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11 May 2010 @ 11:28 am
Donor Spotlight: Lauren Jade Martin  
Barnard Zine Library’s collection has some great vintage holding thanks to the donations of generous zinesters. Recently retired zine intern Rhonda Kauffman interviewed Lauren Jade Martin, who made the first significant contribution to our collection--over 500 zines--back in 2005.


Barnard Zine Library:    How long have you been making zines?  Do you still make zines? Why/why not?

LJM:  I made zines for about a dozen years, but stopped making them around 2005. I think I just grew out of making them, frankly. Also, the nature of exchange and community had drastically changed since I started making them. When I was a teenager in the '90s, we mostly traded with individuals, and wrote letters back and forth to each other through the mail. By the time I was in my late 20s, everything had become more business-like: rather than have an individual connection with people who read my zines, I was mailing out hundreds of copies to distributors. I had no idea who was reading my zines anymore, and rarely got feedback, even though I knew lots of people were buying and reading my zines. Not that I would have had time to individually respond to everyone--but it would have been nice not to feel like I was throwing my words out into a vacuum. There are plenty of other venues where I can do that.

BZL:    What zines have you written and what was your motivation for writing them?

LJM:  Oh boy, I wrote tons and tons of zines, many of which shall remain nameless. Two of my longest-running zines were You Might As Well Live and Quantify. I also edited a number of compilation zines, including Fuck You, High School! and Hard As Nails: the Tough Girl Compilation Zine. Initially, I made zines as a way to connect with other bored and alienated teenagers! As I got older, they became a means to share my words and images on topics I felt were neglected in the mainstream as well as in feminist and punk subculture: mixed-race and queer identity, domestic violence, political action...

 

BZL:    How long have you been collecting zines?  What types of zines have you been collecting/reading?

LJM:  I started reading and collecting zines in the early '90s, in the heyday of the riot grrrl era. Over the years I amassed a huge number of riot grrrl zines, perzines, art zines, punk zines... In 1996 I co-founded a zine library at Bard College with Elissa Nelson, and a lot of my collection prior to my graduation in '99 wound up there. We were actually an officially-funded school club, and got money to buy zines from individuals, stores (See Hear in New York City), distros (especially from Pander), and small press catalogs like AK Press. We also acquired zine duplicates from Billie Aul at the New York State Library in Albany, and a major donation from John Porcellino of King Cat Comics.



BZL:    Do you have any favorites or ones  you couldn’t wait to appear in your mailbox?

LJM:  Anything and everything by Emily K. Larned: Muffin Bones, Memorytown U.S.A., Parfait. The last issue of Parfait/Barfait literally had me laughing out loud on the subway reading it. She is such an amazing artist and writer. And person! I am so grateful to know her! I feel so removed from zine culture these days, but I always look forward to what Emily continues to put out. I feel like she is one of the last holdouts from my era of zinedom.


BZL:   What made you decide to donate your collection to Barnard?

LJM:  Well, they were taking up a lot of room in my apartment, and space is at a premium in New York City! I knew about various zine libraries, but wanted to make sure that I sent them somewhere that was relatively stable. I emailed Jenna to see if she had any suggestions about a library I could donate to, and she right away offered to take them off my hands. I'm really glad they're in a space that is accessible to people interested in research.

 

BZL:   Why do you feel it’s important to make your collection available to others in a library and archival setting?

LJM:  I think zines are historical documents that capture the zeitgeist of certain underground cultures and communities. Because they are self-produced, they offer a unique voice and perspective that researchers are not going to find in materials that have been vetted, edited, and published on a mass scale by the mainstream media. Most of the zines I donated to Barnard were made by teenage girls and young women, whose voices are often terribly absent. I love that someone in 2025 (or 2050!) will be able to go to Barnard and find a zine that a 16 year old girl in Kansas wrote in 1995 about body image or her obsession with Bikini Kill.