Shotgun Seamstress Zine Collection (six zines by & for Black punks) will include all the issues of Osa Atoe’s zine, which includes a ton of interviews, reviews, and so much more! We are extremely proud to help put out this book, and we hope you are equally as excited to read it.
There is a narrative about punk – call it the American Hardcore
narrative – that women and non-binary-gendered people were active in
punk during the initial wave, then disappeared as the 1980s progressed
due to the rise of macho hardcore.
As the story goes, these minorities re-emerged during the early ‘90s
during the riot grrrl movement – then disappeared again throughout the
late ‘90s and ‘00s until the riot grrrl revivalist spirit pervaded the
We’ve always been here, though – running labels, writing about music,
playing in bands, and booking shows, and just because we haven’t always
gotten the media spotlight doesn’t mean that we don’t all have stories
to tell. And so, this is the first in an ongoing series of interviews
meant to spotlight some of the unsung figures written out of this
narrative, despite them having kept DIY punk interesting and vital over
Our first interview is with Osa Atoe of New Bloods, a minimal punk outfit who put out one excellent record on Kill Rock Stars in 2008, and Negation,
a raw post-punk band who put out a demo and a cassette before folding
last year. Originally from the DC area and an alum of the Portland
scene, Osa moved to New Orleans in 2009, where she’s been keeping punk
alive, booking shows and fests and releasing tapes under the No More Fiction moniker. She’s also a talented writer and historian currently on her eighth issue of Shotgun Seamstress, a zine by and for black punks established in 2006, the first six issues of which are available in a bound anthology.
“Typically, one issue of Shotgun Seamstress takes at least a year to
produce,” Atoe says. “The world of black punk rock is super tiny. It
takes a long time to accumulate content, especially work that I’m
genuinely inspired by.” [Read More]
Itoro recently read all six issues of Shotgun Seamstress in a row. Here is what she learned from them:
It’s hard to speak to everything the Shotgun Seamstress zine collection taught me. It really does give you everything: interviews, stories, being queer, black, punk, female, broke, weird, loving music, knowing your history, loving yourself…it draws from a lot of sources and that right there sums up this history of the punk scene and the Black experience: We pull from everywhere and we survive and thrive too.
That’s my biggest lesson, but here are five more just for good measure:
1. WE need our people
Reading Shotgun Seamstress opened my eyes to our need for each other’s affirmation, community and understanding while trying to do the impossible: live in the margins. It’s important that when we find each other, we do what we can to build community and lift each other up, usually we’re the only black face in the white crowd. Many of the punk rockers, artists, drag queens, musicians, made that clear in Shotgun Seamstress. From how white the punk scene is, specifically, and how black folks are constantly pushed to the margins, it’s important for us, as Audre Lorde so eloquently puts it, “to practice how to be tender with one another.” I was shocked and awed to see the type of love and gentleness Shotgun Seamstress had to the multiplicity of voices it brought in.
2. Our struggles affirm one another
THE WOMEN OF COLOR IN PUNK CONFERENCE organized by Osa Atoe was talked about in the zine series as an affirming experience for women of color and a place of knowledge on a personal, political and historical level. It gave a space to share and think about how women of color could carry the torch forward and make life easier for young punksters participating in zine culture.
3. Don’t you yuck my yum
Stop commodifying my shit and learn your gotdamn herstory mofo!–Who are you to tell me what punk is? What a black punk is? What I should look like or sound like? Who are you to buy my shit, sell my shit, exploit my shit, silence my shit and then tell ME what to do!
One of the points that Shotgun Seamstress addresses is the African roots of punk and the importance of knowing that we stand in a long line of black peoples who made most of the music that we hear what it is. Let’s remember where things come from:
“Yes, rock and roll and almost the entire American pop pantheon comes from the blood sweat, and tears of sharecroppers, slaves and disenfranchised people.” — Chris Sutton
4. DO NOT leave any of yourself out of the equation
It all counts and all parts of ourselves need to be in our analysis and knowledge of our conditions. The fearlessness that the many voices had in Shotgun Seamstress in reclaiming the weird, the awkward, the queer, the difference in ourselves has to be a part of our liberation processes. Especially when looking at how to address our experiences, the personal is political and we should always question a scene-movement that expects us to leave an aspect of ourselves (that they don’t want to swallow) at the door.
5. Be an Ally not a Disappointment
Not gonna spend too much energy on this point, but a recurring issue that was highlighted throughout Shotgun Seamstress was the need for more allies, specifically white allies to “not talk that talk, if you ain’t gonna walk that.” Disappointment when we fail each other in this way does not even begin to cover it.
Some more key truths that I took away can be found below.
Life calls for resourcefulness, especially when you are on the margins…
Black punksters might be “obscure” but they have always been here…
Be courageous enough to break the silence…
If you don’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?…
Rock on, stay strong…
What were your take aways? What resonated most with you?
Join the conversation and if you haven’t read the Shotgun Seamstress zine collection, please do and add your thoughts.
The final issue of Shotgun Seamstress zine was completed in the fall of 2011. Now, all six issues are compiled in a book that was published by Mend My Dress Press.
