Hermana, Resist is a deeply personal and fiery exhalation of love, motherhood, disappointments and legacy. In this particular issue, Martinez speaks exclusively through poetry, occasionally using words from her native tongue (Abuelita, Mercado, Aguacates) to fully illustrate her heritage and the interconnectedness of two worlds. She transports the reader into her surroundings; you can almost sense her reaching out and asking you to take a seat next to her. One poem I keep returning to is titled: “Reality,” in which Martinez speaks of trying to raise her son in America as she waits for the so-called “browning of America” to finally occur.
Zines like MAIZ and Hermana, Resist, are changing the face of
politics and media. **In a political climate where many feel mainstream and traditional media does not represent the voices of the majority, journalists, writers, activists and grassroots organizations are finding new and innovative ways to generate information. Also, consumers are more open to varied delivery methods for consuming media – there isn’t just one formula anymore, and activists like Martinez are finding their own ways to get their information out and be heard.
In the recent issue of make/shift magazine, there’s a quote from Noemi Martinez that reads: “I charge $2 for my zine which I think is pretty fair in exchange for a part of my soul” (make/shift, Issue no.3, Spring/Summer 2008 Pg. 12). After reading these excellent samples of her work, I would say it’s more than fair!
THIS IS THE BEST ONE YET.
“This is a book for those of us who know that love is political,” boldy states an accompanying quote on this zine, a collection of Martinez’s poems printed in her zine, Hermana, Resist between 2000-2007. And that’s the problem. Love isn’t political. Or at least is shouldn’t be. If love is political, that implies an ulterior motive, an agenda aside from an appreciation for or devotion to another human being as an end in her or himself. That questionable attitude comes through in the work: many of the pieces here are the kind of poems that seem to take delight in their own bitter banality. Martinez goes on about repression and oppression, resistance and revolution, and “this fucked up society,” but it just ends up sounding like some student’s scribbled lecture notes from first-year political science classes rather than giving us any meaningful insight into the poet’s real issues or anything else. Granted, not every single poem in this collection is like that, but the ones that are more personal are still, mostly rhythmically unsatisfying. Admittedly, some of the poems are party in Spanish and so I couldn’t understand them-there could be something really good there. I have no doubt that Martinez did accomplish what she set out to with these poems; maybe they’re intended not to compel, indeed, to alienate, people like myself. If so, mission accomplished. The cover art is extremely engaging, though.
Richard Rosenbaum, Broken Pencil, 39.
Zine World supplemental
“Under the yellow Lights” Wow. It’s truly a gifted writer who can express pain and discrimination without sounding shrill, disconnected or victimized, but Noemi truly is a gifted writer. As she describes her everyday life as a 29 yr old mom in s. TX, she conveys an enormous maturity and self-awareness that place the indignity of poverty and racism in complete perspective. Her poetry like writing isn’t abstracted either: eating, rent, and childcare are immediate concerns. Pardon me, if I sound a little blown away. This is strong, defiant writing by an incredibly strong woman. Wow. – Susan B.
Review in Broken Pencil, issue 34
I was happy to have Hermana, Resist back in my hands. Noemi?s writing has hit home with me in the past. This one is just as smart, serious, and right on about the issues, but this time I had a harder time taking it all in. I was too busy absorbing the shockwaves of a gal with a big ole chip in her shoulder. Did I change, build up some intolerance for the chipped shoulder since the last Hermana, or did the chip grow? Don?t get me wrong Noemi is not blowing up the issues, the isms, or the struggle she and many others face. But something about her delivery takes away from that. That doesn?t mean you shouldn?t pick this one up cause there?s good stuff here like a piece on reading your work publicly and what not to do. Also included are progressive discussions of the zine world, feminism, and family violence. Not to mention a great bonus a la mixed cd. As I listened to it I had a vision of Noemi with headphones on leaning into the mike with her kick-ass words, mixing music, and bringing people together with her community building efforts. Keep on trucking Noemi, and seriously, ever heard of pirate radio? (heze douglas)
Revew in Utne’s From the Stacks
Hermana, Resist, a personal zine (or “perzine”) by Noemi Martinez, offers frank discussions of racism, feminism, motherhood, and poverty. That’s not a familiar confluence of themes in the zine community, which, as Martinez notes in the latest issue (#6), includes few writers of color. She expresses her thoughts and frustrations with ease, through stream-of-consciousness diary entries and poetry. I found the zine uncommonly intimate, despite her claim that she hadn’t “given enough of [herself]” in writing it. Though much of Hermana, Resist relays Martinez’s struggles, which, as a single mother living below the poverty line, are considerable, bright spots appear when she writes about her children or reports on a bilingual production of The Vagina Monologues she took part in. Martinez also owns the C/S Distro, which stocks and distributes zines by women and people of color. — Danielle Maestretti
Interview in Feministing
Review from Broken Pencil, issue 28. Broken Pencil is a print magazine based in Toronto, Canada-dedicated to the underground culture and the independent arts.
