We caught up with Hook Magazine's founding EIC Esme Marsh ahead of The Healing Issue's launch this Friday. We chatted self healing, how the magazine has grown, and what we can expect from the new issue.
How would you describe Hook Magazine to somebody who’s never seen a copy?
A hybrid of a five year old’s collaging dream, emotionally intelligent content and spiritual witticisms.
What can we expect from The Healing Issue?
To be surprised at how much you resonate with practices of healing you never thought you would. How relatable and emotive it is, even if at first sceptic.
What should we be excited to see?
To see what happened when I filled my bath with tea and glitter. To read interviews with an astrologer from Brooklyn and a songwriter from South London; people from completely different walks of life but see how beautifully intertwined ideas about healing can be to those awakened.
Photo Credit: Dominic Gibbon
How do you think Hook has evolved since The Tarot Issue?
It sounds very trite, but the growth between The Tarot Issue and The Healing Issue is astronomical. Like with everything, you’re gonna get better the more you do it. I guess I had a bit more of an idea of how it all works and what to expect this time around so I could put more of my focus into the things I wasn't so confident with last time. I was 100% happy and proud of The Tarot Issue but I knew where the improvements were for next time. Hopefully I’ve conquered those a little bit.
What's your favourite thing about running your own zine?
I think I’m in love with those moments I have where I’m like "Oh, I need to do this" or "It should be like that" and then I stop and realise, actually, the magazine can be however the hell I want it to be because it isn’t constrained by the unwritten rules of what a publication should be. Hook’s vision was never about commercial success, it would never fit comfortably on the shelves of W H Smiths - and once I get in the zone of remembering that, the process becomes a whole lot more free and I get to be creative and outrageous and all the things I want. So I guess my favourite thing about running my own zine is that I make the rules - because the moment someone else tries to, I know I’ll do the complete opposite.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced whilst putting together The Healing Issue?
With the theme of ‘healing’ being a very emotive one, I had to make sure everything that went in the issue and everyone involved was morally stimulated. For contributors to feel like they could open up about personal journeys or topics that were quite intimate, I had to make sure it was an utterly safe space with genuineness. You have to really trust your intuition that you are doing right while at the same time respecting your own creative freedom. Other than that - which is a good practice to be in anyway, regardless of the kind of project, the only challenge was that I had so many different content ideas that it was literally impossible to explore them all. So I guess I’ve been really lucky.
What does healing mean to you and how did the theme come about?
To me, healing means ‘growth’ because it’s practice that allows you to learn and have a greater understanding about yourself as a person, your needs and desires. It helps you become self-aware and reflective - what’s not good about that? It felt like a very natural place for the magazine to go because just like The Tarot Issue brought new interpretations to the traditional cards of the Major Arcana, I wanted The Healing Issue to offer a new frame of mind to anyone that had any misconceptions about healing - that it can be just as secular as it is spiritual. Healing essentially is a tool of self-love, no matter what box you put it into. I also thought that with the world currently being so crazy and uncertain, we could all use a little bit of healing and inspiration for how we can help ourselves and the universe.
"Healing essentially is a tool of self-love, no matter what box you put it into."
Where do you see Hook going next?
One thing I’d love, is to put on a Hook Exhibition. I create all of the pages and artwork by hand, meaning I have some pretty cool original pieces from the issues that could be put into a little exhibition. Maybe after a few more issues, it would be cool to put something on like this and see how the artwork has evolved.
What are you reading at the moment? Any zine/book recommendations?
I’m so excited to finally have some free time once the new issue has launched and get back into reading. I’m going to be reading ‘Ice Cream For Breakfast’ by Laura Jane Williams. Her first book, memoir ‘Becoming’ was such lightbulb for me in her witty, clever and really real tales of figuring out who you are after you’ve had your world crushed by someone. A lot of my friends are also publishing zines at the moment, so I’m really excited to see those. One I’m particularly excited to see is, my friend, Olivia, who has made a publication ‘Finale’ all about theatre. I’m bloody happy she’s finally put use to that 56389-hour musical playlist she’s got on Spotify.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own zine?
To remember there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. And that however way you do go about it, the zine community is the most loving and supportive scene you’ll have the pleasure of becoming apart of and you’ve already got a family behind you that love the same things as you - so don’t be afraid of doing you. I think it also helps if you’re idea is unbreakable and you are super passionate *vom* about it. So that if there’s certain people you want to interview or get involved, they don’t have a reason to say no. I made sure my pitch for The Tarot Issue was solid and I think anyone I approached could see that I had confidence in my idea and so were happy to put their faith in something that could've just as easily flopped.
And finally, where can we get our hands on Hook?
Both issue one and two are available on Hook’s online store- there’s a bundle where you can buy both issues for cheaper once The Healing Issue is out on 5th May. There’s also multiple stockists around the U.K, some of which include: Housman Books, Treadwells and The ICA.
Interview by Rosie Faye Ellis