Tear the Petals Off of You
Perzine, Julia Eff, 56 pgs, Crapandemic, crapandemic.storenvy.com, $4.50
This zine comes with a content warning for graphic descriptions of abuse.
In this handwritten perzine, the prolific Julia Eff, an awesome force of zinery in Bloomington, across the Midwest and beyond, opens by recounting their relationship with an abusive ex-partner. They map the physical and mental impact the trauma continues to have day-to-day. The writing is brutal and poetic and gripping — “I started clenching my teeth around the time I had the thought ‘I could just leave’ for the first time and stuffed it back down, a silent scream that feels like collapsed lungs.”
However, the hurt doesn’t end with this relationship. In 2018, one of Eff’s idols, a well-known musician in the horror punk scene, is accused of violently beating, raping, manipulating, and extorting young women under the guise of BDSM. The very same music that once helped Eff get through their own trauma is now tainted, and the depth of the disappointment is immeasurable. Tear the Petals Off of You cleverly weaves two different experiences into one, or as Eff writes, it’s “basically a fucking circle.”
Eff writes poignantly but intentionally pushes into the space where they may have once held back, admitting their previous inability to talk about their lived experience despite going to therapy and having friends to lean on. It takes a long time for a person to come to terms with trauma, and Eff is honest about it.
The neat, dense handwriting bridges the writer and the reader, highlighting raw emotions and details through the use of uppercase writing and growing progressively more jagged and unhinged as anger erupts. It’s an effective approach for delivering such personal and sensitive subject matter. Knives, guns, eyeballs, and crossed-out band photos from a tapestry collage coursing through the entire zine. These serve as visual reminders of the betrayal and violence experienced by Eff and other abuse survivors.
Tear the Petals Off of You can be truly heartbreaking at times, but Eff’s courage is undeniably inspiring. “I love you. I believe you. I’m sorry this happened,” are the closing words to a zine full of pure emotional honesty and radical vulnerability.