"Who the f*ck is Taleen Kali"

Behind The Editor’s Desk: Taleen Kali

by Lauren Eggert-Crowe

Even though I’ve never been published there (yet), I feel a certain kinship with DUM DUM Zine. It came into existence the same year I moved to L.A., 2011. I spent ten years of my youth making handmade zines about poetry and politics, so I’m drawn to anything with ‘zine’ in the title. It features interviews with some of the first writers who I was introduced to in the early disorienting days of searching for my footing in a new metropolis: Kate Durbin, J. Ryan Stradal, Zoe Ruiz, Yumi Sakugawa. A sidebar link list displays Los Angeles fixtures like Skylight Books, Otherwild, and Stories.

DUM DUM is an online zine of poetry, prose, and uncategorizeable ephemera, calling out to the avant garde, the hybrid writers, the genre-melting artists among us who need an outlet that celebrates weirdness. They accept submissions on a rolling basis for their e-zine, and publish a print issue yearly. Don’t expect a traditional format; DUM DUM’s previous tangible productions have included a music/poetry CD in a handmade envelope, a cardboard box, and an accordion-folded chapbook.

I asked some questions of Taleen Kali, the artist/writer/yoga instructor/musician/editor-in-chief and founder of DUM DUM.

How did DUM DUM Zine come into existence?

I was in grad school studying new media writing, photography and bookmaking in 2011, and I became weary of recession-flavored listicles and clickbait, so I started pitching weirdo article ideas all over town.

What inspired you to create it and what was your vision when you started?

The Onion in Chicago was one of the only publications that let me #GetDuM on their site and the first weird story that ever ran was an interview with Kristin Kontrol (back then she was frontwoman of Dum Dum Girls) where we talked about her 5 favorite girl group songs. The format elicited the kind of responses that went deeper than the samey answers I’d encounter during my interview research with other artists.

Doing that kind of digging and writing felt like such a game changer for me that I felt the need for even more. As part of my graduate project, I pitched the idea of an experimental print and web zine. To honor that first article with Kristin and the seed it planted (plus awesome references to a Vaselines song and The Stooges “Dum Dum Boys”) I named it DUM DUM Zine.

As Editor in Chief, what was your process in the beginning for finding more staff editors, attracting submissions, and promoting the site?

When I started hitting the ground running with the zine, I asked a few writer friends if they had any new work. And I loved finding different ways to get subjects to answer questions, or add an element of surprise that led to honest conversation. We had postcard interviews for the first issue.

And then I realized I needed more stories to fill the issue and website, so to populate content I sent out a mass email call for submissions letting everyone I knew in L.A. I was starting a zine. It was a beautiful way to reconnect with my creative community here in L.A., and it’s how I met the women of L.A. Zine Fest!

In terms of submissions and promotions, we’d email writing programs all over the country and also make sure to put posters around town and table at zine and print fairs in order to meet people with interesting voices.

All our DUM editors have either been people in the DIY and artist communities in L.A., or people who came to support zine and music events. It’s a community affair, so we definitely encourage people to come to our events or send us a message if they want to et involved.

What are you looking for in submissions? What separates the really great submissions from the good ones?

We get a lot of glitch poetry and art that seems to speak directly to our sensibility and affinity for hybrid forms, which we would have immediately published in our early days. As we grow more and more, there’s something deeper we’re looking for. There’s gotta be a nugget. That nugget that causes a disturbance, that stirs.

In general, what is your ratio of submitted work to solicited work at DUM DUM?

I’d say between print issues and online, it’s about 50/50.

How did the Text Message Interview Series start? It’s such an innovative idea.

Thank you! That was all Bryxan Amsterdam, a musician and poet I met in Bushwick who was living in Olympia at the time I sent out the first call for submissions. The original set of interviews he did (like the one with artist Emily Reo) were these beautiful hand-transcribed and collaged exchanges. It’s quite web-flashy in its current incarnation with selfies and snapchats galore, bringing the spirit of play and that #DUM feeling into the exchanges.

