First things first, Winter Wheat is a writing festival held by the Mid-American Review, a literary magazine based out of good ol’ BGSU. It’s a three day conference, essentially, that includes sessions that one can attend, as well as readings from visiting writers, and a small book fair. I mostly go to the sessions, as I don’t really have time to attend anything else (which is sad, I know).
I went to two sessions today, one about micro-presses and the other about nightmares.
In the zine and micro-press session, hosted by Stephanie Marker who runs Lazy Mouse Press, I learned about the history of the fanzine and its (somewhat) evolution into the micro-press. It is the latter that really interests me, though I have made my own, rather silly zines for friends. Apparently, zines came about in the science fiction community as a way for fans to connect and discuss works of science fiction they were passionate about. This included things like Star Trek, and, if I remember correctly, started with that series. I also learned that the fanzine was where many sci-fi writers got their start, like Isaac Asimov did.
The zine then was adopted by other people with agendas beyond science fiction. Some zines existed to make a political statement, like the feminist ones that cropped up around the 80’s/90’s, while others focused on music and the culture surrounding a particular movement. Others were simply products of people who wanted to create zines which didn’t really align with any genre of the previous existing zines.
Then came the evolution, or spread, into a more polished form called the micro-press. To me, this seems like crafting a literary or art magazine that’s more DIY than what you’d find through normal presses. It is this element that makes them charming, as their books, zines, what-have-you, run for only a limited amount of copies as they are handmade. They are normally reflections of the person that runs the press itself, as they regulate what they want in the books they publish.
Anyway, in this session we were able to practice a type of fold for a mini book. It was hands-on, and very, very fun to actually craft a book by hand (it’s the little brown book entitled “Billy’s Boots” pictured above). I think that this is something worth exploring in the near future.
In the nightmare session, hosted by Mary Robles, we explored the nightmare and how it can be channeled through poetry. She gave us a prompt to explore which involved turning positive imagery sour. I wrote about homes that were no longer familiar and about turning to stone.
Overall, for the short time I was there, it was a great first day. MAR even handed out complimentary copies of their magazine, which I had to pick up.