China Martens is a writer known for her work in the zine scene. She is running a Kickstarter for a second printing of her book The Future Generation. I chatted with her a bit to learn more about her project. Mostly though, I just support there being more literature out there for alternative parents.
You can support the project (and get your own copy!) with their Kickstarter.
What’s the book about?
The Future Generation: A Zine-Book For Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends & Others is a “best of” anthology of 16 years of my first zine: The Future Generation. I started it in 1990, when I was 23 and my daughter had just turned two. I spent about a year trying to gather up essays to put out the first issue. I wanted to make a zine to connect to other parents like myself, and to the whole community, to talk about issues and how we are going to go forward, what do we want, not just what we don’t want.
The zine starts while my daughter is young and me, being a young single anarchist parent – with topics of home birth, physical experiences of raising a child, how you feel and how you relate with your friends. Articles and essays about a great amount of assorted things like city planning and healing from trauma, poetry, letters.
Over the years, the zine changed as my daughter grew into a teenager. I was always trying to keep it real and printing the real struggles as well as my aspirations. Sometimes I would look around me, like the Ocean issue, or Fatherhood issue, and look for essays from others. It’s really just a big book documentation of ziney-goodness. Of the struggle of one person to write her point of view, connect to others, and self-publish, before the internet made that possible.
Why are you re-releasing it now?
It’s the tenth year anniversary!! It first came out in 2007 and sold out after two years. There were slow and steady sales, it was reason enough to make a second printing, but we just never did. It is awfully big, in the old larger format of books with lots of cut and paste graphics and expensive to put out. It came out during a time Atomic Books had a small press. Maybe it was too big to print again. But we have been talking about it for a while. I get emails from folks all around the world about it. There are a few copies left for 30 dollars and over on Amazon but it’s no longer available, really. And I just think it deserves a second run, for a new generation.
Do you think it’s apt for the current times we live in?
It’s important to have some idea of current history, of what it was to go through Welfare Reform, during the Clinton era, and what led up to massive numbers of incarcerated women and greater poverty in society, as we embark on some scary times with policy changes that threaten lives. It’s just as important to talk about issues of child raising, and community caregiving, supporting and understanding and having some attention to low income parenting and childrearing, and radical striving. It’s important to stay engaged and participate, build community. That’s what I’m doing right now.
As a 50 year old, using my energy to back my first, more personal book, I find it rewarding the ripples that are coming out of just the fundraising right now: to connect with others. My stories of young punk parenting aren’t outdated. In fact, maybe they are more relevant than ever.
What do you think has changed since you first wrote the book?
I’m post empty nest single mama of 50 years old. I don’t have any caregiving to do, besides being paid to do it as a nanny right now. My daughter comes to my house and brings wine, she brings black eyed peas and collards and cornbread for new years, to share with me so I have good luck. I went to a show a few months ago, and got in free, because I was recognized as her mother. So what has changed, for me, is life is easier. Yet it still feels hard. Very hard. So, I’m not sure what has really changed.
If you could add anything to the text for today’s audiences, what would it be?
Well my 28 year old daughter is going to write the updated afterword, about what it was like to grow up with a writer mom and zines. So I think she’s the one who has it to say, after all those struggles, her reflection is going to be great!
And I actually have felt inspired to put out a new TFG next year as a perk, I will complain like always, about isolation and loneliness and what it’s like to be me, at this age; and my hopes and dreams. But I want to curate some other essays too. I want to call it the Rebel Issue. And I have a lot of ideas, for it, I’m excited.
How close are you to your goal and what happens when you make it?
I’ve raised two thousand dollars right now. I am emailing everyone I know, every contact, everyone I don’t know. I’m going to get it! 10K is just a number. (haha) I’m thinking beyond the goal. I want to do this. I need a lot of support. I am funding the book coming back out through pre-orders, which is pretty brutal to have such a short time frame as I do – but it is what it is – and like always, I’m learning by doing, growing as I learn. I just got my first bookstore to preorder. I’m emailing all the bookstores I’ve read at with the past two books. With your support, really, every single order, YOU, this book will be possible again.
What are you plans for after this Kickstarter? Do you plan any future books?
Oh Yea! My revolutionary mothering co-editor Mai’a Williams gave me this winter assignment: to write about menopause, dating, and the Baltimore uprising. Which I started on a bit. Also, I have a whole finished novel, I am looking for a press – Shopgirl Metaphysics, based about my time working in an antique store in my neighborhood in Hampden, Baltimore. They say novels don’t sell anymore. That’s what they said about parenting and mothering issues! Its always the wrong time, for something, right? But what other time do we got. It’s our time. As long as I’m alive I will be writing, and pushing, to survive as a writer.