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                                        Editorial | Issue One

做乜嘢?! (“Zou mat je?!”) is a phrase many Cantonese speaking children will grow to become intimately familiar with. Emphatic, admonishing, sometimes playful, these words loosely translate to “what are you doing?!”. Lei zou mat je, how come you didn’t finish your homework? Zou mat je, quit mucking around! Zou mat je, why are you looking so sad?

Towards the end of 2019, we gathered as a group of friends at Boodjamooling – Hyde Park, to speak about our shared desire to explore our Cantonese heritages. We wanted to create a space to creatively and empathetically examine our multicultural, intersectional identities, our memories and knowledge of our histories, our disjointed relationships to language, and our connections with our families, friends, and communities. We needed to ask what it meant for us to reflect on our diasporic identities as migrant settlers, living and working on unceded Whadjuk Noongar lands. The idea for Zou Mat Je, a zine to unpack these questions and share the experiences of Cantonese artists and writers around the world, unfolded from these conversations.

The production of this first issue has taken place during troubling and tumultuous times. As we take in and respond to ongoing acts of injustice and oppression, we have been encouraged by the contributors to this issue to look in, and look out, to our implication in these moments. Reminding us to look to our ancestral pasts and sift through the many layers of our selves, Claudia Yang writes, in her poetry/illustration duet with Wandy Cheng: “remembering time is infinitely timeless: / a trajectory of ancestral / oracles waiting to / be unshelled nesting dolls…” And urging us to reflect on our relations to others, Miriam Wei Wei Lo proposes “A way forward: Acknowledging our complicity. Asking for forgiveness. Treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves.”

To heal, one must both reach in, and reach out.

I would like to dearly thank our artists and writers for their heartfelt and extraordinary contributions to our inaugural issue. Your words, images, and ideas inspire us in their rawness and resilience, and draw us together in solidarity, with hope for our shared futures.

I would also like to thank the members of the Zou Mat Je team who have worked together and supported one another throughout this journey – Nathan Tang, Gok-Lim Finch, Johnny Doan, Claudia Yang, Desmond Tan, Stephanie Lai, and Alina Tang. You are all deeply cared for and appreciated; thank you for sharing your generosity and talents in bringing this issue together.

With love,
Sarah Yeung,
on behalf of the Zou Mat Je team


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