How a Covid-inspired ‘zine linked Margate and Malaysia.
The Margate Bookie’s ‘zines have spread around the world since Justin Brown launched The Great Indoors (2020) and Reset (2021) in the last couple of years. They have featured some great creative writing and artistry by some amazingly talented people.
Among these are pieces written for our Reset ‘zine by two students of the Keningau Vocational College in Malaysia – ‘Turn the Tide’ by Adra Cheery Sumping, and ‘Struggle’ by Fredo Foo Sau Yi.
With news of our next zine imminent, we asked their teacher, Sirhajwan Idek, why our second ‘zine, Reset, was perfect for his students.
How did you hear about the Margate Bookie ‘zine?
I found out on a Facebook group that lists all the posts on calls for submissions. I liked the theme and title of Reset and the idea of being able to go forward in the world. The thought that we’d be able to start again, imagine a ‘new normal’ in our lives or be able to refresh and reset for a better future is a great thing to be able to think about. I felt drawn to it because it was very relevant to almost everyone. I loved that the submission process was easy!
What prompted you to submit your students’ work?
I had assigned my students a task earlier in the year to write either a poem, a short story or comics related to the pandemic. I told them to write something that could give people hope during this pandemic. I always wanted my students to be able to get their work published since this rarely happens in Malaysian schools. Many teachers and students here do not know that they can actually get published in literary magazines, including international ones.
When the call went out for the Margate Bookie ‘zine, I explained how rare it was for Malaysians to get their work published in international magazines and if their work was selected for publication, that’s a remarkable achievement not just for them but something that would inspire many Malaysians. I assigned this as an optional work when schools remained close early this year. We had online classes and the students were all at home. I contacted these students personally and convinced them to write.
How did it feel to find out that their work had been accepted?
I was so thrilled. I felt like I wanted to tell the whole country and, in a way, I did since they were published on several Malaysian online news portals. I believe this could be the first step in promoting writing and getting published as a norm in Malaysian schools. There’s still a long way to go but the first step is always essential in making it a reality.
What did you think of the submission and editing process?
I thought the process was quick and easy. I particularly liked how quickly we were able to get responses from the editors and how the editors helped to proofread the work, edit the pieces and request for our approval before finalising the edited work for publication.
Would you submit work again?
Absolutely. I would like to submit my students’ work and I hope their literary pieces will be accepted. Just let us know on the next call for submissions. I love how relevant the themes are.
The Live Launch event where selected writers read their work was just amazing!
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Don’t forget to also have a read of our first ‘zine ‘The Great Indoors’.
Submissions for The Open Arms, our third ‘zine are now open.
Check out our announcement post here.
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