Author Archives: cynthia ann

Philly Feminist Zine Fest & Interview

This past May I left New York for Philadelphia. Before officially moving, I tabled with For the Birds distro at the Brooklyn Zine Fest in April. It was there that I met Sarah Rose of Once Upon a Distro and organizer of the Philly Feminist Zine Fest. We talked for some time. I told her I’d be moving to Philadelphia, and she told me about the upcoming feminist zine fest. To say hearing this was a comfort would be an understatement; for me, feminist organizing is not an amenity, but a necessity.

Being in Philly now, it’s amazing how it feels infinitely good, but not surprising, to see such productiveness and creativity in a new place with new people. New Yorkers, by and large, forget that there are worthwhile things happening outside of the five boroughs. But still. Coming across such motivation and camaraderie in other corners of the world creates a glow in the chest, a glimmer of hope.

Sarah Rose, along with Taryn Hipp, Jen King and Kristen Asher are the ladies behind the Philly Feminist Zine Fest. They’ve work diligently over the past few months to organize the event, and I was given the chance to interview Taryn and Sarah  to gain some insight into their inspiration and process. The fest will be held on Sunday, August 26th from 12 – 5 at the William Way Community Center (1315 Spruce Street). Tablers at the fest include Amy Leigh of TwelveOhTwo distro, Ramsay Beyer, Riot Grrrl Philly, Jenna Freedman of the Barnard Zine Library, and our own distro here at For the Birds, among many more. Workshops include “Decriminalizing Sex” by Project SAFE, “Soapbox Alternative Zine Structure” by the Soapbox, “How to be an Ally to Sex Workers” by members of SWOP and PERSIST Health Project, and “Putting the Pain to Paper: Writing about the Tough Stuff,” presented by myself and Kathleen McIntyre! There will also be a slew of raffle prizes, and much more! PFZF will also serve as a fundraiser for Project SAFE, a Philadelphia-based organization dedicated to providing health, safety and survival services to sex workers. You can find out more about PFZF here.

Be sure to come say hi at the For the Birds distro table and take part in our workshop, “Putting the Pain to Paper: Writing about the Tough Stuff” from 3 PM to 4PM! We will explore writing as a tool for processing painful experiences such as grief, illness, loss, and trauma. We will discuss the psychological impact of writing and self-publishing on both individuals and communities and explore why and how it can help us heal. Together we will do a writing exercise and provide ideas to help you engage with your own writing process. We’ll also highlight the specific zines and books that we think exhibit a good job of tackling the “tuff stuff” as inspiration.

Check out the interview with Sarah Rose and Taryn Hipp!

Habits of Being Audio Zine

Habits of Being, an oral history/creative nonfiction zine carried in our distro, has recently been transformed into an audio zine! The 40 minute project contains interviews with the permanent residents of the Susan B. Anthony Memorial Unrest Home (SuBAMUH), a women’s intentional community in Amesville, Ohio, and is narrated by Cynthia Ann Schemmer. (That’s me.)

“The Way We Live Through This” is an extension of what was done in that first print issue, weaving these women’s voices with my own, and also with good music by great people. It’s all of our different stories braided into one larger story about feminism, death, coming out and getting through the days. It’s like a podcast, because it is listenable on the internet. It’s like a zine, because you can hold it in your hand.

The Way We Live Through This by habitsofbeing

For a physical copy, or if you want to just talk, please email:
Or, visit

The Written Bird: a two-day literary event!

For the Birds is pleased to announce the details of our literary event, “The Written Bird” as part of our Birds of Summer event series! The two-day event will feature workshops and readings by women writers as a means to foster ideas and words, and to have our voices heard in a field that can often seem intimidating. Spread the word!


Saturday, August 27th 2011

1PM – 6 PM

WORD Bookstore

126 Franklin Street

Brooklyn, NY 11222

1PM Perfecting Your Pitch
with Sadie Magazine editors Jesse Sposato & Susannah Wexler

Learn how to pitch a good story to Sadie and other magazines! Find out what they look for and things to do/look into before sending a pitch!

2PM The Printed World: Self-publishing, promotion, and the many means in which to get your ideas out with Caroline Paquita of Pegacorn Press

A workshop addressing different methods to create printed works (zines, comics, chapbooks + more) that covers some of the most commonly used printing processes. A brief history of self-publishing will be discussed, as well as topics such as materials, layout, different printing options, binding, and distribution. While there will be a focus on producing works in a more “low-fi,” hands-on fashion that utilizes common or easy to find materials, people familiar with self-publishing may learn of new ways to address common issues that often come up in the production side of printing their own work.

