, we might as well really go the whole hog and have two poetry sections as well.

As a result of that, right now we are crying out for more poetry and non-fiction. We've had very few non-fiction pieces sent in- we could really use some, so please do submit if you have anything in the way of non-fiction that you think would interest us!

We're so excited about Issue 3, the poetry, the artwork, the fiction- it's going to be our biggest issue yet but we still want more of your best work!

Though this issue is sorted out for artwork, we still need artwork or photography for Issue 4 next March, so please keep that in mind!

As with Issue 1, our deadline for Issue 3 will be August 20th, with the aim of September 1st being our release date. You've got plenty of time to flood our inbox with your submissions and we look forward to reading them.

We will, of course, be producing another podcast for Issue 3. We never have any feedback on the podcast, we can see it gets a moderate amount of listens though but any ideas, questions or comments are always helpful, so let us know!

We have, thankfully, responded to the vast majority of submissions at this point and there are only a small amount left to respond to so far which we are still considering- so to those of you waiting, don't worry. It won't be long, rest assured we are still mulling over your work! :)

Looking forward to more submissions and thank you all for your over-whelming response to Anomaly Literary Journal. We appreciate your support more than you know!

Get writing and keep submitting!

Lorcán.

Issue 2!

It's been six months since Anomaly Literary Journal: Issue 1 launched in September and here we have it- Anomaly Literary Journal: Issue 2! We could not have anticipated the response to our inaugural issue, nor could we have imagined the ensuing enthusiasm for Issue 2.

Artwork, as we've always said, is essential to Anomaly. This second issue is reflective of that. David Reali's street photography is both arresting and magnetic- as you can see from the cover photo alone. He has an innante eye for capturing the passing moment that is at once alluring and at the same time bears a hint of discomfort in an almost voyeuristic way. The screaming woman on the cover illustrates a moment on a public street which we've probably all experienced at one time or another, the witnessing of an out-burst of emotion everyone stops momentarily to stare at before moving on.

Those photographs depict, to a degree, some of the pieces chosen for inclusion in this issue of Anomaly, at times uncomfortable but utterly familiar. Erik Brede's dream-like, surrealist photographic art depict almost dream-like images which draw you in and linger with you even after you've stopped looking at them. Together, they form a blend of complimentary work which beautifully illustrates the journal throughout.

We have some deftly crafted poetry, fiction and non-fiction this time round, which we go into more detail about in our editorial for this issue, as well letting some of the writers themselves speak about their work and their writing processes in more detail on our accompanying podcast for Issue 2.

We've had so many writers submitting- and many more continuing to submit in increasing numbers- who have shared with us their very kind compliments on what we are trying to achieve with Anomaly. There are so many people to thank for their encouragement and on-going support that the list at this point is becoming rather lengthy but you all know who you are!

We very much hope that everyone who has contributed to Issue 2 is pleased with the end result and we are thrilled to be looking forward to Issue 3 later in the summer.

I believe it was stated in one of our first podcasts that we aim to be as open as possible about what we do here in curating Anomaly. We don't want to come across as the wizard behind the curtain, pulling levers and strings and working away veiled in mystery.

Everything that is submitted to us is looked at and considered at least twice- often, it's looked at several times over, especially as we progress closer toward a deadline for an issue. Each of us have a little OCD (myself, Lorcán, particularly) when it comes to submissions. Nothing escapes me, everything is read. While we might take some time to get back to writers and artists who submit, we try our best to do so. We work for a living, each in very different jobs, and as such sometimes responses may fall through the cracks no matter how hard we try and for this we apologise.

Especially as submissions have really begun to gain quite a bit of traction, this may be the case but once we are closer to our third issue and have set a deadline, writers and artists are more than encouraged to get in touch and query the status of their submissions. So, for the moment, we are a long while off Issue 3 and it might be a bit of a wait until you hear from us so bear with us.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to read through our first two issues in order to get a feel of what styles of writing we enjoy- they're free to read and download, so there really is no excuse. Artwork, photography and non-fiction however are more open categories by definition, so we ask that in those categories you simply send your best.

