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Dear Journal #3 speaks up, but never speaks for, its readers

Dear Journal #3

zine, Laina Hughes & Dunja Kovacevic (ed.), 92 pgs, dearjrnl@gmail.com.

In So Sad Today, Melissa Broder’s 2016 series of personal essays, she writes, “Is it worth being so talented if you also have to suffer from a profound sensitivity that is so intrinsically connected to your gifts?” This sentiment weaves its way through the entirety of Dear Journal’s third issue, being quoted directly in the Fall 2017 issue’s compassionate foreword written by Alexa Joy Potashnik, as well as later in a piece by contributor Karlo Aguilar.

Indeed, a narrative and experiential thread of sensitivity and understanding of the interaction between the everyday and the personhood of women, femme, and non-binary folks are found on each page of Dear Journal’s robust 92-page compilation. Slickly bound, and set as is customary for the journal, this issue speaks back with forceful care to its previous Summer 2017 iteration, taking into consideration the multiplicity and difference of the voices it makes space for — invariably compiling the works of its contributors in a way that is more cohesive in its identity. The intersectional feminist rhetoric that drives the zine’s aims matures with this issue, with contributors from various backgrounds and positionalities being paralleled not by a disregard for difference, but through its acknowledgment.

Editors Laina Hughes and Dunja Kovacevic have imbued their platform with a more pronounced effort to “to speak up, but never to speak for,” and these efforts do not go unnoticed. Several of the contributors’ stories approach one another in their observations of the complex subjectivities of the everyday. Autumn Crossman-Serb (@akitron on Instagram) illustrates with her comics the intersection of Muslim femmehood and post-Millennial text and online communication; Hannah Green (@thisgreenmachine on Twitter) brings nuance and tormenting humour to her poetry of experience with her “Studying A Note to Self ” series. Others such as Karlo Aguilar and Elsa Taylor provide straightforward writing that focuses on the nexus of self and self-doubt — Aguilar’s “On Writing” is one of the standout pieces for me, written in a pre-tenseless and sincere manner, which I imagine would ring familiar for many women and femme writers of colour. Likewise, Steph Saunders’ poetry will resonate with many and, hopefully, as it did for myself, provide a sense of restorative testimony.

What stands out for me may not be what stands out for you, and I would argue that this is exactly the point of publications such as Dear Journal. Each contributor here brings their own voice and experience to Dear Journal’s table and there are many lenses through which one may view versions of our-selves with either acknowledgement of difference or affirmation of our own selves. As with their previous issue, I highly recommend picking up a copy and taking the time, if you’re able to, to take in this multiplicity of story and voice.

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