27 November 2007

Side Stream poetry zine

Last week I received my copy of Side Stream, a free monthly poetry zine, which was nice enough to publish one of my poems (‘Partying with Katherine Mansfield’) in its latest issue. Side Stream is published by Auckland poet Miriam Barr, with the help of a bunch of volunteers who help guillotine and staple the pocket-sized publication.

I had been idly pondering publishing a similar kind of poetry zine a couple of months ago after some friends wrote and published a crazy/hilarious zine and after reading a free feminist zine that Sean picked up somewhere in town. The appeal of a zine for me is the freedom brought by low production costs and the fact that you can just leave them lying around somewhere for someone to pick up – perhaps someone who doesn’t normally read poetry.

Seems Miriam had been having some similar thoughts, and in February of this year she acted on them. Miriam, who runs Poetry Live in Auckland, says that she began Side Stream to provide a forum for new poets to publish and get their work out of their shoeboxes, and also as a way of making poetry more accessible for people who aren’t normally exposed to poetry. She says:

Through my involvement with The Literatti and The Guerrilla Poets I was also thinking a lot about the disparity between the way people reacted to the idea or suggestion of poetry, and the way they responded to it when it was placed into their worlds and they got to actually experience it (either in performance or chalked onto pavements for example).

I started to see that access to poetry for everyday people was rather limited, and saw this as one of the reasons why poetry receives such a dusty rap on the most part (and also probably why it is near impossible to make a living with it).
Miriam says that Side Stream is placed in a diverse range of places such as cafes, doctor's surgeries and bookshops – places where people go.

Most people are kind of scared of poetry and probably a good deal of that is because their exposure to it as adults is quite limited. (Though an exception to that I think are in times of great joy or sadness, like weddings and funerals.) So if the people won’t go to the poetry, perhaps we can take the poetry to the people.

So I’m going to take the copies that I have to distribute around Wellington, and find places where unsuspecting people might pick it up and find, to their surprise, that they enjoy poetry.

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