Review by Heze D.
Hermana Resist 5 left a lump in my throat. This lady is straight up, no bullshit. She uses writing as a way to lighten the load, and shares with us thoughts that can only leave her fingertips, not exit through her mouth. She portrays things in a blunt poetic, clear like the blue sky, with knowledge of the thunder that lies within. We are invited into her world through words of family and struggle; pictures of her sweet-faced son J River and little daughter Winter. It’s important to read about mothers’ lives. People like Noemi writing their truths helps us to be aware that we’re not alone and to educate others about the struggles we parents may face: balancing parenting with our own needs while trying to keep the walls up that social injustice is pushing in. Noemi doesn’t have the time or privilege to fuck around with theory: “I will share with you my mind but you’ll never see my heart. I live in this real world of numbers and hunger and babies and facts and my stories and words don’t fit in.” There is poetry, a piece on racism and white privilege by Kendall Clark, and a whole lot more to digest here.
Review of Hermana, Resist 5 from Mad People Distro:
The current issue of Noemi’s personal zine is beautiful. She writes with such heart & the words she uses are absolutely poetic. Noemi writes about being a mother, about the passage of time, and about survival. The prose, poetry, and photographs are raw, powerful, and effective. She writes about life as someone who lives it ans struggles with it. There is also a piece on white privilege by Peggy McIntosh that is tongue-in-cheek and incredibly poignant. This is one of those amazing personal zines that is simulataneously rough, raw, and full of soul
This review of Hermana, Resist 5 is in Xerography Debt #16, available online and in the print issue.
review by Stephanie Holmes
HERMANA RESIST is a perzine with razor edges. The stories are raw, real and sometimes heart breaking. Writer Noemi?s stories show a certain maturity that I, just two years younger than the author, have not touched or tasted; yet the stories are universal in many ways. Love comes and goes and sometimes sticks. We have all felt like outsiders at one time or another, watching the happy holiday scenarios of others while fighting dripping noses and tired eyes. The zine has a wintry theme, which hints that there is more yet to come from this author when spring arrives.
From You’re INsane distro
Hermana Resist #5 Bittersweet is the word I would describe Noemi’s writing. When reading her zine, I got a wintery feeling off of it, it hit my stomach real hard. She writes about how she feels like an outsider, not showing people fake impressions/expressions, her work, and a lot more. The piece that hit my heart was, “At times, I feel I can’t get away from home and from them as attachments and from my responsibilities. And at work, I have photos of them and I tell myself to stay at work, don’t quit, put up with the bullshit for them, for them. It’s always for them. Most of the time it’s not a burden but a responsibility that saves me time and time again from myself. That’s the truth you don’t oftern hear from parents.” Simply beautiful words.
