‘Relapse’ by Natalie Holborow is the personal story of the writer’s struggle with an eating disorder, contrasting the beauty of the poem’s language with its harrowing theme. Through its remarkably strong imagery and almost magical tone, Holborow offers the reader an exceptionally rare and intimate glimpse into the life of a person living with an eating disorder.
Jessica Simonetti’s ‘Aliza n. she means joy’ is a complex, Virginia Woolf-esque story with a multitude of layers – so many so, that it had our editors arguing over its meaning, and includes a word from the writer as to her intention. Regardless, it is a beautifully-written, sorrowful look at depression and hope in the lives of two main characters – Aliza, and the lighthouse man.
‘Mirror Killings’ is a surrealist examination of skewed perspectives. Whether the unreliable narrator is struggling with depersonalisation or psychosis, the overarching theme of anorexia and the masks we wear is utterly well-written, and is brimming with dark, foreboding imagery and atmosphere.
Udaiyaathathu is a triumph of form and theme. In structure, it is named after the same Southeast Asia poetic form whereby the first word of every line must be the last word of the next line, and so on so that the poem is unending from last to first lines. In theme, it is a poem about victim blaming and ultimately strength, its portrayal unflinching from differing point of views. In short, this is one of the most powerful poems that we have published.
‘Small’ is a poem born out of solitude and beauty in nature. Rosie Sandler’s natural imagery is striking, its minute details following the writer’s own shrinking into a world that becomes smaller and smaller as the rhythm simultaneously becomes slower. Take a breath and read this one aloud.
Durre Shahwar’s strength lies in her strong form, the repetition of ‘I wanted to tell you’ throughout the poem a sorrowful rhythm, beating out the struggle that one feels at every turn of a life with mental illness. There is beauty in the darkness here, a mask that hides the truth.
Almost in direct contrast to the hope in one of this issue’s other flash stories, ‘Trash Heap Homes’, Mallarie Stevens’ ‘Faking It’ explores the numbness of the character’s mental state. It is a singular intimate moment in her experience with this therapist, seemingly insignificant until the end, when it becomes everything. Beautifully rich poetic prose, thick with atmosphere and imagery.
Thom Connors’ ‘Trash Heap Homes’ is an extremely relatable account of recovery and hope, simultaneously down to earth while concealing hidden depths of meaning. It’s a testimony to how strong this story’s voice is when we cared about its narrator after only a few paragraphs.
While we are delighted that Inside The Bell Jar has resonated well with writers from the mental health community, we are saddened by the lack of submissions from people of colour, and those from the LGBTQA+ communities.