You truly are a “Los Angeles multi-hyphenate”–editor, writer, musician, yoga instructor. As a multivalent creative person, how do your different creative pursuits intersect? Is it ever overwhelming?

When I first started the zine, that form of DIY self-expression helped give me the courage to play my music live for the first time, and the combination of both helped me realize I’m more of a poet and writer than an editor. Though I absolutely love editing: reading and editing submissions is usually how I access and find new work, which inspires me as a writer too.

Embracing the intersectionality of my art practice has been one of the most rewarding and challenging shifts. Most of the time the different mediums feel like free flowing conduits running through the same channel. . . when I feel overwhelmed it usually means I need to take a step back to see whether what I’m working on at the moment is serving me. And the cool thing about the multiplicity is that a different aspect of my practice can step up to support me when I switch those gears. Yoga has been a huge part of teaching me that lesson of detachment, of allowing the flow and helping me stay grounded when I need to make a shift or try something new that scares the shit out of me.

What makes DUM DUM unique?

There’s constantly amazing new stuff out there that’s blowing me away. I suppose we’re unique because we stay pretty close to our journo roots while looking for innovations in print. We’ve seen a lot of alt-lit and millennial pink zine revival trends come and go, and we love it all, every damn printed morsel of it. I think, to counter that in a way, however, our approach to slow media makes us feel most unique. We’re not really interested in trending content; we simply want to publish as many unique, marginalized, lost, found, and reclaimed voices. We want to be a platform and access point for new work, especially the kind of stuff that may not find a home in more traditional publications.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start her own experimental press and zine?

Embrace both print and online. Get creative with sourcing printed material. Make friends with other small press and zinesters, especially by hosting events! Congregating with the zine and press community is the most gratifying part of doing this, hands down.

Taleen Kali, editor of DUM DUM Zine

Taleen Kali plays cosmic femme punk in Los Angeles.

She is a writer, musician and L.A. native. She debuted her solo act at Echo Park Rising summer of 2016, formed a full band and released the “Who The Fuck Is Taleen Kali?” tape via Bandcamp this Spring, voted a “New & Notable” release with “fuzzy, fizzy pop guitars.” She’s headed into the studio this summer to record her debut solo EP entitled “SOUL SONGS” (named after a lyric zine of the same title) slated for release later this year.

A multi-hypenate to the core, she is Editor-in-Chief of the art and music minded DUM DUM Zine and teaches Kali Punk Yoga in venues, galleries, workshops and private lessons throughout Los Angeles.

Poetry, essays and other writing appears in The Onion, FILTER, Entropy, SPIN, Funhouse Magazine, The Bushwick Review, Whole Beast Rag, The NewerYork, TL;DR Magazine, and zines all over the city.

Bio and photo courtesy of TaleenKali.com

Cover Image by Aurora Lady

Claps & Cheers: ¡Viva la Hustle!

by Ramona Pilar

Claps and Cheers is a column dedicated to honoring pioneers and visionary storytellers who have forged their own path in their creative careers.

Leaving a solid, creative job, with fantastic health care and retirement plans to found your own creative business with no template is frightening. Not having a creative precursor on either side of one’s family, pursuing low-paying, artistic gigs with no long-term health or retirement benefits can be a hard sell both to family, friends, and especially to one’s self. I find myself in the throes of this conundrum and I know I’m not alone.

I have been fortunate enough and hashtag blessed to have found myself in the company of a community of creative hustlers who are eking out their own path in service of creating a life that serves both personal and professional needs.

I met Michelle Zamora when she was an undergrad at Cal State Los Angeles. She moved from Brownsville Texas in 2000 to study acting. We were both working on a theatre project with my roommate at the time (Selene Santiago), who was in graduate school at CSULA.

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Highlight on WWS-Pittsburgh: An Interview with Chapter Lead, Jenny Ruth

How would you describe your city and your local literary community?

