I walked into the Writing Center after teaching a course on copyediting last week and found a tableful of mums-the-word students working away diligently on handmade zines. The table was piled with paper and tape, drawing implements, glue. On a nearby table, DIY snacks: celery, peanut butter, hummus, raisins. Two of our Student Writing Assistants organized said zine workshop, provided guidance and ideas and supplies, and BAM! instant zine community.
Karen Lillis is currently serializing a memoir about working at St. Mark’s Bookshop called Bagging The Beats At Midnight: Confessions of an Indie Bookstore Clerk over at Undie Press. Her recent installment, titled “People Who Led Me to Self-Publishing,” discusses the inspiring and energetic figures she encountered, people who took artistic matters into their own hands by making sloppy, lo-fi xeroxed booklets that were sold on a special consignment rack at St. Mark’s. Karen reminds us that writers such as Anais Nin, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Kathy Acker, Gertrude Stein, and others all self-published at one point. There’s a certain magic about it—the immediacy of it, the openness, the way any wing nut or fanatic or obsessive outsider can be given an equal hearing on the consignment rack. No filtration or editorial process—just print, copy, distribute.
In a recent email I sent to Al Burian, I wrote that I was interested in bridging the gap between the small press/indie publishing world and the self-publishing/zine world. Al is kind of a cult figure in the self-publishing world, but is probably virtually unknown to small press and indie lit readers (although he did get some kind of honorable mention in The Best American Nonrequired Reading series one year). I’ve been reading his zines since I was 13 and I’m still totally obsessed with them. Since Al Burian was my favorite zine writer, over the years I let everyone I knew borrow his writings—teachers, friends, family. Some instantly became obsessive fans of his work as well. Since last month Al’s out-of-print collection of early zines, titled Burn Collector, is finally back in print after being republished by PM Press. (You should check it out—I’ve probably read it more times than any other book in my life.) Al’s zine Burn Collector and others like his inspired me to start self-publishing when I was 15.
The Birdsong Collective and Micropress is having a contest: $50 to the winner, plus some other junk for your trunk (publication in the zine, &c). Deadline is early next month so hurry the chop up! Only catch, I suppose, is you have to be in the city of New York for their reading in mid-December. Include me out, but guess what? No reader’s fee! That’s because it’s a contest, not a fundraiser! That’s good!
If you’re in Portland tonight, Future Tense is celebrating their 20th birthday! Special guests include Zachary Schomburg, Elizabeth Ellen, and Chelsea Martin! I wish I were there, Kevin Sampsell is a super-sweet dude.
You don’t need to make up a stupid name for yr witch house and/or chill wave band/book/film/mixtape, just let this thang do it for you, right? Duh. Don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s perfectly alright.
A bonus level for “Return of the Quack” (videogame based on Matt Furie’s arts) is available for to play online. And the full game is available in Giant Robot 67. Think I’m gonna wander over to the store today for to get mine own. $5 means the price is right.