The Hard Fifty Farm: What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

The Hard Fifty Farm: What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

by Jessie Duke

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OUT NOW! Subtitled "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," this issue of the zine looks at love and failure, of dreams crashed and cars wrapped around trees. Spanning the course of a few years, the stories in this issue are a beautifully-written hard read, a tangled-up, thorny walk through contemporary back-to-the-land life. We see the characters looking for a better, smarter life out in the country but having a rough go of it. Things fall apart, change comes swinging, but amongst all the devastating moments, there is hope and fighting spirit and a desire to rise. Life isn't always easy but that doesn't mean it's not worth fighting for ...

(Note: check out issue 1 here). 

"A moment emerges toward the end of this zine when heartfelt truth spills free like a shaft of sunlight through thunderclouds at sunset – refreshing, reassuring and real - the culmination of an emotional journey and its revelations.

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted is the story of a group of friends choosing a different path & lessons uncovered. There are doubts about survival and relationships, animals to be tended, invisible neighbors, and life-threatening accidents witnessed.There are moments of quiet and mindfulness and connection. There is beauty in everyday struggle.

Jessie Duke is an skillful writer and storyteller with an earth-seasoned voice. This zine belongs at the top of your must read list." - DJ Frederick, One Minute Zine Reviews

"Jessie Duke is a naturally talented writer whose style matches her content - classically sentimental, clear, and melancholic prose concerning a group of people who have taken to the land in Kansas. Maturation, family, death, all on a farm. I think it's romans a clef, because there are accompanying pictures. If Cindy Crabb only read Alice Munro for a long time it might result in this. Ruminative and satisfying." - Dave Brainwreck, Razorcake

 

 
 

Comments

Dave Brainwreck, Razorcake fri 6/6 4:20pm

Jessie Duke is a naturally talented writer whose style matches her content - classically sentimental, clear, and melancholic prose concerning a group of people who have taken to the land in Kansas. Maturation, family, death, all on a farm. I think it’s romans a clef, because there are accompanying pictures. If Cindy Crabb only read Alice Munro for a long time it might result in this. Ruminative and satisfying.

Rich Baiocco, author of Death in a Rifle Garden sun 3/30 1:19pm

Jessie Duke writes my favorite zine series: The Hard50 Farm. This is issue #2, and I read it back in Autumn, but didn’t get around to writing about it till this last time I had to do laundry. The series is about a young family moving from the bohemian ‘Pinocchio’s pleasure island’ of Portland, Oregon to rural Kansas to homestead. Initially to be nearer to the author’s father, but as this series unfolds the relocation is more about digging your hands back into the earth and harvesting a life that is sustainable and that you could be proud of.

The honesty of this zine really carries me through as a reader. Much like Isabelle Eberhardt’s writing (2 writers who are living their writing) that I mention in an earlier post, Duke not only sets up the situation of her characters, but adds personal observations (sometimes confident, sometimes not) that show her own character in a more complete and honest way. You might say, well that’s what writing is, but I would answer that’s what good writing is, and it’s harder to pull off than you think. Jessie does it naturally: there is a romantic, adventurous spirit communicating here through the very unromantic, at times bleak, realities of farm life situations.

Farm Lesson #2: know how much you can carry and carry just that much. If you try and cary more than that today, you won’t be able to carry half as much tomorrow.

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? They learn to dig in to themselves, their own disillusionments, through the broken crumbles of false comforts and survive with the earth, adapt, learn how to see their reality without blinders, and cope with it; however tough that is, it won’t limit them. But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some idyllic presentment of pastoral life. No sooner is the family gaining some footing do they witness a horrible accident right in front of their house. In a tender mix of brutality and compassion, Jessie writes the scene in a very neighborly way, in the best sense of that word. The family comes together, whether the young father Jude helping the EMTs or Frankie and James and her 2 young kids taking in an off-duty EMT’s 3 year-old daughter to shield her from the dark duty that calls her father. It comes out of a scene about neighbors being hard to make friends with in the country - hard but not impossible - and leads into a letter addressed to someone named Will where Jessie tells of her own young son being hospitalized.

Moments of intense hardship and disarming softness clash throughout the zine, and the series. It keeps the reader on his or her toes, I can only imagine how it is to live through. Jessie Duke does a commendable job showing us. Can’t wait for issue 3.

Reading Frenzy fri 2/7 12:19am

The Hard Fifty Farm is about embracing the simplicity, realness, and beauty of going back to the land. Jesse Duke's visceral writing on the on the cycle of life and death on the farm mingles with her thoughts on rural life and family. Disillusioned by a throwaway society and the hard partying ways of her peers, Duke settled into a rambling farm house with some friends and a pregnant belly, happy to make do and live on hard work and stories.While this issue focuses on heartbreaks and tragedies, hopes and dreams are ever present.

-Julia Booze, Maximumrocknroll tue 2/4 4:33pm

Just so you know, this "zine" came with a one-sheet. And an ISBN number. But anyway, the writing is pretty high quality, and very compelling, if scattered and not exactly sensibly edited. These are fraught stories of redefining one's place when things start to be unrealistic ... of making decisions for the good of other people and not necessarily yourself. A punk-parenting fear of repeating one's parents' dynamic, down to the photographs where Dad looks vacantly as if Mom fucked his life up and he is meant for bigger, better, other things. The mundane tasks of farm life, things slowing down; becoming unable to take seriously even the frivolity of the city and all the totally material concerns of life inside it. Finding truth in the milling of first responders at an accident scene, who should go home to their wives and don't want to. The ugliness of it all, rural Kansas style. Pick this one up if you are considering giving up on city life.

