EDITOR IN CHIEF MORGAN MARTINEZ MANAGING EDITOR RIVKA YEKER ASSOCIATE EDITOR ROSIE ACCOLA special thanks LORA MATHIS, A KLASS, BAO NGO, JENN CHAMPION, HOP ALONG, SARAH ARVIN, YUMI SAKUGAWA
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HOOLIGAN MAG ISSUE #23
je n n c ha
mp i on / BY RIVKA YEKER / PHOTOS BY BAO NGO
Jenn Champion first entered my life
through Carissa’s Wierd, a slowcore band that originated in the ‘90s. The band was there for me in my most deepest of depressions, the sunken moments, dark and drowned in the tunes of sad people. It wasn’t until years later that I was introduced to S, Jenn Champion’s solo project, which released its first record Puking and Crying in 2004. While her work has witnessed the growth and decline of my life, it held me in a chokehold during my first breakup. The album im not as good at it as you became the only thing pulling me through the muck of a disastrous first relationship. Recently, I was able to talk about the record in front of an audience of people at a Chicago venue for a literary series where locals are invited to speak on the records that influenced them the most. This record wasn’t the first record I ever listened to, nor was it the one that necessarily inspired me the most, but it was one that resonated with me so deeply during a time that I sincerely believed I couldn’t ever escape.
Jenn, who is in L.A. spoke with me over the phone about the way her music has evolved, emotions, and queer visibility. I ask her, “All of your solo records have been either gut-wrenching break-up records or processing weird feelings in relation to them. You seem content and good. You have a wife, you’re teaching guitar, this album is going to be a pop record, what is the inspiration behind these songs?” She says she writes about what is currently happening to her. She half-jokingly talks about how she’s been around “indie-rockers” for so long, how now she’s being inspired by pop, and it’s usually rooted in the actual production of it. Brian Fennell, also known as SYML, is producing her forthcoming record Single Rider. Fennell is also in the band Barcelona, but SYML is his slower, more pop inspired project. While they both come from indie rock backgrounds, they are working to put together the ultimate Emotional Pop record. Jenn says, “It’s almost like a reaction to Cool Choices,” which was her most recent S record. Cool Choices was sort of the slow introduction to the pop music she’d segue into, with its quiet electronic beats and catchy choruses. I am curious about the transition into pop music, more so because I am all for it. Lately, there has been a resurgence of pop music in alternative spaces, where pop icons are more celebrated and it is more acceptable to like pop than it ever was before. In the music industry, she says, “It’s hard to be authentic, and I’m not very marketable.” It makes me wonder, what is marketable anymore? While she’s experimenting, not necessarily with the intention to be marketable, but mostly to play around with the music itself, she is working hard to master the art of pop. She says, “If I pissed off the punk rockers, then I absolutely made a pop song.” Her records for so long have been deeply sad and I ask earnestly, “Do you think you need to be sad to write music?” It is not always easy to write when you are in the lowest of slumps; creative energy is often stripped from us when we need it most, and she agrees. She says, “Sometimes I have to work through it all, before I can write about it,” and then continues, “I think I’ll always kinda lean sad, no matter what I write, it’s always underlying. I can be content and say I’m also sad at times.” This makes sense to me. Sometimes sad is just what we know best, like a comfortable home in which we have always lived.
â€œAccepting disappointment and learning to not let it shut you down is the key. You have to be able to keep getting excited about things even if no one might like it.
It is impossible to listen to Jenn Champion without picking up that she is writing about queer relationships. Yet, I know identity is a confusing and strange concept to navigate. I ask her if she’d rather be referred to as a “queer musician” or to just let people figure it out on their own. She says, “Right now, it feels important to be visible as a queer artist.” I agree with her, especially as the term becomes more nuanced, more fluid, and potentially more complicated, I think since she has been a musician for a long time, let alone a queer musician for a long time, her presence is a strong one. I ask her about the first project she worked on at 17. She says, “We [Carissa’s Wierd] were a tight crew (as friends). It was cool to have those types of relationships growing up.” I think about being a young person in a scene like that, how it molds you and transforms you. I think about how it was always different for me because I was never part of the band, but merely the attendee, the overseer, the community member. She talks about shows with only ten people in the audience. She says, “Music that was being made at that time was so raw.” The music that she’s referring to was this sort of sub-genre of indie and punk adjacent to the grunge scene. It was for the people that preferred basement shows and tiny venues. The late ‘90s were filled with an onslaught of early emo, slowcore, and screamo. I think of bands (aside from Carissa’s Wierd) like Pedro The Lion, Cap’n Jazz, Saetia, and so forth. I envy anyone that was able to experience those bands at their most stripped down and fresh, barely adults who just wanted to make loud, emotional music. Jenn had other major influences including: Cat Power, Arches of Loaf, and Sleater Kinney. Each with their own authentic sound, their roots buried in punk and indie rock, were major icons in the ‘90s. She says that she likes the way Spotify operates as a music platform, says it “feels like MTV. It’s gotten back to this ‘unknown artist’.” The unknown artist is the artist we all spent our time searching for, whether it was via MTV or Fuse or Vh1, or it was on Yahoo music digging through music videos. Perhaps it was even when we got poor quality songs (or even an entirely different one that expected) through Limewire. Jenn even says she’ll still go to the record store and just choose any random $1 record. There is still something magical about stumbling over an artist for the first time and genuinely being taken aback. Jenn says, “I recently got into a subgenre of ‘Outrun.’ It’s like you’re watching a car driving in an ‘80s music video.” The name comes from the 1986 driving arcade game “Out Run” which was known for its synthwave soundtrack. It’s clear the Jenn’s most recent work is being inspired by that, since she’s taking us back to the ‘80s with spandex workout music videos and moody electronic beats. Jenn Champion, has always stayed true to her music, producing what she wanted to hear in the world and unapologetically putting herself into it. I ask her what she could say to people who aspire to do what she does, to no matter what, not be swayed by an industry just for the sake of being marketable. She says, “You really have to deal with disappointment. Accepting disappointment and learning to not let it shut you down is the key. You have to be able to keep getting excited about things even if no one might like it. Be disappointed and move on.”
