Welcome to Issue 19 of foam:e. This is Carmen Leigh Keates and it’s wonderful to now be back on track, following on from the last two issues that enabled us to catch up after the tumultuous shock to everyone’s systems that was 2020.


Issue 19 is drawn from poems sent to us in our submission window that went from the start of September to the end of November 2021. If there is a theme or themes I can start to talk about, I can mostly detect them not only among this issue’s poems , but also in comparison to the submissions from the last few issues. And by ‘submissions’ I realise that I am thinking not only of the poems we accepted, but also those  that did not make it to publication. Undeniably, the experience of being an editor of a poetry journal includes engagement with this whole body of work that is and is not included; all the work that we three editors reacted to, discussed, tried to advocate for, pushed against, championed, panned… All the poems received contribute to the creation of the issue of the journal that we produce.


So, with that acknowledged, if I can try to characterise some of the poetry that is included in the published foam:e 19, I might highlight what I hear as a certain levelling-out, in voice as well as topics, of the more extreme reactions we’ve had—to our circumstances; to our homes and families (I’m thinking here of Amanda Joshua’s poems); our losses; our making sense of this period in comparison to our lives as a whole (to quote Brendan Ryan’s “Driving Through Mallee Towns”: You focus by holding onto the wheel / driven to flee from where the thoughts have led); and definitely to the flow of information we’re drawing on to guide our next concrete steps.


So no poems about depression,

others suffer more.

I wear my roof & a smug brickwork scarf.

The headache is just a mind trying to escape…

my friend’s TV drank until it barfed

then tidied itself up with a toy machete.

I find nothing has changed, just

cave puzzles, leftover fingers.

(From Les Wicks’s “Dive”.)


Some poems feel very literally “timely”, but in the way that events (even historical events that we discover after the fact) make us feel things, and then later, these events stand in for ourselves at a particular moment, as in “Watching Earthquakes at Home” by Rozanna Lilley, and “St Petersburg” by Jill Jones:

There were news reports of a Russian sub in the archipelago – I said –
The clouds were maps of what was coming – you said –

Everyone went crazy with accusations – I said –
Up there the infinities sneak through – you said –

(From Jill Jones’s “St Petersburg”.)


And there’s also a number of extremely different types of poems that I might loosely group under the theme of the ‘aftermath of love’: Luoyang Chen’s “Post Eclipse”; Matt Hetherington’s “My My”; and even Lesley Singe’s quite funny poem “Suzie, One Summer”, where all of a heartbroken friend’s usual romantic behaviours come up and explode in their face again—in the poem there’re a recurring presence of jewellery, jangling, gleaming, seemingly flying everywhere, like the emotional shrapnel that we, for our friends, simply don’t begrudge.

There’s a rich seam of the more abstract and associative in the compelling poems of Shari Kocher and Austin Miles; there’s a patch of vivid prose poetry too, such as in Janet Jiahui Wu’s “What Suicided Van Gogh”:


… failure to have produced an outstanding artist statement, inability to communicate ideas except through paints and letters to Theo, anger management, other artists, Venus’ sublime torso, art entrepreneurs, art economics courses, definition of success and successful artist, working too hard, being too much on his own, the majority of the ravens above the wheat fields, humanity itself, art buyers’ sheepishness, horse hairs in their eyes, scorn of money, antisociability, anxiety gnawing like ants at his groins, thickness, too much fire—


(From Janet Jiahui Wu’s “What Suicided Van Gogh”.)



There are now things about the editing of foam:e that have definitely changed from before – we editors are now permanently across two countries, Australia and Ireland. This issue has been put together almost to schedule, just with a bit of a lag due to storms, power outages, last-minute travel dashes, and me being on a writing residency in wonderful Hobart where I stayed a bit longer, since I had some family gratefully in my flat in Brisbane while their own place was being confirmed safe from the floods. It’s been quite the summer/winter.


But there has been no change at all in terms of what we look for in the poetry we put in foam:e: something surprising; something timely but beyond the obvious; and maybe a few things that we don’t completely understand but that we can definitely sense are vital and new.


Please enjoy this new issue of foam:e. We extend our thanks to everyone who contributed the poetry that we have read in preparation for this publication.


Carmen Leigh Keates,

and on behalf of Angela Gardner and Kerry Kilner, editors of www.foame.org

Share This