As the northeast monsoon leaves and the southwest monsoon season arrives, MONSOON by Slowork Publishing is coming to Penang too!
What are documentary comics?
We're familiar with documentaries, and we know what comics are, but what are documentary comics?
Based on real-life people and events, documentary comics are often regarded as "documentaries on paper", using graphic narratives instead of film to explore and document daily lives and social issues, regional tales and unspeakable experiences. Think of it as a graphic novel, but for non-fiction.
Focusing on Southeast Asia, the exhibition will showcase 5 artists from the "Monsoon" series - Lefty Julian and NOvia Shin from Malaysia; Adoor Yeh, 61Chi, and Tseng Yao-Ching from Taiwan - offering a rare platform for discovering regional tales and talents.
Happy new year!
We've been making some changes around here, so here's what you can expect from MYWriters Penang and NutMag zine in 2023!
Meet our new editors
Since 2016, each year's zine has been a team effort. This meant that the team would read all the submissions and vote on the 10 pieces to make it into print. Final decisions and editorial work then fell to Anna Tan.
This year, we are expanding the team by introducing our Fiction Editor, Wan Phing Lim and our Poetry Editor, Yee Heng Yeh. Anna will still be looking at the creative nonfiction submissions. We're hoping that this will further refine the curation and editing process to bring you the best writings from Penang.
Opening to blog submissions
With these new editors on board, we've decided to utilise this blog space a little more! You can now submit your short stories, creative nonfiction, and reviews (up to 1,000 words) and poetry (up to 20 lines).
There's no submission deadline or theme for this; entries will be read on a rolling basis, probably once a month. Any selected pieces will be posted at a rate of once a month as well.
Note: to increase your chances of getting selected, go look up our editors' profiles and see what they like!
Penang Writers Workshops
It's been a while since we had one of these! We're still working out the details, but we're planning on running our writer's workshops again, building from our previous workshops and the Chevening Writers Series.
Keep your eyes peeled for more info soon!
We're launching our 2022 zine at Hin Bus Depot this Saturday!
Come listen to Anna Tan, JY Tan, Miriam Devaprasana, Wilson Khor W.H. and Yee Heng Yeh share their writing inspirations and read from their work.
The launch event itself will be from 3pm to 4pm, but our MYWriters booth will be open throughout the Hin Market hours from 11am to 5pm. Come early, have lunch, hang out with our writers, and get them to sign your zines. (And buy some books too!)
See you soon!
These are strange times we live in--
we’ve stopped believing
in things that happen.
The pandemic has been going on for more than a year, after all. Still, I think it was almost a shock to realise how quickly we got used to things. And when I say “we”, I mean “I”, of course, but it’s easier to talk about these things if you pretend you’re not the only one. Though I don’t doubt that there are others out there who feel the same.
As the number of cases (and deaths) ascended--rather steeply at one point--it became almost surreal to think about the immensity, the scope of tragedy happening every day, and the way we’re barely able to engage emotionally with the facts. I don’t mean this as a castigation; perhaps desensitisation and detachment are necessary tools, at times, by which we make sense of the world without losing our minds.
Plus, against this backdrop of disease and isolation, the usual injustices—police brutality, homelessness, fatally shoddy infrastructure, the stark shortage of effective, compassionate leadership—seem more pronounced than ever. But I wonder if some things have always been this bad, even before the virus. And it’s only that our heightened sensitivity to the news these days, and the pervading sense of general despair, have made us more receptive to the darker side of reality.
Receptive, yes, but somehow, at the same time, in disbelief.
If there are passengers on the train,
that’s only a throng of ghosts.
If there’s a light in the hospital window,
it’s just the dark’s blinking eye.
If there are any who have died,
they must still be teetering
on the edge
between life and afterlife.
Hence, this poem. But as with anything, its bleak, cynical outlook is only one side of the story. There have been instances of goodwill. Grief, when necessary. Healthy dissent, and efforts to reclaim justice. Enough that the world hasn’t earned the world’s end, as Szymborska puts it.
