HFZF Zinester Interviews – Brian from Semo Distro

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Tell us a little about yourself and your zine/project/distro.

Hey! Semo Distro is a nearly-five-year-old project that began as a way of providing political take-home material at various events in Hamilton. In fact, the very first time Semo tabled, it was to distribute anarcha-feminist ideas and histories, as well as guides on consent and abortion at a Hamilton performance of the Vagina Monologues where we sent along all money raised to SACHA.

Now the project is more complex and a bit out of hand, really. We still table at various book fairs, shows, conferences and the like, but now we have zine displays in seven locations across Southern Ontario, have started or contributed to several libraries across so-called “Canada”, mail in free zines to prisoners, have an online store, and a physical location for our books and zines at Hamilton’s new anarchist social space, The Tower – 281 Cannon St East in Hamilton.

All the while, ideas attacking patriarchy have figured prominently in our work – just in the past month we’ve shipped a whole wad of zines to be distributed for free in Waterloo at a reproductive justice event, and helped stock an impromptu mini counter-protest table next to some anti-choice jerks at McMaster.

How did you start making zines? Who/what influenced you?

While I’ve made a bunch of zines myself, the zines we distribute are authored by people whose ideas or lives have inspired us. I was inspired to distribute zines i guess by how much I’ve been affected by what I’ve read: how much my life has changed because I’ve had access to the material i have.

We distribute books as well but I’m most excited about distributing zines as i can give them away for cheap or free and they’re quick glimpses into new worlds.

What does it mean to make feminist zines/do feminist DIY publishing?

Hmm… What does it mean?

I guess the feminist/gender-analysis-heavy emphasis of the distro is in part due to how much feminist ideas have helped shape me over the years. One of the reasons i like distributing more radical and anarchist texts is – in feminist spaces – to challenge and disrupt the crappy boring politics that limit or under emphasize the ways in which women and trans and queer folks have engaged in open conflict with the state and – in anarchist spaces – to bring into focus the lives and ideas of women and queer folks who have been at the forefront of struggles only to have their histories marginalized.

Tell us about a feminist who inspires you to keep working on your zines/projects.

Good question. There are so many bad ass people who talk the talk and walk the walk. I can’t believe i just typed that. I remember years ago when the distro was starting, a lover at the time was just starting out on the line at SACHA, and it really frustrated me at the time to see her in mourning after some of the calls she received.

It frustrated me to see that women, who disproportionately dealt with the consequences of sexual violence, were also the ones picking up the pieces, doing the emotional labour and feeling the secondary trauma. So i guess that was an inspiration.

I also read a book recently about immigrant anarchist Italian women in New York at the turn of the 20th century. At the time many of them were disregarded within the anarchist/worker’s struggle because their engagement was made invisible. But not only were they were the ones cooking the meals, raising babies, and bringing home piece work, they also ran anarchist presses and distributed literature across the country.

What excites you about Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair or the idea of feminist zine fairs in general?

Uhhmmmmmm….i guess I’m just excited about spreading radical ideas in general. I look forward to having conversations with people, to challenge and be challenged.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself…

If you see a way that this project could be useful or want to take part in it in some way (starting a reading group/tabling at an event/starting a library/whatever!) let us know. semo[at]riseup.net and semodistro.com. Or if you’re reading this in the future and got some zines from us that you hated/loved and want to yell at us/tell us nice things, you can do that too.

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Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair celebrates and creates spaces for marginalized groups to have discussions about feminism through do-it-yourself publishing.

When: Saturday, November 15th from 10am to 5pm
Where: YWCA Hamilton – 75 MacNab Street South, Hamilton ON
Accessibility: The space is physically accessible, including washrooms. Here’s some more information about safe(r) spaces at HFZF.

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