Chloe LaDuchesse describes Sudbury as “the land of opportunity” for artists and creators.
She would know: LaDuchesse has only lived in Sudbury for two years, but the Nickel City’s fifth poet laureate has already become a major player in the local literary community. These days her energy is focused primarily on Expozine Sudbury, the second annual edition of which takes place May 12 at La Fromagerie.
“When you have talent and are creative, everyone is willing to let you try stuff here,” explained LaDuchesse. “There’s this great culture here and a lot of creative people.”
Like many writers, the Montreal-born-and-bred poet said she always knew she wanted to write, but also knew it wouldn’t pay the bills. A professional program in publishing at Universite dé Sherbrooke wound up sparking her career.
“I took a class on how books were are made and who does it, it was very interesting and I realized it was very possible, career-wise,” said LaDuchesse.
She went on to work contracts in the publishing industry in Montreal, but found it hard to get a full time role in the city’s “competitive” environment. When a full-time, one-year contract opened up at Sudbury’s Francophone publishing house, Prise de Parole, she jumped at the opportunity.
After her contract ended, LaDuchesse opted to stick around a little longer. Considering her two-year tenure as poet laureate and her recent purchase of a house, it doesn’t like she’ll be going anywhere soon.
This is good news for local zine makers and fans.
Zines are small, self-published books or booklets of printed words and/or illustrations that cover themes from poetry to recipes to comics. They’re defined by their DIY and independent nature. Zines are often political, many celebrate and promote feminist and anti-racist perspectives.
“There’s something totally egoless about making zines,” said LaDuchesse. “It allows you to be outside of capitalism; you’re not going to become famous for it, no one will win a Nobel Prize for making a zine.”
Some early examples of zines include science fiction fan magazines first published in the 1930s. In the 1970s, zines were a key component of punk rock culture, and their collage-heavy designs made use of increasingly available photocopiers. In the 1990s, e-zines took off with the arrival of the internet and computer technology.
There’s a thriving zine culture in Montreal, and that city’s zine fair draws hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees each year. One project has equipped old cigarette machines to sell items like zines at bars around town.
LaDuchesse loved buying zines, and her collection exceeds 100, but she had never made any of her own until last year. She wrote a collection of funny poetry but couldn’t find the right platform for it and decided to put it into a zine.
Once she decided to run Expozine, she corralled a few other interested folks, and the first year had seven zine makers, drew quite a crowd and even more interest.
This year, Expozine is growing: LaDuchesse already has 10 zine makers lined up, and it’s being presented as a partnership with Salon du Livre Grand Sudbury, a Francophone book fair taking place May 9 to 12 at the McEwan School of Architecture.
That said, Expozine is open to English and French speakers alike. LaDuchesse thinks the visual nature of zines makes them uniquely poised to bridge the divide between the two communities in Sudbury, as it does in Montreal.
“The paper and illustrations can be understood in both languages,” explained LaDuchesse. “It’s for everybody.”
Ultimately, LaDuchesse hopes Expozine inspires artists to talk to each other and create more.
“I really want people to meet. Artists can be lonely … this is a way of showcasing their art and inspiring other people,” said LaDuchesse.
The best part? Tables and entry are both free, just e-mail LaDuchesse at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about getting a table if you want one.
The fair runs 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. with an open mic at noon if you’re interested in hitting it up.
Ella Jane Myers is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury.