ASU group creates micropoetry zine press to involve the community

The zine zone in Lawn Gnome, which includes work of local writers. (Nathan Thrash/DD)

An ASU Downtown English professor and group of students are bringing an alternative art form to the community by publishing brief, handmade magazines of tiny poems.

The Rinky Dink Press produces “zines” — handmade, do-it-yourself, often brief magazines — of micropoetry, defined by ASU professor Rosemarie Dombrowski as poems between 20 and 35 words.

The group has been collecting submissions for series one of the publication, to be introduced in April, but they have already produced and sold the zines that were created in Dombrowski’s intermediate poetry workshop class last semester.

The assignment for the class was to create a sequence of five-to-six micropoems related to a particular theme, Dombrowski said. She and her students made the poetry into booklets built out of a single sheet of folded printer paper, complete with a logo she designed and individual cover art.

For the next series of zines, Dombrowski said the group reached out to creative writing programs at different universities and spread the word online, posting on Facebook and The Review Review, a site where writers can find calls for submissions. As a result, they have received submissions from local poets as well as students around the country. They even received a submission from India.

Series one will be launched April 22 at {9} The Gallery’s Phoenix Poetry Series with a live reading of the poetry. The local poets will be invited to read their work at the event, Dombrowski said. The non-local poets will have their work read by the Rinky Dink Press staff, if they choose.

Dombrowski said the goal of the project is to engage community members and encourage them to express themselves through poetry, but also to establish Rinky Dink Press not just as a zine, but as an art collective.

“I just think we want to expand the definition of art in the art community,” she said. “It’s always been really important for me to take it outside the doors of ASU and get the community involved as much as possible.”

Dombrowski said the succinct form characteristic of micropoetry especially resonates with today’s audiences.

“If you’re not doing something really performative and dynamic, people don’t have a whole lot of attention span for page poetry,” she said. “This is really in my opinion the best of page poetry — on the page, but in the most concise and compact form possible.”

Kat Hofland, a student of Dombrowski’s and a member of the Rinky Dink Press, said they discussed in class how the micro format can get young individuals engaged with poetry.

“We were having all these discussions about actually having an impact with our poetry in the broader community and how a lot of poetry isn’t really resonating with millennials,” Hofland said. “So people might identify more with the micropoetry format because it’s sort of that 140 characters that you get on Twitter.”

The micropoetry zines from last semester’s class, dubbed by Dombrowksi as “series zero,” have been sold at Wasted Ink Zine Distro in Tempe, a shop owned by Marna Kay and Charissa Lucille.

“We like the zine because it’s smaller. I think that it’s easier for people to digest, especially micropoetry,” Lucille said. “It’s done pretty darn well here. We’ve had some mini zines come in, but that one’s sort of my favorite. I’m always telling people to buy it.”

The Rinky Dink Press zines are sold three for $2. Wasted Ink splits profits with the zine creators 50-50, if the creators choose. Because zine creation is not a lucrative full-time career, Lucille said, the creators of zines are “largely driven by passion, not necessarily the idea of making a lot of money.”

The store sells a variety of zines from comic books to zines on topics like women’s rights and mental illness, but Lucille said the art and poetry zines, such as Rinky Dink Press, are popular.

“People really love the art zines,” Lucille said. “Poetry and chapbooks are all great representations of what people want to say. They do well here.”

Dombrowski said she hopes to buy a table at Phoenix Public Market to start selling different forms of art, such as jewelry or sculptures, along with the zines.

“I’m imagining lots of things that are miniature kind of coming together under the Rinky Dink umbrella,” she said.

Dombrowski said she wants to have the zines eventually sold at local bookstores, such as Lawn Gnome Publishing and Changing Hands.

Aydin Immortal, an associate at Lawn Gnome, said zines at the store sell about as well as other forms of publication, such as traditional books. Marna Kay, co-owner of Wasted Ink Zine Distro, said she has already seen the zine industry grow in the past three years.

“When I first moved here, I had my own press. I would be going to events and stuff on my own and pushing zines,” she said. “As I started kind of doing this and being out there and stuff like that, a lot of people started coming out of the woodwork … I think that because this place exists, people have definitely been wanting to or are pursuing their dream of creating a zine more than ever.”

Editor’s note: Kelsey Hess is editor with Rinky Dink Press and also an editor for Downtown Devil. She was not involved in the reporting, writing or editing of this article.

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