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.