Thursday, February 20, 2014

Réchneek in Broken Pencil Magazine

Réchneek, the publication that grew out of my thesis project last year, received a very classy review penned by Chris Landry in the latest issue of Broken Pencil Magazine.  How suitable that it was included in an issue that also featured a piece on aging zinesters.  To learn about what type of zines aging zinesters make, read on:

Depka Bursey, in collaboration with her daughter, Tara Bursey, has created a record of a Macedonian dialect in dictionary form.  The language, as it was spoken in the first half of the 20th century, contains many dialects and was traditionally passed down orally from generation to generation even as it was suppressed by Greece's repressive, anti-communist regime.  If reading a zine in dictionary form seems dull, don't worry, it's not.  That's just the first half of Réchneek.  In the second portion there is a transcript of an interview between Tara and her mother.  The discussion covers Greek political unrest, the military coup, language policy, food shortages, immigration to Canada, and perhaps most importantly, the personal connection to the Macedonian language.  Apart from the political history you'll get a compelling glimpse into a family history which, as someone whose grandparents fled a different kind of repression in Poland, I found really affecting.  Depka and Tara even include reproductions of old photographs adhered with photo corners.  I also appreciated descriptions of what certain neighbourhoods were like in the '60s and '70s.  Queen and Broadview, Pape and Danforth, Gerrard and Parliament, and others have all gone under tremendous changes and it is fascinating to hear a first-hand recollection of the fountains and drunks in Cabbagetown or how the Goodwill store used to be called "Crippled Civilians."

This project was put together in a style that is consistent with previous zines by Tara: half-letter size format, a heavier, textured cover with start typeface; and an interview format based on the subject's personal experience.  There was a notable difference as well-- the absence of illustrations.  I found myself wondering why Réchneek begins with the dictionary and then follows with the interview and not the other way around.  I think it is because language is the focus with this project.  Depka says to Tara, "it would be wonderful if people had the interest that you seem to have.  It's so sad that all these languages are dying because they have a history behind them."  I think that's the definition of a worthy project: capturing a unique story that would otherwise perish in the void. (Chris Landry)

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