After the visit to Carnegie Library, I decided to do some browsing online for zines that discussed topics I have considerable interest in (music, and admittedly not much else). It did not take long to find a great one; I immediately found Dream Pop Journal, a zine/online journal curated around poetry, prose, and artwork heavily inspired by the musical genre of Dream Pop, and published by Dream Pop Press. Co-editor Carleen Tibbitts, in fact, describes their publication as possessing “a Cocteau Twins-esque aesthetic”, and the published works on exhibit in each issue are certainly representative of that inspiration.
(Quick music nerd tangent, because I wouldn’t forgive myself if I talked about this zine without also discussing Dream Pop. Dream Pop, as a genre, explores the two equally-extensive artistic avenues of massive, swirling sonic space, and free-from, often deliberately light-on-meaning lyrical abstraction. The movement was initiated in the mid/late 80’s, and was heavily inspired by late-70’s/early-80’s post-punk groups [especially the Cure, the Smiths, and Joy Division], as well as the works of avant-garde ambient composers [Harold Budd, Brian Eno, etc.], and psychedelic music groups from the 60’s. Some of the more notable acts to come from the scene include Slowdive, Galaxie 500, My Bloody Valentine, and the aforementioned Cocteau Twins, as well as modern revival groups like Beach House, Japanese Breakfast, and Deerhunter. All strongly recommended for any fan of slower, spacier music. OK, tangent over.)
So, why mention Dream Pop Press (other than to shoehorn in an excuse to talk about bands I like)? In addition to being, in my opinion, a great example of what content zines can provide that major publications cannot (i.e., Issue #1 Contributer Kia Alice Gloom’s excellent poem “One Should Not Ordinarily Tell Students Applying for Writing Courses That They are Biodegrading”), the initial issue of the publication’s Dream Pop Journal includes a Letter from the Editors that, conveniently, effectively summarizes my own personal opinions towards the medium of zines.
“The poetry I was exposed to in college and graduate school was, for the most part, not abstract, otherworldly, or lyrically challenging,” says Tibbits, on her and Co-Editor Isobel O’Hare’s inspiration for starting the zine. “I tried and tried to force myself to write in this way, and then completely stopped for a few years because so much of what I encountered didn’t line up with how my mind processed the world.”
“That’s the wonderful thing about the writing community,” adds Tibbits. “…it’s inclusive in that there are always journals, venues, and presses starting up in order to allow more non-traditional and othered styles of writing to flourish.” Publications like Dream Pop Press are important, in that the art and writing people take in and produce is, more often than not, tied to their character. If one feels that there is no room in artistic discussion for the work they love and create, they could feel like there is no room for them, either. The specificity and variety of the zines provided at the Carnegie Library really show how much representation matters, that the sects of society that don’t fit into an idealized mainstream image do have important things to say. Additionally, zines’ near complete side-stepping of the standard (and heavily exclusionary) publication process for artistic work shows that those sects don’t need to rely on the mass’ assistance to say those important things.
Of course, universal acceptance doesn’t always translate to accessibility, which O’Hare practically admits in their section of the Letter: “The work we’ve chosen is, we feel, the best representation of our vision for a non-narrative, experimental space rooted in play.” As a result, Dream Pop Press’ content is very in-line with its editors’ intent, and often offers no olive branch to those not yet warm to this style of writing. Zines, as a concept, are deliberately and explicitly not for mass appeal, and their specificity can be intimidating to those unacquainted with the subcultures of such.
No, Dream Pop Press’s output is intended for an audience who already existed previously, but didn’t yet have Dream Pop Journal finally read about and write about their subculture. And, honestly, that’s why I think zines, as a concept, are perfectly fine the way they are; they exist because they can exist and because they need to exist. I am sure there is someone out there who feels isolated and unimportant, but, upon discovery of zines like Dream Pop Press, will then find community in the thousands of others like them who share their passions. That someone has been waiting their entire life to read “One Should Not Ordinarily Tell Students Applying for Writing Courses That They are Biodegrading”, and thanks to zines, they can.
Visit Dream Pop Press and read Dream Pop Journal here: https://www.dreampoppress.net/
Cocteau Twins. Four-Calendar Café. Capitol Records, 1993.
O’Hare, Isobel, and Carleen Tibbitts. “Letter from the Editors.” Dream Pop Journal, vol. 1, no. 1. Dream Pop Press, 2017.