While we aim primarily to give a voice to up-and-coming writers, we also aspire (as any journal should) to attract established writers and artists as well. Each poem and fiction piece is carefully considered and selected deliberately. As we've said, we want to see a certain level of craftsmanship in the work we publish. My opinions on poetry and what we expect from it have been detailed on the blog before, so I won't go over them here but nonetheless, a read through of both issues so far should be enough to instil an idea of what we wish to see. Poetry is such a difficult thing to pin down- what you like versus what you don't like is inherently subjective, as it ought to be. What we don't like is a poem that sounds lovely but says nothing- an idea, thought or momentary emotion shaped like a poem is not, in my view at least, good poetry.

Good poetry should grab you and shake you by the roots and take you by the first line and leave you in a completely different place by the last. On a read through of both Issue 1 and 2, hopefully what we mean by this will be apparent to the reader.

Any queries or questions on anything that anyone might have are more than welcome, you can drop us an email or use the comment box on the podcast page and that will go straight to our inbox and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Even with the podcast, if there is something you wish us to discuss or something you'd like to hear us talk about, let us know- we love getting feedback and it helps us make Anomaly as open, creative and enjoyable as possible.

We are loving the response to Anomaly and we are looking forward to producing many more issues in the future. Enjoy Issue 2, join in with us on Facebook and Twitter, share, Re-Tweet and let us know what you think!

Read, enjoy, share and submit! Here's looking forward to Issue 3!

All the best from the Anomaly team!
Lorcán Black, Oliver Tatler, Roseanna Free & Joseph Birdsey
 

Issue 2: We're closing in but we want more!

As we said in response to all the writers whose submissions we have received since Anomaly: Issue 1 went live, we did not (and could not) have a clear idea of when Issue 2 would have a deadline. While we are closing in on Issue 2 very quickly and we are currently in the first round of a rough mock-up- you'll all be relieved to know we are not quite there yet. There is absolutely more room for poetry and non-fiction submissions to fit into Issue 2.

We will never work with a set limit of pages per issue, or a set theme (though as it stands, Issue 2 does seem to have a somewhat darker theme so far, rather accidentally, but as we always try to pick the best of what we receive, this issue it seems has become host- so far- to pieces with a slightly darker edge), we are still very much on the look out for more poetry and more non-fiction.

That is by no means to say that fiction submissions will not be considered but they are not our immediate priority, but by all means, send them in!

We have stated before that we would be open to the idea of a running column within Anomaly on an on-going basis- concepts of any kind we are open to- but as we see it, we would love something similar to a kind of casual social piece on a continuous basis. Whether it's a writer sitting in a café watching the world go by and commenting on it, the people they see go by or someone who simply wants to give their perspective on life in London- be it as a student, a working professional's observations on London-life (or Dublin life, considering I- Lorcán- come from a county very close to Dublin) or someone from anywhere at all and their personal observations on life from where they reside, or even someone's travel column as they're travelling around the world etc., we are very much open to the idea, as long as there is a high standard of language and it's something you or someone you know would be interested in, we would be interested to see it.

While our photography is sorted out for Issue 2, we are unfortunately not receiving many submissions of artwork or photography. Hopefully with this second issue of Anomaly, it will be clearer what we expect from photography submissions just as Issue 1 shall have demonstrated the kinds of artwork we are open to (although artwork is inherently subjective and so we are very open to all styles and medias). If you are an artist or photographer, consider what we exhibit in Issue 1 and Issue 2 once it goes live and send in your work.

We cannot, ever, express how vital artwork and photography is to Anomaly- it is just as vital as the poetry, fiction and non-fiction we present and it is something we very much wish to be just as inundated with in our inbox.

As it stands currently, we are looking at a rough deadline of the end of February/early March for a release of Anomaly: Issue 2, though we suspect it could be closer to a week or two into March. We would rather have it set to March 1st, but due to work constraints on all our behalfs, this may not be possible.

But as always, when we are confident of a date, we will keep you all informed. We are very excited about Issue 2 even as it's just beginning to shape up toward a semblance of what it will eventually become.

So, please, keep those submissions coming! And spread the word with all photographers and artists you know: we are keenly awaiting submissions.

We're getting there and will update you all again soon!

All the very best,
Lorcán Black, Oliver Tatler, Roseanna Free & Joseph Birdsey.

 

Anomaly: Let's have a bit of craic! Spread the word!

(Note: 'Craic' in Irish means 'fun'. We haven't mispelled it. It's not the illegal kind that you may or may not smoke- we're not judging- just to clarify!).