This is important for me to hear and is something I am always struggling to grapple with. It is the foundation of experimental and avant-garde art, yet somehow it feels impossible to ignore the desire to please the masses. It also doesn’t help that our success is tied to how commodifiable our art is.
Single Rider out July 13th, 2018 via Hardly Art / Sub Pop
Jenn emphasizes the need to stay excited about your work. She says, “Don’t say ‘I don’t care.’ People are so afraid of being disappointed or getting their feelings hurt by the industry.” But it is bound to happen. Critics might love your work while the masses don’t and vice versa. Regardless, there will be people who love it, and that’s what counts. Jenn Champion’s fanbase is dedicated and has stayed by her side throughout the years, and I think that counts more than anything else.
If it is important for her to meet people who appreciate her work, to speak with them after shows, to engage with them over time. Jenn Champion’s aim is to create, to bond, and to put something honest out in the world. For her most recent record, and her upcoming record, it also means putting something that you can both dance and cry to, maybe even at the same time. Her work is so special because it isn’t asking you to choose. It is providing a space and expressing vulnerability, embracing emotion while simultaneously capturing the pure essence of pop; I’d call it intentional pop music. Jenn Champion once wrote songs about deep melancholy, abusive relationships, and toxic behaviors. All of those things are a part of her. In everything she does, she cannot detach from experiences and emotions she once had or still has, but now she is moving towards a new era. One that is filled with celebrating love, friendship, and dancing. Her work has impacted many people over many years, all of us holding her music close to our tender hearts and relating our pain to hers. It is an inspiring thing to watch a musician grow into a sound that makes most sense right now. It almost feels like we can do that, too.
h t i w n o i a conversat nce e
c o n in
o l n a g p o h h witness i ng e
/ BY RIVKA YEKER / PHOTOS BY A KLASS
After a photoshoot outside, where the weather granted us a perfectly lit overcast backdrop, Hop Along shuffled their way through the back door into the Metro. We made our way to a corner in the green room, while the sounds of people practicing vocals and chatting serenaded us. I began talking to Frances about her storytelling, not just lyrically, but also sonically. In the same way a classical composition can create an visceral cinematic experience, I claim that Hop Along can, too. I ask her about the way a certain line in a song can align with the mood of the music, in a way that is synchronous. For example: “Look of Love” off the new record Bark Your Head Off, Dog is a song where Frances’ voice almost looks like it’s riding the musical notes, working alongside them like long-term partners. Something I notice quickly with Frances is her self-deprecation. It is light-hearted, but earnest. She says in regards to her storytelling writing, “It gets in the way of the music a little bit. One thing I struggle with is how the music fits with the written content. I do want to provide narratives; I do want to get people into a physical space. I want our songs to do the same thing [as books]. But it’s a challenge, because you have a certain amount of time to build something visually, and music has its own way of doing that.” This is particularly interesting to me since Hop Along aggressively takes me into a space. It’s almost as if it’s impossible to leave the space once I’ve entered. They create records that you have to listen to from beginning to end or else you are missing something vital. In previous interviews and just by being aware of Frances’ savvy as a lyricist, it is obvious she has a background in literature, or a deep love for it. Frances says, “I wanted to be a short story writer; I never thought I’d have the attention span to be a novelist. I love writing, maybe even more than I love singing.” Which is unsurprising to some, but an obvious revelation to me, as the lyrics are so visibly poetic and personal, so much so that only someone who thinks like a writer before anything else could come up with them. She says, “I was into slam poetry. I remember reading this poem on stage once and a friend said to me, ‘God, your voice is so interesting that I could hardly pay attention to what you were saying.’ Which bummed me out because I worked so hard, but I wanted to be so engaging that it actually took away from the poem itself.” Frances relates this to her work after, saying, “I heard him when he said that, but I don’t think I really listened for the longest time, as you can tell in previous records. I do think at times my voice could get in the way.” So, do the lyrics matter? She says, “There are people who like our band that aren’t interested in our lyrics at all. I know people who are big fans of Bob Dylan, but don’t care that much about the lyrics.” Which, is shocking to me, on both accounts. But, people consume art for different reasons. People very well may be listening to Hop Along solely for Frances’ voice and the music, rather than the stories she’s telling. Yet, I am still curious about the lyrics. I will forever be curious about her lyrics because they are so vague and cryptic, yet deeply personal and strangely relatable. I want to understand how that is.
