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#Girlgaze: The Girls Behind the Camera


On the day of the inauguration, I spent a few hours with photographs by young women artists at the #girlgaze: a frame of mind exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography in LA. It was my personal West Coast protest: what better place to focus my attention for a few hours than on a diverse, global array of girl artists. 

It felt political to enter a space designed with the aesthetics of a teenage girl’s bedroom in mind–all neon pink, selfie-generating machine, and Lana del Ray on the playlist–and to call that space not lesser-than, not derided, not frivolous, but art. Important art.

The Girlgaze project, a multimedia digital platform “that generates visibility and creates community for the next generation of female photographers,” was founded by Amanda de Cadenet, along with an impressive team of collaborators. Their mission is to “support girls behind the camera.” Their manifesto, posted at the entrance to the show, reads:

We are taking back the word girl. We are pushing back against the cultural projections and traditional gender roles imposed upon girls from the outside world, media and culture. Instead, we aim to represent the intelligence, creativity, complexity and diversity of girls’ experience—across nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, and economic background—by taking the camera into our own hands. It is up to us—those who identify with being a girl—to show our perspectives, tell our stories, and determine our own identity, sexuality, and beauty.

I interviewed one of the artists in the exhibit, Abby Berger, who, at sixteen years old at the time of her acceptance to the show (though she’s now seventeen), was one of the youngest #girlgaze artists. Abby, who lives in New Orleans, is also the daughter of a friend of mine. I remember when my girlfriend shared with me that her daughter’s photography was gaining some notoriety on Instagram. A few months later, this friend told me Abby’s work would be shown in Beverly Hillsand I knew immediately that she meant the #girlgaze exhibit.

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Because We Want Control: An Interview with Melanie Finn

The Gloaming centers on an accident – a woman, Pilgrim, swerves her car to avoid hitting a dog that has run into the street and instead strikes and kills three children waiting for the bus. Recently divorced, her life out of her hands and feeling the weight of whispers all around her, Pilgrim runs away to Africa, only to find the accident haunting her even there.

It’s intense, raw, a story less about moving on with ones’ life than learning how to live aware of life’s messy, connective tissues. And of course, it’s a testament to the striking writing of its author, Melanie Finn. I got the chance to ask Finn a few questions, about the story, her connection to Africa, and how a person should deal with the weight of their own actions:

TDR_BookCover_gloaming_2048x2048  Continue reading

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The Guy Was a Walking Metaphor: An Interview with Susan Perabo

Author Susan Perabo

There’s a story in Pushcart Prize winner Susan Perabo’s new collection of short stories, Why They Run the Way They Do, where an awkward stuffed-animal armadillo creates a metaphor for a struggling marriage. How is that even possible, you wonder? I have no answers. Perabo’s magic lies in her ability to pull beauty, insight, and depth out of the most mundane experiences. Read on to learn more about Perabo and some of the stories included in her collection. 

Kati Heng: The first quote I fell in love in this book with comes quickly — “My father thought the Hanleys were lunatics, but…he believed it was important for me to be exposed to lunatics — provided they were harmless — in order to be a well-rounded adult.” Did your parents share this same theory? Who were some of the “lunatics” you were exposed to while growing up?

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Living for Moments: An Interview with Filmmaker Malea Moon

2016-02-23 10.33.27 1 2

I first “met” Malea Moon on Instagram after being interviewed for Risen Mags, a website that she’s a contributor to as well. I began following her and watching her short IG clips, which then lead me to her YouTube channel; Malea’s films are intimate, sweet, smart, and beautifully edited, tender portraits of herself, her friends, and her environment. I hadn’t realized initially that Malea was so young– fourteen!– which is not to say that what makes her work exciting is her age; rather, I found it thrilling and moving to find this world where young women were using digital media to express themselves and the intimacies of their lives, something that requires a kind of dedication and continuous practice that I very much admire.

Malea Moon is a 14 year old filmmaker living in a rainy valley in Oregon. She’s got a passion for art, rain, Bernie Sanders, and lavender lemonade. You could probably find her rambling about her OTP, shoving a camera in your face, or drinking coffee when she knows she should be drinking tea. She aspires to represent marginalized voices through her art and travel the world in a beat up VW with her closest friends, going to concerts and swimming in the ocean while it rains. You can keep up with this human on her Instagram (@adolessent) or her YouTube (@ Malea Moon).


Gina Abelkop: The internet didn’t really “exist” until I was twelve or thirteen, and it was REALLY different for me then than it is now. How old were you when you started using it, and how has your relationship to the internet changed as you grew older? What are some of your favorite websites, and what makes them exciting/interesting for you?

