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ZINE REVIEW: The Strange Things? Collective – Progress

January 19, 2018 3:50 pm

Released 20th October 2017.

The Strange Things? Collective are currently accepting submissions for their second zine, this time on the theme of closure. For more info, click here.

Review by Elle Wrightson

Strange Things? Progress image

‘Progress’ is the first zine produced by The Strange Things? Collective. The editors aimed to amplify the voices of young, creative minded individuals, particularly those from the North East, making it a strong foundation for new writers. The twenty-five page zine is filled with captivating poems, personal essays, interviews and illustrations which looks stylish and modern. Made up of sharp and succinct pieces, it’s a perfect on-the-go read.

It is the personal essence of each contributor that makes the zine feel so authentic and engaging. ‘Progress’ by Rivka is a moving personal essay that emphasises how progress means different things to each individual. The conclusion emphasises this; “I don’t need to put myself through individualised horrors to feel like I’m getting somewhere… Dropping out of university was my progress. But for you? You decide for yourself.” By showing how everybody follows their own paths, Rivka reassures the reader to do what is right for them, not what is conventional or expected from their age range. It shows how progression can only arise when you are honest to yourself and your needs.

The zine also features poetry, complimented by beautiful illustrations and photography by the likes of April Robson. The first poem, ‘The Moonbase’ by William Shaw, is on page six. It is short with only five, three line stanzas, but it is sharp and poignant. The opening imagery of; “footsteps on the moon vibrate across the surface of a coffee cup” is beautiful and resonating, as it holds you in a quiet embrace, establishing a strong foundation for the poem.

Angelica Jones also has two poems that feature in the zine. ‘Eve’ explores how homophobia, however unintentional, can lead children to repress their sexuality. The author uses the height and age of the narrative voice to show personal progression. For example, the poem begins “I’m four foot seven, and I’m also eleven/ I can’t find it in myself to believe in heaven’. But towards the end of the poem, the narrator is “five foot one/ and I realise I’ve been on a long long run/ from me, myself and everyone”. This symbolizes how the narrator has progressed to understand that, by repressing her sexuality to please others, she is miserable and hopeless. By acknowledging this, the negative effects of homophobia become apparent.

‘Such Recent Mercies’ by Eliza Temple is a clever fantasy story that uses the ghost of a dead girl to show how society has progressed and attitudes have changed, with a focus on homosexuality. This can be seen from; “My parents wanted him for me. I hated letting him touch me… I wanted him to be a girl” because it shows how attitudes regarding same sex relationships have progressed. The focus on arranged marriages contrasts with the casual dating manner of the narrator also. As the story concludes, the author emphasises the necessity of further change within society, discussing pertinent issues such as the Irish abortion law. This provokes reflection and consideration, encouraging us to re-evaluate and make changes to our own viewpoints and ultimately, to our society.

Overall, Progress is an exceptional zine, especially considering that it is the Stranger Things? Collective’s first. The young writers produce powerful and moving pieces in a range of formats, from poetry, to personal essays, to interviews. The interesting theme of progress enables the exploration of wider societal issues such as feminism, homosexuality, racism, homophobia and mental health, making the zine diverse and engaging throughout.

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