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make/shift – Fall/Winter 2009/2010

I didn’t even realize publications like make/shift still existed. What a relief! Reading this radical magazine-style (not journal, magazine!) publication made me nostalgic for Off Our Backs (maybe even for On Our Backs) and Lesbian Connections and the let’s-turn-the-world-upside-down rags I looked forward to every month in the 70’s and 80’s when women’s bookstores were (sometimes) dangerous and (always) exhilarating, and I could rely on feminist writing to inspire and sustain me.

I didn’t even realize publications like make/shift still existed. What a relief! Reading this radical magazine-style (not journal, magazine!) publication made me nostalgic for Off Our Backs (maybe even for On Our Backs) and Lesbian Connections and the let’s-turn-the-world-upside-down rags I looked forward to every month in the 70’s and 80’s when women’s bookstores were (sometimes) dangerous and (always) exhilarating, and I could rely on feminist writing to inspire and sustain me.

make/shift “creates and documents contemporary feminist culture and action by publishing journalism, critical analysis, and visual and text art.” And, of course, there is an editorial collective. (Music to my ears.) And a commitment to “antiracist, transnational, and queer perspectives.” If this feels like something of a time warp, believe me, it isn’t. In the years since the publications I cited above, we’ve reckoned with HIV/AIDS as evidenced in the interview with choreographer Sean Dorsey about his work Uncovered: The Diary Project; seen an explosion of interest in and connection to transgender issues, as evidenced in Kai Kohlsdorf’s essay “ReSexing Trans,” and numerous other pieces here; and continue to indulge the preoccupation with the relationship between new technologies and new identities, as expressed in an interview between librarians Emily Drabinsky and Lia Friedman in “When Reference is Radical.”

The magazine includes reviews of books by mainstream and indie presses; brief personal essays; and poetry (though I wouldn’t say this is the magazine’s strength); and this issue contains a special feature “Beyond the Medical-Industrial Complex: Health and Healing in Community,” with a series of short essays/articles which are personal, political, critical, and significant on so many levels. It is unlikely that the people who really need to read these pieces (hello, White House staff) will actually see them.

There is something that can feel terribly youthful (or perhaps I mean playful) about the publication – the writer’s bios, for example: “J. Max Stein is a dirty, happy queer living in Brooklyn”; “Jessica Lawless is exploring her new home in Santa Fe. Come visit”; “Teht Ashmani is a genderqueer trans of color cross-dresser, writer, and student.” But not only, not exclusively. There are also Kebby Warner “a woman prisoner, mother, and anarchist fighting for her freedom” and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore “the author of So Many Ways to Sleep Badly and Nobody Passes and That’s Revolting.

“We lived to tell the tale,” writes Lennle Moïse (a self-described “award-winning poet, playwright, and performance artist”) of her experience of being verbally assaulted by a “skinhead” on the 1 train (subway) in Manhattan. I ride the 1 every day. make/shift helps me believe that I will survive the MTA (Manhattan Transportation Authority), healthcare reform, on-going discrimination of more kinds than I wish to acknowledge, and our culture’s general stupidity and narrow-mindedness to tell the tale.
[www.makeshiftmag.com]

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