If ever you find yourself pondering whether Dallas could foster a sex-positive feminist hippie art magazine dedicated to poetry, love and ganja, then rest assured that Let It Bleed's newest issue, "Yield to Hemp-tation," offers the surfeit you crave. Last night, women and the men who love them met at the gorgeous Kessler Theater to celebrate Let It Bleed's third issue with a reading and release party.
Unabashedly alternative, Let It Bleed's distinct charm could be defined in part by its stark contrast to the typical Dallas art scene. Where else does one find on a Wednesday night a room full of women and men of diverse ethnicities, races and orientations expressing polysyllabic ideas and lending an artistic voice to creative intellectualism and empowered spirituality? Not. Many. Places. Aptly self-described as "Bond girls meet Brontës," Let It Bleed was conceived in mid-2010 by a group of friends with similar intellectual, artistic and political goals, and from its inception the zine has attempted to democratically pass the proverbial editorial reins for each issue to a different woman or group of women. As a result, its co-editors have been given the opportunity to learn first-hand how to manage and create a professional publication from start to finish.
The zine itself is sleek and gorgeous with full-color images and 28 pages of content that is as polished in presentation as it is raw, emotionally. The pages are filled with poems, essays, book reviews, recipes, artwork and photography, virtually any medium, it seems, so long as its creator authentically celebrates Let It Bleed's femme-centric ethos. Presented by WordSpace, an Oak Cliff based non-profit dedicated to literary arts, the reading was part of the Robert Trammel Reading Series at the Kessler and featured readings by "insubordinate" poetesses and a ghost story raconteur, all set to visual artwork and photography by local artists.
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C.J. Critt and her original poem "The Last MS in Manhattan" were especially pleasing; the most accurate way to describe Critt, perhaps, would be to suggest that she is a "force." Fiercely intelligent and vivacious, Critt does not merely read or recite, she becomes a poem, stomping in time to enact literary hoof beats, and singing from the rooftops the pleasure and glory of a fascinating life. Also of note is co-editor Desmene Statum, whose essay on legalization hit every intellectual note from utilitarianism to social contractarianism, and who spoke with the confident eloquence of a woman truly self-possessed.
That is not to discount, however, the other creative forces behind Let It Bleed who are, on the whole, as terrifyingly intelligent as they are personable, down-to-earth and fun. And, lest you forget, they are profoundly talented artists, as well. Photographer Rosie Lindsey, who also shot the photo above, had a particularly eye-catching series on display at the reading that extolled through film the exquisitely voluptuous lines of her subjects, effecting with shadows and smoke a glamorous homage to the feminine form in all of its diversity and complexity.
Sorry you missed it? Yeah, you are. Don't fret -- Let It Bleed's next issue, "Unleash the Goddess," is due January 2012, and its editors are now accepting submissions of original femme-centric poetry, artwork, essays and more at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find copies of the most current issue, "Yield to Hemp-tation," for sale at Cliffs Notes and Tienda Choris at 1314 W. Davis in Oak Cliff.