Interview with a Zinester: From the Root Zine!

This interview is with the wonderful editors of From the Root, “a Canadian zine dedicated to showcasing writing and art work by women of colour and Indigenous women.” Read on for words from Whitney French, Josiane Anthony H., and Medgine Mathurin!

Editor Whitney holding up an issue of From the Root.

Kindly give us a short description of yourself and the work you do.

We are From the Root Zine, a Canadian zine dedicated to showcasing writing and art work by women of colour and Indigenous women navigating through this land called Canada in the skin they are in. From the Root Zine seeks to counteract the lack of publications from authors and visual artists of colour in literary magazines and gallery spaces. Although taking the form of a zine, From the Root attempts to stand out beyond the cut and paste tradition of DIY zines and bridge the gap between a punk zine aesthetic and the so-called prestigious literary journal.

How did you get introduced to zines? Were you influenced by anyone?

Good question. We are new zinesters, so we came to understand zines semi-recently. It’s hard to pin-point the first zine moment, but zines made their way on our radar through a natural hunger for reading. From the Root Zine is heavily inspired by the classic Evolution of a Race Riot by Mimi Thi Nyguen, a monster of a compilation by WOC who dissect the riot grrrl scenes in the US. We wanted something that reflected the unique experiences for WOC in Canada.

Editor Josiane holding up an issue of From the Root.

What does it mean to do “feminist zine-making”? Does feminism appear in your work (explicitly or implicitly)?

“Feminist Zine Making” means putting female voices at the forefront. From the Root is intentionally here for women of colour, period. Many times people’s definitions of feminism excludes such perspectives. To us, its impossible to address feminism without talking about the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, (dis)ability, status, sexuality, it just doesn’t work. Marginalization is marginalization no matter how radical people think they are. So feminist zine making mean inclusivity at all costs, without tokenism or water-downed representation.

What is your favorite zine or piece of mail art? Do you like any specific style/part of a zine?

Favourite zine is a tough one! Obviously we are big fans of Evolution of a Race Riot, but we also love big boots, truly our first experience with Canadian zines for and by (trans)women of colour, Sea Witch by Clemetine Morrigan, Existenz by Hoda, another classic FIRE!! Devoted Younger Negro Artists, featuring Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, which is truly at the root of our literary-meets-zine manifesto. Umm there’s also Margins Zine, Impossibles on Blackness, and I know I’m missing someone. OMG of course MIXD: A Mixed Race Compilation Zine edited by Cinder. There are others, but its a start.

Editor Medgine holding up an issue of From the Root.

If you could sum up your zinester life in a kitchen appliance, what appliance would it be?

We are an oven. We take the raw materials, heat things up, HOT, HOT, HOT! then with time and patience (sometimes more time than we anticipate) we bake the goods. We are an oven for sure.

Finally, who are some of the other zinesters you’re excited to see at this year’s feminist zine fest?

Taken Spaces: Black Lesbians Against White Aesthetics is kinda like our US sheros. We’ve been admiring their work from a far and we hope to meet the people behind the work. We’re also huge fans of Bluestockings, the first bookstore to hold our zine (big up!), they do incredible work. Tenacious Zine looks beyond radical and we’re about empowering women writers in prison so they’d be great folks to meet.

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