The first issue of Shotgun Seamstress came out in August of 2006. Read issue #1 for free here:
ABOUT ITORO UDOFIA
Itoro is the first dedicated intern for the POC Zine Project’s Legacy Series. Itoro’s excited to support POCZP because "it is a collective that uplifts and cares about what people of color have to say and acknowledges what they have always said.“ Learn more about her here.
‘What I learned from …' is a new feature that you will find on POCZP’s digital platforms. POCZP will share zine analysis by and for POC to affirm our experiences and interpretation of independently created POC publications. We are starting a dialog.
POCZP Interns can contribute (learn about our internship program here) to this ongoing feature, as well as ANYONE who is interested in reading POC zines and reflecting on them. The only requirement is that you must identify as a person of color.
Email email@example.com if you would like to write the next 'What I learned from …’ edition. Put ”What I learned from …’ " in the subject line and include the following in the email body:
1) The zine, or series of zines, you want to read and review
2) Indicate if you already have access to the zine/s or need assistance accessing them
3) Include links to three writing samples, or submit three new writing samples (zine reviews or book reviews)
Shotgun Seamstress #1 - A zine by and for black punks!
I’ve shared this link with a few of you and it’s been circulating on riot grrrl blogs, too, but I think it’s important to reiterate: Shotgun Seamstress is a great zine. The coordinator, Osa Atoe, started the zine in the Pacific NW. She’s now in New Orleans and also writes Shotgun Seamstress-related blog columns celebrating “the brown underground.”
On violence at punk shows, Atoe writes:
I grew up going to shows in a town where if certain people in the audience were making it impossible for the rest of the audience to enjoy the show by being violent or otherwise intolerable, certain bands would stop playing and wait for the idiocy to die down before they started playing again. That is punk to me: Creating the kind of atmosphere you want to have around you.
YES. Creating the kind of atmosphere you want to have around you: that is a big part of what being radical is to me.
Issue 1 of the Shotgun Seamstress zine highlights The Gories from Detroit (excellent garage rock blues-y track up top) and recent blog posts linked me over to Baton Rouge’s all-grrrl Kicktease. Oof, grrrls can WAIL. Also pretty into Trash Kit from the UK.
Osa Atoe forges on with a new issue of Shotgun Seamstress that veers a bit from the previous issues. But no worry, because this one is just as rad! And just as crucial! Inside Osa shares her experience with booking woman-positive, queer-positive, all-ages DIY shows in New Orleans, detailing the joy & struggle found in organizing such a project. It’s handwritten, with flyers printed alongside the stories behind those particular shows. Reading this zine filled me with pure joy. So many times the hard work that we put into DIY projects goes unacknowledged & the projects themselves are often forgotten once they’re in past. And so I’m grateful that Osa has created a zine to document No More Fiction shows & the work she puts into them. This is legitimately one of the most inspiring & important zines I’ve ever read. It will push you to create & build & then share your own story. Highly recommended.
“Making [zine series] Shotgun Seamstress has been a way for me to keep myself company as one of few black punks in the various scenes I’ve been in, and it’s also been a mode of psychic liberation — maybe even decolonization — for me. Telling varied stories of varied black outsider experiences has proven to me the vastness of black self-expression.”
Also, did you know that you could get Gift Certificates from Portland Button Works in any denomination you would like? You could get a gift certificate for $12.56 if you would like. I don’t know why I’m so excited with that, but it I was always really annoyed with gift certificates that picked the price point for you. Check out the Gift Certificates here!
Shotgun Seamstress is a fanzine by, for, and about black punks, feminists, queers, artists and musicians by New Orleans-based Osa Atoe. The blog is an extension of the now defunct recently resurrected print zine, printed by Mend My Dress Press (a grrrl run publishing company).
Read selected issues of Shotgun Seamstress for FREE online here, buy the latest issue here, and check out this interview with Osa over at Broken Pencil here!
“Shotgun Seamstress exists for those that realize that punk rock is an idea and a possibility that must be forced open in order to fit everybody that needs it inside. Shotgun Seamstress is for those that understand the necessity of making a refracted reality available to the kids, especially in an era where it seems possible to unearth everything, where there lies no mystery, a barrage of images and icons displayed on computer screens for five seconds until the next thing appears…This is something to hold onto and reread over and over. A six zine blast that manages to blow apart the apathy and restore faith in the idea of punk rock as a strategy for resistance! Creating a separate currency for those that are not interested in replicating boring ideals in underground existences, Shotgun Seamstress is like the best mix tape anyone has ever made, where radical politics are never sidelined for an easier ride, where good times are never in doubt and where subsumed experiences are revealed as real… The Gories and Void, Nasty Facts and X-Ray Spex, Brontez, Vaginal Davis, punk rock. It’s an endless adventure and this is another way in. -Layla Gibbons of Maximum Rocknroll
ABOUT ISSUE 8
"Interviews with Wizard Apprentice, Geretta Geretta, Monika Estrella Negra. Essays about Okda boys, Taquila Mockingbird, Walter Scott’s murder Martha P. Jonson. As always Osa’s work is a beautiful and inspiring history lesson and burning torch lighting the future.” -Mend My Dress Press
It’s great to see Osa and Shotgun Seamstress zine get much deserved attention, and here is an article giving “The Best of Black Punk Rock” very much due credit. We’re seeing folks post this everywhere, and we couldn’t be happier about it.