Source: Elevate Difference
Written by Ani Colekessian
Unapologetic. Raw. Honest.
The third issue of Voces Zine is a collection of poetry by artists from different communities—indigenous, people of color, trans, and queer—sharing their experiences as survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Originally inspired by a small community of Latino immigrants, this issue represents a first-time inclusion of contributors from outside of its original roots.
The eclectic air of the compilation reflects this shift. During an interview I asked editor Noemi Martinez about the strengths and weaknesses of such a model; she discussed how the stories could be competing or compatible, but that each needed to be told. I appreciated her insight and find this invites a greater audience, while also revealing the individual ways we experience violence against women. Some stories might resonate with one reader more than others, but each exposes the important variance of dynamics in surviving violence: blaming, loving, mistrusting, self-hating, empowering, forgiving, healing, hiding, ignoring, being vulnerable, being strong, being uncertain, being alone, being supported.
At times I felt I could sympathize with each word (“unwrap your bandages/let them wounds breathe/let them scab and itch/and fall/away”), with the uncertainty (“am i better?”), and with the paradox of anger and barren strength (“i aint no fucking weak, limp, helpless, shaking, hiding, trembling, dying, lonely, battered girl. i’m a woman with a black eye.”). Other writings left me unattached or distant, to which I cite Martinez’s foreword, “There is no guarantee how one will react to a particular writing when you are a survivor…as a reader, you might find these writings triggering, not helpful, judgemental [sic], totally off, fucked up, questionable, right on, brutally honest, truthful inspiring.” The point: take from Voces Zine what you can relate to, learn from what you might not, and leave the rest behind.
Voces Zine was created to support survivors and to provide a teaching tool for discussion and understanding of what violence against women means. While the variety of themes provide this type of catalyst, at times the compilation seemed to be more of a therapeutic outlet for each contributor. To this end, I do not fault the project, but commend it for its ability to provide a space in which “victim, survivor, thriver” can share, question, and grow.
I admire each of the contributors for finding the strength to speak up and write out and urge any person questioning, challenged by, or curious about violence against women to take a look through Voces Zine. In the interview, Martinez explained, “I’m not an editor. I’m not professional.” Although I believe she has proven her worth of both titles with this endeavour, the humility of her statement is yet another reflection of the DIY compassion and grassroots foundation of this project. Voces Zine is more than words on paper; it’s a resource of hope, inspiration, and healing.