11: Zines and Poetry

When browsing the interwebs, checking out what’s going on in Notts, I stumbled across a Creative Writing and Zine Making course. I’ve been a little obsessed with Zines in the past year (I really wanted to start one at Surface Gallery but never got it off the ground and also I didn’t really know that much about Zines – it was just an idea) so at £15 for both sessions I couldn’t say no.

Let me start by using someone else to explain what a Zine actually is. From Rookie Mag:

“Zines are self-published, small-circulation, often nonprofit books, papers, or websites. They usually deal with topics too controversial or niche for mainstream media, presented in an unpolished layout and unusual design. Everyone, from a major NGO to a teenager like you, can be an author (and also an editor, art director, and publisher) of a zine, and that’s part of what makes them so awesome.”

Part 1 was a two hour session with Andrew Graves, a poet from the East Midlands. He was a really good workshop leader, very naturalistic and easy going. Over the two hour session we wrote and read out our various poems from Haikus to Cinquains. I loved listening to other people read out their work. Some were funny, some heart wrenching, some witty and all damn good. It was incredible that they wrote those poems in minutes. I must have completed about 8-10 poems which is really impressive as I wouldn’t class myself as a poet. These poems were to form the basis of the Zine making workshop for part 2.

Part 2 was a little longer, from 10:30am until 3:30pm (well it actually went on until half 4 because we were so focused on getting the Zine done) and ran by the guys at Dizzy Ink. We started with the game of consequences which got everybody talking and laughing – must keep that ice breaker in the back of my head should I ever want to run another creative writing workshop.

Have you ever played consequences? I used to play at school and sometimes still play with my younger siblings. It’s a game where each person draws a body part, starting with the head, they then fold over the paper so that body part is covered but leaving just two little lines on show so the next person can carry on. Above you can see my wonderful artistic talents.

The two Zines we would make in the workshop would be made using a Risograph machine. They talked us through how it worked and showed us some of the internal parts. Apparently:

The original is scanned through the machine and a master is created, by means of tiny heat spots on a thermal plate burning voids (corresponding to image areas) in a master sheet. This master is then wrapped around a drum and ink is forced through the voids in the master. The paper runs flat through the machine while the drum rotates at high speed to create each image on the paper.

The first activity involved making a beak zine. We were asked to make a collage on a piece of A6 paper using whatever we wanted from the box of magazines and newspapers. Here’s mine. I went a little wacky.

We were then encouraged to swap our collages with another person and write something on another A6 piece of paper that reflected the collage we had received. It was hard to visualise but they explained that they would be printed ontop of each other in layers using the Risograph machine.

I received the one on the left so I wrote the one on the right.

All of the finished pieces were glued down on to two a3 sheets of paper, 16 in total, and then went through the risograph printer and the first Zine looked like this. You can see in the top left hand corner where the image I received and the text I wrote has been printed one on top of the other.

It was fun to experiment and see what it would come out like, as you can see one side was very colour heavy.

Here’s some close ups.

As a writer who agonises over pieces of work, trying to make every sentence or paragraph perfect (a habit i’m slowly breaking), it’s nice to be creative and chuck something together. You feel a sense of achievement at completing something. Which, I’m sure giave me a little dopamine boost.

Then we broke for lunch.

The second part of the workshop focused on making our main pages using the poetry from Part 1 and using the images/photos/doodles you were asked to bring that reflected the poems. We had just over an hour to make four A4 sheets. It was fun to mess around and cut stuff out. Be creative in a sort of “let’s get this done” kind of way. It didn’t have to be perfect. But it did require thought about placement and colours and text over images and colour combinations. Below are my two finished pages with a couple of my own poems on each.

I guess these are my Master Copies. I kept them pretty simple as I thought the image heavy ones from the Beak Zine above didn’t come out as I ‘d hoped. They were put through the Risograph and ended up looking like this.

I made a bookcase from paper with books on and wrote my poem about a bookshelf on the shelves like books. I think it worked out really well.

I like the mix up of the blues and red, minimal and not too overcrowded.

I did the second one pretty much the same, nothing really overlapping. I used two Edvard Munch (one of my favourite painters/printmakers) images that I cut out of a leaflet I kept from the Munch exhibition at the Albertina in Vienna. I especially love the painting in the top right hand corner Love and Pain, or Vampire as it was called by his friend. Anyway at Part 1 of the course I wrote a poem called “How to Survive the Apocalypse” (just noticed I have spelt it wrong – oh well I’m known for my writing not my spelling and grammar) and “Alone at Night” based on the emotion fear so with this page I was going for a scary/horror theme. I only ended up using the Apocalypse poem and made one up on the day using random words I cut out of magazines. Here are some close ups.

Here are all of us chatting and laughing as we wait for the final pages to print.


It turned out that they used all the drawings from the consequence game and used them as the front and back covers.

Here are a few closes ups of other people’s work in the Zine.

The whole day was a lot of fun and I met some fantastically creative and artistic people who I hope to see at some creative/arty events soon.

Suffice to say I love Zines. The idea of them and their DIY nature. You can design, create and print them at home. I’m already planning a hodge podge Zine myself so this won’t be the last you’ll be hearing about Zines.

If you made it this far then wonderful. Thanks for reading. I think this is my longest post so far! Next week I’ll be writing a blog post about my time at the Writer’s Conference at the Uni of Nottingham where Pat Barker will be doing a key note speech. I wasn’t aware of that until I looked at the programme they emailed a few days ago. I loved her books at school and see she has some new ones published so i might grab myself a copy.

Anyway. The End. Thanks for reading.

P.S – Please feel free to leave links to your post or zines or anything. I’d love to check out other people’s work.

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