If you’re a fan of independent poetry with a DIY philosophy, poetry zines might just be your new best friend. Usually circulated on a small scale and filled with self-published work, the zine’s not-for-profit attitude opens the door for alternative, experimental, and boundlessly creative work. Whether they’re available online or printed using a good ole xerox machine, zines are a great way to discover new work and even publish some of your own. To shed a little extra light on these underground works, we’ve compiled a list of 9 unique poetry zines for you to discover.
This bimonthly literature, arts, and culture magazine comes from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute. With each release, readers will find a whole slew of interesting and creative work to dive into, including journalism, comics, essays, and intimate interviews. However, The Believer’s poetry section truly stands out. Edited by award-winning poet Jericho Brown, readers can rest assured that they’ll find fantastic work in each issue.
Experimental, minimal, and energized, Cumulus comes from a small press in Scotland. This zine’s soft blue hues, soft and puffy typeface, and watercolor clouds break the mold when it comes to zine-style (which typically falls more on the 70s punk side of things). Falling in step with its experimental content, Cumulus creates an untethered look and feel—and sells it at an affordable price tag.
Content is available from DUM DUM in print once a year and on the web 24/7. One of the most fun things about their print issue is that it’s a different format each year. Depending on their submissions, they select a theme and a format—it could be a postcard book, a fluxkit, a traditional magazine, or something else. Aesthetically, the zine lands somewhere between the Avante Garde, edgy punk rock, and the Mean Girls’ burn book, with inspiration drawn from the Riot Grrrl movement. They accept submissions of short stories, interviews, music, art, and of course poetry.
hotdog strikes the rare balance between artistic risk and an unassuming ethos. This annual poetry collection aims to challenge gender discrepancy in literature, art, and publishing. With a focus on female-identifying, non-binary, and trans voices, hotdog is filled with poems that explore identity, food, and desire with a quirky and honest sense of humor. The title of issue three sums it up pretty well: Delightfully Unprofessional.
Popshot was established in 2009 with an aim to cut through the increasingly pretentious, stuffy, and elitist literary environment. Quoting Adrian Mitchell’s “Most people ignore most poetry because poetry ignores most people,” Popshot selected vibrant illustrations and subversive work to freshen up the expected look of a literary magazine. The zine quickly bloomed, and now has distribution in 18 countries. The Huffington Post calls it “a complete literary butterfly of a journal,” as Popshot continues to champion new and challenging writing from across the globe.
This Glasgow-based independent zine only has one rule for submissions (aside from being unpublished work): the poem must fit on an A5 piece of paper. The Raum team selects the theme for each issue based on the submissions that come in. The zine publishes both new and established writers from all over the world, with the aim of promoting experimental and unconventional writing.
One of the oldest online journals, Stirring publishes electronically quarterly. They’ve been in business since 1999. The team considers a wide range of writing genres as well as visual art and media. With the goal of elevating writing and art, Stirring has no hard rules for submissions, and poets are allowed to submit up to five unpublished poems via email.
The Second Shelf
If you can imagine a fashion magazine for bibliophiles, that’s exactly what The Second Shelf is. With an aim to celebrate books by and about women, the zine is a biannual publication. Launched in 2018, it serves as both a literary magazine and a rare book catalog. Readers will find essays interviews, profiles, and poems by prolific women writers; they’ll also find beautifully photographed, carefully curated books and artwork.
Formed in 2002, Write This is an online-only zine that focuses on poetry but also accepts submissions of attention-grabbing illustrations, comics, and other art forms. With an intentionally rudimentary and minimal site, Write This lets the words shine first. Its group of humorous, unassuming, dedicated editors combs through submissions to find work that pushes readers out of their comfort zones.