She says, “You’re using a part of your body to convey something abstract like language and it takes a long time to understand how to use the strong parts of that. What parts of me can convey sadness better vocally?” Which makes me think once again, about the alignment of music and lyrics and how just her voice alone can provoke an emotional reaction -- even when the lyrics themselves aren’t completely understood. I ask Frances if she considers herself the protagonist or the observer in the stories she’s telling. She says, “I never feel like a protagonist. I never have the confidence to write myself in that way. I just don’t feel that way about myself. It feels more correct to just observe, and even that, it’s faulty because it’s through my eyes. I don’t want to get in the way, I don’t think I’m half as interesting.” This brings up the concept of being the author of an observation. Suddenly, Frances has the ability to create a story through her lens as the witness, suddenly that story is potentially detached from reality and most likely fictionalized. This segues us into the root of the stories she is typically writing about. “Annie Dillard said that writers often write on childhood because it’s the last first-hand experience they had. That’s all I write about. You can never exhaust that well.” Similar to the experience of witnessing, we are always revising our childhoods because our memories are perpetually fleeting. We aren’t reliable narrators, the same way we aren’t reliable in our observations. Yet, it is the claiming of authorship on these stories that we hold close to ourselves. It is the decision to write about them at all. Frances speaks about the tension between being a young person and wanting to have more under your belt and being an older person and yearning for the past. She says, “We’re struggling against it, and for it. We want to be experienced, and yet there is a terror in leaving childhood.” I tell her about one of my favorite lyrics from her first record Freshman Year under the moniker Hop Along, Queen Ansleis. It is in the song “Bruno Is Orange”, which Frances reveals that it is an homage to the book When I was Five I Killed Myself and the lyric is, “Did you hear about that mother? / Broke her daughter’s legs in two / And said, ‘It’s too dangerous out there to walk, so I had to save you.’” For me, this lyric, encapsulates the experience of being a child and being almost helpless. There is the act of being taken care of, where every choice is made for you, where your lens and perspective is taken less seriously than anyone else’s. It is the presumption that children have no valuable truth to add, that their truth is merely faulty logic. Frances says, “When I was younger, I daydreamed all the time and my mom who’s a very nice lady, would say, ‘You’re just bored.’ and I assumed that I must be stupid, that I’m not that interesting, that other people are way more interesting and have way more captivating stories.” If Hop Along’s lyrics are rooted in the experience of childhood and children’s voices are belittled, I wonder if Frances is making an attempt to give those voices, especially her own, a chance to live, an opportunity to be taken seriously. There is a sort of empathy we must give to our past selves, one that is often stolen from us because of how much pressure kids have on their shoulders to figure everything out quickly. Frances says in relation to kids being rushed to be good at everything, “I think it’s too bad when kids aren’t given a shot at being bad.”
We want to be experienced, and yet there is a terror in leaving childhood.
With the newfound knowledge of Frances’ relationship with her childhood, which is planted in her lyrics, I am curious to know more about the people she derives inspiration from. She is currently reading Elena Ferrante, an Italian writer, who Frances says writes soap opera-esque novels that capture relationships and trauma in an intelligent way. While she was once inspired by Steinbeck, she recognizes that his treatment of women characters, like many white men, is flawed. She says, “The only older male author that handles women well is James Baldwin.” Which then brings us to the conversation on how oftentimes if a person is marginalized, they are more cautious with how they write other marginalized characters. We talk about the different “genre” of women’s voices and how characters are developed in literature, the reality of a one-dimensional woman character versus a well-rounded, well-crafted woman character. The concept of women being different “genres” makes me want to ask about her most talked about feature: her voice. It is constantly deemed as powerful, and I asked her how she feels about the term. She says, “I almost envy that image, I certainly don’t feel powerful. I wonder had I been born a man, how meek of a person I would be, because I would say I’m more meek.” The childhood voice, the woman’s voice, both silenced. Where does the grandiose voice come from? “In this record, I was worried that I was going to sound really bitter, that I was going to sound really angry.” “What’s wrong with being angry?” “Nothing. That’s why I said, ‘fuck it.’” And so, the record shifted gears. Suddenly, this became Hop Along’s most intentional record. Frances admits, “This album is the closest I’ve ever come to saying what I meant.” She continues, “In this album, I was trying to address my own discomfort without making anybody feel like they couldn’t be a part of it. I didn’t want men to hear it and think, ‘this isn’t for me,’” Which, once again, comes from the instinctual tendency as a woman to cater to men, to make sure they can still feel comfortable in the presence of something made by a woman that is confrontational, raw, and powerful. With this record, though, Frances says that they have the decision to choose, that it isn’t up to her to make sure they’re comfortable anymore. She says, “that’s on them.” That’s not to say that this is an easy act. After a life of being conditioned to be quiet, how does one speak up? She says, “Accessing your own power is a form of responsibility. It makes me uncomfortable to stick up for myself. It feels right, but it doesn’t feel good.” But suddenly the voices that were once quiet are loud, vibrant, all-consuming. Frances, who claims that she is not as good of a witness as she wants to be, admits to the faults of witnessing itself. Yet, this is her way of sharing her thoughts and opinions. By exposing her observations, she is relaying her truth. By reaching inside herself to provide a platform for the child’s memories, she is showing how that truth came to be. Bark Your Head Off, Dog is Hop Along’s most cohesive record to date; it is the complete collaboration of Frances Quinlan, Joe Reinhart, Mark Quinlan, and Tyler Long. Each record that Hop Along made is its own set of stories, its own revelation, whether it be everyone in the band contributing their side, or Frances translating her complicated web of memory into poetry. The act of witnessing, similar to the act of recalling memory, becomes fiction. It becomes a song, and then a string of songs, and then a record. This is how Hop Along pulls you in.
