Opera North

Hand Job Zine Anthology Launch at The Chameleon

21 March 17 words: LP Mills

Dark times are ahead for zine fans. After years of sticking two fingers up at the man, Hand Job zine are shutting down the presses for an indefinite amount of time. But in spite of their planned hiatus, the press decided to go out with a bang: Friday 3 March marked the launch of the Hand Job Zine Anthology. Never one to miss a party, I decided to pop down to see the old lot off. I paid my £3 entry, got my hand stamped, slammed back a tequila shot, and dove into the punky, home-grown fun.

Based in the cosy confines of The Chameleon and boasting Nottingham’s resident cockney prince Miggy Angel as compere, the event sported a lively, welcoming atmosphere flanked by a handful of makeshift zine stalls set up by local publishers Hi Vis and Mud Press. There’s always something so exciting about these scratchy, DIY punk events – the crowds are always fiercely respectful, the vibe is always energetic and intense, and the venues are always cosy and intimate. Ordering myself a can of Red Stripe from the bar, I took up position by a life-sized cardboard cut-out of a sarcy Elvis and let the magic happen.

As one can expect from Nottingham’s spoken word scene, the night was chock-full of variety, featuring poetry and prose readings taken directly from the anthology and punctuated by musical interludes. Of particular note was the lyrical and stirring performance by Dean Lilleyman and Beth Aveyard, who fused loquacious spoken word with haunting folk music, creating a dreamy atmosphere that left the entire room in stunned silence.

Of course events like this are all about the poetry, and Hand Job did not disappoint. Derby-based poet and frequent host of Word Wise Jamie Thrasivoulou took to the stage to deliver one of his typically stirring, powerful recitals, ploughing through his work with the intensity and passion that separates him from his peers. On the other hand you had the charmingly domestic Martin Appleby’s gentler, more lyrical piece Burger Man, sending a shockwave of titters through the crowd with its playful air and naturally accessible topic (who doesn’t love a cheap burger?).

The prose was also worth mentioning: topics ranging from comically drunken tits to sincere and heartfelt biography shared the stage and wowed the crowds. One piece that stood out to me was Amy Victoria Gray’s touching The Great Pyramids of Tower Hamlets, which paints a harrowing picture of a chap who, if he wasn’t so poorly, would come across as a bit of a knob.

All in all, the event was a thumping success: a bloody fun night of excellent performers, barrels of punky swag and a crowd so welcoming it was like being home for a particularly noisy Sunday dinner with your mam. Overall, a fantastic send-off to a well-loved zine, and a damn fine celebration of the grass-roots spirit that made it great in the first place.

Hand Job Zine: An Anthology
Ed. Jim Gibson
£12, Hi Vis Press

The culmination of a ten-issue run and two years’ worth of collaboration with artists from across the UK, Hand Job Zine’s anthology has finally hit the shelves with a bang. The anthology, featuring work from Joseph Ridgewell, Yessica Klein, Miggy Angel and many more, shows off some of the most honest voices and sharpest wits in contemporary literature, and it looks lovely whilst doing it. I know they tell you not to judge a book by its cover (this is a zine, so it doesn’t count), but the production of the anthology itself is a work of art. Lit-lovers will find pieces that range from the tragic to the hysterical, from the poignant to the piss-taking, and the whole thing has a passionate, celebratory air to it. Marking the end of an era, Hand Job Zine’s anthology is a punk love-letter to everything great about DIY poetry, prose and art. LP Mills

Hand Job Zine Anthology Launch took place at The Chameleon on Friday 3 March 2017

Hand Job Zine website

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