“Do you make zines?” I heard this asked a lot at the Feminist Zine Fest. I think it captures the inclusiveness of the community that convened in Barnard Hall Saturday, March 1st. Barnard zine librarian Jenna Freedman secured the space for the event, previously held at The Commons in Brooklyn. About 40 tablers in all lined the room, their tabletops covered with not only zines but lollipops, QR code tablecloths, pom-poms, pins, patches, garland, rocks, and stuffed animals. DJ Troy Frost, herself a zinester, artist and self-described “feminist supastar” provided the soundtrack.
There were zines covering topics of race, sexuality, identity, personal histories and family histories. If you were looking for a yoga themed zine, or a zine about unhelpful cats, there was a table that had it! Natsumi, a recent graduate of The School of Oriental and African Studies, grabbed a zine about Nigeria.
For those who really want to get deep in zine culture, libraries like the ones at Barnard College and the Papercut Zine Library in Cambridge, MA house thousands of zines. I chatted with Mitch from Papercut Zine Library who told me libraries play an important role in giving a home to zines and preserving the narratives of marginalized people. Zines are primary resources of people’s lives, many of whom are underrepresented in mainstream publishing. Zine libraries help to fill that void.
Some zines that caught my eye were not concerned with telling personal stories. Elvis Bakaitis, an organizer, displayed a series called Homos in Herstory (and drew the cool illustration above). Another zinester had compiled all of her favorite quotes from books she’s read since the 10th grade. A few tables over Nicole, a social studies teacher at the Calhoun School displayed some zines made by teens of various ages at the school. On the Zinefest blog Nicole talked about the process of making zines with the young women, “We had to negotiate what to include, how to represent ourselves and contributors, how to deal with conflict. So, zine making was a really important feminist praxis for me.”
Walking around the room, I wanted to read all the zines and celebrate their uniqueness. For the rest of the day I was very proud to wear a pin that read, in script letters, “don’t be mean, make a zine!”
(Artwork: Elvis Bakaitis)
(Photos: Library Manifesto)