3PM Of Course You Can Write a Damn Novel!” with Ocean Capewell

Have you ever wished you were the kind of person who could write a novel? Guess what, you probably are! In this workshop, we will discuss the barriers–some self-imposed, some not–that women/queer writers can face in undertaking such a task. We will do a few exercises to get motivated. if you have written a novel, you are welcome to come and share strategies that got you through! PLEASE NOTE: this workshop is NOT about how to get a novel published.

5PM Write. Now. Writing even if you think you’re not ready
with Lane Moore, writer for The Onion and Jezebel

Whether you want to write a novel, a book of short stories, songs, or your own comic book, you may think your work isn’t good enough yet. You probably don’t know enough, you have no professional training, maybe your ideas are boring, maybe you’re not as clever as you think you are, etc. There are a thousand reasons not to write and plenty of writers battle with these thoughts on a regular basis, but “I’m not ready” is still a ridiculous excuse. If you want to write it, if you want to see something exist because you don’t see anyone else doing anything like it, you’re ready. I’ll explore various theories as to why there is an abundance of men and a shortage of women in creative fields, ways to go over, under, or through your perceived blocks, and I’ll also talk about my experience with writing what you know.


Sunday, August 28th 2011

Bluestockings Bookstore

172 Allen Street

NY NY 10002



Stacy is a writer and belly dancer in New York City. She is originally from Prairie Grove, AR, and was the first person on either side of her family to ever go to college. After a childhood punctuated by bullying, a 20-year struggle with anorexia and bulimia, and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder that didn’t feel quite right, Stacy was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2005. She recovered through a combination of dialectical behavior therapy, mood-stabilizing medication and tattoos. Her memoir “Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl” was published by W.W. Norton in January 2011 and chosen for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers program. Stacy is passionate about helping bullied kids find their voices and educating clinicians about body modification.

Mira is a Brooklyn-based creative nonfiction and children’s book author, New York Times bestselling ghostwriter, as well as the founder and executive director of Freerange Nonfiction, a New York City reading series and storytelling collective. This year, she was nominated for the Best American Essays, a Pushcart Prize, and the Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award (results pending). She’s a contributing writer to the forthcoming book, The Moment (2012 Harper Perennial) and her compositions have appeared in numerous print and online publications, such as New York Magazine, The Morning News, Smith Magazine, Anderbo, Cerise Press, LUMINA, Epiphany,, the Citron Review, the Fertile Source,, and more. Right now, she’s working on a memoir about the Uterus and the American Dream, as well as a collection of children’s books. Also, she’s a vegetarian. To find out more about her writing, to read excerpts or for press clips, she welcomes you to go to:

Ocean grew up on Long Island but has lived all over. She studied writing at Nassau BOCES Cultural Arts Centre & SUNY Purchase. She is trying to find a home for her first novel and is starting a second one about lesbian construction-worker romance! She currently lives in Pittsburgh and works at the welfare office.”


At every stage of education, sexual harassment is common, and often considered a rite of passage for young people. It’s not unusual for a girl to hear “Hey, Shorty!” on a daily basis, as she walks down the hall or comes into the school yard, followed by a sexual innuendo, insult, come-on, or assault. But when teenagers are asked whether they experience this in their own lives, most of them say it’s not happening.

Girls for Gender Equity, a nonprofit organization based in New York City, has developed a model for teens to teach one another about sexual harassment. How do you define it? How does it affect your self-esteem? What do you do in response? Why is it so normalized in schools, and how can we as a society begin to address these causes? Geared toward students, parents, teachers, policy makers, and activists, this book is an excellent model for building awareness and creating change in any community.

Molly Allis’s “Pilgrim”

The fire escape outside of my kitchen window serves as a meeting ground for Mourning Doves, where they sit and sing their ooAAH cooo coo coo requiem for me while I drink my coffee or work on some writing. It’s our morning routine. Or rather, our mourning routine. Anyway, today when I sat down to write this blog post, I put on Molly Allis’s new album “Pilgrim.” One of the doves, a regular who I’ve been studying the past few mornings, hopped on the window sill and looked at me with one black beady eye shadowed in baby blue. I turned the music up and she stared right back at me and sang out. Now, I don’t mean to get all woo-woo on you or anything, but I’m pretty sure she was singing along to these jams!

Molly Allis

“Pilgrim” is a concept album that tells the story of a girl journeying to the kingdom of the heart and, in the process, learns about healing herself and others around her (and isn’t this what we’re all working towards?) Molly uses a variety of instruments to tell this charming story, and does so beautifully. My favorite tracks include “The Void,” “Death/Sunrise” and “Oh, Great Mother!” The music swells in and out; louder drum-driven songs melt into the quiet of violins and banjos while Molly’s voice remains a powerful and consistent force. The journey, you see, will always be one of ups and downs.

You can listen to and/or buy “Pilgrim” on Molly’s website here!