Yumi Sakugawa’s Work Is A Deep-Sea Mission Into the Infinite Cosmic Ocean
/ BY LORA MATHIS
In these turbulent times,
tuning in to our needs has become an imperative anti-burnout tool; a necessary defense against the constant flow of painful events on the news. Yumi Sakugawa’s work is a window into her traversing through vulnerability, and an honest look at what healing can look like. The Los Angeles cartoonist, zinester, illustrator, and author shares practical tips, beautiful drawings, and poignant messages in books, zines, on Patreon, and on her popular Instagram account. She has explored befriending our demons, disconnecting from external sources, tending to creativity, connecting with the universe, and developing your own sense of self. Sakugawa’s work is a friendly hand offered as we dive further into the oceans of ourselves.
How can I go for longer dives underwater in the process of creating my work instead of skimming the surface? How can I go for longer dives underwater with my life in general instead of skimming the surface?
Artists who create work on mental health are often cast into the role of guide, which often places them on a pedestal. Do you feel as though you are put into this role? If so, how do you navigate it? I don’t think so. I always see myself as an artist sharing my particular experience. [In a way it’s] a universal experience with other people who are more or less on the same journey as I am. So, I have zero desire to be placed on a pedestal. And I am happy to share what I have learned and am learning through my books, my workshops, my Instagram, and my Patreon blog. I think we are all equals on the same journey. What role has creativity played in your becoming and unbecoming? Creativity helped me find my voice during the years of childhood when I felt too scared, shy, and intimidated to use my actual physical voice and take up space with my actual physical body. Drawing and writing stories were my way of expressing myself, taking up space, articulating what was important to me before I learned how to do that with my physical voice and body. Creativity also reminds me that narratives, paradigms, worldviews, identities about myself can always shift, change, transmute -- because that is the nature of the creative force itself that gave birth to this universe. Things are always in flux, things are always becoming and unbecoming, being born and being destroyed to make way for the new as it becomes the old and dies again. There is a page in your book “The Little Book of Life Hacks” which offers tips for beginners to meditation. How has meditation assisted your connection to yourself and creative process? Meditation is my daily anchor I can’t imagine living without. I meditate for twenty minutes every morning, and it is something I must do every day as a way of acknowledging that I am not my thoughts, I am not my mental state, I am a far more infinite being and I am a crest of a wave in an infinite cosmic ocean. Meditating every day helps me connect with that intuitive, present, flow energy where things manifest with more ease and joy. I think that is how it is supposed to be once you remove and transmute your inner mental blocks. The term “expired pain” has appeared in your work. This term heavily resonated with me. At what point would you say pain has run its course, and is no longer serving its carrier? Healing has its own non-linear timeline that works more like a spiral that dips into the past, present, and future, not a straight line from point A to point B. Sometimes, it feels like it has its own intelligent logic independent of the person being healed. I know for myself, the most I can do is to be soft and compassionate and non-judgmental to myself, and to give myself permission to feel all the pain and sadness and anger fully as a way to honor my hurt feelings, and to give myself permission to take all the time that it needs, and to trust that the universe will allow for me to shed the pain when I am ready while being open to the possibility of no longer being in pain. It’s all very mysterious.
