7 contemporary poetry zines you need right now

Once kept in the ivory towers of traditional magazines and college reading lists, poetry has never been so popular or accessible. We have to thank the internet for breaking down barriers: see the mainstream success of Instagram poets like Rupi Kaur and the immediacy of platforms like Tumblr. In 2018, more and more zines are incorporating online aesthetics and values ​​into print, creating a DIY subculture to compete with established publishing houses.

Submitting your work to conventional poetry magazines is no longer the only way to establish yourself as a poet. Unlike magazines, zines are cheap and easy to create – often on free downloadable design software – meaning poets can create, design, publish, and distribute their own work on their own. Popular publishing levels the playing field in the literary game – zines are often born out of communities that don’t see themselves represented in mainstream media, be they women of color, LGBTQ + people, non-binary people, working class communities or schools of poetry that have not yet been accepted by the general public. Most importantly, zines are immediate, unpretentious, accessible, affordable, and amusing. Here is a list of our favorites right now.


Imagined by founders Megan Conery and Molly Taylor in a Victorian police station, Hot dog is an annual poetry collection that publishes female identifying, non-binary and transgender voices. The title of their third issue, Delightfully unprofessional, is the philosophy of the zine, as Megan and Molly learned to design and publish on the job. Hot dog publishes poems that explore identity, food and secret desires, alongside surreal and garish graphics. It’s funny, bizarre, and often painfully honest.


Describing himself as a “work-organized mixtape” and drawing inspiration from memes, astrology and 80s office culture, SPAM is the print equivalent of the 2004 blogger. IRL and online collide, as SPAM takes traditional poetic forms and quotes from modernist writers and places them alongside TripAdvisor reviews and Kim Kardashian fan sites. The zine creates monstrous high and low culture hybrids in cut-and-paste style collages in the Dada tradition.


Coming from a long tradition of small press poetry in Scotland, CUMULUS is an experimental poetry zine that positions words among watercolor clouds. Rather than the traditional punk aesthetic of zines, CUMULUS looks like a top literary magazine, but without any pretense (or price tag). Like its cloud font, CUMULUS is bubbly and energetic in her effort to bring together the social, political, aesthetic and intellectual qualities of experimental poetry.


In 2011, female punk poet LA, Taleen Kali, created DUM DUM when she couldn’t find a place for her experimental poetry in traditional literary magazines. Combining the attitude of the riot grrrl movement with the aesthetics of avant-garde photomontage, DUM DUM is published each year in a completely different form, from a postcard book to a flow kit to a standard hardcover book.


Now in its third year, DATA PURGE is the online poetry zine without poetry. Questioning what the poetry of hell itself is, the zine combines text, visual art, video and audio. DATA PURGE merges the 70s DIY zine aesthetic with the internet age by completely democratizing the form, making everything available for immediate consumption online.


A basic A5 booklet, RAUM was created to bring together a community of voices. As SPAM, RAUM was born in Glasgow (it seems there is something about the city water that makes it the leader of new and alternative art forms in the UK). RAUM is unusual, because unlike other zines, it does not call for theme-based submissions; instead, the theme emerges from what the poetry is subject to. The only guideline is that the poems should fit on an A5 sheet of paper.


Costing two pounds and held together by a stapler, Zarf follows in the tradition of old school photocopier zines. While other collections of poetry are painstakingly organized, Zarfthe form of the pamphlet appears to have been spat out by a typewriter the night before and features some of the most innovative young poets working today. In the last issue, Zarf describes what she and, more generally, poetry zines do: “poems are like stars in this, as in all other ways, that when we just look at them, we allow ourselves to admit the gathering everywhere .

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