If you’ve been downtown in the last few months, you might have noticed — amidst all the tourists — a new zine has hit the shelves.
MYTH zine offers a new selection local art and poetry every month, all for $1. The black and white pages, folded and stapled together, hold a surprising variety of hidden gems but there’s a catch: It’s completely anonymous.
The poets, artists and photographers could be anyone. They could be your neighbor. The writer of the poem that begins “My god comes dressed in black rot and wings dihedral” could be serving you coffee. And you could be sitting in the cubicle next to the author of the verses,
“If everything follows everything else,
You could be the progenitor of yourself.
In the room the women came & went,
Talking about quantum entanglement.
The opposite of a great lie is also false.”
All you will know is their number (2 and 18 in this case), which stay consistent across issues, and their 140-character bios in the back, which are sometimes artworks in themselves. 20 “is wondering about how the tallest trees pull water up from their roots” and 17 “is doing the art thing again, despite her [horribly misguided] opinion that worthwhile art cannot manifest from all her recent smiling.”
To find out more about this anonymous manifestation of Juneau art, the Capital City Weekly sat down with MYTH zine’s founder, known by his number 1, and his collaborator, 8.
1 decided to start the zine after returning from Seattle, where he had felt disconnected from his surroundings. He knew he needed an outlet to connect him back to Juneau, and “it ended up being this form.”
8 came to the project a little later but with great excitement. When 1 first floated the idea past him via text, he said, “when I texted back I had like thirteen exclamation marks. I was like ‘YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!’”
“You didn’t even have a name yet,” he reminded 1.
The name, like much of the look and form, came organically.
“Decisions just fell into place,” said 1. “Looking back, I could have named it anything. I’m really glad I didn’t.”
The decision to have the whole zine be anonymous was more personal. 1 wanted to publish his own work but didn’t want the zine “to just be this huge ego thing. … I was like, I’ll make it anonymous so it’s not just about me.”
Anonymity, they’ve found, has its strengths and weaknesses. By de-emphasizing authorship, it puts the whole focus on the art.
People can get distracted judging art by its maker, said 8. A beautiful photo can become great in the eye of the beholder just by having a famous name attached but in MYTH zine, “it’s purely about content,” he said. This gives new people a chance to be recognized by the strength of their own work and lets artists to take a risk with what they have to say.
“Because it’s anonymous, there’s a little more of a chance to say that ridiculous thing that you’re super scared to say,” 1 said, “and there’s a little more of a chance to read that ridiculous thing that you’re super scared to feel.”
“It’s a message in a bottle,” he added. “I can’t even begin to imagine what important things could be said.”
1 and 8 have found, however, that anonymity limits their submission pool.
“Professionals generally don’t want to be anonymous,” 8 said. Well-known photographers like Mark Kelley or Ben Huff would be assigned a number just anybody else.
But for the amateur photographer or the poet who has never submitted their work anywhere before, MYTH zine offers an opportunity for “low-risk expression.”
“Speaking as an artist who had a really hard time exposing their work to the world and was really worried about what people would think about it, I can’t honestly think of a good reason why a budding artist or someone who hasn’t exposed their work yet shouldn’t submit to MYTH,” said 8. “It’s an amazing opportunity to see your work in someone else’s book.”
Submitting to MYTH zine isn’t entirely without the risk of rejection, though. 1 and 8 do curate their submissions, with 1 calling the final project “a playlist” and 8 comparing it to “a bouquet of really beautiful flowers.”
The quality of submissions has surprised them.
“I’m always so impressed” said 8. “I’ve been doing poetry in Juneau for five or six years now, so I mistakenly assumed that I know all the good poets.”
The zine considers not only photos, art and poetry but anything that gets submitted. 1 and 8 said they would even print a QR code for a song or video online.
“If you have that excited energy about what you’re doing, then that’s the consideration,” 1 said. However, he added that he wants to keep it mostly poetry, calling it “a central part of the vision.”
Submit your piece at email@example.com. They take submissions from around Southeast.
Keep an eye out for copies at The Rookery, High Tide Tattoo, Rainy Retreat Books, Goldtown Nickelodeon, Kindred Post, Alaska Robotics, the JACC and soon, Pie in the Sky. Snag your copy soon. Once an issue disappears from the shelves, it’s gone — and where else are you going to find lyrics that combine the jökulhlaup with Rimbaud?