The charm of the independent quarterly literary zine le jolie rouge is in its minimalistic Xerox aesthetic. Hand-bound with red ribbon, the publication comes postage-paid (or personally delivered—anywhere within biking distance of downtown Detroit or Ferndale) with enthusiasm. “The easiest way for me to get my stuff out there is for me to put my stuff out there,” says co-publisher and often pen-named contributor Daniel Davies. “I guess maybe doing it in print is our different approach.”
Free from the constraints of trend and with no financial obligations to meet, the editors of le jolie rouge gravitate primarily toward the independent-minded and thought-provoking. Submissions come in a variety of ways from throughout the Midwest—typewritten essays, poems, drawings, short fiction, a handwritten note on diner ticket, a voicemail transcript, text messages and comic strips. “It’s more raw. People are writing this because this is how they feel, not because the cadence fits,” says co-publisher and contributor John Marchione. “What we want from someone is just something that they’ve written that they really feel like other people should read.”
“So long as the intention is honest,” says Davies. “Rather than… trying to force a story, or an idea.
“We’re not doing the norm, so make it completely wild. Invent a new form,” Davies encourages. “Use us as a platform to do something you’re nervous about doing.” Beginning with volume two (spring 2011), they plan to release full color, professionally bound editions of le jolie rouge, with online archives and the perpetual availability of DIY print versions ensuring that it will always be free to anyone who wants it—one of their core founding principles.
“For writers, you have to work for a long time, and you have to… struggle before someone’s like, ‘oh, wow, you’ve found your voice,’” Davies relates. “Fuck that. You’ve had a voice. Here’s the beginning of your voice.” Ultimately they hope the project outgrows itself. “There have been a couple of people who have told us they appreciate what we’re doing and have been like, ‘we have ideas about our own zine…’ then do it, man! We made it happen—you do it!”
“When people start doing it and we become old hat, so be it,” Marchione anticipates. “We’re not in it for anything but to get people’s work out.”
This week’s release of issue four concludes volume one of le jolie rouge. To request an issue, peruse the upcoming archive or make a donation visit lejolierouge.blogspot.com. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text them to 313.718.1064.
complete interview, additional photos and an audio clip: