Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

#MythpunkMonday: The Road Back Lost

mahrimequote3

Happy #MythpunkMonday! Last month we talked about the power of Mythpunk, this week I’m going to ask how we wield that power responsibly – or if we even need to? I’m going to look at one particular Mythpunk song by my favourite singer/songwriter, talk about my own journey in Mythpunkery and give you a little snippet of one of my own Mythpunk stories.

So, last week we looked at the power of myth and the importance of Mythpunk as a subversive form that can challenge mainstream culture and instigate social change.

That makes Mythpunk powerful too and – as all us true geeks know – ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ (cheesy but true, guys, cheesey but true!)

So what responsibility do Mythpunk creators have and to who?

It’s not an easy question and the answer is likely to be a very personal one for all of us – different for each punk who puts pen to parchment. But I think it’s vital for us all to consider and to create ongoing discourse around this point.

From my own point of view, I came to Mythpunk (although I wasn’t aware of the phrase at the time) feeling as though I wanted to bite back at the restrictive, prejudiced, tired and boring old tales I had grown up hearing. I was carrying fire in my blood and in my head and it flowed out through my pen in rage against the morals and values inherent in those tales, all of which seemed to say that ‘people like me’ were not acceptable, could not be heroes, needed either rescuing or destroying and would certainly get our comeuppance one day … etc etc.

So I wrote to bite back, I wrote to destroy and obliterate and to replace all that ancient, old hat, prejudiced nonsense (as I saw it) with my own values, morals and world-view.

As I got older, I learned a revelation that made me stop and think. It didn’t make me regret what I’d written before, but it did make me proceed from that point onwards in a different way… I learnt the history of my people – a history which my family had been forced to hide from us because of deep rooted and continued prejudice against our people, a history which, I now realise, had been partly encrypted in story and song and passed down through generations in the hope that one day we would understand… and here I was taking a scythe to it all in anger.

Worse still, I soon found – as I now hungrily hunted for more stories, myths, tales, legends and songs which would tell me more about our culture and history – I came up blank ; most of it has been lost and what remains has been twisted and manipulated (not ‘punked’ which is something quite different) out of all recognition by other cultures in order to maintain the myth of the ‘Gypsy Creature’ by people who are not even Romany.

I felt hurt and lost and angry and guilty and very many other things as well and eventually those feelings lead me to write Mulengi Sinija (a tale of cultural appropriation and white-washing which shows how a less powerful culture can be forced to hide themselves while the dominant culture wears their clothing and beliefs like an exotic mask, until eventually the grandchildren of the less dominant culture have forgotten who they are. ) and also The Road Back Lost, which I’m going to share an exert of today.

So after that point I decided that although there really were parts of my culture that needed to evolve, so much had been lost that I wanted my Mythpunk to focus on preserving the good, the beautiful, wise and historic aspects to make tales worthy of passing on to my own children.

I’m still on uncomfortable ground here – there are definitely dark moments when I ask ‘do I have the right to do this?’ and I can only comfortably answer ‘yes’ because it is my own culture and belief, my own experience, the voice of my own blood that is singing through me. I am not certain I could always give a resounding ‘yes’ if that were not the case.

I think that, for me, the subject boils down to questions of Power,Voice and Ownership – does the mythology I’m punking from exist in enough written forms that its power and voice resound through history and are unlikely to be altered / obliterated forever by my work here and now? – does the culture which this mythology hales from have enough power and voice on the world stage to protest against my meddling with it, should it choose to do so? – and lastly, is the culture my own?

But this is just my story, my journey, my own evolving view on things, – I’d be really interested to hear what you think on the subject! Should Mythpunk be a free-for-all? Is it OK to punk from other cultures? Should we not punk at all? Or is there a middle road and if so, how do we stay on it?

In that contemplative vein, I’m going to share with you Black Jack’s Lady by my favourite singer/songwriter of all time Heather Alexander / Alexander James Adams.

It’s a Mythpunk’d version of the child ballad The Raggle Taggle Gypsies / The Gypsy Laddie / Black Jack Davy, a ballad I grew up with, which tells the tale of Lady Cassillis and her lover the Romanichal folk hero and Rom Baro Johnnie Faa.

In that folk tale, the Earl of Cassillis marries his young wife against her will, but her lover, Johnnie Faa, or Black Jack Davy, rescues her and they run away together. The Earl eventually catches them, hangs Faa and his brothers and imprisons his wife for the rest of her days. There isn’t any truth in the tale as far as Faa and Cassillis are concerned, and of course there are aspects of it which seem wonderful and other aspects which seem dreadful.

Here’s the song and above it I’ve included Heather’s introduction/ explanation of it as well – I’ve chosen it because, as with the original, there’s a lot about it that I love from a fun and feminist perspective and also a lot that feels uncomfortable … see what you think?

 

And finally here’s the excerpt I promised from The Road Back Lost, if you like it and want to read the whole things you can find it on Vocal… https://poets.media/the-road-back-lost

THE ROAD BACK LOST

Do you know what it is like to gut a wolf, child? Do you think you have the stomach for the knife? If you are a daughter of the wood, you ought at least to have that. But perhaps the tool they have given you is not up to the task? Faced with the breath, the lure of iron scent, the clinging claret clots that call to your own quickened pulse, the sharp, sharp teeth a grotesquery of your

Little

Knife

Perhaps you would rather flee?

