Matter Out Of Place | Beatrice Obe

It’s FLY Zine launch season! The theme is: MATTER OUT OF PLACE.

This is an idea that has been floating around in my head for a long time, and I’m so excited at the prospect of being able to share and expand it with FLY. As always, I want people to interpret the theme as individually as they want, but to me, the idea of feeling like matter out of place encompasses my mixed identity, my identity as a foreigner who doesn’t look or sound like where they’re from, and for whom native language both distances me from and and brings me closer to what I consider my home. Below is a (by no means conclusive) list of sub-themes that you might relate to, and want to write about:

Language — how accents and dialects can distance you from others, even if you know the language. Moving to a place with a different language. Communicating with family.
Home — where is home? Can it be multiple things? Does it keep changing? Are some people fundamentally more ‘at home’ than others?

(And so on!)

Feeling like matter out of place can be to feel like you’re somehow adrift, unanchored from the things that make everyone else feel so settled and at home in their surroundings or identities, whatever those might be. That feeling of fundamental alienation can be such a painful one, and so difficult to reconcile, and it’s one that so many other people experience. As women and non-binary people of colour, we get it more than most, and I want us to be able to share those experiences, those intricacies and incongruencies in this zine. Hopefully, and with all of your help, generosity, creativity, and honesty, we will be able to make this a space for those experiences, where we can look and find ourselves, and find others who feel, or have felt like matter out of place too.

Audio Interviews!

– This is a very new idea and not something I have any experience orchestrating, so I’m really keen to get this started and see how/if it works! The whole inspiration behind this idea is that of trying to capture certain conversations we have with people that we later realise the importance of, but can never quite recall fully. Here, I really want people to record audio of themselves (or other people, with their full consent) having an interview-like conversation where they ask questions about identity and displacement – anything that really touches what feeling like ‘matter out of place’ means to them.
– Each bit of audio can be as long or short as it needs to be, but I want the end goal for the zine to be that we have a section where snippets of these interviews are transcribed, and can be read through (with illustrations accompanying them around the border).
– Share these conversations! Ask people to record and share their own. Talk to friends, family members, strangers. These will hopefully show common and unique experiences and connect people in the exact things that they had felt isolated by.
– There’s no rush with these, and a lot of our families are far away/wouldn’t necessarily be thrilled at the prospect of being recorded, so definitely don’t feel any pressure to participate if you don’t want to. But, for those of you that do, this would be a great holiday project, and feel free to send any audio files or transcriptions in over Christmas!
– Feel free to post these on social media, under the hashtag #MatterOutOfPlace.

Illustrations and Photography!

– I want this to be a very visually diverse and rich anthology! Anything and everything is welcome — paintings, sketches, doodles, photos, video stills — literally anything that expresses the idea of Matter Out Of Place, and in whatever way you interpret that.
– If you submit a photo, it would be great to have some sort of caption — this can include thoughts of the place or person you have photographed, a time/date, even a line of poetry.
– Similarly, if you have written something, please feel free to provide accompanying doodles/illustrations! Collaborations are absolutely welcome! I want there to be a lot of variety in these pages, so be at liberty to play with the arrangement of your writing/art on the page as much as you want.

Writing: Poetry, Short Essays, 3am Notepad Thoughts, etc.

– I’m imaging that writing will take up the bulk of this zine, and that means that the opportunities for what you can submit are endless!
– I know that trying to figure out your identity or how/whether you fit into a place can be a chaotic process, and putting any of that into words can often feel like an impossibly momentous task — I want to accommodate all of that, and all the different ways in which we try to figure ourselves out with our words.
– This absolutely includes other languages!!!! If you’ve written something in your native language(s), or in a mix of English and another language, this is the place for it! You don’t have to translate it (but you can, if you want — it’s up to you).

This is just an overview of the vision I have for this year’s FLY zine, and I’m so, so excited to get it all started. If anyone has any questions about any of the above, or any ideas about what to submit, please drop me a message and we can chat about it! All submissions can be sent to me via the FLY zine email, at Any anonymous submissions can be requested as such, sent in via a friend, or even pidged to me at Newnham (but the main way to submit is definitely via email). The deadline isn’t fully set at this point, but we are aiming to get this published this Easter term, so there’s still plenty of time to get any material sorted. But for now, I want to encourage everyone to get creating and writing (and digging up old work from that One word document of poetry that you promised you’d never show anyone), and most importantly, submitting!

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