Before receiving this zine, I really heard some great stuff about Hermana, Resist and Noemi. I even went as far to do a link exchange with Noemi and her?s website, CS-Tiendita. However, when I actually read through the zine I was shocked about how intensely personal Noemi made it. While some of the journal entries in the zine are about the creation of the zine, a large portion of them include a get-together and skillshare that Noemi was planning, called Mujerfest 2002. Aside from that, much discussion is given to her?s son, River, and her?s metaphorical child, Noemi?s writing. The writing is incredibly vibrant, and seems to share a spirit with Life In A Glass House?s editor, Madison. Noemi is just farther along the path than Madison, but I really see a lot of similarities between the two zines. The great deal of poetry, typically something that I would avoid, is actually a good diversion from the other pieces, as we have something shocking with the selections of poetry that Noemi puts in: they are actually good! Most zines that I go through do end up having poetry, but about ninety percent of them have such a low quality of poetry that trying to go through them is a chore. Noemi is able to infuse humour, politics, and emotion into her?s written work that actually makes me chuckle, or make me want to change not the world ? it draws me in. And, I believe it will draw anyone who ends up reading the zine, as well. Pick it up.
From The South Texas Experience: Summer 2005
Burning mesquite coming in through the windows.
It seeps and stays in everything. There is no way to rid yourself of that smell, you both hate it for its lingering presence, and welcome it for its associations.
South Texas orange blossoms in March. Nescafe. old spice. Ariel sopa and Suavitel. the sound of el paletero down the street. I suppose scent associations are not related to anything tanglibe, nothing in particular, only memory. But my brain and heart are often illogical.
Frida Kahlo quote–“I drank to drown my pain, but the damned pain learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good behaviour.
from Hermana, Resist 5: Under the Yellow Lights
I live in South Texas. You can say this is my home. This is where I’am from. This is where I always return. This is the place with memories and heartache and where seeds blossoms into flowers. This is the border area between Mexico and Texas, with its own language that I speak. I live a few streets from 10th Avenue in Edinburg and from my window I can see HEB and the Dollar Tree. Four blocks down you’will find my mom in the little wooden house she rents, the walls caving in, the pipes leaking, the dog sleeps outside. Go down another two blocks and you’will find Starla, my sister at home in her little wooden rented home, with a fence and empty rooms and beds. Beer decorates the porch and her guitar sits in the corner of her living room.
I look at him
he’s tic tic typing away
quiet and silent
we’re both robots in cubicles
his ripped pants and vans
wonder about his life
does he go home to someone?
saw him at the movie place, he was dressed the same
placating a girl in high heels holding her
she was wearing high heels and khaki Capri
are you silent at home too?
he sometimes looks at me
as he walks quietly by
no opportunity for advancement under the yellow lights
when over, ended. when complete.
Spaces for me have always held memory, a piece of me encapsulated-scratch- detained
captured like a still photograph, but in my head and in my heart and in the scents and shadows and movements of places.
in walls, streets, rooms. In scents, like orange blossoms when they are blooming. That scent, here in spring, kills me every time.
Filled up no room left to fee
the absence of
or emptiness of
We took a three day bus trip to North Carolina. Running from dreams and ghosts. It was rash, it was ill planned, a bit hasty. Maybe even foolish.
what can I say about this? I am only stronger.
Lies abound in every corner. like cockroaches in sunny south texas that fly at night and crawl up your legs while you
sit at the toilet.
but I am stronger.
We had the little house you wanted J. but you couldn’t play outside. We had the squirrel in the big tree out back but you couldn’t be seen J. We were the ugly Mexicans hiding kids and strollers, fitting right into our assigned stereotype. I was the sexualized latino who had too many kids with too many men who found their way back to mexico. We had the parks within walking distance J, we had four seasons! And the walkways and dogs on leashes and the beautiful 100 year trees overcast with hunger and empty plates and fucked up people, fucked up times,
fucked up world. See J, we had what you wanted. Almost right time, almost right place.
From Aged Noise 3
I write because I am afraid of the words.
I write because there is no other
solution or escape
and no other explanation is needed.
From Hermana, Resist #2
I have beautiful words too. I have words beside hate and rage. I have other words besides racism, sexism, fuck, fill in the blank. What are the viable options to this? What will you listen to? W hy should I TRY to entice you? If there are 26 ways to say the same thing, which one should I use? Is it up to me to decipher it for you?
From Hermana, Resist #1
Piece entitled-Where is Home?
Is home in Chicago? On Lawndale, living on the second floor and walking to Cardenas Elementary? Wearing goulashes in the winter and 2 skirts cuz we aren’t allowed to wear pants. Is home when big brothers J and D would put a blanket over our heads to better kick the crap out of us? A Green lawn and dog? Going to church and praying before every meal.