So... Issue #1 went well. At least we think it went well. These things can be hard to judge.

Mostly we're relieved that the writers involved were happy with the results of our first issue of Anomaly (which I personally want to frame the cover of) and that is more than we can ask for. Many of them were highly complimentary about the look of Anomaly: Issue #1, which is all thanks to Joseph Birdsey, whose wonderfully magic fingers brought about just the perfect look for our first issue.

I (Lorcán- yeah, it's me who does the internet things!) had no idea from the beginning of this concept that we would succeed in even reaching our first issue- let alone any others after that. None of us had any real notion we'd get even this far. Which, actually, was what was so cool about this whole process.

We could do exactly what we wanted: set our own rules on everything, analyse what we liked about other journals, what we didn't like, what we would and would not do and just go from there. This has all been an experiment. It just so happened that we quite liked that experiment and we want to continue it.

As a writer, I want it to continue. I'm sure other writers do too. We've had quite a few emails from writers (and not just ones who got published, before any of you raise eyebrows!) saying that they've loved what we've done, the way we've handled things, our submission manifesto- for want of a better description- but these are all things that are very important to us as we go on. Even if we get to Issue #2, or 5 or 12, those submission requirements will not change because those are the building blocks on which Anomaly, as we envisioned it, is built upon. Sure, they might seem overly-generous by most journals' standards. Fine. So, they are. We don't give a shit for having the first place in one poet's publishing credentials- "First published in Anomaly: Issue-" Fuck off. No. That's not what we're doing.

I'm a writer. I've been published here, there and a few other places over the last 12 or 13 years (which means nothing. If I'd get to 35 and wasn't heard of, I'd expect that. Welcome to the industry- it's not for love nor money that you do it) but do you think for one second I've turned around to an editor and said "By the way, this was first published in..." No.

I kept my mouth shut and also, who cares? If they like it, they'll publish it. If it contributes some idea of something akin to what they want? They'll take it. If it fits with the protocol they set up for themselves? It's in. I've never not simultaneously submitted and even when I did, depending on the place of publication, I've known they must have seen it was published somewhere else.

Google is a hard mistress to mislead. It's right there. They either checked and didn't care, or they were too lazy to bother. Either way, I've never had a place of publication come back to me and say, "Actually, we've noticed this was previously published in..." Why? If it's good enough, why rock the boat? And if it's not good enough? It's a poor excuse. So, we've just dispensed with that altogether. Maybe I'm too Irish- but I don't like airs and graces. So, there'll be none here, thanks.

But I'm also not being dismissive of other journals, I don't want that to be the idea that anyone comes away with from reading this. We're trying, in a small way, to be different. We're trying to say "You've published this already? Okay... well, if it's good- great! Let's publish it again" and see how many more people you can reach as a writer.  Because that is what is important to a writer- and to us.

"No simultaneous submissions" why? Because you might... what? Not get there first? Get where, exactly? What is the point of that? As a writer, I read that, consider it, disregard and submit anyway. As every journal who has it on their submission page knows very well anyway that any writer with any ambition worth their salt will pay no heed to that. No writer will abide by that and I personally have no time for that kind of bullshit. I don't do it- I'd be a damned fool, as a writer, to do that- so why should I, as an editor, expect any other writer to do so either? I don't. None of us here do.

We're trying to do something different. We're here- email us, tweet us, comment on the podcast page (on any topic you like, which goes directly to our inbox). We are open to engaging. We actually had an email from a young woman who sent us a limerick, which was totally never going to be published but I just happened to be checking the main email, and it totally made my day.

I emailed her back to say, you know, this is never getting in but thanks for putting a smile on my face. She absolutely made my morning that day and she was just chancing her arm with it but it made me even happier to realise that, okay, we're doing something- we seem open enough that someone would, for jokes, email this (fairly good, actually I have to admit!) limerick for kicks. That makes us feel like, Okay we're on track, we're doing the right thing. That's the atmosphere we wanted to create around Anomaly. Brilliant.

That first issue was both a test of nerves and determination but we did it. Now, however, comes the very real test: can we repeat it? Can we get to Issue #2? We are getting submissions already, which is amazing but we need more. We need anyone who reads this to spread the word. Share the blog, share the website, the podcast- anything!

We want everything you can send us- poetry, fiction, non-fiction, commentary, artwork and photography. We want each issue to be stonger than the last. We started such a good thing with Issue #1, let's keep that spirit going!

