Saturday, 7 February 2009

with arms outstretched

I made an interview zine in 2007 called With Arms Outstretched. After posting yesterday with David's link to our interview I thought it made some sense to paste all the interviews here as the zine is all sold out (as of Zinefest a couple of weeks ago) and now out-of-print.

The zine was originally made from files saved on my old computer which died a sorry death just before the zine went to print, so unfortunately I don't have all the images here that were used in the zine (including the amazing front and back covers drawn by Mirabai and Fly respectively).

I'm gonna post each interview seperately or this would become to longest blog post ever!

Kate Bornstein
Lex McQuilkin
Carla Bozulich
Melissa & Tui
Nan Turner
David Lester
Madigan Shive
Moe Bowstern
Debi Withers

Here's the introduction to the zine though...

Twelve year old Mirabai Aliera Scholz designed the print for the front cover of this zine. Mirabai lives in Portland OR, USA with her Mom, three cats and six housemates. Presumably when she’s not fighting that bunch to get into the bathroom (!), she loves reading, drawing and writing short fiction.
I’m thrilled to be able to use this print for the zine, as I adore the fact that Mirabai designed this cover after I told her that the zine was about collaborating and communicating with those who act as inspirations.
For me the image has come to mean and reflect the fanciful idea that each one of the interviewees in this zine is touched, linked and joined by the kinship-octopus extending its tentacles out to a community of other like minds!

Mirabai also did the ‘cogs’ image on this page, which is an amazing metaphor for the zine.

* * *

When I started compiling this zine it was going to be called ‘Inspiration? or Stimulation?’ But not only was that a crappy title, but words such as ‘Reciprocation’ and ‘Interaction’ were also just as relevant to me. So I scrapped the title and opted for stealing the Rilo Kiley lyrics, ‘With Arms Outstretched’ as I wanted to acknowledge the idea of reaching out to, touching, hugging, and sharing ideas and conversation with the people ‘interviewed’ in this collection.

‘Interview’ is a somewhat problematic term for me, as many of the ‘questions’ in this zine are anything but straightforward Q&As. The zine is more about sharing ideas and knowledges: connecting with others and understanding more about people’s ideas, through their responses, and their thought processes – the whys and what fors. I guess I wanted to collect a series of oral histories: acknowledge the actions, ideas, and creativities (in the widest sense of the word) of these individuals.

The initial idea of approaching people for this zine using the caveat of ‘inspiration’ was also problematic. Many individuals didn’t want to be pedestalised in that way. The word ‘inspiration’ is one that I guess is a huge word, and highly loaded. I was using it in a na├»ve way which I then sought to try and explain in the ways in which I intended it and understood it. Inspiration to me is that stirring inside me that wants me to learn, be, and do more as a result of others’ example. I’ve been fortunate enough to personally meet, or previously connect with the people in this zine; and for the most part sharing in conversation and talking to these people (or having their words/books/zines/music/example in my life) has been hugely influential and inspiring to me. I hold dearly in my memory things that have been said to me by these people, and the ideas we excitedly shared.
As one of the interviewees wrote to me at the time of doing the interview:

“I'm completely aware of what I'm doing but to see it described as inspirational makes me feel like a fraud!

What I am in agreement with is this focus you've chosen on what basically boils down to 'being nice' as an inspiration...

That I'm very happy to promote... and I would recognise what myself and yourself have to offer to our world in terms of this approach to things.”

That’s the inspiration I’m alluding to – that stirring inside created during speaking to / learning from those who are kind enough to converse collectively, those with ‘shared minds’ (despite our differences/individualities/alternate experiences or thoughts) – it’s about engagement with thinking peers, in a friendly, supportive, encouraging way.

I love what all these people have been compelled to think/say/do in their lives. And I’m so grateful for what they’ve stimulated within me. And that’s why I wanted them all to be part of this project.

Artist GB Jones in Clit Rocket zine was once asked: ‘By what women do you feel most inspired by, and why’. She responded by saying: ‘I guess I could say writers or artists or people involved in political work, and that wouldn’t be wrong… but sometimes it’s the girl I see sitting alone on the bus. She’s wearing some different kind of glasses and her hair might be a little messy, and she’s carrying a book. And I’ll just start wondering, “what book is she reading?”, and what’s she thinking about, and where is she headed? Maybe she’s going to change the world.’

And it’s these everyday people (as the people in this zine are, despite how ‘famous’, or ‘celebrated’, or ‘talented’ they are) that I’m intrigued by, and moved to interact with; because it’s peoples’ everydays (and what they do with them) that are inspirational to me.

‘Inspiration’ therefore isn’t necessarily a pedestal, or an albatross around the neck, or a burden to live up to. Maybe it’s just a word to explain an avenue for encouraging and exciting people like me to dream bigger, and to feel more of a sense of connectedness to the world and those within it.

Writing this zine has taught me so much; thank you Carla, David, Debi, Kate, Lex, Madigan, Melissa, Moe, Nan, and Tui.

Melanie Maddison
October 2007

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