18 Okt SICK Magazine
Surprise Subscription #22
One of our very favourite things about contemporary print culture is that there really is a magazine for everything. From bathing culture to modern witchcraft, the creativity, breadth and diversity of the magazine world never fails to amaze us.
That’s why we’ve chosen to bring you SICK magazine for your October Surprise. SICK began life as a zine-style pamphlet, produced by editor-in-chief Olivia Spring, and since its first issue, it has been a unique presence in the magazine world, dedicated to elevating the voices and experiences of chronically ill and disabled people.
Presenting a mix of essays, interviews, poetry, and visual art –all created by people living with illness or disability–SICK magazine proposes a radical, thoughtful and compassionate approach to contemporary print publishing, rejecting “grind” culture and making visible those lives and experiences that have so often been overlooked. As such, SICK magazine perfectly encapsulates everything we love about independent print, with its commitment to great design, stirring content and, above all, a sense of creative and communal responsibility.
SICK approaches complex and often painful topics with seriousness and lightness in equal measure, combining a playful design identity with an academic sensibility and an unfaltering commitment to intersectional representation.
We were particularly struck by the series of striking artworks by Tamsin Gaul on the vocabulary of pain, and Jodie Noel Vinson’s auto-fictive literary investigation of a relationship dealing with the changes wrought by long Covid–a topic that, in the aftermath of the global Covid pandemic, seems likely to impact public discourse on illness and disability in a significant way. We’re grateful to have a magazine like SICK to lead the conversation, and hope you will feel the same!
We are happy to share with you on top an exclusive extract from SICK’s bi-monthly Patreon Newsletter by founder Olivia Spring. If you like what you read feel free to subscribe at patreon.com/sickmag.
August 8th, 2022
Hello from my bed, where I am resting with a fan on full blast and a frozen eye mask on my forehead, dripping down my face. The heat this summer has been pretty brutal. The only way I can manage it is to be in the water, or a car with air-conditioning, or what I am doing right now. I’m starting to dream of fall; how the leaves always remember to drop and a coldness will trickle in; first as a whisper and then as a long embrace, like seeing a good friend for the first time in a long while.
I really haven’t been up to anything beyond swimming every day this week, reading, working, and admiring my dog. I did go to a book-making class a few weeks ago which was really fun – I learned how to make a simple hand-sewn book and a Japanese flutter book. It definitely has left me wanting to make some zines, but it’s impossible to find the time or energy. (Sitting upright for a long period of time, inevitably making a mess, not having the energy to clean it after, being overwhelmed that I have to live with a messy table or desk for the next few days.) The workshops also provided a bunch of beautiful rubber stamps, and now I want to collect stamps and ink pads because they are so fun and simple and easy and beautiful and magical!
// sick //
Issue 4 is officially done! 600 copies were printed last week, and pre-orders will be mailed out by the end of this week. I am so eager to see it for myself! I’m thrilled with the way it has turned out, and it’s our largest issue yet.
I’m super excited to share that I won a travel grant for SICK to attend Indiecon festival in Hamburg, where I will be tabling for three days and doing a short presentation. It feels weird to be travelling again, and to be going back to Europe, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is possible to travel safely when taking the right precautions, and I’m committed to making this trip as safe as possible while also allowing myself to enjoy this amazing opportunity.
I haven’t been to Germany since I was 18, when I spent my reading week on a solo trip between Paris and Berlin. I stayed with friends of friends and slept in a 6-year-old’s bed and ate chicken schnitzel twice on the bedroom floor. It was such a special time in my life, having survived high school and starting a new life in England. I had envisioned doing things exactly like this, and my first year of uni was so unbelievably surreal. I wrote in my journal on November 3rd, 2015: ‘I’m still in so much shock that this is my life. I’m sitting in a park in Berlin, alone, my hands are a little numb, but I feel so good.’
I also made a new website that I’m really proud of, check it out if you’d like and check back for some new pages soon at sickmagazine.co.uk.
// books //
I just finished Three Rooms by Jo Hamya, which I loved – a very ‘me’ type of book, where not too much happens and you live in the narrator’s head as she tries to make sense of the world and how to fit inside of it. The book begins with the narrator moving into a rented room in Oxford, and follows her across a year as she navigates different jobs, toxic and strange working environments, and the search for financial stability. I loved the short length of this book (197 pages); it’s a quick read and moves at a decent pace.
‘I was no longer sure what I was allowed to want. Everything I had been raised to desire had, at some point, become passé, but no one had told me. There was a chasm between my expectations and the reality I had to exist in which no one else seemed to grasp. When I FaceTimed home and told my parents I found it unlikely that I should ever walk into a room and meet the person with whom I would one day take out a mortgage, have a child, get a dog, make a home, they stared at me blankly. When I told my neighbour I
found it unlikely that a swipe could ever incur something good, he laughed. And though I want ed to be a good feminist, be grateful for the advancements of a post-post-feminist age and MeToo, I did not want to end up alone.’
I also finally read The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde, and I was stunned. I love reading people’s journals, and this blended with memoir was an effective and insightful way to reflect on her experience with breast cancer, mastectomy, and recovery. I was also interested in the way she discusses the importance of work and its value: ‘The novel is finished at last. It has been a lifeline. I do not have to win in order to know my dreams are valid, I only have to believe in a process of which I am a part. My work kept me alive this past year, my work and the love of women. They are inseparable from each other. In the recognition of the existence of love lies the answer to despair. Work is that recognition given voice and name.’
And: ‘The only answer to death is the heat and confusion of living; the only dependable warmth is the warmth of blood. I can feel my own beating even
// other reads //
The Guardian, June 4 2022: ‘Sally Rooney in Conversation with Patricia Lockwood’
The Guardian, August 6 2022: ‘I made a name for myself with ‘sex-positive’ comedy. Then I was raped on a night out. Would my openness be used against me?’ by Grace Campbell (Content notes: rape, gaslighting)
Topical Cream, April 1 2022, ‘Why it’s Taking so Long’ by Johanna Hedva
Electric Lit, March 2015, Melissa Febos on the Value of Craft for Writing and Life
I loved Issue 1 of Astra, a new international literary magazine that publishes a great range of work both in print and online. What I loved most about Issue 1 was how each piece evoked such a specific sense of place, leading me to google maps and dropping pins to street view random places. It’s also very beautiful, well designed, and the paper is so soft!
Below are my favourite pieces (there are a lot!), which are available to read for free at www.astra-mag.com/magazine.
The essays Sublet by Kate Zambreno and, in response, Den by Helena Fagertun
Artwork by Kudzanai-Violet Hwami
Dreamers in Broad Daylight: Ten Conversations, an essay by Leslie Jamison
A Lamb Himself by Ottessa Moshfegh (an excerpt from her new novel, Lapvona)
Wadden Sea Suite, an essay by Dorthe Nors (translated by Caroline Waight)
Against Nostalgia, a poem by Ada Limón
Pain Like A Philosophy, a short essay by Chinelo Okparanta
// music //
I’m loving Kate Bollinger’s EP ‘Look at it in the Light’, TOPS’ EP ‘Empty Seats’ (catch me jamming to ‘Perfected Steps’ and ‘Party Again’), Angel Olsen’s new album ‘Big Time’ (My favs are ‘All the Good Times’ and ‘Ghost On’) and ‘Gold Star’ EP from Quinnie.