Poking about on the internet, I ran across this article from the Brooklyn Rail and knew that I had to get in touch with Zohra Saed and Robert Booras, or UpSet Press. Two parts of the article really caught my attention:
The first, because it seems that this project started right here at Brooklyn College!
Saed and Booras met at Brooklyn College in the late 1990s when both were pursuing Master of Fine Arts degrees in poetry. “I was doing a ’zine called SPAWN and Zohra was doing a ’zine called RIPE GUAVA. We met in a feminist theory class and said, ‘Gee, we have to link up and join forces,’” Booras begins. “At first we shared networks and I was publishing her in my ’zine and vice-versa. After a few years of being each other’s cheerleaders, we decided to merge efforts and become a non-profit press.”
Then this quote caught my attention because I think it encapsulates a bit of my goals here for the Brooklyn College Library Zine Collection–to make a living archive of works that BC students can use as well as contribute to, and have their work added alongside the items already in the collections:
“I’d go to the elementary school library and doodle poems into the books,” she begins, her smile widening with each spoken word. “The teachers thought I was defacing school property but what I was actually trying to do was put myself up on a library shelf.”
And lickety-split, this week Robert came into the library and donated not only a full run of his zine, S.P.A.W.N. Magazine…
…but also copies of the first four books that have been published by UpSet Press.
When I asked him how his experiences publishing zines influences his current role at the press, Robert wrote:
Quite honestly I don’t think UpSet Press would exist today (or would have existed this long) if it wasn’t for the network of writers and artists that Zohra and I established when we were publishing our zines…! The carryover helped us tremendously in terms of attaining credibility and trust with our authors…
It is an inspiration to see how the work of these two friends has evolved over the years, and I know that these publications will be a wonderful treasure to show students–as part of their own heritage here at Brooklyn College. How wonderful to stumble upon this work, and furthermore, to get to share it!