Lorcán Black, Roseanna Free, Oliver Tatler & Joseph Birdsey.

Go raibhe míle maith agait mo chairde!!

You may have questions about the title. So, to pronounce say: 'Guh rev meal-ah ('a' like 'apple') maw-ha-gut (say that fast- the 'h' is gutteral, kind of like Arabic- the 'h' can sometimes be a gutteral 'hah' sound) muh core-juh! ('juh' like 'judge'). Well... that's it in my accent at least, but I'm not a linguist so I'm SURE I'll be crucified with comments for that one but I had very different teachers so listen, blame them for my accent! I'm just saying it the way I was taught! [my Connemara-Leinster accent]. So, the title in Gaelic basically means 'Thank You my friends'- it translates roughly to 'A thousand good thanks to you my friends' because without any of you, we would not be here.

Anomaly Literery Journal offically started on June 5th, techincally, and I'll tell you why- because Oliver, Roseanna, myself and Jo were in a beer garden of a pub we frequent in Covent Garden. Well, we were, until it started raining and we moved inside but the start of that conversation began this journal. The next day, I created this website and Anomaly got started. BUT I digress...

Oliver had been badgering me about this idea for a while, because, well, I was annoyed. We know why I was annoyed- the previous blog posts explain that perfectly well- but I'm going back to this now for a reason: they all agreed with Oliver (which, to be fair, is something I should probably always pay heed to- anyone who agrees with Oliver? Just go along with it because he's probably right!). But don't tell him I said that.

Anyway, I- at Oliver's persistence- suggested the idea of a poetry journal. Typical of me, I (Lorcán, in case that wasn't clear) had been going on about this idea ad nauseam for about two years. Roseanna agreed immediately, and when I said we needed a name that either had numbers or began with 'A' (for listing and search purposes) she thought for a second, puffed on her cigarette, looked at me and squinted her eyes, raised her eyebrows and said... "Anomaly" and I laughed. Because that was, basically, Twig (who you know as Roseanna). One second and, hey presto! The girl delivers perfection.

Now it is September 4th and Issue #1 is a THING! Never so quick did we see this happening.

And the name is perfect, because we are, in our own ways, all some kind of an anomaly. Probably none of us should be here, but feck it, here we are and we exist.

But when we started this, we weren't very sure Anomaly would make it. It was an experiment. We didn't even know we'd get a first issue. We definitely did not know we'd get the kind of submissions we received and I for one had no idea the kinds of IT-computer-graphics-style-wizardry Jo Birdsey would weave with his... magical... finger.. graphic-design...whatsit?... well I don't know exactly what Jo did, or how he actually DID it, but the first issue looked so much more amazing than I ever thought it could with that initial sad, music-less podcast (where I'd done my own mock-up and it looked like shit) that I did alone before Jo (and Elliot Tatler with his podcast theme tune awesomeness) decided to show up and save my life.

The design of Anomaly is all down to Jo (with some really nit-picky shit on my part, which I'll admit to). So if you, like me, loved the look of that, you can thank Jo B!

The artwork by Sofia Monika Swatek and Gabrielle Montesanti was incredible and I think we'd all take this opportunity to state that we need artwork so badly, especially after we saw how amazingly it contributed so essentially to Issue #1. It is the backbone to the poetry, fiction and nonfiction. It provides the gravy that otherwise leaves the potatoes tasting a bit too dry (Sorry... Jesus on a stick- you can take the man out of Ireland but you can't take Ireland out of the man, apparently).

So by artwork we mean paintings, sketches, screens, cartoons, photography. It is just as important as poetry and prose. Send it in, we are dying to see it and include it.

This issue meant so much to the four of us, we can't wait to see Issue #2.

If anyone has any comments, queries or questions, always feel free to email or use the comment box on the Podcast page.

Mostly we just want to thank you for reading, submitting, Facebooking and Tweeting!

Lorcán, Roseanna, Oliver & Joseph.

Anomaly: Issue#1! Jo may want to kill me, Roseanna knows where my body will never be found & Oliver Tatler is tempted to make himself willingly deaf. Welcome to Issue#1!

So I've head-wrecked Jo, Roseanna's probably scouting for places to bury me as we speak and Oliver is sick to death of hearing me yap on about this and that endlessly. Why? Because I'm so feckin' excited!

