From the Stacks: May 11, 2007

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May 2007
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Utne Reader's library is abuzz with a steady flow of 1,500 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, zines, and other lively dispatches from the cultural front that are rarely found at big-box bookstores, newsstands, or even online. So we share the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of what's landing in our library each week in 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the latest edition.

Hermana, Resist, a personal zine (or 'perzine') by Noemi Martinez, offers frank discussions of racism, feminism, motherhood, and poverty. That's not a familiar confluence of themes in the zine community, which, as Martinez notes in the latest issue (#6), includes few writers of color. She expresses her thoughts and frustrations with ease, through stream-of-consciousness diary entries and poetry. I found the zine uncommonly intimate, despite her claim that she hadn't 'given enough of [herself]' in writing it. Though much of Hermana, Resist relays Martinez's struggles, which, as a single mother living below the poverty line, are considerable, bright spots appear when she writes about her children or reports on a bilingual production of TheVagina Monologues she took part in. Martinez also owns the C/S Distro, which stocks and distributes zines by women and people of color. -- Danielle Maestretti

OtherThe editors of Other are out to stage a 'surgical intervention' on conventional concepts of gender in the July 2007 issue. 'Don?t worry,' the editors' note reads, 'it won't leave a scar or anything. We'll just drill a small hole in your skull, stick the cauterizing tool inside, and burn out the part of your brain that recognizes people as 'male' and 'female.'' A nonprofit magazine from the Institute for Unpopular Culture, Other focuses on the cultural and political scenes of 'new outcasts.' Poetry, nonfiction, and comics about 'subversivism,' sex workers, and strippers provide candid portrayals of sexual identity that challenge the gender status-quo. An essay by Andrea Zanin showcases the variety of sexual attractions, asserting that the male-female gender binary isn't enough to define sexuality: 'When you're painting with only black and white, you're only showing one interpretation of the picture.' -- Julie Dolan

SyndicateProductAfter an 18-month hiatus, Syndicate Product finally found its way back to our library. Issue #12.0 of this compilation zine by A.j. Michel is themed 'Year of the (Pack)Rat,' sharing the stories of what people just can't bear to throw away. Celia Perez (creator of the zine I Dreamed I Was Assertive!) admits that she's unable to part with her 'goddamned box of Sassy magazines,' and Eric Lyden (publisher of the zine Fish with Legs) explores his strange attachment to his back issues of Weekly World News (especially the one featuring the photo with the headline 'Saddam & Osama: Banjo Buddies'). The issue begins with a thorough examination of the lamentable setbacks felt by the zine community of late. Syndicate Product is one publication I hope won't meet a similar fate (or get thrown away). -- Bennett Gordon

The Community Farm provides a bounty of information about community supported agriculture (CSA). The small quarterly newsletter out of Michigan compiles news, advice, and trends from the expanding market of community-based growing. The spring issue breaks down an important topic (for both community supported agriculturalists and anyone interested in food in general): the contentious 2007 Farm Bill. According to the article, the bill would provide some money for land conservation and clean energy, but reserves nearly half of funding for agricultural subsidies that 'distort the market' and aid big agribusiness, while pushing family farms off the land. -- Natalie Hudson

A colorful depiction of Sitting Bull and his wife adorns the cover of the summer issue of Tribal College Journal. The quarterly is published by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, which represents 35 tribal colleges and universities. Native American heritage themes recur throughout as the journal looks to the future of tribal education and parses its role in the community. In the latest issue, editor Tina Deschenie writes that tribal colleges 'present a positive and courageous face against the growing crisis of illness and needless deaths' confronting Native Americans today. -- Natalie Hudson


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