Zine Scene: Wordplay with Katie Haegele

Katie Haegele’s language-centric zines grew, quite appropriately, out of having something to say, but nowhere to say it.

“During the summer of 2004 I was cobbling together found poems from a variety of sources: an old Boy Scout Handbook, the owner’s manual of an oven, craigslist personal ads. Some of them made me laugh and I found I wanted to share them but didn’t know how.”

Haegele, author of the found poetry zine Word Math and The La-La Theory series, was working as a professional writer for several magazines and newspapers when she found that her ideas for writing wouldn’t quite fit conventional publishing standards.

The La-La Theory 6 by Katie Haegele

The zine format was clearly a boon for her, as she describes her current method of writing: “I think about my writing in a more physical, visual way than I used to. The way it will sit on the page, and the way it will relate to the other pieces of writing surrounding it, has some bearing on the way I write it in the first place.”

“The open-endedness of it means I can do whatever I want, but the book structure gives it shape.”

Her most popular work’s namesake, “la-la theory,” reflects the lighthearted tone of her works. “The name comes from a 19th-century theory about the origin of language that suggested people invented spoken language to satisfy the human need to express poetry and love,” she explains.

“It’s pretty fanciful, maybe even silly, but it’s just fabulous if you ask me, and Darwin liked it too.”

With witty wordplay figuring heavily in her work, it’s no surprise that playfulness and freedom of creation are big themes in Haegele’s conception of art.

“My feeling about art in general is that it exists for all of us to make and enjoy. You don’t need to think of yourself as a writer to make a zine – or to write anything, for that matter. It’s just human.”

Katie Haegele: thelalatheory.com

Zine Scene, by Mallory Gevaert, is a weekly column about writers and artists’ adventures in the world of independent publishing.

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