New literary mag gives women, youth a voice

By SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER

YANGON — The founders of a new literary magazine say they hope it gives a voice to aspiring writers and broadens understanding of the country.

Launched on Saturday, the biannual Yangon Literary Magazine features poetry, paintings, short stories and personal essays submitted by writers from around the country.

Pieces in the first issue include “I’m not racist but…”, “Thoughts on Burmese Days” and “Dreams for Our Sons and Daughters”. Its first editor’s note says the aim is to “explore the Burmese narrative” and “redefin[e] what it means to be Burmese”.

“The Yangon Literary Magazine also strives to challenge the assumption long held in Burmese society that creative are good for nothing, that a career in the arts practically equates to bankruptcy, that we are all whiling our lives away like crickets singing when we should be saving for the winter,” it says.

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The magazine has been in development for around six months, after the three founders hatched the idea over a rainy Saturday afternoon in a bar in Sanchaung.

Ma Mandy Moe Pwint Tu, one of the founders, said the aim was to give opportunities to previously unpublished writers, particularly women and young people.

“We also want to change the perception that women writers are unimportant,” she said.

“When I was young I didn’t realise I had a voice. This is how I got into writing – to try and make myself heard.

“I think youth have a role in changing the country and the world and art is one of the best ways to do it.”

Another founder, Ma Khin Chan Myae Maung, said she was inspired to get involved in Yangon Literary Magazine because she noticed there were many books being published about Myanmar, but most were written by foreigners and focused only on politics.

“Most of the popular books about Myanmar are just the military but actually there are many other stories to be told about the country,” she said.

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