Street Librarian: Dazzling, Amazing, Zesty

It’s hazardous duty working as the Utne librarian.
Dozens of magazines arrive in the mail daily, ablaze with words
that call for attention, no subject too bizarre. Laden shelves
threaten to capsize. Like a zombie’s, my eyes glaze and my stomach
churns. With a zillion things to read, how do I keep from going

‘Hocus, focus’ is the answer, I’ve come to realize. The good
librarian is organized. Alphabetically, from A to zed, the sizable
Utne magazine collection extends, if not to the horizon,
then at least a quite a few feet. One way to manage the maze of
magazines is to start at the end, with Z.

Now I’m jazzed to recommend some publications from the bottom
rack, an assortment that represents the diverse range of
independent periodicals.

Monthly Z Magazine, dedicated to ‘resisting
injustice, defending against repression, and creating liberty,’
began publication as Zeta in 1988, cofounded by Lydia Sargent and
Michael Albert, who with others started the collectively run South
End Press in the ’70s. Ad-free Z runs articles and zealous
commentary about world politics, including well-known voices of
dissent (such as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky) along with writers
from the Southern Hemisphere. Each issue features Sargent’s Hotel
Satire column, as well as reviews and resource listings. $33/yr.
(11 issues) from 18 Millfield St., Woods Hole, MA 02543;

The Zephyr (also known as the Canyon
Country Zephyr
) is a sharply focused lens on the U.S. West.
Although it specifically covers the Moab, Utah, area, Jim Stiles’
bimonthly publication shows how Western land and communities have
been taken hostage more widely by real estate developers and people
who cater to motoring tourists, off-road vehicle users, and
lycra-suited trail bikers. The paper’s motto, ‘Clinging hopelessly
to the past since 1989,’ is mirrored by Stiles’ past/present photo
essays, some of which show beautiful places and how they’ve been
ruined. $15/yr. (6 issues) from Box 327, Moab, UT 84532;

Zyzzyva, an above-average literary journal
presenting West Coast writers and artists, features a ‘first time
in print’ section each issue. More than 200 writers have debuted in
Zyzzyva‘s pages, editor Howard Junker asserts, including
actor Peter Coyote (Winter 1988). Besides poetry and short stories,
recent editions have featured a gay man’s reminiscences about his
marriage to an immigrant woman; lino prints depicting Mother Jones,
Emma Goldman, and Audre Lorde; some words about the leaf-hopping
insect that lends its name to the publication; and outtakes from
pitches to the editor, a snarky move that may be designed to cut
down on submissions. $44/yr. (4 issues) from Box 590069, San
Francisco, CA 94159;

Zeek, ‘a Jewish journal of thought and
culture,’ is a generally well written and cleanly designed
publication of creative writing and graphics. The Spring/Summer
2006 edition focuses on marginality, with an essay titled ‘How I
Ended Up at the Jerusalem Same-Sex Attraction Group’ and an article
examining ‘tensions between Buddhism and Judaism,’ as well as
photos by Serge J-F. Levy of people in the New York City subway
system and a startling photo by Doron Hanoch of a topless woman
with a bowl of powder overturned on her head. $25/2 yrs. (4 issues)
from 104 W. 14th St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10011;

Zion’s Herald has been published since the
early 19th century, amazingly. Self-described as ‘an open forum for
people of faith,’ it’s a bimonthly Methodist magazine with a
progressive slant. Recent issues have included an interview with
theologian Huston Smith, a selection of writings on homosexuality
and Christianity, coverage of a church-affiliated medical school
under fire for alleged union busting, and short essays on poverty,
absolutism, grief, torture, and truth telling. The magazine won’t
come at the end of the alphabet for long: It’s on hiatus through
year’s end, and is scheduled to restart as the Progressive
with the January/February edition. $28/yr. (6
issues) from Boston Wesleyan Association, Box 458, North Berwick,
ME 03906;

Named after 18th-century publisher John Peter Zenger,
Zenger’s Newsmagazine is a slim, San Diego-based
newsprint monthly covering ‘alternative lifestyles, politics,
culture, and health.’ In this case, ‘alternative lifestyles’ seems
to be code for gay, since most issues have gay-related covers as
explicit as ‘A Daddy’s View of Submission.’ $25/yr. (12 issues)
from Box 50134, San Diego, CA 92165.

Zine World (‘A Reader’s Guide to the
Underground Press’), though infrequently published these days, is
one of only a few publications devoted to reviewing homemade
micropress publications, the likes of Sock Monkey Social
, Factory Wounds, and Elephant Mess. A
new issue was due out while this issue of Utne was in the works.
$10/4 issues from Box 330156, Murfreesboro, TN 37133.

This just in

Bidoun, a quarterly magazine covering the arts
and culture of the Middle East, is like a city street bustling with
diverse sights, sounds, and scents, both mind-expanding and a
little overwhelming. Its range is wide: architecture, film, graphic
arts, design, fashion, music, books, tourism, and more. Read in #7
about the airports of Tehran and Damascus, see color
photos of airline meals, and wonder about musician Hisham
Bharoocha’s top 10 listening list. Bidoun means ‘without’
in both Arabic and Farsi, ironic considering how much comes with
each issue. $36/yr. (4 issues) from 138 W. 15th St., Suite 1, New
York, NY 10011;

Wapsipinicon Almanac comes out of rural Iowa
and pleases both the eyes and the mind. Looking straight out of the
’60s, unpretentious in tone, the almanac wends its way unhurriedly
from folksy editorial notes through essays by Iowans visiting
Chiapas and living in New England and Saudi Arabia, historical
articles on such topics as Jews in 19th-century Iowa, Iowa-related
book reviews, and articles about drinking water, chemtrails,
wineries, and the Wapsipinicon River itself. You don’t need to be
an Iowan to enjoy the journal’s simple design, so compelling that I
felt inclined to linger over spot art and ads for the likes of
corn-burning stoves, a regional puppet theater, and wooden caskets
made by Trappist monks. $7 each from 19948 Shooting Star Rd.,
Anamosa, IA 52205.

Listen: The Story of the People at Taku Wakan Tipi and
the Reroute of Highway 55, or The Minnehaha Free State

(Feral Press) is an oral history of a grassroots effort to save old
oak trees-and a neighborhood-from being destroyed to enlarge a
road. The setting: south Minneapolis in the late 1990s, near the
confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, a wooded area
sacred to some, near the historic spring known as Camp Coldwater.
The cast: a diverse coalition of tree-sitting punk kids, Native
Americans, residents, and activists. $20 (free to schools and
libraries while supplies last) from editor Elli King, Box 526,
Finland, MN 55614.

Eating Fire, Tasting Blood: An Anthology of the American
Indian Holocaust
, new from the Thunder’s Mouth Press
imprint of Avalon Publishing Group, includes previously published
writings by the likes of Linda Hogan and Eduardo Galeano, as well
as such new material as an excerpt from David Seals’ forthcoming
Someday, My Son, None of This Will Be Yours. For more

A Mile in Her Boots: Women Who Work in the
, new from the Solas House imprint of Travelers’
Tales, collects stories by female wildlife biologists, camp cooks,
dogsledders, Forest Service workers, commercial fishers,
trailblazers, mapmakers, and others whose words have the flavor of
campfire tales. For more info:

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