Welcome to Issue Two of Inside The Bell Jar, where you’ll explore some dark, yet utterly relatable themes in the way of short stories, poetry and flash.
Maggie Haraberr’s You Know Nobody Likes You (or, ‘How To Make A Joke’) is an instantly relatable journey into the mind of one with identity struggles and poor self worth. Rhyme and form intertwine with the poem’s meaning, creating an extremely strong voice and an instant pick for the issue. Clarity is certainly important when tackling a mental illness, especially one that receives such an astounding amount of stigma as BPD. Poetically, this piece is gorgeous; ebbing and flowing with ease on the reader’s tongue.
Evan Matyas’ poem is one of duality – a struggle for identity in the face of perceived lack of worth. Tight metaphors and masked strength make this an extremely powerful poem and an instant choice for our second issue.
Mother is an absolutely tragic, yet unflinchingly raw reveal of one woman’s final moments as she contemplates suicide. The piece’s strength lies not only in the strong visual imagery, but also in the sufferer’s turmoil, their inner thoughts and emotions, along with their mania as they reach the end of their life.
‘Birth Mother’ is a surrealist epistolary story that demands discussion and interpretation. While the accompanying author’s notes bring us part of the way to understanding, we were struck by the dreamlike lens through which the narrator views the world, at once magical and tragic.
‘Burn’ is an extremely raw read, tackling gender identity, toxic family dynamics and self-harm. Fully developed at every turn, Elizabeth Jaeger has crafted a powerfully poignant story, with an instantly relatable narrator no matter your personal journey through life.
‘The Black Oracle’ is an excellent example of how depression and other mental illnesses can be effectively personified. The narrator’s struggle against depression is at times futile, with the Oracle’s sweet, motherly kindness masking a quiet malevolence that underpins the entire story.
‘Albina’ is at once beautiful and sorrowful, brimming with eloquence. This is a story that elicits pure empathy, both for the narrator and for Albina herself, a true feat granted that neither us nor narrator knew Albina intimately. In Lia Marie Talia’s writing, the shadows left by depression and suicide are as tangible as the writing itself.
‘Follow the Rabbit’ is at once surreal, comic and disturbing, chronicling one man’s hallucination of an anthropomorphic rabbit while undergoing psychiatric assessment. This is much left unsaid here, though it is in the unsaid that this story’s strength lies. With the hint of being expanded into a novel, we’re excited to read more.