The Soulgazers writing collective threw caution to the wind with their latest issue. Like an illustrated game of broken telephone, each writer took the inspiration for his or her work from an illustration someone else had written in response to the previous writer’s response to the previous illustration, with the image ending up somewhere very different from where it started.
“The Thousand Words issue” garnered the Soulgazers a nod for Best Zine at last year’s Expozine in Montreal. But will they be repeating the experiment?
Anna Leventhal, CKUT contributor and editor of The Art of Trespassing, spoke to The Link about Soulgazers.
The Link: Why did the Soulgazers put together a zine?
Anna Leventhal: We spend a year workshopping stories together and then, as a way of marking the passage of a year, we make a zine just to show what we’ve all been working on.
[The Thousand Words issue] was kind of a slightly different project and that one sort of happened because Jeff [Miller] and Shaun and I were the only three who were around, and we were just kind of like, “Oh, we should make something for Expozine!” So we did this collaborative thing, where one person wrote a story and then we found an illustrator, and then the next person wrote a story based on the illustration.
Will future issues of Soulgazers take on this collaborative approach?
Well, I don’t know if the next issue of Soulgazers will, but I really, really like that format. I love doing a story based on an image, and then having that story illustrated, and you just get so many different interpretations. It’s based on a drawing game that I really like. I don’t know if it has a real name. I always just called it “the best game ever,” and that’s what my friends call it as well, where you write a sentence and somebody has to illustrate the sentence, and then somebody has to summarize the drawing, and then it just keeps going. I’ve played it on many a diner placemat. So this has just been kind of an extension of that.
I was wondering how you feel about making zines compared to working with a publisher, like you did with The Art of Trespassing.
It’s basically just a lot slower [working with a publisher]. It took about a year for [The Art of Trespassing] to come out, whereas with a zine you can sort of whip it out in a weekend. I mean, literally, you go to the print shop, you make a bunch of copies, you spend an evening with your friends stapling, and then it’s done. Even with a small press you don’t have that sort of freedom.
How does getting writing critiques from close friends differ from other writing workshops you’ve taken?
All writing comes from your experience in your community, so showing things to members of that community just makes sense. I took a fiction workshop from McGill, [and] I don’t know if this is other people’s experience in class, but, when you submit a story to a bunch of people, some people’s critiques are going to be right on, and some people are going to say things and you’re going to be like, “whose story were you reading?” I had one guy read something that I wrote and say something like, “Oh, this character is clearly a mouthpiece for your radical communist agenda.” And I was like, “Oh? Okay. I didn’t really think that I was trying to be a mouthpiece for a radical communist agenda.”
What other projects do you have on the backburner?
I have another writing project called The Society for the Preservation of Anachronistic Gesture. It’s not exactly a writing project; it’s [part] writing, [part] performance, and [part] archival. It has a bunch of different forms. It’s about creating an archive of gestures. Right now it’s all on paper, but eventually we’re going to have a website where we have a bunch of collected gestures, and we’ll invite people to add more.
You can purchase copies of Soulgazers at Depanneur Le Pick Up (7302 Waverly St.)