It's been a long (or at least, it felt long) road to Issue#1 of Anomaly Literary Journal. I feel like I've been talking about it for a year, rather than the three short months it has actually been. Friends have been asking us about it, we have no idea what to say because, well, what can you say about something that isn't even there yet?

How is this going to go? Will it tank? Will it do well? I have no idea. None of us do. We're just doing what we can, because we want to do this. That's kind of the exciting part. We feel we have put together something that holds up but, of course, that is entirely subject to personal opinion.

It's so very difficult to have to sit down and choose the reasons why one thing gets in and another doesn't. Sometimes that line is clear, it's black and white but most of the time, it's a fine line. Personally, I have found (and I'm not speaking for the other editors, but for myself- Lorcán) the fine line is more often the case. One fiction piece keeps me reading, I'm enjoying it- maybe there is something that I can't quite put my finger on. Then something else comes in and sometimes just that for one reason more than another- it hits the right mark. That gets in and the previous doesn't. The thing is, it changes all the time. We could've packed out this first issue but we would've suffered quantity over the quality we wanted. Which we believe and hope we have deliviered.

And, on a side note, if you want to know why myself and Jo are in the issue with a poem, Oliver insisted very strongly- this is not going to be a recurring thing, as it's not personally something we think should happen and will not be a familiar sight.

As for submissions, speaking for myself, I re-read every submission. I said on The Staff page, I'm a control freak. I read everything at least three times when it comes to submissions and often, it's more than three times. Maybe a lot more. Poor Jo knows this better than anyone. He has worked so hard at designing the look and feel of Anomaly's first issue and always cheerfully responded that any ridiculous, nit-picky little thing I didn't like about the graphic design of the journal was no problem (and then again when I changed my mind about the changes I'd asked for at lunchtime- and that happened more than twice. Maybe even more than three times) that really he needs some kind of award. Or a drink, or several, which I shall happily buy him. He has done an amazing job at knowing exactly what I wanted without me knowing it and made it look so beautiful. I had no idea when we started this, that even the first issue would look so professional and so appealing. Come the first of September, I hope everyone who reads it has read this and looks at it and agrees.

And yes, we do have a podcast to go with the inaugural issue of Anomaly. Due to trying to keep within a reasonable time limit, however, Oliver & I tried to keep it succinct.

And I've rattled on quite a bit. So, without further (arduous and I'm sure torturous- assuming you read ANY of the above) ado! We are delighted to announce the list, by category, of the authors of Anomaly Literary Journal: Issue#1

Poetry

Rita Rouvalis Chapman
Grant Tarbard
Zelda Chappel
Lorcán Black
Ace Boggess
Joseph Birdsey
Morgaine Merch Lleuad
Luis Neer

Fiction

Lindsay Parnell
Laura Pavlo
Thomas Stewart
David O'Neill

Non-fiction

Gabrielle Montesanti

Artwork

Gabrielle Montesanti
Sofia Monika Swatek

There you have it, Issue#1 in a nutshell. Needless to say, we are now accepting submissions for Issue#2! Like, right now. Poetry? Art? Fiction and non-fiction? Send 'em through! No time like the present!

PS: Thank you all so much for submitting, for re-Tweeting, sharing of Facebook and just generally supporting and encouraging us. Not only to writers and followers but also, especially, to Elizabeth Rose Murray, Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin, Amy Kaye and Sofia Monika Swatek: thank you for your support. But to all of our followers and submitters: you make this what it is and we appreciate it. Roll on September 1st! And roll on Issue#2! :)
 

Artists are invaluable!

Once we started putting together a mockup of this first issue of Anomaly, very quickly we realised we needed original artwork. Which meant we needed artists to submit their work too. In the initial mockup at the beginning, it became obvious that artwork would actually play a crucial part of the design of the journal- it couldn't rely solely on the literary side of it. No-one wants to sit down and be faced with digital page after digital page of black and white words all bleeding into one another. That and we love art, so shouldn't we include that too?

Until that first mockup in mid July (I know, I'm obsessive- we had almost next to nothing to put into it but I had to see what it might look like even still) I hadn't realised how important art would become for us. Then I realised, though we couldn't pay, it could be a slightly interesting way to show off artwork by artists who were willing to submit and have their work displayed for nothing more than maybe getting some traction and attention.

