Saturday, April 20, 2013

Meet Laura-Marie Taylor, Poet and Independent Publisher

I've been reading Laura-Marie Taylor's writing for many years now, and she's one of my favorite poets writing today. One of the great things about Laura-Marie is that she self-publishes her work through a series of thoughtfully designed, handmade zines. In addition to publishing poetry, she publishes her nonfiction writing about a variety of topics, from her own experiences in mental health care, to recipes she has enjoyed, to details of her participation in anti-nuclear protests. She also blogs regularly about her writing and her daily life, and I hope you'll check out her blog. You can also buy handmade publications and other arts/craft work of hers in Laura-Marie's etsy shop.

Here's a bio provided by Laura-Marie herself: Laura-Marie Taylor is a zinester, poet, permaculturist, and blogger who lives in Sacramento with her partner Ming. [The photo to the left shows a garden plot of theirs.] She enjoys reading, cooking, eating, and walking in the wind.

1. How would you define "zines" in your own words (and based on your own experiences)?

I usually tell people, "Zines are just homemade magazines," as a quick answer. In reality, there's so much more to it. Zines are independent, zines are DIY, zines are subversive, zines are punk rock. My own zines are made of paper and ink and bound with thread. Mine are text-heavy with few images, though I love zines that can do a lot of work with both image and text.

2. When did you first learn about zines, and when and why did you start making them yourself?

I first learned about zines in 1990 and started making my own right away. So I have been making zines for 23 years. A friend at another high school made a zine called Reality Press Weekly--the zine I started in response was called The Ugly Aardvark.

Throughout the years, I have made about 75 zines total--Erik and Laura-Marie Magazine went for 52 issues, and my current main zine, my mental health zine functionally ill, is on issue 14. In grad school I made a zine of my classmates' poetry called Pocket Trick.

Making zines has become a way of life for me. By that I mean that when something important happens in my life, my instinct is to start writing about it, and that writing often makes its way into a zine. Also, I go to zine fests, connect with other zinesters through the mail, and participate in online zine communities.

Mandy, you and I met years ago through zines, and I couldn't be happier about all the goodness you bring to my life.

3. What inspires you to write poetry, and what have you been working on lately in your writing?

Writing poems is something I have been doing for longer than I've been making zines. It's a way of life for me too. I rarely sit down to write a poem in a self-disciplining way--I usually write poems when I'm inspired, when an interesting phrase or idea strikes me, often as part of a conversation. A few mornings ago I wrote a poem about a grandparent.

the way she fell asleep in cars

the way she fell asleep in cars
and at the dinner table
might be
or just having seven kids
her secrets are buried
in a cemetery in Lompoc
where Mom goes birthdays
to put a flower
oh I miss you
unconditional love
can't remember

Lately in my writing I'm talking about the past. This poem is a good example of that. Or feelings in the present about the past. I am inspired by the sounds of our language and by little things. I've enjoyed writing six word poems lately. Here's an example.

misdiagnosis awesome
coniferous flume
awesome awesome

I would say that my poems are very personal and always written to satisfy myself but also always to communicate. I'm happy to share my poems, and a zine / chapbook I made called suicide notes is available on my etsy. It consists of suicide notes I wrote to friends and family in poem form.

4. How have you found community through sharing your writing about highly personal topics like mental health?

My mental health zine functionally ill has helped me find so much community. I've received a lot of touching feedback through email and letters. And there's a good handful of people making mental health zines--we trade with one another. The Icarus Project (radical mental health by and for the mad community) is a big part of my life too. Being a mental health zinester connects me to so many vibrant people. It is highly personal, and that's a risk, putting myself out there and vulnerable. It's also a great way to foster intimacy.

5. Would you talk a little about your current/emerging interests in jewelry making and gardening and how these creative pursuits connect to (or inform) your work as a writer?

Making jewelry is something I enjoy doing for friends and family as well as for myself. Gardening is something I have done for many years, but only recently has it become central to my life. My boyfriend Ming is a permaculturist, and now I am too. I enjoy growing onions, kale, herbs, yarrow, borage, asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, beans...

Poems are fun in a different way. My loves of writing, jewelry making, and gardening are all related in that I want to produce beautiful things for myself and for the world. Cooking is like that too. Some of the things I make are more lasting than others, and I like the way poems can take on a life of their own.

Thanks, Laura-Marie!

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