What causes a series of your work to be made into a book? Do you typically begin a body of work with the intention of it being a formal collection? Usually, no. My first books came about accidentally. They were originally self-published blog posts that turned into a self-published zine, or a web- comic that I made for my own pleasure with zero intention of them becoming published books. I released the work out into the world, and then a series of coincidences and synchronicities brought the work into published book form. The universe knew better than me how to turn my work into published books. The Internet is a tool for connection and communication, which allows artists to share their voice in ways they choose. At the same time, social media feeds a disconnection from our daily lives, distraction, and sometimes, unrealistic expectations. Your work often brings up the importance of being present and intentionally disconnecting. How do you slow down, and find a balance with social media? I have specific activities during the day that are strictly offline mode. Waking up first thing in the morning. Unwinding before going to bed. Going on outdoor walks. I also like to make a habit of turning my phone off and hiding it in my underwear drawer for hours at a time. To remind myself that my default state should be offline punctuated by occasional, intentional forays into the online world, instead of the other way around. Of course, this is all easier said than done and takes a lot of practice. I still can’t eat a meal alone without watching something on Netflix. You are a prolific artist who has multiple published books, as well as many zines and also has a regularly updated Instagram & Patreon. At the same time, you have talked about how the expectation to constantly produce is unrealistic and unsustainable. How do you draw the line between meeting deadlines and paying the bills, while also allowing inspiration to come organically? I think you have to proactively plan for containers of time that prioritizes your creativity and your pleasure, instead of waiting for time to free up after you have done your bill-paying work. So, in the creative handbook THE ARTIST’S WAY, author Julia Cameron emphasizes the importance of doing morning pages every morning (writing three notebook pages’ worth of stream-of-conscious writing) and at least once a week going on an Artist’s Date-- a date with yourself where you go out on a solo adventure to recharge your creative muses, whether it is going to a museum or a concert or a cool thrift store. I think you have to fold into your life daily and weekly habits that are the creative equivalent of flossing or brushing your teeth -- you do them because it keeps your muses happy. So, in my case, I absolutely have to meditate every morning, go on daily walks, write my morning pages, go on artist dates, regularly feed my mind with new inspiration, and work on passion projects in tandem with deadlines and paid work. Those activities are not things I do as an afterthought or as a luxury I have to earn after doing bill-paying work, they are things I absolutely must do in order to stay sane, grounded, and inspired. You talk of the muse and the importance of feeding them, as well as listening to them. What are methods you use to nurture your muse? I meditate, I write my morning pages, I leave a bowl of water as an offering to my muses. I make an effort to experience something creatively new every week. I do a lot of walking.
Sometimes I hike in nature or take long walks by the beach. I honor the needs of my body: getting ample rest, eating healthy food, taking breaks. I also love connecting with my constellation of creative friends who are all doing amazing work as musicians, writers, cartoonists, healers, and more. So being able to talk to other friends about the creative process and the obstacles we have been going through also recharges and re-energizes me. There is a James Baldwin quote which reads: “The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” What do you believe is the role of the artist, in their own life and in the public? I can’t speak for all artists, but for myself, I believe my role is healing through vulnerable authenticity and reminding people through all my different mediums of the infinite cosmic magic that we are all connected to, and how we can truly heal ourselves and this world once we realize this inherent connection. A piece of your writing where you articulated that there are No easy answers stuck out to me. Too often people assume that an artist was born with inherent wisdom, when much of the time, that knowledge and wisdom came from a commitment to being in conversation with themselves. What has the process of finding your creative voice, and learning to listen to yourself, looked like? There are many layers to this process, and of course it is ongoing. So in my twenties, I did anything to get my work out into the world. Doing an art show because a friend was curating a group art show in a coffee shop, doing live painting at community events, putting together a zine for a zine convention, illustrating event flyers, and so on. Doing a lot of different things. Also: meditating, learning astrology, learning tarot, ending a ten-year relationship, reading a lot of self-help books, attuning to my own desires, practicing saying no to people and honoring my boundaries, finding new ways to express myself through fashion and make-up.
Another topic addressed in your work is that of non-hierarchical joy. You encourage others to enjoy the mundane and rather than believe excitement can only be found in accomplishments and rare moments, cherish the simplicity of everyday encounters. What are tools you use to slow down and to appreciate each moment? I meditate every morning. One simple thing anyone can do is to take three slow breaths -- inhale and exhale mindfully. That, and listen to the sounds you hear in the present moment. Also, gratitude is an underrated practice. Being grateful for the abundance in my life helps me slow down and appreciate all that I have. There are times when self-improvement becomes presented as a never-ending project of fixing, rather than a lesson in acceptance. You have articulated that we should stop seeing ourselves as flaws to be fixed. In what ways do you think accepting ourselves as we are can change the process of growth? You can’t self-hate yourself into a happier person. It’s the difference between a parent who screams at her child for not being good enough or trying hard enough, and a parent who hugs her child and says I love you and you are capable of doing anything you set your heart on. I saw you’re being featured at the Portland Zinefest this July! I am set to table as well. What is on your creative horizon? What projects are you working on? Is there another book coming to fruition? I just released my first iMessage sticker line, TEA WITH DEMONS, which is inspired by my favorite chapter in my book YOUR ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO BECOMING ONE WITH THE UNIVERSE. It’s on the App Store and you get a set of 81 illustrated stickers for $0.99 which you can message to other iPhone users. (Sorry, non-iPhone users, I hope to eventually have my work available to everyone!) So, I hope that this will be the first of many iPhone sticker lines to come -- it’s interesting to think of how new visuals expressing specific inner states that can’t be found on the traditional emoji keyboard can transform the way we communicate with one another. I am also putting together the finishing touches for FASHION FORECASTS, an art comic zine about futuristic Asian American intergenerational fashion, that will be released by Retrofit Comics this year. I am also working on a new book and a screenplay. But those are kind of a secret. To be continued!
