For much of the 20th century, especially in the closing decades, zines were an excellent way to share information, stories and other content that mainstream media tended to shy away from. Using little more than typewriters, scissors and glue, and of course, extraneous amounts of time at a copy machine, zines hit their zenith in the 1970s and 1980s in the underground publication community. While the advent of personal blogs may have affected zine production — and purpose — the medium is far from dead. Even today, zinesters continue to share their independently produced content with each other by way of libraries, special events and readings.
“I’m Not Dead Until You Forget Me” is such a reading that will take over the Penn LGTBQ Center on the University of Pennsylvania campus on Saturday, Dec. 17. Focusing on relationships and identity — two topics very prominent in modern-day zine culture — the event will kick off at 3p.m. and feature a number of prominent zine readers.
Arranged by Kerri Radley, a 20-year zine veteran and winner of the 2015 Leeway Transformation Award, Radley is the creator of Deafula, a zine which chronicles her life with hearing impairment. Prior to this reading, she has appeared at zine readings all over the country, including at the Wooden Shoe in Philadelphia, the Big Idea Bookstore in Pittsburgh and the Chicago Zine Fest.
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“The audience can expect to hear pieces read by truly wonderful writers, each of whom confront crucial subjects in their writing,” Radley said. “These include marginalization, the intersection of race and queerness, disability, personal loss and childhood trauma.”
Radley, who will be debuting the ninth issue of Deafula at the reading, will be joined by fellow zinesters Alex Smith (Metropolarity, A R K D U S T), Khristina (No Shame Distro founder), Cynthia Ann Schemmer (She Shreds Magazine) and Sarah Sawyers-Lovett (Tazewell’s Favorite Eccentric, Book Jawn podcast).
“This reading especially is validating because it's at the Penn queer student center and it feels very much like something that nerdy 16-year-old Sarah would be proud of,” Sawyers-Lovett said. “I got involved with zines after a pen pal sent me one of hers when I was a teenager; they made me feel like I had a place to use my voice, despite living in a tiny town in the middle of the bible belt.”
The “I’m Not Dead Until You Forget Me” zine reading will take place on Saturday, Dec. 17 at the Penn LGTBQ Center at 3907 Spruce St. on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The free event starts at 3 p.m. Coffee, tea, and snacks will be available.