Of course we'd had no art submissions, so I turned to one of my close friends, Sofia Monika Swatek and begged her to send me some work- anything, no matter how old it was, I couldn't just have black and white print. Sofia, seeing a PR opportunity (as well as helping a friend), immediately sent me some high-res images of a few paintings. I'd never seen them before and because I live in London and not Dublin anymore, I thought it might've been something I'd missed. Until I realised a few weeks later, these were paintings that were just about to be exhibited at her art gallery for her own new show, ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT.

I've known Sofia for what must be six years now. She started working at an art store the day after I'd started there and we immediately got on like a house on fire, despite the fact her English wasn't amazing at the time. I kind of felt like I'd known her forever. Both of us are terrible at keeping in contact consistently but give us two minutes in a room together after two years (as happened last year) and it's like we'd seen each other every week. In the middle of the recession, at it's height in Ireland, Sofia decided she was going to do what she'd always wanted to do: open an art gallery. I thought she was insane- she had some savings but nothing major. She found a premises, she haggled the price down on condition she would renovate it herself and suddenly she had a space.

Not everyone with a fine art BA can turn something as risky as an art gallery into a fully fledged business in the middle of a seriously dire recession, but there's a lot to be said for some determination and a truckload of people skills. Sofia is warm, bubbly and laughs a lot. Quick-minded and sharp, she has always relied on her radar-like intuition and it is this odd mix of personality traits (as well, I'm sure as her good looks) that creates a kind of gravity around her on opening nights. She once held an exhibition of her own work and the week before, sent a press release out to local and national newspapers which said she was, at the end of the opening night, simply giving away the paintings to the people they matched. They were expensive, people would have paid but as she told me, "I want a fresh start, I'm sick of seeing them. Everything has to go." Artistically, she wanted to move on and this was a sure fire way of clearing out her back catalogue. It went down a storm, people couldn't fit into the gallery.

With the artwork that she gave me, she decided to do something similar and had a lotto where one painting was randomly given away to one ticket holder. I was just sorry I couldn't have been there- but then, in a way, I got three and I get to put them in Anomaly for everyone to see. We very much want to continue doing this, so we need artists just as much as we need writers.

Artwork brings us something extra, something special and provides the reader with a break between reading.

We need artists just as much as we need our writers. Any artists out there, please get submitting. You too are invaluable to us!

Lorcán.

A view on poetry

I'm calling this 'a' view on poetry because that's exactly what it is, a view. Mine. So feel free to agree, or disagree, as you please.

English was, pretty much, the only thing I was interested in doing in school. My entire day was just something to get through so that I could sit in English class, especially if it was a Monday or a Friday, when we usually concentrated soley on poetry. The other days were alternated between whatever novel we were studying and whichever play of Shakespeare's we were knee deep in at the time.

I had always liked poetry but didn't get the fuss about it. Until two things happened: we read Plath's poems 'Morning Song' and 'Child' and Derek Mahon's 'A Disused Shed in County Wexford', which is deceivingly and stunningly intricate in both its metaphors and the analogies within it.

Plath was the poet who hit me first. I say hit me, because I felt upon reading 'Morning Song' that that's what had happened. I remember my initial thoughts after my English teacher finished her reading of it was 'Jesus, I've never seen someone do that with imagery.'

'Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements...

...All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses.I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear...'

What was this witchery?! Dickinson didn't do it, Heaney did something else that I loved but no poet had so far used imagery the way I had enjoyed as much. Which probably explains why I was consistently ranked better at use of imagery and language as I was with technicality in my writing- I'm highly visual, so naturally Plath's work intrigued me. The technicality in writing took me a long time to get a handle on. It's still not great, but I'm getting there.

I was a teenager and like all teenagers when they get into something, I became extremely- embarrassingly- intense about poetry. I bought several books about form and structure and set about trying to write decent villanelles, sonnets and cinquains- any type of formal poetry I could read about, I broke down the syllables and had at it.

I now am always impressed by sonnets but do not like them- rhyme was never my thing but I can always appreciate when it's done well- and I have a bit of a thing for cinquains. Especially tri-cinquains, which is a cohesive poem made up of three stanzas, each in the form of a cinquain to a metre of 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. It's not as easy as it sounds, but it's a fun challenge and the real challenge is doing it and making it seem natural.

