catflap journal—intelligent, challenging thinking, with a glimmer of disco
by Mícheál McCann
It is 2020 in Belfast. We are well and truly locked-down. One of the singular comforts of that time was sitting in Ruth McCarthy’s back garden, speaking about all the enviable queer publications based in New York and London arriving in our letter boxes—their flashy, sexy design, inserts falling out like a well-kept secret, the heady thrill of reading a queer person’s thoughts from across the world, and finding a life-belt.
Community and communion
Queer people often find community first through the communion we feel through books. It’s how we test out ideas, imagine new possibilities. It was around Molly and Maggy (Ruth’s cats) that the notion of catflap came (or was assembled—fastened to the back door). Why should folk in Belfast, in Ireland, have to look elsewhere for the mutual gaze we’re so desperate to find in a queer publication?
Belfast is a city with a great literary legacy, and punches far above its weight in the international writing stage.
Enough, we both thought, and began to draw plans for a journal of smart queer writing with a disco heart, a publication that prizes intelligent and challenging thinking, with a little glimmer of disco. Enter catflap, a literary journal of queer non-fiction and poetry.
catflap’s tone embraces a wide and delightful variety: a poem by Mary Montague that seriously (but playfully) considers homosexual Laysan albatrosses; a remarkable essay by Jess Bernard ponders the problems of minimalism; and then our resident agony aunt Dear Hole. A broad church, yes, and one that has a good sense of humour.
Belfast is a city with a great literary legacy, and punches far above its weight in the international writing stage. I wanted catflap to not only halt people needing to look across great bodies of water to see themselves represented; I wanted catflap to be a place where people might actually look towards Belfast, and see it as an epicentre of queer thought, art, and excellence, as Outburst Queer Arts Festival has been demonstrating for the last seventeen years.
We put out the first call for submissions in June 2021, and it drew names like Sarah Schulman, Simone Harris, Kevin Brazil and Stephen Moloney to populate the corridors of catflap #1.
The magazine brings together established (legendary) writers like Schulman to stand alongside early-stage writers. This feels an important aspect of the magazine; sometimes the most exciting work comes from the artist who has never exhibited before. If queerness is, as José Esteban Muñoz puts it, an ideality – a realm as subjective to me as it is to you – intergenerational and international cross-currents can nourish and sustain one another.
catflap dedicates its attention to the splendid inventory that constitutes queer life, and how one thing may hold a compendium of meanings to a small room-full of people.
If you are a bookseller interested in stocking catflap please contact Mícheál McCann at email@example.com. catflap #3 will be launched at the 17th Outburst Queer Arts Festival in November, 2023.