On Saturday night I had the pleasure of meeting Erin Fae and Heather (last name unknown) for the first of hopefully many Brooklyn Zine Nights in Park Slope. While my collection of zines is modest at best, Erin’s colorful collection filled most of the table. She admitted she was a little intimidated by the ISSN number that barcoded my issues of Sybil’s Garage, and I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated by the amount of hand-made details that went into some of the issues she brought with her. I had been proud of my work in PageMaker, but some of Erin’s zines were hand-sewn, with personal cards attached in small envelopes and photographs of begonias glued in with little black corners. Others were bound with single threads of red. Each was unique.
We talked a bit about the creations of our zines, why we do it, how we do it. Some of Erin’s work was typeset, and my memory fails me for the exact name of the process she used, but let’s just say on some of her zines she set each of the letters herself. The result was beautiful, with each letter unique, taking more ink or less randomly. I loved Erin’s answer when I asked her why she made zines: “Because I have to,” equating her beautiful creations with the necessity of breathing or eating. I was reminded of Rilke: “Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?”
She gave me a zine called Pleiades #14, written by a girl named Miranda from Spokane, Washington. I read it cover to cover on the subway ride home and was floored by Miranda’s story of growing up in an emotionally closed home in the midwest and trying to break free of her familial boundaries to discover and love herself, to fill the hole that sat inside her. The letter is addressed to her deceased grandmother, and Miranda repeatedly asks her, “What paradigms of hope were you denied? What possibilities were you ignorant of? How swiftly were your hopes & dreams crushed?” Beautiful stuff.
My experience with zines has mostly been with fiction. This emotional outpouring from a real person took me by surprise, and I felt truly moved after reading it. I felt like I knew Miranda and wanted to comfort her. Is that weird to say?
Our Brooklyn Zine Night had a small turnout, probably due to the July 4th holiday weekend, but I hope we can do it again soon and next time attract more people. As we got up to leave I smiled to myself as Erin turned to Heather and said, “Success success! Brooklyn Zine Night, a success!” And it was.