Writing: Durable Goods is Out of Retirement

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

As many of you well know, I used to produce a microzine called Durable Goods. It started in 2009 and ended in 2013. Many things were accomplished with this zine and its distribution reached every continent in the world, every state in this country, and was archived in countless zine and university libraries.
Over the years, I have been asked if I would start Durable Goods back up. It is always a hard question. It was my most favorite project that I’ve ever produced, but toward the end it was labor intensive beyond my singular capability. I was folding 250 copies every two weeks by hand as well as handwritten note cards, stamped bookmarks, and handwritten envelopes. Add in a full time nursing job and a kid and trying to have my own creative output. It became too much so I ended it at its peak.

Recently, I was approached by Scot D. Young of Rusty Truck about this very thing. Is Durable Goods ever coming back? The thought of being that involved in one project with where my life is now seemed overwhelming, but as we talked, something came to mind. Scot works with teenage kids who have been through the wringer—abuse of every kind, poverty, hunger. These kids find some direction and solace in writing. This struck a chord with me because my whole life has been saved and elevated over and over again by writing poetry. It has always loved me. It has always been there.

So, Durable Goods is coming back for a special issue series. There will be eight issues, one for each of the kids. Some of you may know that Durable Goods has traditionally been invite only and I sent the kids their invite letter yesterday. Scot will work with them on writing the poetry to fit the parameters of the zine and also teach them how to submit their work for publication. This project is about showing them how to put themselves out there but also that their words can mean something, that they can be heard, that they can make a difference not only to other people but to themselves.

I will be offering up the opportunity to receive this series of 8 zines just like it used to be. Postage has gone up a bit since then, but I still only charge for what it will cost for me to send. This project is about physical connection and sharing creative understanding. Here are the prices:

Domestic $6.50 (includes all 8 issues with shipping)
International (Euro) $11.15 (which works out to be $13.00 US)
International (Pound) $9.50 (which works out to be $13.00 US)
International (Canada Dollar) $16.25 (which works out to be $13.00 US)
**Any other conversions will be assessed per need basis

A new feature is that you’ll be able to send the cost of the issues via PayPal (leathyd or by looking up Aleathia Drehmer) or Venmo (Aleathia-Drehmer). You can also send me payment in the mail or you can send a chapbook of your own writing that is of equal value (address to be provided privately). Please remember to include your mailing address with payment or email (aleathiadrehmer@gmail.com). Thank you.

We have had many generous folks who are paying kindness forward. Currently I have 5 domestic subscriptions paid for if anyone is interested and cannot afford to be part of the project and my aunt Michelle just kindly donated one international subscription. Scot D. Young had an anonymous donor who is sending funds to buy the kids supplies for writing, Richard Hansen of Poems for All is sending them a selection of tiny poem books, and Jack Varnell from Social Yet Distanced Podcast has offered a podcast about the project when it is finished.

We are hoping to have something done by the end of October. Feel free to email me with any questions. Thanks for supporting these kids and small press poetry.

A Writer’s Group Changed My Life

In the last post I mentioned a poem and Ted Talk by Phil Kaye which spoke about building what you know how to build. Wove into the same talk, he spoke about the process of writing as well as the first time he ever taught a workshop of poetry in the prison system. This post is not so much about that, but something Kaye said that sparked thoughts about my current situation.

“It’s my first experience being in a community of writers, knowing what it’s like to have a group of people that want to make you better. I learned what it feels like to tear some soft part of yourself, give it to a group of people to gently mold it, hand it back to you better than they found it.” Phil Kaye

This quote touched me. Just over a year ago, on a cold November night, I decided to sit in on the local writer’s group. They were a loud bunch, people talking with their hands, talking over each other, and there was laughter. So much laughter. It really puzzled me as I had never seen writers this vivacious. That first meeting I realized they were a family. I was an outsider. They did their best to make me feel welcome, but internally I made up a ton of excuses as to why I didn’t belong. The next week, I didn’t return.

December rolled around that year and I decided to try again. It was around Christmas and as much as I told myself I wasn’t lonely at the holidays, I was. I started to bring poetry to this group and eventually, with much encouragement, I dug out the novel I’d started ten years before. I began to feel differently about writing.

In the past, I had been in groups where the temperament was stiff and serious and the members were ultimately looking for ego stroking rather than good criticism. The Corning Writer’s Group is something special. They opened up their arms to me and let me tear those pieces from myself for them to mold. I trust them. This group is encouraging on one hand, but they cut to the heart of what needs changing. Each member has a particular talent for catching mistakes in writing and together, we teach each other what it means to be good writers.

What started out as sharing work and maybe making some changes has turned into beautiful friendships. They are my family. Their opinions mean the most to me. They never let me get away with shit. And I love them for it. It was a group I never imagined fitting in with, but now, I can’t imagine life without them.

I encourage you to seek out a local writer’s group in your area. Try the library first. They are an amazing resource. Be open to growing your craft because it can always get better. I’ve learned you have to take risks in your first draft…just keep writing as it flows from you and the second draft you can be critical. The most important thing is putting words on the page. Find a community. You will see the difference in everything you do.