From the Stacks: May 11, 2007

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

The 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

After 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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