As I sat down at a bar to write this review, someone drinking nearby said to me “that cover is a beaut’,” and asked if they could have a read. Given the issue’s theme — pleasure — such a sensory response is interesting. Feels #08 is a submission-based zine focused on feelings, and it reads like a young literary arts journal, blending poetry, artwork, essays and narratives into a cohesive whole. Printed in vivid Risograph pink and blue on uncoated paper in a generous size, it feels great in your hands.
There are some editorial pieces throughout, but the bulk of the content is made up of submissions, making its success or failure rest largely with the community of contributors. Thankfully, the community is strong, and they keep the issue engaging, despite it feeling slightly unbalanced. Poetry is represented twice as much as any other form of writing.
There are a few gems, but many of the poems blur together when read back to back. Some personal essays offer a welcome counterbalance. An interview with writer and teacher Clementine Morrigan is candid and refreshing, but the standouts are the longer narrative pieces. The awkward first time Grindr hookup tenderly described by the deadpan Josh Dixon is worth the cover price alone. And Sonja Seiler’s blossoming romance, chronicled as a series of lists, is both quick-witted and formally inventive. When writing about feelings, there’s the expressive mode and the discursive mode. Many of the works in Feels #08 fall into one of these two categories, but the best pieces manage to pull off both at the same time, and they’re truly a pleasure to behold. (Elwyn Murray)