Dancing Barefoot #2
Hayley, Essex – moonlight.phoenixATgmailDOTcom
The second issue of Hayley’s perzine, this one focuses on the loose theme of independence and a DIY attitude. We read about Hayley’s experiences of making friends from her childhood to present-day, her difficulties with holding onto her local friends when they’ve moved away, started families, or drifted apart, undertaking projects and making things happen despite not having anyone to help her, and whether it’s necessarily a bad thing to be a “loner”. As somewhat of a loner myself, I really identified with this piece, and was inspired to read about how she has taken charge of her life despite her bad luck with friends. The second half of the zine details Hayley’s experience organising the first Ladyfest Essex all by herself this year – the difficulties she faced (and unfortunately there were many difficulties!), the excellent bands that she got to play, and some advice for others thinking of putting on a similar event themselves. The text is black on a plain white background, with some photos illustrating the articles. This zine is full-sized A4, so it’s pretty unwieldy, but Hayley explains in the introduction that this was the cheapest and easiest way she could get her zine printed in her area, so that’s fair enough.
Anatomical Heart #10 & Buy Her Candy #1
Bettie Walker, Carlisle - bettieriotATgmailDOTcom
Anatomical Heart #10 is the final issue of this mental health zine series, published in late 2010. Bettie explains in Buy Her Candy #1 that she decided to stop writing Anatomical Heart because she didn’t want or need to write about mental health anymore – Bettie is currently training to be a mental health nurse, and so “my life still revolves around mental illness, just not mine”. Anatomical Heart #10 feels like a nice transition from mental health to perzine, a kind of preparation for Buy Her Candy, as there is more perzine content in here than in previous issues - we read about what Bettie has been up to and what she’d like to get up to instead, her visit to Birmingham Zine Festival 2010, the regret she feels after giving away most of her zine collection, and an open letter to a mental health nurse that changed her life. Bettie also briefly discusses making progress with her mental health and being able to reason her way through mental breakdowns, something she could never have done in the past. Buy Her Candy #1 is about half the size of Anatomical Heart #10, and has more eye-catching layouts. After explaining why she has started a new series, Bettie writes about being diagnosed with PCOS, and how she feels alienated by feminists who argue that women should grow out their natural hair, as these feminists tend to have light, sparse hair (this issue has also been discussed in zines Femme a Barbe and Cooking Hearts Up At The Stove). Bettie also writes about same sex marriage and civil partnerships, and the politics of both, and moving in with her girlfriend. Also included are things she likes doing, and a playlist. Both zines are very sweet, very personal, and lovely to read, with lovely cut and paste layouts, and colour covers.
Exploding the Myth #4
Kira Swales, Chester – www.kiraswales.co.uk
Kira Swales, Chester – www.kiraswales.co.uk
Exploding the Myth is a packed half-sized perzine; this issue covers tattoos, having a widespread family, her trans partner’s journey through transitioning, ways of coping with bouts of depression, gardening, Marmalade Atkins, her relationship with feminism, reasons why feminism is still needed, and the idea of “preaching to the converted” when writing about feminism in zines. I loved this piece in particular, as it’s something I’ve struggled with in my zines – Kira argues that it’s closed-minded to assume that all readers will be well acquainted with feminism, and that not everyone is lucky enough to have liberal or open-minded people around them. That really made me think, and helped me relax about whether my zine writing is too “feminism 101” – so what? As Kira notes, one can always pass on a zine to someone who may appreciate it more if they’re already fully aware of the issues raised inside. There are also some lovely little things scattered about, including a mix tape tracklist, an eulogy for her DR Martens boots, how to make a pleated apron, and a rocky road recipe. It’s a fun and friendly zine, packed with hand drawings, cool cut-and-paste layouts, stencilled lettering, handwriting, and typewritten bits. Just lovely.
Gardener’s Delight #1
Fliss, London - flisscATgmailDOTcom
A very cool zine by Fliss, the lady behind “Mix Zine”! It’s a “personal but practical guide” to growing your own food for the first time. It opens with a lovely piece on why gardening is so important – to get back to the true nature of things, to connect with the earth, and to watch something you’ve planted grow and develop is one of the most satisfying expeiences one can have, according to Fliss. She also argues that home-grown food tastes so much better than mass-produced supermarket foods. Then, Fliss gives us some handy tips on allotment gardening, indoor growing, outdoor growing (either in your own garden, or a green space in your local community), and how to do all of this on the cheap. These guides include what equipment you need, how to weed and prepare the soil, where to find cheap or free seeds, and what time of the year to start planting. Fliss lists some common plants that are easy to grow with tips on how to take care of them (e.g. chives, courgettes, onions); she also recommends a number of books and websites for more info on home growing. It’s 4” by 11.5”, with lots of hand-written sections, drawings of vegetables and gardening tools, and cut-and-paste typed text. Unusual, and very informative.