What self-improvement projects-- art related or not--are you working on? I have been slowly easing my way into deeper dives with my creative practice. The term I came up with for myself is “deep sea pearl diving.” How can I go for longer dives underwater in the process of creating my work instead of skimming the surface? How can I go for longer dives underwater with my life in general instead of skimming the surface? I have also slowly been working my way through Julia Cameron’s creative handbook THE VEIN OF GOLD, which is about different creative exercises we can do to tap into our personal vein of gold in our creative manifestation while being playful and intuitive and exploratory. So I’ve done a lot of really interesting exercises because of this book. Like, make a mask, make a collage series of my life in five-year-increments, draw on a T-shirt, and so on. Right now, I’m in a chapter that is all about attuning to sound and silence, and expressing your inner emotional states through sound therapy, so I’m really excited to be working with a completely different genre that is very much out of my comfort zone which I know nothing about. Where are you finding joy these days? I find joy in the simple, quiet life I have right now in Los Angeles. I work on projects that excite me, I spend time with friends I love, and I have many opportunities to share healing practices that have worked with me with complete strangers all over the world. I love the mundane days of working at home, and then the small pleasures of being able to walk to a neighborhood cafe or sometimes spontaneously going on a drive at night with a girlfriend to walk along the ocean shore.
Keep up with Yumi’s work on Instagram or on her website . If you want regular access to what she’s making, support her on Patreon. Her books are available here; zines here.
SPILLED INK SPILLED INK SPILLED INK SPILLED INK
TWO THOUSAND AND THIRTEEN by Cathleen Lynch I grew up under my mother’s settled eyes, her porous mouth ajar, and me, waiting, the air between us thick and malicious. Does your family know who you are? They know what I did, how I spent my summers wasting away in pungent cars, or dripping from a TV screen, where happy people are throwing fries at each other in a diner, or making love when their parents aren’t home. Ryan sticks out his tongue to show me the way a handful of pills looks on it, red and smooth, as if they are holly berries. Sober, I lead him around New York where a stranger in a yellow shirt turns into a banana, and we tell each other we are in love. He will go to rehab, I will get very bad at goodbyes, and start dating another, who replaces the song-girls names with my own in all that he plays me in his garden, in his attic, in his brown bedroom with the lights off, and the fan whirring, and the white moths eying me tentatively from the corner. I don’t want to be who I am; he does not want that, either. He hurls my purse against a wall and the contents fall out like blood from a mouth. Eventually there’s an ocean, the shore, the waves licking sand as if it were inevitable. Another he is picking me up in a car, the moonlight running over me at two in the morning on my street, where there is a stag, our eyes locked, his body entirely still, save for the mist that runs out of his nostrils, swirling under the streetlamps like smoke.
HYMN TO DAYLIGHT SAVINGS by Pascale Jarvis Sometimes relation becomes disguised in location— and the hymn to calm these ever-awake neuroses is masked: five-count inhale. five-count exhale. But look: as the sun kneels into a prayer in pews of ivory clouds— look: the ways the shine of sun’s light finds itself in the pastels. dewey pink. fleshy lilac. Look: our time here is mercury poison. It’s slippery quick. It never ends.
FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF by John Bergin
One. We both walk out of separate rooms laughing. Sometimes, the responses to grief are identical. Two. I offer you a hand. You offer me a secret. I let the creases in my palm close around your words. Three. You move and I hear waves in your footsteps. I look down and am already submerged. I love being under your waters. I can never drown. Four. Uncertainty is a humor all in itself. Five. You glare and I scream. We can build a dangerous world together. We know this.
MY THERAPIST TOLD ME THERE ARE WORDS TRAPPED UNDERNEATH MY TEETH by Edyn Getz So I fished through pockets for toothpicks & I scrapped against the pink until the red soaked through & I stared at the goop in the sink for remains & I found nothing. So I went to find Clorox & I gave up on scrubbing because the blood seemed so eager to stain. I laid on your side of the bed. I smeared my gums on your pillow case. I put on Landslide (Dixie Chicks cover) & I thought about boulders & growing older & the words I wish I hadn’t formed to fruition. Like I love you & (I do) but I wish I hadn’t told you anymore. I wish I had kept the words cuffed by the knot in my throat. I wish you didn’t peel the stickers off of the Rubiks cube & tell me you solved it. I took a hammer to my bottom tooth & I sent you a picture of the crown in the middle of my palm. I found them. I found them. I found them.
