Folkpunk in Literature is the intersection of folk culture, (distinct cultural groups like the Pennsylvania Dutch or Creole) with folklore, (stories of the oral tradition, or stories now in the public domain). Then an added layer of punk attributes, (defined and characterized by the author themselves (steampunk, mythpunk, cyberpunk, punk rock)) and set within the speculative fiction genre- with a moral, parabolic or allegoric message.
Folkpunk literature is a genre less about overthrowing the system- which is an attribute of punk rock culture. It’s more about questioning dominant social norms. Rebellion, apathy and antiestablishmentism are dominant in punk music, clothing, and art. Of course, the inclusion of the ideology of punk rock culture and punk is up to the discretion of the writer and can still be labeled as #folkpunk if it incorporates the other elements listed above. It’s art. It’s meant to be fun. Folkpunk, like mythpunk IS subversive however and questions dominant societal norms bringing in (often times) feminist and multicultural approaches.
Folkpunk exists currently as a musical genre and tends to be politically charged on the radically left and anarchical side of the continuum, like punk rock, but Folkpunk is about incorporating the rest of us everyday people into the conversation. The gritty, the rusty, the overgrown and the struggling need a voice too. It’s about involving the frustrated and the bored, and their circumstances and experiences into the writing because there is beauty there. Folkpunk can be imaginative and fantastical. It can have world-as-character attributes, meaning a well fleshed out world can feel like a character, all on it’s own, like in Alice in Wonderland. In fact, take Alice in Wonderland. Give it a punk treatment of some kind, as a layer and give it a moral message with growth of some sort on Alice’s part, better yet, the Queen. The Alice in Zombie Land by Gena Showalter series does this. Change it, flip it and enjoy the process. Writer Laura A. Pike said this about the Folkpunk genre, “It’s folklore with a twist.” Yes, Laura, it is… and it is very exciting to us.
Example of Folkpunk Literature currently on the market in Children’s Literature: The Girl Behind the Magic– The Velveteen Rabbit + steampunk elements, (Native American Steampunk Fairies) + zombies = back story for the Easter Bunny. Why? Because it’s art and it explores the Easter Bunny as a ‘person,’ with relatable self esteem issues. He overcomes them and it’s beautiful, because we see ourselves in him. We have to start where he is to see the growth. Stan Lee gave the superheroes feelings. Let’s get the rusty, overgrown and gritty, the “bad” into our stories for character development and use it as litmus for true growth. Folkpunk is about this growth and change for the better. Or about changes for the worse, or no change at all, but being ok with it. Not about staying and rotting where you lay, or being angry and being destructive (though that’s ok too, I mean we are here for developing our writing prowess. You do you!). Folkpunk is about recognizing and celebrating the current grit and struggles because we all have them and we are all going somewhere. Hopefully, with hard work and perseverance we are going straight to the top. Happy writing guys!