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Tenacious zine box set catalog

Guide and index to the Tenacious zine box set : art & writings by women in prison, 2002 to 2020, created by Maddie Moran

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Tenacious zine cover art

Cover art by J. Gann.

Cover art by J. Gann for issue number 31 of the Tenacious zine, published in Spring 2014. This artwork features a stylized dragon situated to the left of a flower. Above the dragon, in the upper right corner, is the sun, and in the upper left corner is a banner with the text, "women together are tenacious."

Cover art for Tenacious issue 31, Spring 2014.

Cover art by Nicky Riley.

Cover art by Nicky Riley for issue number 31 of the Tenacious zine, published in Winter 2018. This artwork features a young woman, seated, with her arms crossed over a t-shirt with the word "Tenacious" across the front.

Cover art for by Kristen "Hoopa" Marshall.

Cover art by Kristen "Hoopa" Marshall contributed to issue number 6 of the Tenacious zine. Features figures of women in various poses, seated, standing, and lying down.

Cover art for Tenacious issue 6, Fall 2003

Cover art by Sarah Daniel.

Cover art by Sarah Daniel for issue number 11 of the Tenacious zine. The artwork is a drawing of a young woman looking over her left shoulder down the length of her left arm, where there is a a stylized, anatomical heart on the back of her forearm.

Cover art for Tenacious issue 11, Spring 2007.

Cover art by Rebecca Seiber.

Cover art by Rebecca Seiber for issue number 17 of the Tenacious zine, a special issue for Mother's day, published in 2009. The art shows a woman holding a baby, and seated on a platform composed of swirling lines, including long locks of her own hair. Words in the upper left corner read, "Nothing! is as perfect as motherhood."

Cover art for Tenacious issue 17, Mother's Day 2009.

Cover art (unattributed, but possibly by Rebecca Seiber).

Cover art by an unattributed artist, for issue 27 of the Tenacious zine, published in December 2012. The art features a long-haired woman holding a vase or vessel in front of her. She stands in front of a tree; behind her and the tree the dark sky is illuminated by stars.

Cover art for Tenacious issue 27, December 2012

Tenacious Zine Cover Slide Show

A Quote about Zines

Zines provide individuals with an opportunity and a medium to tell their stories, share their ideas, and engage in creative expression."

About Zines and the Tenacious Zine Box Set

Zines, which began to emerge as early as the 1930s, are small, self-published pieces that are usually produced using a photocopier. The principal goal of publication is not profit, meaning that there are often fewer than 5,000 copies of a given zine in circulation at any time. Intended audiences tend to be niche groups, so the content of a zine is usually of interest to a specific portion of the population. Zines provide individuals with an opportunity and a medium to tell their stories, share their ideas, and engage in creative expression (Purdue University: Libraries and School of Information Studies, University of Texas Libraries, UNC University Libraries).

Santa Clara University’s Archives & Special Collections holds in its collections the Tenacious Zine Box Set: Art & Writings By Women in Prison. The set includes 44 issues, a complete run of every issue starting in 2002 and ending in 2020. The zines contain poems, images, essays, letters, and other contributions created by women who were either incarcerated or formerly incarcerated at the time of their submission. Victoria Law, an American author and prison abolitionist, spent two decades compiling the writings of incarcerated women that ultimately culminated in the quarterly (fall, winter, spring, summer) publication of the 44 zines.

Many women from across the United States contributed to the zines. Because the project began in Oregon, a large portion of the included works are written by women incarcerated in the Oregon prison system. However, the zines also offer a variety of works by women from all around the U.S. and from different correctional facilities within a given state. For example, several women discuss their experiences in one Oregon facility before being moved to another, from where they continued to publish subsequent pieces. The women whose stories and experiences are contained within the zines come from varying backgrounds and range from young adults to seniors. The women wrote letters, essays, and poems to submit for inclusion in the zines, often detailing experiences within the prison system as well as offering autobiographical accounts of their own lives. They also compiled lists and statistics in order to raise awareness about issues such as deplorable living conditions, violence within prison, and staff misconduct. Some created word searches, artwork, and images that revealed the struggles of being incarcerated.

Throughout the zines that I examined, I encountered several authors and themes frequently. In the Mother’s Day issues, themes of motherhood and parenting from within prison are particularly prevalent. Tragically, themes of staff and administrative misconduct as well as lack of support for mental and medical health care arise often and are written about by many different women. In a large number of the works, women also allude to their own personal journeys to find peace inside of prison and to overcome the multitude of obstacles they face daily. In the first 14 zines that I cataloged, I encountered 30 separate works by Barrilee Bannister and numerous others written about her. As I progressed through the years, I became well acquainted with Bannister and her work as an activist and advocate for all incarcerated women. Bannister’s tenacity and unwillingness to give up or back down were both inspiring and endearing. I was elated when, towards the end of my research, I learned of Bannister’s release via the zines. I felt as if I knew her intimately through the many personal accounts she included and through her detailed and emotional descriptions of prison conditions, daily life, and critique. I also read several works by Yraida Guanipa, a mother of two boys whose dedication to her family was unwavering throughout her period of incarceration. As a reader, I shared intimate moments with Guanipa, during which she recalls reuniting with her sons and husband. Guanipa went on to create a podcast with the intention of raising awareness about the unjust prison system in the United States and the adversity that incarcerated women must overcome.

Tenacious Zine Box Set Catalog