Malea Moon: When I first started using the internet, I was super young. Around 7 or 8, at the oldest. I remember that I spent most of my time playing dress up games and looking at puppies as a kid, I suppose I just thought it was a fun way to pass the time. I didn’t really see the internet as a way to meet new people or to learn new things until I was at least 10 or so. Now, the way I view the internet is much different (enter: nervous laughter) I have to distance myself from it sometimes, honestly. I can get sucked in very easily. I spend a lot of time on YouTube and Tumblr, crying over new films and fandoms. I’m terribly introverted and I was born in a tiny town without much diversity, and so I began to use social media as a way to make new friends and remind myself there was more than just my small, sheltered hometown. That was something that made it kind of an oasis, a safe space despite all of its danger. I can’t really think of what I’d be doing without the internet, considering it’s been such a prevalent part of my life and aided me being able to connect with others.

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On The Meshes: An Interview with Brittany Billmeyer-Finn

The following is an interview I did with Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, an Oakland-based poet whose recent book of poetry the meshes (Black Radish, 2016) features a complex polyvocal/temporal interpretation/dialogue of and against Maya Deren‘s filmography.

the meshes cover


Geraldine Kim: When I was reading the meshes, I noticed multiple layers of gazing or “looking” throughout the text—the gaze of the filmmaker, of the author writing about the filmmaker’s work, etc. “looking resists. looking revises. looking interrogates. looking invents, to be stared at. looking at one another. looking back” (p.31) and “having performed seeing. seeing double. seeing doubles. having performed spectatorship. I describe the lens. the film itself. the both-ness. opposition of becoming. soft focus. caught the light. depth of surfaces. multiplications as limiting” (p. 54). Could you talk a bit more about these layers?

Brittany Billmeyer-Finn: Spectatorship is innate to the process of writing this book. An important part of the process is watching films. It also becomes a source of contention and critique that develops in the four sections of the book; “the poems,” “the essay,” “the play,” and “the annotated bibliography.” Continue reading

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It’s Kinda Creepy Because I Am: An Interview with Myriam Gurba

Myriam Gurba

When I read Myriam Gurba’s Painting Their Portraits in Winter last year I got that special book-soul-mate feeling that the best books give you, a sense that someone really GETS you, and the universe. Because I can never love anything without going full fangirl, I knew I had to reach out to Myriam for an interview, which– lucky you!– you get read below.

Myriam Gurba, Ms. Gurba, if you’re nasty, is a native Santa Marian. She attended U.C. Berkeley thanks to affirmative action. She is the author of two short story collections, Dahlia Season and Painting Their Portraits in Winter. Dahlia Season won the Edmund White Award, which is given to queer writers for outstanding debut fiction. The book was also shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award. Gurba is also the author of two poetry collections, Wish You Were Me and Sweatsuits of the Damned. She has toured North America twice with avant-garde literary and performance troupe Sister Spit. Gurba’s other writing can be found in places such as Entropy.com, TIME.com, and Lesfigues.com. She creates digital and photographic art that has been exhibited at galleries and museums.


Gina Abelkop: My first question has to be about one of my favorite things about your writing: your sense of humor. It’s silly, smart, biting, and joyful even in stories and poems that are emotionally taut. How and on what teeth was this sense of humor cut? Who are some of your favorite humorists and what is it that you love about their humor and/or work?

Myriam Gurba: My sense of humor was primarily sculpted by the sickest people I know: HELLO MOM AND DAD. My dad likes to joke about the horrific, like free-range children and customer service, and by example, he taught me that these are the things you are supposed to laugh about. My mom is different. She’s more elf than human. She doesn’t say funny things; she says things funny. For example, she’ll tell a story about getting into a car accident but she’ll refer to her car as her mystique since she actually drives a Mercury Mystique and her story will take on this exciting, Daliesque quality because imagine a normal conversation about a car accident but replace the word car with mystique. My parents, however, aren’t into queef jokes. In fact, I’m not even sure they could name a queef though I’m certain they’re familiar with the sound. In high school, I was socially attracted to girls who got accused of being unfeminine since they were funny and gross and so they shaped me, too. Boys accused me of not being feminine and of having too big of lips. My favorite funny people are people I know. My boyfriend makes me giggle. When I have low blood sugar and am surrounded by whites, everything gets hilarious. I appreciate humor that is gross, goofy, self-conscious, and, above all, humiliating. As far as publicly funny people go, I like Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Cardi B, Kristen Wiig pretending to be Bjork, Peter Sellers, Cheech Marin, Chris Rock and angry teenagers.

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This Kind of World Building :: An Interview with Sofia Samatar


Confession time: as much as I’d like to consider myself a well-rounded reader, I hardly ever read fantasy books that don’t contain “Harry Potter” in the title. It’s hard to find one I like. My brain can’t find a way to care about stories of troops of men trekking through dragon-filled lands to find a mysterious object. I can’t relate to a lot of the typical fantasy genre novels that come to mind.

