A premiere article by, Tara Rule
There is something magical about simplicity. In 2018, I personally struggle with my own creativity – feeling as if every song has already been written, every story already told, every image already captured.
On Struggling Relationships, published by Brown and Proud Press is a haunting reminder of the notion that candid vulnerability is a two sided coin – relatable, yet inimitable.
I have always loved and respected the world of zines since first introduced to the art form years ago. There are a myriad of DIY zines, how-to’s, anecdotes of industry – all of which I deeply respect and helped shape the person I am today. That being said, my personal favorite are the less explored sub-genre comprised of relatable content with an unbiased approach. Needless to say, On Struggling Relationships was right up my alley.
Initially, the name sounded to me like another self help zine (which I absolutely adore, don’t get me wrong), but something about the cover art really captured my attention. This zine was no “how to” guide at all, rather a vessel for self exploration and solidarity.
Brown and Proud Press is a “collective of intersectional creatives who provide a platform for communities of color to heal through zine making, poetry workshops and events.” B&BP is stationed in Chicago, IL.
One of the first things I noticed about this zine was that the introduction was offered in both English and Spanish, which I feel really authenticates the ideals behind their message. Many of the texts are offered in only Spanish, which also gave me some personal perspective on what it is like to experience media without the luxury of having it written in your native tongue. I’ve done my fair share of traveling, but it’s a different experience reading something back at home that I may not fully understand.
With immigration on the rise, along with more and more families choosing to speak in their native language while living in a primarily English speaking country, the perspective was humbling to say the least.
The way On Struggling Relationships was created struck me as nothing short of brilliant. B&BP has workshops where an array of creatives from all walks of life get together and have a discussion. For this particular publication a selection of poems and written works from different authors were read.
Without divulging too much, the group was touched in particular by a poem written by Nayyirah Waheed. Her poem speaks of relationship struggles with a parent figure. On Struggling Relationships really gives power to the creative mind. Not all works are about familial relationships – some about friendships, relationships with oneself, and romantic or sexual relationships. The concept that it all ties back to the dynamic we had with others during our formative years shines through.
If poetry or short stories aren’t for you, that’s okay. This issue contains artwork and writings reminiscent of journal entries.
On a personal level, it takes a lot to make me uncomfortable. I don’t speak of discomfort in a negative sense, especially in regards to this publication. On Struggling Relationships creates a safe space to experience solidarity with each contributors’ raw emotion and candid honesty without succumbing to self deprecation or vocabulary that may not be accessible to everyone. The “to the point” creations are haunting in that they do not create much scenery to work off of or hide behind, leaving you alone with your own thoughts and feelings.
Hand in hand with relatablity, many of the works are spiked with names of influential people, some of them I did not recognize. On Struggling Relationships inspired me to find out more about those mentioned and helped me to expand my horizons on who I look to for inspiration – because at the end of the day, we are all human.
Some of the works were not “spell checked”. Whether intentional or not, this aided in the human aspect of the art, as if you were reading back your old diary entries that you knew no one would ever read.
All in all, I feel that the purpose of this zine was to purge, not to impress. I think there is a lot to be said about that concept, because despite that, I was highly impressed.
You can read On Struggling Relationships here.