I did this kind of thing for years, often writing really awful poetry in the process but occasionally writing something good. The constant work with metres and structure taught my ear to hear rhythm, the assonance and alliteration became something I started to do unconsciously. It wasn't about the imagery anymore but a combination of the imagery and the sound.

Then, because it was getting tedious, I stopped being so strict about form and structure and started to write free-verse. A line break happened only when the image allowed it, or to cause a jarring effect in the reading, or to enhance the next image. Now a stanza, for me, ends when the imagery dictates it.

Like in 'The Snare', published in Octavius Magazine, I let the images dictate to me when to break the line:

'This is night then, draped in its vacuous black.
The window is a void in the wall I cannot get to.

Outside the moon admonishes the stars
in their cold multitudes.:

I am not important-

empty vessel of shrieks the walls muffle and eat.'

Before this, it took me a while to learn when it was best to break to the next line, when it worked most. I learned what lines could be cut out, that didn't serve a function or add anything to poem as a whole- often, they were lines I actually liked.

I couldn't have learned this, I don't think, without rigorous practice with form and structure. Any poet who says, 'I don't need to do that, I write free-verse, this doesn't apply to me' is wrong. I don't care how much flak I get for saying that, I believe it. Poetry is an art, it doesn't come out fully-formed from your fingertips at the keyboard, it requires diligence if you want your name to stick around for a hundred years, it demands practice and it'll still never become perfect because it can never be perfected but you can at least aim for it.

It's like someone calling themselves an artist, without ever taking any lessons.  You can fiddle around with the implements all you like, just don't expect to be the next Monet.

Which brings me to a point: I don't like most of the poetry floating around right now. It's a phase, and these things always go in phases, but to me, free-verse poems that look and read and are as shallow as a passing thought, is not a poem. It's a poetic thought in five stanzas and it's shaped like a poem sure, but it's not poetry.

I can feel the proverbial hot water descending as I continue typing this and call me a purist- which, I know, I am- but sue me. No decent poem is written in half an hour. It takes work. Seamus Heaney's poem 'Digging' compared his father's digging in the garden to his work as a writer, digging. That, to me, perfectly sums up what poetry is about.

If you haven't had to dig for it, you're not doing it right.

Clearly I am extremely passionate about poetry. But hey, that's why we started Anomaly in the first place. When we said on the submissions page, that we want only the highest quality- this whole post is pretty much my explanation of that. We want to see that the poet has worked, hard and seriously, to produce what they're sending us and many of them have.

Speaking for myself, personally and not for Oliver or Roseanna (though I know they'd agree), if I was getting paid I probably wouldn't be so intense about it. But we're not. We're doing this out of our own back pockets and our own time. So we do care, we know there are those poets out there. If you write poetry and you've been reading everything that publishes it online and just thought 'Really? How did that get in?'- that's why we started this.

This is what poetry means to us. Send us the best.

Lorcán.

The Beginning: submissions now open!

Welcome to our blog, here at Anomaly.

As we mentioned on our 'About' page, we started Anomaly in order to find and promote what we feel are the many gifted poets and writers who never seem to make the cut with other journals.

It's been a long time since any of us have read a literary journal and continually been surprised by a consistent quality of work. We were fed up, so we thought, Fuck it! We started Anomaly.

We are, officially, now accepting submissions. We want to hear from poets and writers who are dedicated to what they do. We want the difficult stuff, the vivid, dense, intense and heavy writing loaded with ability that just doesn't fit in elsewhere.

We do not want light, weak writing that is so utterly shallow it's rendered meaningless. Anything with structure, with real emotion (or any kind!), imagery that lives on the page and runs through your mind as your read the words, work with line breaks that actually have a reason to exist by poets and writers that aren't afraid to use words a twenty year old doesn't even know. We will not take work that does not take itself seriously, that is not honed and has not been worked at. That doesn't mean you can't use humour.

If you consider writing a hobby, we don't want to hear from you. However, if writing is the thing the rest of your life gets in the way of,  then we most definitely want to hear from you.

We want the writers who have been at it for years, who know they have what it takes and maybe even whose work is serious enough that it puts off editors. Give it to us. We're gasping for it like a drunk at a lock-in.

We are interested and we are waiting!

Roseanna Free, Oliver Tatler & Lorcán Black.