Friday, 16 March 2012

Interview 33

inc. magazine is a poetry and illustration fanzine edited and collated by Will
Coldwell (WC) and Anya Pearson (AP). Here they give us insights into what the role of music has been in the zine's creation and what it means to be 'poemed'.

Please tell us a little something about your backgrounds, how you came to be affiliated with Soul Rub Collective and how your zine inc. magazine came about.

WC - Soul Rub was started a few years ago by Greg Sanders, a friend of mine I've known since school who is a musician and formed it to help increase collaborations and events with various other musicians and groups that we know. Much to my disappointment, my musical ability was never quite up to the same level as these guys, but I've always loved zines and writing, so I thought I would contribute to the collective in a way that I could do best, rather than hitting a triangle in the corner of the stage... It made a lot of sense since a lot of the musicians in Soul Rub write poetry, perform spoken word, and rap, and every issue so far has had contributions from them. Our launch parties have also featured performances from bands such as Fur and ourselves and other poets who have been in inc. often perform at Word Is Born, a monthly night organised by Soul Rub. I think Greg put in £20 to help print the first issue (which was actually about 50% of the costs...but you know how these things are!)

AP - As well as being big fans of the Soul Rub guys, I've been writing songs and playing in bands for years and I started to write poetry as a natural progression from that. I think we started the zine during the same period I wasn't in a band for a while, so I threw my energy into making that happen instead. Now I'm juggling both, which is even better, though maybe a bit time consuming! It also makes it hard to decide whether a piece of writing should be a song lyric or poem.

inc. magazine brings together 'spoken word', slam poets, etc. alongside emerging UK-based illustrators. In what way do you see this fanzine as a form of collaboration? How important is the resulting visual aesthetic?

WC - Issue 3 was the issue where we really nailed the concept for what we wanted inc. to be in terms of visual aesthetic, and in terms of how we wanted it to be a form of collaboration. We had enough money to pay for beautiful risograph printing and we teamed up with Illustrators Elbow collective who did all the images for the issue. Half the issue was poems that had been illustration and the second half was illustrations that had been 'poemed'. We decided that we wanted inc. to challenge the traditional way of presenting poetry where the illustrators just respond to it in quite a passive way, and bring them in on the game. It worked really well, and we decided from then on that each new issue should have another dimension to it, controlling the way the poets and illustrators engage. This is great fun for us - because we get to come up with the rules!

AP - Issue number 4 was a chain, where we just sent either the poet or illustrator a piece and they had to respond to it blindly. It makes the whole construction of the issue a collaboration because in some ways everyone who contributes is made to engage with the idea of it, rather than it just being a passive collection of work. Nobody knew how that one was going to turn out, and some pretty unlikely themes grew out of it, including skinny dipping and murder. You can just about follow the connection between those two, I guess....

WC - Yeah and the collaboration extends into our launch parties where the poets, many of whom are performance poets get a chance to do their thing, there's live illustration and most of all its a chance for everyone involved to meet each other. It's quite sweet seeing the poets and illustrators go and find the person who had interpreted their work and then having a drink with them. Heartwarming stuff!

How might you differentiate inc. magazine (if you consider it to be a fanzine) from what we would normally categorize in poetry and literary publishing as 'little magazines'?

WC - Well I suppose we blur the line between a traditional fanzine and an art book or poetry pamphlet. I would like to think of it as a zine because it started in response to a scene and what was happening around us at the time, which was poetry and spoken word in particular becoming really popular and people we knew putting on events mixing hip hop/spoken word and music all together. A lot of zines are made when people get together and cut and paste stuff onto paper and I like to think inc. is a bit like that because everyone is in on the idea from the moment we start the issue. More traditional poetry or literary magazine seem to have a more formal approach to their contributors and are about showcasing what they feel is the 'best' stuff around. We see each inc. as a project - a lot of the content is 100% original to that issue too. If we wanted to just publish some good poetry then I guess we could but for us its very much about the production of the issue, and this is something I've always associated with zinemaking. I suppose because we try to invest a lot of time into the design it could be seen as more of an art book, but I don't worry too much about defining it. It seems to work for everyone involved!

AP - Some bookshops were a little iffy stocking us when we first started out, but I think inc. looks more like a 'little magazine' nowadays - we look a lot more crisp and well-made from the outside even if we're zine-y within. I think we were called a 'comp-zine' once by a reviewer. You won't catch us in WHSmith anytime soon though.

What is the role of your blog/Twitter and how does it work in relationship to the printed zine?

AP - Our blog is a nice way to showcase poets that we like in between printing issues, but we also host a lot of other material on there. Our friend and my bandmate Nick Taylor makes fantastic podcasts of our launch events which have recordings of poems and interviews. They're really atmospheric - there's a lot of whooping and cheering in between sets. We also host on issuu past issues because we only make small runs and its nice to let people see it after we've sold them all. I've got mixed feelings about Twitter but I have to admit it's just amazing in terms of reaching specific networks and getting the word out there. Since we set up our account we've managed to gain loads more poets and illustrators and its great for promoting our launch parties and even encouraging people part with their cash and buy a copy!

Finally, any other zines you might recommend for us to read, and please tell us why.

AP - We work with Nick Murray and his Annexe magazine quite a lot, which are great. Recently he was part of an exhibition with Ladies of the Press, where he typed up poems and prose onto long strips of paper and wound them in old cassette tapes, so you read them as they run between the spools, which I submitted a short piece too. There's lots of interesting material on his website, including a series called 'Two Poems' where people perform one of their own pieces, and one piece that's inspired them. We're also plotting and planning an installation for our next launch party together. He calls Annexe 'a love letter to the written word' which is pretty apt I think.

WC - Conceptually, I fell in love with The Rashomon Effect the moment I heard about it, when I was living in Amsterdam. Its a literary magazine, which features flash fiction, poems and artwork too. But you can't buy it anywhere. Instead they hide it round bookshops in Amsterdam and then just post a list of addresses for you to find it. I think some wound up on the shelves of adult entertainment stores in between the porn mags...I remember spending an afternoon looking but never managed to get a copy, but luckily you can print them from their website for free! I was really happy when they put a short story I wrote in their last issue, and Grant Walker who is part of them has contributed to inc. I think they come pretty slow off the press though...but hopefully they'll keep them coming.