Luckily, there are authors and books out there like Sofia Samatar’s The Winged Histories (the sequel to A Stranger in Olondria, though it can totally stand on its own, too), a fantastic tale of an ancient war and four women both brought together and torn apart by it’s horrors, all doing their very best to change my perception on the whole fantasy genre.

What’s different about this novel? Although it’s hard to put my finger on the *exact * reason, let me just spout off a few: Gorgeous, gorgeous poetic writing. An invented language that’s equivalent to botany on a page. A kickass leader of the troops named Tav, a woman who basically picks up the slack and outshines the male counterparts trying to follow in her warrior footsteps. Romantic, racial, religious storylines and struggles that a non-fantasy devotee can care about.

Not convinced? Read this interview with Sofia herself, and then go read The Winged Histories for yourself:
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The World Conforms to You: An Interview with Rhizome’s Nicole Dunn

Nicole Dunn and feminist hardcore band Rhizome

Nicole Dunn (top right) and Rhizome before their show with G.L.O.S.S.

Drummer for the hardcore band RHIZOME, Nicole Dunn and I went to the same high school in Concord, CA, a sprawling suburb only about 45 minutes from San Francisco but light years away in terms of issues of race, gender, and sexuality. Since then Nicole has played drums for several notable metal and hardcore bands including PROVOS and CLOAK, and has become an outspoken voice around trans and feminist issues. Here Nicole talks about what it’s been like making music in a feminist hardcore band, transitioning within a traditionally close-minded and conservative scene, and shifting gender values in the hardcore-punk and metal communities.


Matt L. Roar: Hi Nicole! I’m super excited to interview you. Can you start off by talking about your current musical endeavors and other recent projects? What have you been working on? What are you excited about?

Nicole Dunn: Hey Matt! I’m excited to do this interview with you because we go way back. Time flies. I’ve been trying to get some more musical projects going here and there but as of now, I’m drumming for Rhizome. Rhizome has become the punk band I’ve always wanted to be in. Female fronted, lyrics about the patriarchy within hardcore and fast and pissed off! We should be touring in the summer so I’m excited for that. I also started recently jamming with two awesome girls and this dude on vocals. The project is like heavy ‘77 style punk so I’ll keep you posted on that. I also was in a black metal band called Cloak but had to call it quits because I’ve really been trying to focus on this significant shift in my life and they wanted a lot out of me I couldn’t give them. I wanted to pursue other musical endeavors but at a pace that lets me focus on my gender transition as well. Cloak has moved on without me but I’m excited to see what their next release will sound like. I’ve also been doing a radio show for the past couple of years called Cult of Riffs where I play all heavy music. The show is on a internet based radio station called BFF.fm. I don’t think I have any listeners sometimes but it’s fun and keeps me busy, haha. Continue reading

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Framed in the Right Kind of Light: An Interview with Poet Carrie Murphy


Photo by Sarah Perry Photography

I’ve known Carrie Murphy since 2011, when my DIY feminist press Birds of Lace published her chapbook Meet the Lavenders. Through Twitter we became online pals who shot the shit on everything from television to poetry to fashion, and eventually ended up on a short poetry tour together in 2012. This fall marks the release of her second collection of poetry, Fat Daisies (Big Lucks 2015), a whipsmart collection that interrogates white privilege, late capitalist consumerism, waste, and the gaping void of modernity—with wry humor, non-didactic feminism, and firm sincerity, natch. You can read two poems from the collection here; you can also take a selfie with Fat Daisies and enter to win a massage, a box of beauty/self-care supplies, and a copy of her first book Pretty Tilt!

I interviewed Murphy about Fat Daisies and her poetry in general: how to be a feeling, living person in this world that seems to turn every living thing into a consumable commodity.


Gina Abelkop: Where did Fat Daisies begin: did it begin to emerge during the writing/editing of your previous book, Pretty Tilt, or sometime else entirely?

Carrie Murphy: I started writing these poems during National Poetry Month in 2012. I was doing a poem-a-day to get myself writing again, living in a tiny apartment in Alexandria, VA, functionally unemployed, and basically miserable. Continue reading

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Character Comes First: An Interview with Anna North

author Anna North

author Anna North

There’s no way to talk about author Anna North’s latest novel, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, without centering the conversation around its title character. Told throughout the viewpoints of the people in Sophie’s life (who often become the main characters in the films the young director Sophie creates), the woman’s life is revealed piece by piece, from insight into her bullied childhood as witnessed by her brother, to early success as a filmmaker as seen by her lover Allison, to frustrations and struggles with relationships as disclosed to us by her husband. An awkward yet elegant and oddly alluring woman, Sophie’s relationship with art, and her much heavier flawed relationships with those around her, make for a melancholic tale of the search for perfection and the costs it may take to get there. Continue reading

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