Shotgun Seamstress By Osa Atoe, 350 pgs.

Jan 27, 2023

Osa Atoe’s Shotgun Seamstress anthology collects the back issues of her zine of the same name, which ran from 2006-2015. Atoe’s zine sought to carve out a space for and by Black punks—to connect, and to be themselves. Throughout, great interviews with bands and scenesters like Brontez Purnell, Trash Kit, Andrea Genevieve of Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Mick Collins of the Gories/Dirtbombs, reviews, comics and essays.   

One of the recurring topics in Shotgun Seamstress is the role of the Black community in punk culture. Atoe sees punk as a deeply transformative state, with ties to the third-wave feminism of riot grrrl and the critically thinking politics embodied by the Washington D.C. scene. “I believe so much in the power of punk to transform people’s lives and liberate people,” she says, “that I can’t just leave it to white people. I have to use it to transform my life, and I want to make it a viable option for other people, too.”

She also says that the Black community, “have always had a knack for creating   beautiful, meaningful   art with very few resources.” Elsewhere, Stephanie Phillips of the band Big Joanie says “DIY is inherently Black, whether in the U.K., where migrants from the commonwealth countries and beyond are often quietly barred from higher-paying jobs and decent housing, or in the U.S., where structural racism was written into the laws, Black people have always had to find ingenious ways of getting around the obstacles in their lives…(w)hen you’re only given scraps, you start to get creative with what you have to work with, and you begin to clock others who are making similar moves as you.” This passage was obvious once I read it, but something I had never considered before—a testament to the bubble I live in, despite my best efforts. So much food for thought throughout in honest essays and screeds about identity, shows, and bands. –Michael T. Fournier (Soft Skull)

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