GAY BODY by Lemmy I saw them walking from a distance giving material form to something abstract-replicating the literal, living presence of a mob yelling slurs distinguished by their limbs and heads. she “left her body” & I was reminded of the the awe of it, strangely angular in the dawn light. Your bathroom will never be the same. it’s more than just a clean half-baked solution to The acceptance, banishment and subsequent reappearance of the body, found at the flea market with the fear of mortality that fueled it still intact. What does the web say?
GRAPEFRUIT by Abigail Hillrich Itâ€™s sour, taste simplistic: coercing guilt into conviction, fetishizing lust into destruction. No breath but forgiveness. Grapefruit in the Summer, remind me how to pray to the moving â€”immoveable. Citric scathing, try sugar, try vodka.
WHAT BELONGS TO US by Haley Winkle —after Marie Howe not the red M&M costume (which was really just a red shirt with a monogrammed white, serif M). or the root beer-flavored sucker, chewy sphere of corn syrup and coloring clutched delicately between my thumb and forefinger. the way my wispy wavy brown hair still showed sunshine from summer just two months before. the smile, posed for its photo, yet gleeful for halloween, cheeks more perfect circles than the candy in hand. not even those. I’ve lost the photo’s twin, the one with the father, costumed in a brown fedora. the one with matching rectangular smiles and joking, wide eyes. my baby teeth trying so fervently to compete, he crouches down to meet my height.
not the protective arm around me, nor the milk chute on the side of our off-white house behind us or the way its white metal softened and rusted with age. not even the way it scratched my fingers trying to coax out its secrets, not quite grasping its sealed-shut edge from the mortar frame.
HEATWAVES by Katlyn Garside The fever comes in waves like the brininess of the ocean salt water in a scrape abrasive under the skin rash atop the forehead. Fever sweeps the town like a tsunami. Windows misted opaque by its condensation and fog. The floorboards warped The walls began to mold with blue and green puckered spores that wilt and bubble the dry wall. The contractors came for the foundation renovation before the politicians could sound the alarms.
PROGRESS by Alyssa Gould 1. you think about calling even now, months later 2. knowing that the number has been registered 3. elsewhere, to a woman who sounds chipper even 4. at 3am when you’re stoned and forget that it is not 5. your lover that will be answering the call but Nancy 6. from upstate New Jersey, asleep in her bed beside her 7. loving husband of thirty-four years and you can so 8. clearly picture the nightstand cluttered with photos 9. of her happy family there have been more nights spent 10. in the act of expulsion than you’ll ever want to remember 11. you don’t believe in ghosts but you pray for his to set up 12. shop in your bedroom and pretend you can hear him 13. speaking to you, would give what’s tangible to feel his 14. skin just close enough to yours to stand your hair on end 15. one more time, forever, give yourself to greed and lust 16. and hope that he’ll be waiting for you at home in Hell
3000 MILES by Tin Lorica i’m always mourning something or other my grief feeling so important and mine. i felt the last summer solstice’s lesson in my body– the people who look like me have often hurt me the most. gleaned her brown skin and her brown poetry and thought that she was just like me that we could just love each other wounded (and pretend it’s decolonial and revolutionary) every year i find myself in a bedroom on the night with the least amount of moonlight less time and more pressure to fall in love or want to fuck. i’m 3000 miles away but i’m not moving as freely as i thought i would be, nor have i learned to ask and offer and receive touch as i imagined i would one day. sometimes you meet someone and you talk for hours and hours and want to touch elbows and knees and politely decline what they’re offering. it’s the middle of june in new york she hands me a glass of ice water the ice melts from my sighing and i thank her without looking her in the eye.
