Fans of the handmade and the written word are in luck this weekend as the 2
annual Grand Rapids Zine Fest arrives this year -- bigger and better than ever at downtown's West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology.
For the uninitiated, a zine is, in the simplest terms, a very limited run of an often-handmade publication that uses the principles of DIY and DIT culture in its production.
These are not items that will hit the best-seller list of the New York Times,
but the attraction is their beautiful ability to remain small and to give voices to folks who might not otherwise have one is our society.
The event has sold out their booth space and has, as a result, created a waiting list of artists and authors who are seeking to be a part of what will be the literary event of the summer.
What makes Grand Rapids Zine Fest so special is their very intentional programming that seeks to create a safe space for everyone.
From their site they write, "Grand Rapids Zine Fest is organized to create and uphold a space that is not ruled by commercial interests, publishing giants, sexist, racist, ageist, albeit, and/or trans*/homophobic individuals. It is a collectively shared and generative space wherein all peoples involved are respected and cared for. For these, and a number of other reasons, GRZF will not tolerate zinesters, zines, or attendees who promote what we are working against."
But lest you think this is all about cute pictures and flowery poetry, please think again, since I have read some of the most wonderful locally created (and very honest) erotica from many of the authors who will be showcasing new works at this event. In short, if you bring children please be advised that some titles may not be appropriate for their age bracket, so exercise some discretion if you do bring the little ones – who are most certainly welcome.
As I look at the tiny library of local and internationally produced zines I have collected over the years, I cannot help wishing I had discovered such a space as a child. But time moves forward and the Grand Rapids Zine Fest
is a chance for me and others who enjoy literature to once again experience the childlike discovery of such wonderfully rich titles on display for purchase at this one-day-only literary event.