INTERVIEW WITH CLEMENTINE CANNIBAL

clementine cannibal is a toronto based queer, feminist, artist, zinester, musician, skater and activist.

she explores themes of violence, sexuality and the body in her work.

she is a lover and promoter of all things DIY.

you can find more of her work and order her zines and art at: 

http://www.clementinecannibal.com

BCP: Why zines?

CC: i discovered zines when i was about twelve years old through the book ‘a girl’s guide to taking over the world’. i was a closetted queer girl being sexually abused by her grandfather, living on a rural dirt road. i felt completely alone and i didn’t know how to deal. zines showed me that i was not alone and they taught me to turn my suffering into survival through creative production. i made my first zine at the age of thirteen and started making them regularly at the age of fifteen. and to this day, they remain my favourite form of creative expression. what i like about making zines is that i have complete creative control. i don’t have to explain or justify my choices to anyone. i can do it however i want. because my writing is often very personal and a lot of it is about trauma and survival, complete creative control empowers me, it puts me in charge of my story. it gives me power, freedom and choice… things i did not have while being abused and assaulted.

BCP: What is your process?

CC: i do everything spontaneously. writing usually builds up over a period of weeks or months. i write whenever i feel like it and when it seems like i have enough material, i plunge into the zine making process. for me, this usually entails many hours of cutting and pasting. i normally do all of the cutting and pasting in one sitting. i follow my inspiration and use collage and sometimes scribbles and drawings to express elements that are not necessarily expressed through words. zines were the first place i experimented with visual art. i say things through my collaging that i am not quite ready to say with words. the next issue usually says more explicitly what i was hinting at in the last one. and then, once it’s all put together, i go to the copy place and photocopy it all myself and then i put the zines together, each one by hand. it’s many hours of work and it’s totally worth it.

BCP: How long have you been making zines?

CC: i started in the year 2000. my first widely distributed zine, saliva girl, started in 2002. between 2002 and 2005 i put out zines called saliva girl, persephone’s passion and she breathes. in 2005 i put out the first issue of licking stars off ceilings which continues to this day and is now in it’s twenty third issue. so i guess i’ve been making zines regularly for ten years.

BCP: Who, or what, are your influences?

CC: cindy crabb who makes doris zine. cocoa/puss. my sister casey jean. courtney love. ani difranco. lil kim. all the queer, feminist and anti-racist thinkers who have challenged me and pushed my thinking. the city of toronto. the goddess.

BCP: What are you reading now?

CC: the graffiti i pass on the street and the zines i get in the mail.

BCP: Can you provide a recommended zine reading list for people?  Feminist and lefty zines or blogs?

CC:

doris zine by cindy crabb – http://www.dorisdorisdoris.com

mend my dress by neely bat – http://mendmydress.com

casey jean / cumslutsinc – http://www.youtube.com/cumslutsinc

cocoa/puss zine by cocoa/puss – http://www.myspace.com/cocoapusszine

anything by hadass ben-ari – http://hadass420.wordpress.com

cat’s teeth by winter muse – http://sites.google.com/site/catsteeth/zines

culture slut by amber dearest – http://fight-boredom.com

ax wound by hannah neurotica – http://hannahneurotica.com

sweet candy zine distro – http://sweetcandydistro.weebly.com

marching stars zine distro – http://www.marchingstars.co.uk

vampire sushi zine distro – http://www.vampiresushi.co.uk

BCP: How long were you working on licking stars off ceilings #23?

CC: the writing came together over a period of about two months, except for one piece which is older. the cutting and pasting happened in one night. and i continue to print and collate copies as needed.

BCP: What does the title mean?

CC: i came up with the title when i was seventeen and it means exactly what it says. licking stars off ceilings. i think it is one of the most beautiful phrases i have ever written and ceilings is my favourite word in the english language. 

BCP: Your piece why bisexual is about combating biphobia.  Biphobia is something that is rarely talked about.  What reaction have you gotten about the piece?  How far do you think the bi movement has come along?

CC:i have received a lof of positive feedback about the piece which is really awesome. i think it’s something a lot of people want to talk about, but are afraid to. biphobia is alive and well within the queer community, as well as among heterosexuals. i have known many people who identify as bi but who live the majority of their lives telling people that they are either gay or straight, or saying queer to mask their bisexuality. i have also felt uncomfortable outting myself as bi sometimes and i have hidden behind the word queer in order to avoid biphobia. i identify as queer too, they are not mutually exclusive terms, but bisexual indicates that i spend part of my time living, loving and fucking in heterosexual contexts. a lot of queer people are apparently made uncomfortable by this. biphobia is dangerous. it divides our community and it demands that people divide themselves. as a queer community we need to work on this, because there are many closeted bisexuals among us.

BCP: sexual violence is not sexy: reimagining masculinities and what it means to be a man is an amazing piece of writing. 

CC: thank you. i want to offer men a way out of the trap of hyper masculinity. i want to offer men an alternative to gaining power through violence, misogyny and homophobia. and i want to challenge men to be self reflexive and to actively work against male supremacy. the reward is complete humanity.

BCP: You write in different genres: poetry, memoir, letters.  Do you have a favorite?

CC: i’m not sure which style i prefer. they all have their purposes. poetry simply flows from me. i don’t intend to write it. it just comes out. i also do more focused writing where i choose to delve into a topic and explore it intentionally. writing stories about my life is an extremely important political tool for me. writing about my life honestly is a way to put different representations into the world. i like to open up topics that we are told never to talk about: violence, sexual violence, queer sexuality, female sexuality, body image, menstruation and so on. by writing about these things i invite others to write about them too. we don’t need to remain silent.

BCP: You write a lot of personal stuff; much of it being painful histories.  Is writing healing to you?

CC: most definitely. it is a way for me to take ownership of my life and my body. it is a way to take my power back from my perpetrators. i think creative expression is a very important healing tool for anyone who has experienced trauma. i also like turning my suffering into action and positive change. by telling my stories i show other girls and women that they are not alone, the same way that zines i have read showed me that i am not alone. and we inspire each other to action. we refuse to remain stagnant in our suffering. we turn it into power.

BCP: What advice do you have for other zinesters, or people interested in being zinesters?

CC: just do it. don’t listen to any advice. do it exactly how you want to. it’s a process. have fun with it. don’t worry about criticism or grammar or type-os. that shit doesn’t matter as much as the heart of what you are saying. if perfect spelling/grammar is important to you, go for it. but what i’m trying to say is don’t get snagged on the little stuff. turn off that voice in your head telling you that you can’t or that you suck. that’s bullshit. every single person has important stories, thoughts and ideas. every single one of us is an artist with creative visions just waiting to spill forth. you can do it. don’t listen to the haters. just do you.

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About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
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6 Responses to INTERVIEW WITH CLEMENTINE CANNIBAL

  1. Jorge,

    As always you have such an impeccable gift for finding the most unique, under-heard and strongest voices! May I repeat, STRONG, this interview is sweet & perfect.

  2. buriedinprint says:

    It really is a fantastic title: I agree. And an energized and inspiring exchange between you two!

  3. hadass420 says:

    I love Clementine Cannibal! ❤ Great interview!

  4. Pingback: clementine cannibal on blackcoffepoet.com! | clementine motherfuckin cannibal

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