Tēnā koutou katoa,
My name is Thomas Jackson Nieuwland du Chatenier. These days I usually just go by Jackson. I am a genderqueer, Pākehā writer and librarian. I am left-handed; my favourite colour is pink; my eyes are blue; my hair used to be blonde but now it’s more brown. I used to play basketball and I support the Oklahoma City Thunder. My favourite foods are popcorn and chocolate. I am tired and hungry (always). I am a halfling rogue. I’m an Aries born in the year of the horse. When I was 11 I used to wake up at 4:30 every morning, cook myself a bowl of plain pasta for breakfast, walk to school, arrive before all the teachers and read my book outside. I suffer from depression and anxiety. And I am privileged to be the editor of this year’s issue of 4th Floor.
Each of the contributors to this issue has an identity at least as complex as I do, most of them probably much more so. This issue includes work by women, non-binary people, cuties, Māori, Pākehā, Portuguese, Americans, babes, students, teachers, visual artists, angels, journalists, editors, tricksters, chocolatiers, Antarctic explorers, parents, retirees, robots, pseudonyms, unicorns and much more. Despite this diversity of identity, these people are connected by at least one trait: they are all writers and they are each sharing part of their identity with you. I thank them all for sharing their work with us.
No one piece of writing can reveal the entirety of a person’s identity, no amount of language can definitively communicate a person’s ever-evolving mind, body, history and emotions. All the pieces in this issue of 4th Floor deal with identity to some degree, either directly or indirectly, and give the reader insight into the minds of their authors. Even works of complete fiction or abstraction offer us a point of reference for the people who wrote them. Viewing art allows us to see the world from a multitude of perspectives, when usually we are confined to just one.
I suppose the reason I chose identity as the theme for this issue is that I have spent so much time thinking about my own identity recently. Before coming to the realisation that I was genderqueer, identity wasn’t something I ever really considered. Often it seems like only people from marginalised groups make the effort to consider the complex concept of identity, but it’s a practice that everyone can benefit from. Taking the time to better understand ourselves can only help us to understand others and operate in a world were we coexist with billions of other people, each with their own unique identity. Hopefully reading the work in this issue will give you new perspectives on the identities of others and prompt you to consider your own identity.
So many thanks are owed.
4th Floor is a truly collaborative project, requiring the time, energy and creativity of many, many people. I will do my best to acknowledge them all here.
Thank you first to Mary-Jane Duffy for asking me to edit this year’s issue. It’s been an honour to be a part of a journal with so much mana and a privilege to be given such free rein with my ideas. Your input has been invaluable and your poem in the issue is beautiful.
Thank you also to the incredible team of Whitireia publishing students who put together this issue. You made my job so easy. All I had to do was pick which pieces I wanted in the issue; you made everything happen. Allie Marie and Kat Fankhauser’s copyediting was attentive, diligent and full of care for the writers’ words and intentions. Kate Robb treated the text of the issue with another type of care, making the words look beautiful on the page. Mishalee Wickremesekera did a fantastic job with the marketing, making readers aware of the words everyone had worked so hard on. And Rebecca Chester, Alex Stronach and Helen Heath somehow oversaw all of this, keeping everyone on the same page, offering advice and guidance and prompting me whenever I forgot something important (this happened a lot lol).
Thanks also go to the team at LitCrawl for their continued support of 4th Floor. Claire Mabey, Andrew Laking and Chris Tse are doing amazing work for the literary community of Aotearoa and we are grateful to them for standing behind 4th Floor and the zine that accompanies this year’s issue.
Thanks must, of course, be given to the writers who submitted to this issue. You each shared part of your identity with us, which is always a brave act. Your words are honest, powerful and a joy to read. Without you this issue would be a blank website.
Finally, thank you to you, the reader of these words. Thank you for clicking the link that led you here. Thank you for taking the time to read and consider the words and identities that make up this issue. I hope you get something out of it.