Shotgun Seamstress: An Anthology
Shotgun Seamstressscratches a deep itch for more diverse representation in music writing and publishing. In eight collected zines written by and about marginalized punk trailblazers, Osa Atoe proves that form follows function.
A cut & paste celebration of Black punk and outsider identity, this is the only complete collection of the fanzine Shotgun Seamstress, a legendary DIY project that centered the scope of Blackness outside of mainstream corporate consumerist identity
In 2006, Osa Atoe was inspired to create an expression out of the experience of being the only Black kid at the punk show—and Shotgun Seamstress was born.
Like a great mixtape where radical politics are never sidelined for an easier ride, Shotgun Seamstress was a fanzine by and for Black punks that expressed, represented, and documented the fullest range of being, and collectively and individually explored “all of our possibilities instead of allowing the dominant culture to tell us what it means to be Black.”
Laid out by hand, and photocopied and distributed in small batches, each issue featured essays, interviews, historical portraits of important artists and scenes, reviews, and more, all paying tribute to musicians and artists that typify free Black expression and interrupt notions of Black culture as a monolith.
Featuring figures such as Vaginal Cream Davis, the seminal Black punk band Death, Poly Styrene, Bay Area rocker Brontez Purnell, British post-punker Rachel Aggs, New York photographer Alvin Baltrop, Detroit garage rocker Mick Collins and so many others, in the pages of this book rock’n’roll is reclaimed as Black music and a wide spectrum of gender and sexuality is represented. Collecting and anthologizing the layouts as they were originally photocopied by hand, this collection comprises all eight issues created between 2006 and 2015.
Praise for Shotgun Seamstress: An Anthology
"Like a prism, a great 'zine filters the world through a sensibility, resulting in an entire spectrum of rays . . . It reads like a party full of people who could change your life." —Rufus Hickok, Bust
"It’s difficult to overstate the power of Shotgun Seamstress . . . A decade-and-a-half after its first issue, Shotgun Seamstress still resonates as a powerful tool." —William Archambeault, Antigravity Magazine
"To look at Shotgun Seamstress in 2022, collected in this way, is to be met with the best sense of overwhelm . . . The zine, this monument to a scene and a people, also helped black punks survive a scene that could be unkind . . . The zine was, and remains, a blueprint for survival. Sometimes in the most tactile sense possible—where to go, how to travel, what to avoid. But sometimes just in the small reminders that exist in the interviews, dispatches, and essays. All of them telling black punks that they did not get to their version of here alone. There is a past that echoes with our presence, and a future to be built from it." —Hanif Abdurraqib, 4Columns
"The clash between the high technology of the era and the zine’s analog nature gives the book profound gravitas—Atoe cuts right through the noise of digital media. The book will leave readers furiously immersing themselves in the music and art of Shotgun Seamstress’ subjects and contributors, which is where the real magic of this book lies . . . Bringing Shotgun Seamstress to new audiences, this book rightly honors that freedom and Atoe's and her fellow contributors' raw, impassioned zeal for art." —Booklist (starred review)
"A celebration of Black expressions and queer identities that are seen rarely, if at all, in mainstream media." —Library Journal
"A welcome reprint of an influential, perceptive, still-relevant zine." —Kirkus Reviews
“Black, queer, and always searching, Shotgun Seamstress zine made punk better and Blacker. This life-affirming collection is a road map of possibilities for Black misfits everywhere.” —Chris L. Terry, author of Black Card and Zero Fade
“A decade later Shotgun Seamstress still holds up. The layouts nail [the] quintessential cut and paste zine aesthetic. Articles ranging from DIY to train hopping and Osa’s interviews, ask the right questions from the Black Punks I want to hear from most. This collection is truly a celebration of all things Black and Punk.” —James Spooner, Creator of Afro-Punk, author of The High Desert
“Osa Atoe beautifully documents the infinite possibilities that emerge at the intersection of Black, Queer, Feminist, and Punk identities. This collection left me feeling nostalgic, connected, and hungry for change. Shotgun Seamstress is timeless and so needed right now.” —Ebony Flowers, author of Hot Comb
“An archive, a guidebook, and a radical work of art, the collected issues of Shotgun Seamstress thrilled me with every page. Osa Atoe lovingly curates a classic zine experience for any 'Black weirdo' in search of community, a new favorite band, or DIY inspiration. For us and by us, this book is a gift.” —Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
“Shotgun Seamstress is another firm reminder that Black people have been on the punk scene and we are here to stay. The reclamation of the genre, the movement, and the power that came with it are necessary, especially at a time such as now. From James Spooner to Florence Kennedy and Tina Bell, the punk movement is rooted in our history as Black people and I am honored to support those that continue to push for the reclamation of our history.” —Guitar Gabby & The TxLips Band
“Reading Shotgun Seamstress opened up an escape hatch for me, it inspired me to start my first band, to celebrate my heritage and find power in 'otherness' that had only felt painful before. I’m so happy this book exists to stoke that fire in me all over again and to spark the fuse in future generations of beautiful Black and Brown weirdos." —Rachel Aggs, Shopping, Trash Kit, and Sacred Paws
“Shotgun Seamstress, once passed hand to hand in underground clubs and at activist gatherings, is proof that when theory and practice collide, the result is simply undeniable. Atoe’s book—brimming with interviews, graphics and spectacular essays—adds much to the oft neglected work by and for Black punks. It is also a thrilling work of art, sure to inspire readers around the world. No one who cares about music or history or art or great writing should be without this book.” —Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill and Le Tigre
“Shotgun Seamstress is the most genuine record of Black punk in our story. [The anthology] weaves the collective narrative and centers our revolutionary musicians, artists, freethinkers, and communities who archive our struggles, our liberations and our triumphs in the time that it is happening—NOW. Making it the most relevant textbook on a usually moving, lost, and oral tradition, it is the part of history you don’t usually hear about in the mainstream. It’s PUNK AF!” —FUPU