Zine, Anthony Abelaye, issue 6, PO Box 861294, Plano, TX, USA, koogmo.com
Being a zine compiled by a flea market vendor, this particular issue of Koogmo is unexpectedly dominated by the writings of prisoners. Editor Anthony Abelaye explains: “I’ve been receiving a bunch of submissions, mostly poetry, from guys doing time in prison … I think I can make an entire issue from the prison poetry I’ve received.” And he nearly does. It’s not all poetry, nor is every contributor from prison. Contributors include prisoners in Utah, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas, plus one excellent article by a woman not in prison (identified only by her Twitter handle: @lolotehe) on the misery of working only one day at a 7-11.
The inmates’ contributions range from intense to uncomfortable, the latter exemplified by one man’s tale of glimpsing a “glamorous beauty” – another prisoner’s visitor — during a visitation with his mom and then masturbating later in the shower. Much more intriguing are the pieces by Coyote Sheff that explode with righteous indignation. Sheff lists an affiliation with the Anarchist Black Cross, and seethes over institutional oppression and the injustice of being confined to solitary for having “too much influence over the other prisoners.” These pieces come pasted in stark contrast alongside women’s magazine clippings: department store fashions posed on the beach, Suze Orman, and so on.
Abelaye’s own story — about working his flea market stall, talking UFOs with customers, and fielding reactions to his zine from fellow vendors — is a nice, funny addition. His parameters for including contributions seem fairly open, so the range of the zine is wide, but most of the pieces in this issue are worth a read. (Joshua Barton)