RICE QUEEN by Georgie Morvis i am waiting for the water to run clear. no, not like that, i’m cleaning the rice, a ritual i was taught by my mother, my filipino half, the reason for my thick black locks and my brown-ish skin and (probably) a few scholarships and longer waits at border patrol checkpoints. in college i ate rice whenever i was homesick. a bargain at a dollar a bowl instead of a thousand dollar plane ticket home. no aloha shoyu, though. i feel the grains between my fingertips, passing through my hand like krill through a humpback’s mouth. i can see the paint on my nails chipping through the cloudy water. i had done them myself but a boy had chosen the color from my cluttered collection, a gift from a drag queen. the smell of the polish used to intoxicate me, a madeleine for a time when i thought painted nails was enough of a rebellion. i think of my grandmother’s fingers, stubby and rough from years of work as a maid and raising twelve children. plucking malunggay leaves off the branch for her soup. they were never painted. did her religion allow that? i know they didn’t allow birthdays or christmas or being gay. when she died i didn’t want to go home for the funeral; i said it was school or money but it was because i wasn’t sure if she loved me anymore. i had become something forbidden, something kapu, something i’m not even sure her religion could call a sin, even though tagalog is less binaried than english; even if a third gender is more culturally acceptable in the philippines than the states. i went to the funeral anyway, because i loved my mother, and by extension, her. georgie-boy was still inside me somewhere, he was there to crack jokes about the minister’s long-winded eulogy about the decay of society. now georgie-queer (sin) and their painted nails (sin) and their wings of eyeliner (sin) captains this vessel over the waves. i look down and see the water is finally clear, or clear enough,
REST. by Annie Flowers Like
bookends. e s i r at
and at f a l
MARY ANN by Shelby Dobbins Someone at my new job took your maiden name And Someone on the walk home I swear to God could’ve been you Hair graying gracefully and a gaunt frame I think she walks through me like a ghost But What if time passed quietly and differently? I’m seeing someone who’s eyes are green too Sometimes I steal their gaze just to remember you
BECAUSE I TAUGHT MYSELF HOW TO READ ENGLISH by Melissa Castro Almandina My father used to take me across time, It came with us when we took the bus from Guadalajara to Michoacán where I sought scorpions, I hunted them, like I hunted ghosts I was 4. in my grandmother’s front garden, my mother telling me not to shake my shoes, because I may find a scorpion or two, I never found a scorpion, I shook all the shoes, But I saw flowers that tried to reach the sky, I remember drinking manzanita soda and eating a sandwich from the terminal. Reading A Tell Tale Heart in Spanish. I bit in quiet, happy. white bread melting in. Surprised my father with how smart I was, I had just learned How to read in English, and picked up Spanish words quickly, the eye, still haunts me. I was in second grade.
As a woman, he still looked for my partner or my brother who lived upstairs, anyone but me when it came to ordering his plane tickets back to Mexico, he always thought I would fuck something up I sometimes like to smoosh up my eyes to see stars in my pillows, floating through tiny Galaxies, cool nebulas, lightly pressing on my skin Traveling through space, traveling did this when I wanted to cry I time-travel back to that time When I was on that bus from Michoacán to Guadalajara with my dad Rolling my tongue, the way my mother taught me when I was asleep, I still try to show him that his baby can be strong, I think he sees it sometimes when I help him carry the water bottle cases. His hands shaking less than the last time I talked to him, Telling me to be careful, Que Dios te Bendiga, Mija I’m used to carrying heavy things. He just doesn’t like to see me
JANE DOE by Michaela Snider Some days, I wish I was Jane Doe White-sheet, palms-up, flesh parting from bone Slimy, yellow, paper-thin — skin, it is hardly. I would shed it until every trace of me is unrecognizable Head fixed upwards, eyes foggy and jaded, Slack-jawed with nothing left to say, no poems left to speak, Life spilling from my open mouth as it escapes me And I say good riddance. I need not an identity, want no one to claim me, Not one next-of-kin to display me in a wooden coffin. No, I’d be content laying in empty rooms, Locked up in stacked shelves at a no-name morgue in Anytown, Anyplace Until my body is but dust in the bin, And to that dust I’d say good riddance. How my breath would part is largely unimportant, For memories of pain and triumph do not touch Jane Doe. Sure, I would not live to see another summer rain Or hear the thunder clap in my ears Or smell the fragrant pavement as it soaks up the water, But it would afford me much more peace to know That who I once was, the woman who walked that Earth, was gone and forgotten. To her, I exclaim good riddance!
AVE MARIA. by Katie Elconin-Donoho So Here is the secret that you made the whole damned pilgrimage for— Like a fool on your knees, over mountains and through Dried up riverbeds. Truth: I resent this expectation, Duty like a fire at my ankles (Take this body off the altar, Don’t just stare like that).
January 2017. Yesterday I found the bible you lent me. The one I drew hearts in While you lectured on and forever about Matthew. And it was a clean conversion Except for this irony: The whole time you were colonizing me Taking my mind and shucking it open Like an oyster shell (Irrevocable) We were speaking in tongues. Subtext: I applied the scriptures, but you applied your mouth to mine. (Irrevocable). I wonder if your depression is contagious— If you gave it to me like God gave it to you.
1991, It’s summer and I am The Persian girl, not exactly pretty, too oddly made. You promise to take me shopping. We spend a lot of time together on linoleum floors Pretending to be very interested in our shopping carts. Something about you feels a little fated But this is fucking Costco, So I let it go.
(Fluorescents, everything smells like plastic, Your smile starts Making my thoughts go haywire)
2016 AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS. I would like to be linear again, But your face is timeless and predictably I get caught in it (chaos) Can’t find my way back to chronology. You invite me inside the house Up to your room Make space on the bed All this, with a smile like an eraser. Hair inky black (Cascading) The sight of your face (directionless) Hits me like the usual: Benzos and not sleeping for days at a time (Life without you equals no peace) I laugh I grimace into your shoulder. Wonder why romance always feels like Going mute.
Summer of 1864, Havilla, a little before seven in the morning. The first time I saw you pray, I knew the both of us were dead in the water. Sometimes now I lay on my back in bed And try to fall asleep And can’t.
Featuring Hop Along, Jenn Champion, Yumi Sakugawa, and more.