The big Truancy-related work of the past few months has been transferring all of the issues of Truancy from the old dreamhosters website to this domain. It’s been a job I’ve been dreading but I was helped by our indomitable Editorial Assistants Nik Maisarah Abdul Rahman and Rebekah Siah Anggapan. This issue of Truancy 8 is therefore very much a team effort, also featuring two interviews conducted with depth, sensitivity and introspection by Associate Editor Eileen Gunnell Lee (with L.S. Johnson) and Rebekah (with villbeejay). I offer my thanks for the entire team who have fulfilled my wish of wanting more than one person to feel a sense of belonging and ownership in relation to this magazine.
The discourse of patriarchy and capitalism has always been that “there can be only one”, or by upholding token minorities above others. It is a dialectic I reject, and continue to reject in many ways in my life. Truancy is now a magazine that has a masthead comprising four WOC, three of whom are not from the first world, working behind the scenes in harmony and cooperation. Who knows, perhaps in the future there will be more. I say “in the future” with the knowledge that we will have future issues of Truancy after Truancy 10 because the entire team convinced me that I shouldn’t give up on the magazine or on us. They are the future of Truancy and I am grateful to them for the work that they do.
Every issue of Truancy I put up now is for them and to provide a forum for a different kind of approach to folklore and fairytale revisions. Looking back over the past seven issues that are finally on the same website, I realize that this is a responsibility, a huge one. Moving forward, we will be fostering more dialogue through interviews, through reviews and we will see how future issues can be evolved and shaped into conversations about the state of our world and how we can make that world a better place.
Furthermore, mistakes were made in the past by me as E-I-C which I fully acknowledge. Running this magazine has always been a trial and error thing but now that there are four of us, I need to protect more than just me and the contributors of these issues. To that end I will be posting an anti-harassment policy by the next issue for the sake of the entire team. There will also be clauses there (they also exist in our SFWA boilerplate contract modified to reflect the fact that this non-profit, hobbyist electronic `zine is Malaysian) to protect authors, artists and other contributors of Truancy Magazine.
Which brings me to the unofficial “theme” of this issue, the song by Nico and the Velvet Underground that has been ear-worming me for awhile now.
And what costume shall the poor girl wear
To all tomorrow’s parties
A hand-me-down dress from who knows where
To all tomorrow’s parties
It always seemed to me that the song touched (whether consciously or not) on alienation within capitalism and within the context of this issue, that comes hand in hand with patriarchy. Because patriarchy is one big party to which many of us are excluded, and one hell of a drug. Which should give you an idea of what to expect in the selections for this issue.
First up is the disturbing and compelling revisiting of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, I Don’t Celebrate Early by A. Martine that touches on the unspoken implications of the tale in relation to abuse, but the one thing that stood out to me was this — how abusers can walk free when supported enough or (in)famous enough. It is a very timely and relevant tale. Next up is a slightly more whimsical and joyous dieselpunk take on The Town Musicians of Bremen, The Song of the Machines by Gwen Katz, which is an absolute delight to read — and which presents a different kind of party, one which involves rebellion, the quest for autonomy and self-determination.
The next tale is the beautiful and heartrending An Elegy for Landings by L.S. Johnson which tells the tales of swan-maidens, a fairytale variant which has been a favourite of mine for years. L.S. Johnson offers an incisive and lyrical insight to these stories which reveals the ways in which patriarchy inflicts itself upon the rest of us. Again, this is a party to which the swan maidens have never been invited but is imposed upon them all the same.
This issue’s collection of short stories is book-ended by Michelle Muenzler’s Here, The Party Never Stops, a disturbing and powerful tale that exemplifies the idea of patriarchy as a drug, through a fey revel with all of the sinister connotations one associates with being trapped in faerie.
The two poems for this issue are by South East Asian poets. First up is The Weary Old Tree by the indigenous East Malaysian poet villbeejay, a refreshing new introspection on the well-known Sarawakian legend of Puteri Santubong and Puteri Sejinjang. Next up is the intriguing and gently gristly The Great Banquet by Ally Chua, a Singaporean poet, which re-imagines the Chinese zodiac animals as being present at a most unsettling banquet with all of the hallmarks of the Domestic Gothic.
Our cover art is Into the Unknown by the Malaysian artist Winnie Cheng who never ceases to amaze me with her creativity and the utter beauty and depth displayed in every piece. You can view more of her art here. And you can read an interview with her by Billie Blue Blackstone in Truancy 2 (which also has cover art by her), here.
Thanks and much love is due to J. Kathleen Cheney, our sole ko-fi contributor and subscriber for 2020. She has been contributing USD3 for the past 5 months, which is fully the honorarium for one poet. Apart from being a wonderful human being, she is also a great author, so I fully recommend checking out her novels.
Every issue of Truancy seems to come out at a difficult time for humanity but we seem to have reached the apex there, at the conjunction between global political and economic instability, a global pandemic, and climate emergencies (yes, it’s very much still threatening all of our lives and nations). So please, take time for self-care, stay safe and above all, please use your face-masks and practice all of the distancing and hygiene procedures for the safety of others and for yourself!
With that final Asian Auntie message, I remain warmly,
Nin Harris, PhD.
The Public Domain Cornucopia clipart on this page was sourced from openclipart.org.