Pittsburgh is a literary destination! Historically the poster child for America’s industrial revolution, we’re reinventing ourselves through an economy with education at its core. We nurture an inordinate amount of literary ventures like reading series, literary magazines, MFA programs, indie bookstores, read & critique groups, etc… If you’re a writer looking for a writing community, you’ll find many options.

How did you hear of Women Who Submit, and why were you drawn to start a WWS chapter in your area?

I happened to see a tweet from the main WWS account in my feed in the spring of 2015 shortly after attending a writing conference in D.C. It was at this conference that I heard a panel of lit mag editors discuss gender disparities in submission rates and the VIDA Count. I immediately connected to the idea and recognized the need to support women in their submission efforts. Seeing that WWS tweet was a great example of “right place, right time.” I started tweeting at it every time I submitted work!

In spring 2016 my family moved to Pittsburgh. I asked WWS HQ to put me in touch with the Pittsburgh chapter only to discover we did not have one. Totally surprised me because PGH seemed to have everything else. So I started the chapter here. Continue reading

An Imperative Risk

by Bernadette Murphy

We sit at our little desks, maybe sipping a café au lait, staring at a screen. Often, we peer out at a world we hold at arm’s length, maybe through bespectacled eyes, always the outsider, the observer, the one on the periphery. To passersby, we appear the portrait of calm and ease. We’re writers, the nerdiest of nerds, the opposite of the REI adventurer, the wimpiest of wimps.
Or maybe not.

Red Smith famously said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” I tend to agree with Smith and believe that the work of a writer, when done well, is as risky as any extreme sport I can name — and requires the same kind of bravery and courage that all perilous adventures do. Maybe even more so. Continue reading


April showers bring May flowers and lots of wonderful publications from Women Who Submit. Congratulations, all!

From Shawna Kenney‘s “The Best Vegan Skincare Products for Summer” at Paste:

We slathered and lathered in our home testing and came up with these winners. Bonus learning that each of these companies is eco-friendly and independently owned. And knowing no one was harmed in the making of these skincare products makes them feel even better going on.

From Lauren Eggert-Crowe‘s “Heaven Make Me a Warrior to Slay All the Bad Magic,” a runner-up for the 2016 poetry contest at Black Warrior Review:

your voice in me

and then the ghost

of your voice

in me

Spent my last nickels

on your pretty blues

Congratulations to Lauren whose chapbook, Bitches of the Drought, was released this month by Sundress Publications!

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Behind the Editor’s Desk: Nikia Chaney

by Lauren Eggert-Crowe

Early in 2017, Women Who Submit invited Nikia Chaney to one of our submission parties. It was the beginning of the year, so the room was packed with writers excited and motivated to accomplish their goals and renew their commitments to good work. We hung posterboard on the wall with goals like “Submit to Residencies,” “Get Paid For Work,” “Finish a Project,” and “Activist Writing.” We each scrawled our names in marker underneath the goals that spoke to us. Still buzzing from the spirit of the Women’s March and the inspiration of powerful intersectional feminist leaders, many of us were eager to connect our creative work to community building. Nikia Chaney, of Jamii Publishing, led new and seasoned WWS members in a great discussion about starting collaborative projects like a press or a journal, and how to best involve the community in the artistic process.

It’s safe to say Nikia knows a lot about goal setting. Jamii, an independent press based in San Bernardino, beautifully lays out its vision, mission, and goal: “Our mission at Jamii Publishing is to foster the communion of artists from all genres, foster growth in the artistic world, and to bring these arts to the community.  We strive to work with artists who are already active in the community as well as those who have a desire to reach outside of their comfort zone and share their art with the larger world. We want to gift books to these dedicated people and help them in turn help others.”

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June WWS Orientation & Two Book Releases

by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

Saturday, June 10th from 11am-3pm, Women Who Submit will host a public orientation and submission party at Art Share LA in the Arts District with free parking for attendees. Every other month, WWS hosts a public orientation and submission party for women and nonbinary writers in order to welcome new members to join our organization and learn about our mission and submission strategies in a comfortable, supportive and open environment. We will also have a round table discussion on strategies for applying to residencies and workshops.

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