Is home that apt. we moved into when mom left dad and where one of us got attacked going up the stairs but I can’t remember who and what happened? Is home there, when the pipes would freeze in winter and we’d take walks to find school clothes in garage sales and our neighbors would teach us which stores always left a lot of food in the trash bins and we’d come home with lettuce and tomatoes and bruised cans of corn. And the same neighbors taught us where the rich people lived who threw out perfectly good beds and tables and lamps. And is that home when we remember we took in a dog to chase away the rats so we didn’t have to sleep with our shoes on and when we’d pile on clothes on top of us when we slept to act like blankets?
Or is home that place in Mexico that i use for stories and poems called Cerralvo. Abuelita’s house and la plaza and el parque and stealing coca’s from abuela’s refrigerator? And when it rained, playing our version of slip and slide on the slick tile front porch and have abuela come out with a stick and shue us away. And is home the years I spent there with dad and living at grandma’s and going to sleep at 8pm cuz she didn’t like to waste electricy and boiling water from the noria (well) to take a bath cuz the water stopped mid town and would never reach us. When we would sit on the barda and watch cars pass by and fall into charcos and potholes? When we would hear a car pass by and wonder a quien le estaban pasanda with that music and all? And at night, trying to hit the sapos in the charcos and saying if you hit one they’d come back and get you in the night. Walking the halfblock to the little tiendita to buy 20 mexican m&ms for a peso and a bag of doritas with salsa and crema for 400 pesos? And being made to go to escuela dominical where we were taught the evil of worldly goods, makeup, dating, pants, music, earrings, fast cars, friends not of la religion, tv, telenovelas, movies, americanos, those who seek school and left the church, girls who kiss, people who don’t give ofrendas.
And when I would walk to tia Georgina’s house to shower and give her 100 pesos to cover the water and walking to the plaza with Erica and buying tacos at el taco parado and splitting an order. And dad turning off the fan in the middle of the night cuz i didn’t need it since i was asleep and in the mornings abuela asking why i had the radio on and why was i awake at ten? And sneaking out through the side door with lucy and sometimes abel, cousins, to start a fire in back and talk and look at the stars and talk about our other cousins and why they hated us cuz we had the commonality of not living with both parents.
And dad leaving to go save unsaved souls in el monte and leaving me and me telling him-don’t go cuz i have a migraine and i can’t move and i’m gonna die. and me wondering why my kmom didn’t want me to live with her in texas and not getting up for 3 days and not having an asthma inhaler and every time a car would pass the dirt rising in through the windows leaving a fine film of dirt over us as we slept.
Or is home those years I spent with dad in monte alto, with one gas station and one public phone? In a shack reading spanish poetry wishing the poemas of amor were directed to me and thinking why. Of being left alone and turning off the lights cuz i didn’t want anyone to know I was there alone and walking to the bus stop and dad following me so I wouldn’t talk to anyone. And visiting erica and danny, cousins next door, sitting on the floor and seeing novelas and danny making cakes and us eating cornflakes with water cuz they were also left alone. Then going back and dad not opening the door for 2 hours since i’m not supposed to go there cuz danny-primo hermano-is 17 and i’m 15.
And dad turning off the water and heater when he’d go preach the gospel and me being happy he’d leave me there cuz i could watch his tv (till he caught on then took it with him). And me stealing pads and clothes from relatives cuz he never gave me money to buy them and ripping up old skirts to put between my legs so i wouldn’t stain my clothes. Seeing my brother in the window even though i knew he lived in another city and not answering the phone cuz i was scared it was for me. Three years of not speaking –no voice–sleeping pills and not being seen. putting up his underwear on the line and helping erica with her homework. not going to school cuz of blood stains on clothes and no deodorant. Hidinng under blankets at 15 waiting to be rescued.
Or is home here? Where I don’t feel I belong and am still an outsider after years and years.
This is home. I will make my home wherever I go. I will make my voice known. I will not stand in anyone’s shadow for comfort or warmth or protection. I will fight. My voice is (will be) the dis-unity voice among the harmonious dis-community.