Each month we shine our spotlight on a writer in our community to learn more about their writing journey, achievements and inspirations. This month we spoke to Samantha Trayhurn, founding editor of Pink Cover Zine. Launched in late 2017, Pink Cover is a platform for creative works that explore of the sentimental, domestic, joyful and in between moments in life.
Membership & Development Officer Sherry Landow chatted to Samantha about the inspirations and processes behind the zine’s creation.
Thank you. I held a launch alongside some other local zines (Marrickville Pause and SoFi) at a great little gallery in Chippendale called GoodSpace. I was spoilt because I got to celebrate by hearing some of the writers from the zines read their work; Michael Farrell, Nick Keys, Louise Carter, Nick Chlopicki, Jake Goetz and Pam Brown all shared pieces. Afterwards, I spent the evening getting excited about the future of the project and the zine community as a whole.
What inspired you to create the zine?
During my Honours year I remember reading a line from Virginia Woolf’s seminal 1929 work A Room of One’s Own, where she surmised:
‘This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing room.”
I remember wondering if much had changed almost 90 years later. I was inspired to reflect on the perceptions of importance in the current literary landscape, and that led to me want to provide an outlet for the kind of writing that dealt in feeling rather than didacticism, but that was still valuable, and still had plenty to say.
I have pink books on my shelf by Virginia Woolf, Marguerite Duras, Anais Nin, Vladimir Nabokov, and Jean Rhys to name a few. Many books with pink covers are by women, but not exclusively. While most of these books are now recognised as classics, they weren’t all met with the same respect when they were published. Historically, the pink stamp was a tool used in the publishing industry to denote the connotations about value that Woolf spoke about. That being said, Pink Cover isn’t only about promoting women’s voices. It’s really about allowing all writers, regardless of sex or background, to reclaim a space where works that are sentimental, nostalgic, domestic, emotional and erotic, can still be literary. I wanted to start to break down that duality.
What was involved in process of physically compiling the zine?
My process is very analogue. When I started I tried to work digitally, but it was nowhere near as satisfying as compiling the pages by hand. I collect materials everyday; there is a box in my room with everything from traditional craft supplies, to images from magazines, to leftover packaging, to things I find in the street. I put the backgrounds together on A4 pieces of card and then paste the poems and stories over the top. Towards the end I add the finishing touches like numbers and contents pages, then I scan the whole document into a computer. From there, I print. It’s time consuming, but I enjoy the process, and at the end I have a great master copy that shows the layers and trajectory of the project.
What can we look forward to in the next issue?
The next issue is a themed issue called Let’s Talk About Sex and is all about sex writing. In the literal sense, writing about sex is still somewhat taboo, and is still very centred in the cis-white-male gaze. I am hoping to showcase work that gives alternative perspectives. In addition, I am interested in unpacking writing that explores sex in abstract ways including (but not limited to) writings about the expression of sex in nature, digital sexuality, the body in all its complexity and the inherent sexual binaries in so many aspects of life, art and culture. Submissions are officially open until February 20th, but there will be a grace period until the end of the month. Details are at www.pinkcoverzine.wordpress.com.
What do you like most about the zine form?
The freedom to do whatever you want! There are no rules, and the DIY nature of the medium allows creators to express themselves in ways that I don’t think are really possible elsewhere. No two zines are the same. Everything from the format to the content is completely open to interpretation.
Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment?
Yes! Pink Cover is very much a side project and a (welcome) distraction from my Doctor of Creative Arts. For my thesis, I am attempting to write my first novel.
Do you have a regular writing routine? If so, what does it involve?
Many established authors swear by writing first thing in the morning, so I try do that for a couple of hours each day. I tend to do my editing and administrative work later in the day. Somewhere in the middle I exercise and meditate, because I find both help me stay focused when I sit down to work. I don’t have Facebook and I try to limit my time on the Internet; I find that it can be a black hole for productivity. One day a week, I confine myself to an office at the NSW Writers’ Centre where I get most of my planning and structural work done. It’s not always easy to stay committed to a schedule, but if I’m not writing, I try to use that time to read or research so I’m still adding fuel to that same fire.
What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished Rachel Cusk’s Transit, and have now started on her novel Outlines. Cusk has an incredible ability to weave complexity from the mundane. Her dialogue is rich, uncannily real, and filled with moments of breath-taking insight. I am also part way through Marie Ndiaye’s Three Strong Women. Ndiaye explores diaspora, difference and transformation in really unique ways; there’s a lingering sense of uncertainty hovering over her work that I find both challenging and compelling. I really admire both of these women.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt from creating Pink Cover Zine?
To channel your energy into what you love. I genuinely enjoy reading all the work that I publish in the zine, and I love putting it together, so it never really feels like work. I just wish I hadn’t procrastinated about it for so long!
In your opinion, who/what is the most inspiring…
a) Writer/Poet: Clarice Lispector. Reading her work is like being immersed in the raw collective unconsciousness of creativity.
b) Weather: Stormy days with rain streaking down the windows like ink on a page.
c) Time of day: Early morning, exploring that hazy zone between waking and sleep.
d) Music: Anything ambient. Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai are some favourites.
e) Location: A quiet room without a phone or an Internet connection.
Samantha Trayhurn is a member of the Writing & Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University where she is completing her doctorate. Her work has been published in Overland, LiNQ Journal, eTropic and others. She is the founding editor of Pink Cover Zine and co-curator/founder of Cross Current Creative.
Visit the Pink Cover Zine website to find out more.