There may also be some small comfort in the fact that if things have always been this terrible…well, at least some of us have still made it this far. We can choose how we face this. If nothing else, we bear witness to what goes on in this world. And that’s not nothing.
How else could we have stood here
and watched this world
do what it’s always done?
One of the most astonishing (or maybe unbelievable) things about living through a pandemic is the crazy conspiracy theories that keep going around, whether it's about the virus itself (no, the pandemic is NOT a hoax) or the vaccines (no, you don't get 5g or turn magnetic) or off-the-shelf/home remedies (no, minum air suam doesn't help) .
Celine Wu pokes at this phenomenon in Two Evils, spinning a crazy theory about what a hypothetical Malaysian vaccine trial is trying to do on the side. However, looking at the state of the world and our science comprehension (as well as the ability to tell fact from fiction), we felt the need to slap on a disclaimer: This is a fictional story which is entirely made up. There is no conspiracy. Vaccines work. Please get vaccinated as soon as you're able to.
Su Min was still impressed that her girlfriend’s father had managed to get their entire family into the vaccination trials. While everyone was allowed to apply, the process was tedious and took weeks. Not only had Mr Liu gotten it done in a day, but he had also bagged Syuen an interview with the programme’s head researcher so that they could be well-informed of all the potential risks and side effects. This perk was also why they had chosen this trial vaccine instead of one produced and approved by another country.
It was coming on 6pm now and Su Min was getting antsy. Why hadn’t Syuen texted her back after so long?
In spite of their friends making fun of them for being the couple who lived in each other’s pockets, they maintained constant contact. It was the only thing that kept Su Min from feeling too untethered in this world gone mad. Messaging Syuen had been what got Su Min through the MCO. It was strange for Syuen not to text her after so many hours.
Celine Wu is D O N E with everything right now. More than ever, she would like to escape into a magical world of her own making and ignore whatever consequences may come. Unfortunately, she's stuck in this realm trying to make a living like everyone else. In her free time, she reads and complains about her various craft projects (among other things).
If you were writing a letter to a future you, what would you say?
In Side Effects of the New Normal, Rebecca Vega ponders the unexpected changes we're going through as a society and wonders at how quickly we seem to have accepted this new normal.
The world is a quieter place now. Staying in a more tourist-friendly and populous part of the island, it was a strange stillness to behold. I have spent almost two decades of my life falling asleep to the sounds of mat rempits racing off into the wee hours, at times competing with the crash of plates from the restaurant next door (almost always followed by the sound of angry hokkien). I no longer hear Akon’s hit ‘I wanna make love right now’ booming into the night from the nearby clubs. These are now dead silent nights. I will admit, it was an eerie but much-appreciated silence in the beginning. The first night I went to bed in complete silence, I had a smile on my face. Months later, I look into empty streets at 9pm and am starkly reminded of how life has so suddenly shifted. But not to worry, this is just another side effect of the new normal. Are the streets still empty?
Rebecca is an editor, writer, embroidery enthusiast, and bibliophile. Her current writing projects explore our relationships with mental health, social media, and the shifting social landscapes of Gen-Z. She is also managing plant parenthood with hopes of expanding her green family soon.
We've finished edits on NutMag Volume 5: Lost, and are moving on to layout, so here's a peek at our contents page!
Over the next few weeks until we launch in October, we'll be posting up short snippets and maybe some guest posts! Plus, of course, our actual launch and how you can grab a copy of this year's zine.
MESSAGE: You haven't gone outside in a while
MESSAGE: You haven't gone offline either. In fact, your whole life has gone online hasn't it?
MESSAGE: So what's that been like? Is it a new world to explore More of the same? Or have you fallen down a rabbit hole, with no way back up...
Send us your creative work (<500 words in any genre) based on the prompt for a chance to be included in next month's newsletter!
Note: We've been sharing monthly writing prompts in our newsletter since early 2021, so we decided to share them on our blog too! We'll be posting them on the first Monday of every month.