Or perhaps that dilation of your dark and precious orbs betrays your lust to leave this wood and simply be devoured, melting on a hot tongue, melting in a hot belly, melting like a shadow into night? How many times have you tried to lose yourself that way? How many times have you wandered from the path, waiting for your wolf?

Well

Here she is, child, here she sits; white throat waiting to welcome you home.’

 

 

Thanks for joining me for another #MythpunkMonday and please feel free to join in a share your own / others Mythpunk either in the comments or using the hashtag – let’s fill every Monday with marvellous Mythpunk madness 😀

 

 

10 responses

  1. ‘do I have the right to do this?’ and I can only comfortably answer ‘yes’ because it is my own culture and belief, my own experience, the voice of my own blood that is singing through me..’

    Thisss. I couldn’t agree more. I think your writing is a wonderful tribute to your heritage…sharing the stories of the blood that sings through you is a powerful way of protecting something so precious. It can’t be heard without a voice. Its vital to bring the voice of new generations into the conversation methinks…both in preservation terms and appealing to both present & future generations. There is a staggering level of tragic ignorance about your culture. I so deserves to be celebrated and shared – its so rich – Romantic in the true, poetic sense.
    I loved Mulengi Sinija, it’s hypnotic, mesmerizing. Gorgeous. ❤️Thank you for sharing it.🥰

    ‘Well I’d rather have one fine decent night on the cold hard ground with a real man than to have you for the rest of my life and all your foppery, so there’
    😂 😸 😂

    I loved the passion & pizzazz of ‘Black Jack’s Lady’… It’s fabulous ❤️🔥❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    November 4, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    • smithandskarry1

      Thankyou so so much for this – I feel like I’m constantly walking a very fine line between adding my voice / the voice of my generation to the story and obliterating the voices that have gone before so it really does mean a lot to have someone say ‘I agree with you, I think you’re doing the right thing’ . Thankyou. I’m really glad you liked Mulengi Sinija too, thankyou so much for your lovely words 🙂 … and Heather Alexander / Alexander James Adams are just ALLL the things! If you liked Black Jack’s Lady I’d recommend finding them on band camp. 😀 (love all the emojis btw, thankyou – I’ve no idea how to do them , lol XD )

      Liked by 1 person

      November 5, 2019 at 8:51 am

      • Aw…my pleasure 🥰I think the fact that you’re so sensitive to the ‘adding your voice/obliterating voices from the past’ issue makes your own voice a valuable & very worthy contribution.❤️ I adored Mulengi Sinija…and loved The Road Back Lost too. It’s so powerful – evocative – I’m sorry I forgot to mention it, I was juggling too many thoughts about each part of your post. 😳 HA/AJA sure are…they’re fabulous!😍 (aw, you’re welcome…they’re easy! Just follow this link and click the one you want. Each has a copy button, so you just paste your chosen smiley onto pretty much any site https://emojipedia.org/people/ 🌹)

        Liked by 1 person

        November 5, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      • smithandskarry1

        Aw thanks so much for all this, I’m over the moon you feel that way, and liked the stories – and the emoji link! I shall have a crack at it… although I’m notoriously bad at this sort of thing ; so bad I once sent a dancing celebration gif to a friend instead of a ‘sorry for your loss’ gif… 😳🤣 luckily it was an old Pal who knows what I’m like, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

        November 6, 2019 at 8:32 am

      • Oh, you’re very welcome. 🥰I loved them 💖 Oops! 😂😲😂 I’m glad your pal was…um, unperturbed by your happy dance😧 Poor you…I’m a mishap waiting to happen too so I wish you luck with them…and nary a grin, rather than gritted teefs😬😳

        Liked by 1 person

        November 6, 2019 at 4:10 pm

      • smithandskarry1

        🤣🤣

        Like

        November 7, 2019 at 9:48 am

  2. For me, the places of pushback have been around female domesticity and obedience, and increasingly I want to push against the ways in which feminine sexuality is so reliably linked to wickedness…

    Liked by 1 person

    November 5, 2019 at 10:10 am

    • smithandskarry1

      You know I’m a devoted fan of your incredible writing! x With this attitude of the m/f divide coming from dominant Western culture yes I’m with you and definitely a lot of what I write tries to kick back against this too, the way the ‘Gypsy Creature’ is perceived as both sexual and evil is disgustingly entrenched in DC perceptions. And of course the LGBTQIA+ acceptance issues are present on both sides as well. x

      Liked by 1 person

      November 5, 2019 at 11:30 am

      • It occurs to me that all the mainstream media representations I can think of for ‘gypsy’ women are either old crones, or more usually, highly sexualised young women.

        Liked by 1 person

        November 6, 2019 at 8:51 am

      • smithandskarry1

        Absolutely – and in books / rpgs all of them are out to swindle the main character of the story in some way, lol. ( Coz that iz what we do, innit? ‘Speshly us Essex gyppos XD XD xx ) I went into Sainsburys last week and was horrified to see a Sexy Gypsy Fortune Teller costume complete with mask! WTF ? It’s so de-humanising when the same people who think that is OK have banners outside proclaiming in rainbow writing that they believe and support the rights of every person and lovely underwear adverts with women of a variety of races and body shapes… but there’s no space for Roma people under their ‘umbrella of acceptance’ ? I think it just shows how fake their assertions are – it’s just virtue signalling to sell products rather than genuine desire for social change in my opinion. Ah vie, the fight goes on, lol. Opre Roma… eventually! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        November 6, 2019 at 9:40 am

Leave a Reply to smithandskarry1 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s