By Clementine Cannibal
Reviewed by Jorge Antonio Vallejos
Clementine Cannibal is a skateboarding, guitar playing, poet, blogger, and internationally read zinester.
After watching Cannibal read sexual violence is not sexy: reimagining masculinities and what it means to be a man on YOUTUBE I wanted to read her zines and meet the writer behind such powerful words.
Reading licking stars off ceilings # 23 was no disappointment!
Zines aren’t something I usually read. It’s not that I don’t like them it’s that none are sent to me for review. And I don’t see many around anymore at the places I once saw them regularly.
I also find that zines can just end up being rants and I’m not into reading 20 to 50 pages of yelling on paper. I like writers who have something to say, and Cannibal has lots to say, and she says it well.
The 28 pages that make up licking stars off ceilings #23 are filled with honesty, introspection, power, and knowledge; all coming via mini-essays, a letter, poems, and writings similar to journal entries. Some of Cannibal’s pieces seem like stream-of-conciousness writing and others are well thought out messages, both styles being great.
Two pieces in the zine stuck out to me: an untitled letter that I’ll call Dear Clementine of 2010 and why bisexual? queer and straight worlds, shapeshifting desires.
As an old school letter writer who puts pen to paper when communicating with friends out of town and country I loved Dear Clementine of 2010. As a reader I witnessed love, growth, challenge, spirit, and honesty with oneself via Clementine’s mind, heart, and hands. For all those who lie to themselves in this life they should read this letter and then write one to themselves.
Some could peg Dear Clementine 2010 as self therapy. It’s more. Conventional Western therapy is usually focused on the mind and ignores the heart. Reading Cannibal’s letter had me remember a Mohawk teaching shared by Ellen Gabriel who stood at the front lines at OKA: “The longest journey in life is from your head to your heart.”
I’m not saying Cannibal has completed that journey, or that she is an Elder, but her letter showed me she’s on the good path that most people have not found.
Cannibal’s courage and compassion and transparency with herself, her reader, and her abusers are seen here:
that fact that after everything, after extensive violence, you are capable of so much love. i love that you went out and claimed your sexuality, after it was stolen from you again, and again.
Canniblal ends her letter with “love clementine of 2012.” The entire piece is a love letter; one that we should all write to ourselves.
why bisexual? queer and straight worlds, shapeshifting desires is a mini-essay on a topic that’s not written about enough. Identifying as queer, pansexual, and bisexual, Cannibal fights biphobia on paper via her personal essay:
i am honestly sick and fucking tired of biphobia. it’s a real thing. it fucks with a lot of lives. and I don’t believe that ending queerphobia will necessarily result in an end to biphobia. because it isn’t just our queerness that causes people to fear us. it is our ability to pass, to shapeshift, to exist in multiple worlds. until multiplisitc identities are accepted as possibilities, bisexuality will be feared.
As opposed to confronting herself such as in her letter Clementine is challenging the queer community. And she is right, biphobia is real. Many gays and lesbians see bi folk as confused fence-sitters as opposed to being the people they are, people who can love different peoples.
Cannibal isn’t complaining about biphobia, she’s pointing out the problem and doing something about it.
licking stars off ceilings # 23 is not just Cannibal showing people things on paper she is also asking important questions. In sexual violence is not sexy: reimagining masculinities and what it means to be a man Cannibal challenges men via important questions:
can you unobjectify my body? can you purge yourself of the toxic messages you have learned about womens sexuality? can you handle it if I reject you? can you love me unpossesively? can you fuck me in a way that is more than a validation of your manhood? do you have to put your dick inside me everytime we fuck? can we just be friends? can we have a conversation without you staring at my tits? can you take rape seriously, please?
All men need to ask themselves these questions, repeatedly, me included!
My only problem with the zine is the repetitive pictures. As much as I love seeing Cannibal show her all there could have been more variety in the photos displayed throughout the zine. Knowing that Cannibal plays the guitar, paints, and skates on a board I would have liked to see pics of all that, and more.
licking stars off ceilings #23 was pleasure, insight, challenge, and instruction all in one. I now want to read and review more zines, especially more put together by Clementine Cannibal.
To grab this zine and more see http://www.clementinecannibal.com.
Tune into Blackcoffeepoet.com Wednesday April 25, 2012 for an inclusive interview with Clementine Cannibal.