Catatonic Daughters initially began in the very early months of 2020 while being interviewed by two poets I greatly admire for a forever-unaired podcast episode. We ended up recording the same episode twice (once in a seminar room of a Law building at our university and once at the top of a drafty staircase in a building we were probably not allowed to record a podcast in), and both recordings have been long lost. In both the original and staged recordings, I had the revelation (and then re-revelation) that all the women in my life that I loved were strange women, and that all the literature I loved was about strange women. This idea eventually morphed into the central premise for Catatonic Daughters after, in my second year of university, I came across the claim by the French theorist Hélène Cixous that there is “no general woman, no one typical woman”. This wasn’t really reflected in the literary canon that tended towards homogenous representations of women, and brought up the need for literature and that demonstrates women existing beyond a gender identity dictated by society, and possessing an individuality that marks them as different or distinct. Hence, Catatonic Daughters was formally born in an attempt to remedy that.
The first issue of Catatonic Daughters gives a true range of pieces about strange women. We have artwork, poetry, fiction, scripts, essays. There are pieces that derive from bodily experiences (as with Autumn Haworth’s piece, Houseguest, in which a stranger’s corpse appears in a man’s apartment and Ally Remy’s piece Paresthesia with its disappearing limbs), and pieces that depict unconventional figures, such as the non-maternal When Mary Lost Jesus by Abigail Eckstine and What I Do Know by Monica Cardenas. There are pieces with rage and violence, such as Emma Buckley’s poem Werewolf Girl and Ali Isaac’s autofiction Invisible. The COVID-19 pandemic, too, recurs throughout many of the pieces in our first issue. Not as a central theme, but as a subtle indicator of time and setting, and maybe as a reason for the strangeness that the past year-and-a-bit has highlighted or underscored or drawn out. Some domestic settings are imbued with strangeness – we see it in the slow burn of People Like Us by Ceci Mazzarrella and the apartment living of Friday by Marie Little. Many of the pieces in the first issue are concerned with experiences of neuroticism (in both its formal and informal definitions) that we can see in Bug Spray by Serena De Marchi. There are more pieces in our first issue than I can gush about in this Editor’s Note, including some truly brilliant pieces of artwork from Lauren Foley, JW Summerisle, and Megan Russo. Judith Butler said it best when she said that the “construction of the category of women as a coherent and stable subject [may be] an unwitting regulation and reification of gender relations”. Catatonic Daughters is not a coherent and stable magazine, and the pieces that feature in our first issue give a real range of interpretations of our theme that overall demonstrate the true complexities of the ~strange woman~. Overall, we were lucky enough to receive 258 submissions and accepted 35 pieces that we felt best captured what we envisaged Catatonic Daughters to be.
The guts of a pandemic, the creation of a different literary magazine (hello The Apiary!) and finishing my undergraduate degree later, Issue 1 of Catatonic Daughters is finally here. Thank you to each of our brilliant poets and writers and artists, whose work I am honoured to share with you in our first issue, and to everyone who has submitted work or shared, and supported Catatonic Daughters. My daughters would not be catatonic without you and I’m truly grateful to you all.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief