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Zine Review: Paper and Ink

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Litzine, Martin Appleby (editor), issue 2, etsy.com/shop/paperandinkzine, £4.50

Reading the occasional British zine can be an amusing enterprise for North Americans; it’s not every day we get to look up a word like “numpty.” Vocabulary aside, Hastings, Englandbased Paper and Ink — so named, because of its hard-copy-only existence — stands out initially because of its proclivity to tread on stylistic thin ice. Each poem and short story in this issue is presented in a unique and occasionally garish font (more often in the titles than the body text, thank-fully). It’s a potentially disastrous format but somehow manages to work in this case, with the font changes often capturing the differences in mood between the entries. The theme for this edition is “Home,” and there’s no skirting the subject; each piece is explicitly on topic, and provides an intriguing glimpse into the varied ways people choose to define home. For one contributor, it’s a house full of squabbling relatives. For another, there’s no identifiable thing called home — there’s only a vague notion of what it’s supposed to be. This is all perfectly passable poetry and prose, but one contribution stands out: Jennifer Chardon’s “Your Life Is The Story You Keep Telling Yourself,” a series of short prose fragments that she refers to as a “collection of musings.” While the individual pieces appear to be from unconnected narratives, she weaves them together with skillfully-placed segues and shared, relatable themes: turmoil, escape, longing. (Scott Bryson)

Deathmatch Round 2: Tasty Bits, Sad Rocks and Snacks Galore

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Hello from your humble Round 2 moderator, Alison! This was the “Food” round of Deathmatch, with the tasty themes in each competitor’s story naturally revealing something deeper and quite often, sadder. Aerin Fogel’s “Chicken n’ Bits” is a gently surreal tale of a woman dealing with the rejection of her sister (after she stole her sister’s boyfriend.) Scott MacAulay’s “Bombay Blossom” features down-and-out Mickey, who borrows a suit jacket and eschews the soup kitchen for his first-ever meal of Indian food. There has been a lot of agonizing snack talk on the comment boards (much like Round 1, actually) with people talking up beef jerky and other salty delights.

Zine Review: Mitsumi Elec. Co. Ltd.: Keyboard Poems

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Visual poetry zine, Eric Schmaltz, issue 1, above/ground press, abovegroundpress.blogspot.com, $4

This chapbook is kind of boring, but in an interesting way. Maybe that’s not a good way to start a review, but it’s true. The poems in this collection are actually little visual art pieces made with a disassembled keyboard and black paint. Calling them poems is even a stretch, because there is very little that can be read; a few words and a few letters. This process violently brings the digital world into physical space, reminding us of the abstract visual quality of printed language. The page becomes a field, a space ripe for exploration. Schmaltz plays with chaos and order, alternately presenting Dionysian smudges and intricate latticework mandalas in an Apollonian mode. These pages are wry works of minimalism and the book contains no semantic content besides an ironic little note about safe typing posture and practices, hence why I called it boring. But maybe that’s the wrong way to go into it — these are meditations on the ambience of language and the tools we use to express ourselves. This zine should be approached with a mindset of contemplation, like a poet yogi waiting for the dance of the cosmos, perfect in its imperfections, to reveal itself in a quiet moment. It is compulsively re-readable, hypnotic like looking at a fire or the stars at night. (Neal Armstrong)

Calls For Submissions

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Call for Submissions: Letters from Bummer Camp

What is Bummer Camp? I don’t know, but you should probably submit your fun stuff for a compilation zine from a New Jersey zine distro – lettersfrombummercamp@gmail.com.

Call for Submissions: A Spacey Zine + Mix Tape

Love the cosmos? Hail from outerspace? Dream about being an astronaut? Are you HAL? Lindsay Cahill (who brought you the Simpson’s art show at Videofag among other brilliant things) will be launching a new zine and mix tape about outer space in the Fall that’s set to feature work from Eileen Myles and Christian Bok. Send a bit about you and the work to cahill.linds@gmail.com by March 31. More information on the call for submissions event.

Call for Submissions: Patterns Magazine

Patterns Magazine endeavours toward social and political change by publishing and disseminating art and creative writing along with critical essays, reviews and interviews on featured topics. Email your submissions to submit@patternsmagazine.com including your name, a brief bio, a website, submission title, and a brief statement. More information at their call for submissions page. Deadline January 31.

Call for Submissions: Revolver

Revolver is looking for artworks, recipes, weird video art/gags, ridiculous text conversations, chemical formulas, sex advice questions/answers, childhood memories—anything you think would be interesting for other people to see. They’re also looking for “shots with strangers,” for those of you who are brave enough to strike up conversations with strangers and trade them a shot for a story. More info on their submit page.

Zine Review: Broken Romance Vol. 1

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Flash fiction zine, Josh Rosen, 16 pgs, joshdraws.com, $3

Mail-out zines are so often associated with undercutting pop culture and reclaiming something authentic that when a little Xeroxed booklet called Broken Romance finds its way to my desk, it feels like we’re going back to basics. Author-illustrator Josh Rosen has reinterpreted the jacket image of a typical romance novel as his own; edited to include uni-brows, vampire teeth, and swords jutting out of appendages. The effect is fun, with contents acting in conjunction with the title to set up a satire on pop culture’s depiction of love. The zine’s actual content, though, takes itself surprisingly seriously. Rosen packages six little pieces of flash fiction into the 16-page booklet, each separated by a little gallery of unrelated drawings. The narratives travel from over-encumbered teenage love talk (ie. “There was no maliciousness in any of our desire, no intent outside of that single moment”) to some  genuinely striking images (“Liquefied mulch poured into her weary crack of a mouth…”). The illustrations are more interesting. Playful characters tell simple stories, even when the adjacent prose seems a little caught up in itself. Romance remains largely intact at the conclusion of Josh Rosen’s Broken Romance, but it hits the mark just often enough to be worth a look. (Joel W. Vaughan)

Zine Review: Even Noisy Sparrows

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Litzine, Serafima Mintz, issue 6, 527 NW 6th Place, Gainesville, FL, 32601, $3 US ($5 US for international orders)

This ever-changing publication — it has, in the past, housed haiku, tanka and traditional Western poetry — is all the work of Florida’s Serafima Mintz, but it never comes across as a self-reflexive enterprise. There’s a clearly established angle for this issue — the exploration of gender, sexuality and identity — and a reasonable amount of diversity in form that sees interviews juxtaposed with fiction and creative non-fiction. At the core of this collection, are its two interviews: the first, a chat with a self-described radical feminist punk that touches on running a record label, producing zines and being a “weirdo,” and the second with a Cuban acquaintance that explores astrology, Santeria, genderneutral pronouns and cultural reconciliation. Also prominent, is a touching, semi-fictional homage to The Firefly, “Miami’s home of independent punk rock and DIY culture from 2006 to 2011,” that chronicles its birth out of a squatted- in, abandoned home and the eventual fight to prevent its demolition. Most of the content in Even Noisy Sparrows is geared toward a specific target audience (queer, transgender), but it touches on universal themes: escaping, belonging, coming to terms with whatever you need to. One thing this collection clearly demonstrates: Miami is a much more interesting city than most might imagine. (Scott Bryson)