Expozine Alternative Press Awards

The Self-Published Get Their Due

Graphic David Barlow Krelina

Literary honours, even among published authors, are hard to come by. For zinesters and the so-called self-published, awards are something of an impossibility. That is, unless they attend Expozine.

The annual Expozine Alternative Press Awards, which were held last Sunday in Montreal at Le Divan Orange, honoured the best and brightest who exhibited their works in the annual small press fair last November.

“There’s really nothing in Canada, and maybe nothing in North America, that actually recognizes or selects zines in that fashion,” said Louis Rastelli, an organizer of Expozine.

“In the beginning [we weren’t sure] if it would really fly, if people would take the awards seriously at all. But people put it on their resumés and people show up [to the awards] with their parents.”

Nailbiter 2: An Anxiety Zine, which is produced by the Ste. Emilie Skillshare, took home the honour for Best Zine. The judges said the zine “sheds light on an important subject that is underrepresented by traditional media, the experiences of those living with anxiety.”

“Resources on anxiety and mental health issues are hard to find, especially in a way that doesn’t pathologize people,” said Kerri, a political science student and one of the zine’s collaborating authors.
The Ste. Emilie Skillshare is a group of artists and activists who run an art space with an anti-oppression-based mandate.

“We wanted to make a resource of different stories of people’s experiences with anxiety and through writing and art to be able to share amongst ourselves as a community of anxious people,” said Kerri.

Jeff Miller, whose association with zines goes back to at least 1996, when he began self-publishing issues of Ghost Pine, won the prize for Best Book, Ghost Pine: All Stories True, a compilation of the best of his work from the past 15 years.

“A lot of the people I wrote about in the zine weren’t writers, but were some of the best storytellers I knew,” said Miller. “If I were only to write about my own experiences and my own stories, it would just feel so closed… My experience is such a strange braiding of various people’s stories.”

Compiling the book meant reading through everything in the Ghost Pine back catalogue, including many zines Miller hadn’t seen since their original release.

“In every story there’s a reference to something that at the time seemed so common, but reading it back later, somehow this offhand detail becomes an emblem of the time,” he said, referring to everything from street names, to old friends, to the everyday intrusions of popular culture.

“It really places it in its time in a way that I never intended.”

For a full list of the winners and nominees, you can visit expozine.ca. Copies of Nailbiter 2: An Anxiety Zine can be purchased at the Ste. Emilie Skillshare (3942 Ste. Emilie St.) for $10.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 29, published April 5, 2011.