Molly is not only a musician, but also a puppeteer and animator. Here is a gorgeous stop animation film she created, “Pilgrim, Your Heart Is a Ball of Light,” filled with lots of winged creatures, so you know we at For The Birds are loving it:

Pilgrim, Your Heart is a Ball of Light from Molly Allis on Vimeo.

You can also check out Molly’s other awesome creations and doings at her websiteblog or Facebook!


Tonight Girls Write Now had their housewarming party at their new home! Writers and those interested in youth mentoring should definitely check out this rad nonprofit organization that combines all-girl youth mentoring and a creative writing program to NYC at-risk or underserved high school girls. Girls Write Now pairs girls ages 13 – 20 who attend high school in any of the five boroughs with writing professionals to develop their individual voices on paper. Mentors also help girls to explore careers in writing and make safe and healthy choices for the future.

I recently talked to the Girls Write Now staff at their booth at the Brooklyn Book Festival a few weeks back; to see women so fervid in encouraging young girls to write was just totally excellent and hopeful for the future of women in writing.  I looked through their annual anthology that showcases the year’s best writing, and the women told me that nothing was more rewarding than seeing the girls’ reactions to their own published works. I can only imagine!

Girls Write Now is always looking for mentors and volunteers! You can check them out on their website or stop in at their new headquarters located at West 37th Street (just east of 8th Ave), Suite 1800.


We, the birds, have recently encountered comments on our blog that, well, we aren’t so down with. While we are all for freedom of speech, we also seek to maintain a safer space with healthy and productive dialogues that will not alienate or offend. We also understand the internet is by no means a safe space, but hey, we’re trying.

So, in an effort to keep things as safe as birdly possible on this most open and public of forums, we have decided to monitor our comments. If we find your comment to be offensive, it will not be made public and will instead be replaced with this:

You are seeing this message because a comment was deleted. While we hope to facilitate healthy dialogue with a multitude of perspectives and opinions, we support the maintaining of a safer space for a discussion free of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other oppressions.

Let’s just be excellent to each other, huh?


A few weeks ago I drove to Amesville, Ohio to spend a weekend at SuBAMUH (Susan B. Anthony Memorial Unrest Home) as part of a larger oral history project on women-only intentional communities. I will say this: I’m surprised I came home.

SuBAMUH was founded in 1979 as a feminist education center. It’s 151 acres contains a campground, a communal kitchen, living spaces, a (naked)swimming pond and hiking trails. Aside from being a feminist safe space, SuBAMUH serves as a community center and works closely with nearby Ohio University in Athens. They offer workshops on topics such as wild edible plants, feminist parenting, safer sex, car mechanics and cheese making.

I conducted three interviews with two residents and the founder of SuBAMUH, Jan Griesinger, which I’ve included pieces of below. Jan lives in the farmhouse on the land, which serves as both her home and a main space for residents.  It is surrounded by cherry blossoms, a hot tub, and a small garden. It is a small museum of sorts dedicated to feminism and the Dayton Women’s Liberation movement, co-founded by Jan and her partner, Mary. We sat by her fire drinking SuBAMUH’s famous homemade Concord grape juice and eating cherry pie. Her cat lay on her lap, head on her chest, and would occasionally arch her back to knead her stomach. Jan got up occasional to stoke the fire and the interview lasted about an hour. Continue reading

NYU’s Riot Grrrl Archive & Alison Piepmeier’s book “Girl Zines”

As women and feminists, zine writing has been a crucial part of documenting our personal and political history for almost two decades. So, how excited were we at For The Birds Collective to hear that Kathleen Hanna donated her papers and zines to NYU’s Riot Grrl Archive at Fales Library! Immediately following my reaction “how fucking cool” was “how do I sneak into NYU”?

This scholarly attention is a giant step forward for Riot Grrrl as a movement, and to read about this news on The New Yorker’s blog The Book Bench was a real brain bomb. Author of the blog entry, Macy Halford, posits that archiving these papers means Riot Grrrl has passed into history, bringing sad news with the good news. I beg to differ! Something’s been aflutter in the girl punk scene, especially in our very own Brooklyn, NY, for sometime now, as collective bird Kate writes in her article Girls Germs: A Brooklyn Scene Report, printed in the October Issue of Maximum Rocknroll.

As if NYU hadn’t already won our (speed) hearts with this important archival, NYU Press also recently published Alison Piepmeier’s book, Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism. The book is the first of its kind to fully explore the connection between zines and feminism for the past two decades as well as their joint role in our future. Piepmeier is the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the College of Charleston, South Carolina.

IN BIRD NEWS: We will be tabling with our distro at the Anti-Valentines Riot Grrl Cover Band Show!

No, seriously, we’re not going anywhere.

Her book explores the use of zines and feminism for the past two decades, as well as their role in our future, and it’s the first book to explore this connection.