zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Zine Review- When Language Runs Dry


via Somnambulist Zine by noreply@blogger.com (martha grover) on 11/20/09

A couple weeks ago I wrote a glowing review of "Sick- A compilation zine on physical illness." Today I write about "When Language Runs Dry- a zine for people with chronic pain and their allies." I believe it's a testament to either my new focus on my own illness, or the aging and maturation of the zine community that both of these zines came out around the same time.
While "Sick" was focused broadly on illness of all kinds, "When Language Runs Dry" is more specifically about those who deal with chronic pain. If I may speculate, I think the reason why the editors of the zine felt they needed to focus on chronic pain is because pain is almost always silent and invisible. It reminds me of why I sometimes carry a cane when I'm feeling poorly- it's a physical marker to show people that I'm not fully able.
Another way that this zine differs from "Sick" is in its style- the prose is thicker, tougher, and for lack of a better term, more "literary". The reason for this is probably editorial and because of the nature of pain itself. Pain is ethereal, hard to pin down, hard to describe. Those that deal with it day in and day out haven't been given the adequate language or opportunity to fully express their experience.
Ever since I got sick I've been more interested in Frida Kahlo's art, so I really enjoyed Claire Barrera's essay "Resisting Erasure." In the intro of the essay she describes viewing one of Kahlo's paintings in Mexico and being dismayed at how the museum chose to describe both Kahlo and her art. Barrera writes, "This description also ventured that Kahlo has exaggerated her desire to have children and her sense of loss for artistic purposes, and that really she had not wanted a child so badly as she wanted dramatic subject matter for her paintings… Just like that, the author had erased Kahlo's self-definition in this incredible work of art. Using his or her privilege as an art curator, this person had effortlessly deleted the story of her pain and replaced it with his/her own "educated" interpretation."
I appreciated Barrera's description of her experience with Kahlo's art. I really love Frida Kahlo's paintings. They're so brave and honest. And the instinct to undercut this honesty is so pervasive in our society. People always think you are malingering, faking or exaggerating your illness and pain. I believe this is based in fear. Honesty scares people because being honest about your pain requires people to have an honest reaction to you as a fellow suffering human. It also forces them to face their own fears of illness and mortality. These are heavy topics and people don't like to be reminded that anyone, even themselves, can fall ill.
I really recommend this zine- I picked it up at Reading Frenzy in Portland.
Contact the editors, Claire and Meredith: nervertwice@yahoo.com


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