HangingHex sat 2/1 6:32pm

OK, I didn’t catch the first one, so the story kind of picks up with a couple getting out of the West Coast and moving to semi-rural Kansas. I sort of like how the story jumps quickly from moving there, jump ahead a ways and she’s pregnant, jump ahead a couple more years and there’s kids and a husband possibly unhappy with how his life has turned out, jump ahead a bit more and a car crashes in front of their house and they help deal with it. The author does a nice job of bringing you up to speed without having to say much, and still putting the reader in the context of her life. Anyways, it’s a quick read. I wasn’t sure, at first, if this was just fiction until I saw some of the photos in the zine and realized it’s pretty autobiographical. (Punch Drunk Press)

DJ Frederick, One Minute Zine Reviews 10/21/2013

A moment emerges toward the end of this zine when heartfelt truth spills free like a shaft of sunlight through thunderclouds at sunset – refreshing, reassuring and real - the culmination of an emotional journey and its revelations.

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted is the story of a group of friends choosing a different path & lessons uncovered. There are doubts about survival and relationships, animals to be tended, invisible neighbors, and life-threatening accidents witnessed.There are moments of quiet and mindfulness and connection. There is grace in everyday struggle.

Jessie Duke is an skillful writer and storyteller with an earth-seasoned voice. This zine belongs at the top of your must read list.

Alyssa Bicoy, http://insomniagirl.tumblr.com/ 10/15/2013

It’s not very often that you get to sit around reading a friend’s book with your cat purring there on your lap. It’s not very often that you’re moved to tears by the language it all takes on. It’s not very often that you feel compelled to say or write something after. But this is now. And it’s critical that I take a stand and say ‘Thank you’. Because your zine did plenty of that for me and more.

When I was younger, I stumbled on Adam's music as if by happenstance, and fell in love with the stories he told and shouted freely. After years of distance and occasional whispering, he became something of a perpetual warmth. I'd write something small and he'd come offering some temporary shelter in the form of poetry or strength. After getting to know Pioneers Press some more though, I’ve started to realize that all his love and goodness has forever been echoed by you and Thad and the kids as well. You’re all wonderful human beings, that hand over love and run passionately after dreams. You make me want to be better, and in effect, MAKE ME try harder myself. And that kind of friendship and that kind of good energy is un-stoppable. It’s what can be best known as ‘bliss’, a sort of unexplained sensation that the ancients referred to as ‘a kiss from the divine’. And I’m okay with that. I’m happy with what we’ve made. I’m happy with the amount of optimism we all surround each other with.

Things in Brooklyn have been rough, but only because I’ve been making them that way. A good attitude seems to help a lot, and after realizing that, I’ve been bouncing back, spreading my love in ways that I can be proud of. Those words you sent the other day, reached me at the right time and worked as a sweet ambrosia towards making me healthy again. Reading your zine made a lot sense and helped provide depth to who I know when I think of your name. You’ve always been honest and sincere, and in a lot of ways, we’ve been walking down similar paths. That last letter to Will you had there at the end of your pretty lil’ book, had me bawling in a truthful sort of way, and it brought up a lot of internal questions. Like you, I find solace in the country that I may never find in the city. Where humanity is headed is a scary thing to think about, but at the end of the day, I fear less if only because of people like you. In this life, there’s a lot of hardship and a lot of struggle, and everything seems so damn weary, but there’s always the good that follows. And you are a prime example of that. This I know to be true. Flowers grow in my chest in result.

So yes, your book was about rural living, and yes it was about your eternal search for what’s best, what’s better, but it was also about vulnerability, and love that sometimes even hurts. It reminded me of the true definition of home. Not the landscape surrounding you, or the way your heart talks towards family members when you gather around after a long time, but that imaginary place you work towards and fill up with the tiny acts of love you set out in equal measure. It reminded me of all the good people I know across the globe, that set me at ease and make me feel better. Because it is at home that I love all these people, and reach out and become better than who I was before.

It reminded me of my cartoonist friend in Sweden, drinking endless cups of tea and plates of cookies, and scheming up ways to better his art. It reminded me of a softly encouraging swan sister I have in Florida, who writes better than anyone I’ve ever known. It reminded me of my old musician owl in Scotland, with his magic ears and endless commitment to dreaming. It reminded me of a little adventuresome bird, who’s constantly coloring my life for the better. It reminded me of my mother and father and all my siblings and all their sparkling stories had with me. It reminded me of my love, Zachary and all our darling animals. It reminded me of those who’ve made me who I am. Those who have filled me up. Those who have helped me realize what ‘home’ really is.

So yes. I don’t have to sit across from you and tell you with certainty that I’ll always be here, toting magic and admiration. All I have to do is say that I’m already in you. I’m in that heart of yours, like I said I was. You have my friendship and my loyalty. I wish nothing more for you to get a taste of your dreams. You make every day a treasure, and I hope I provide that on some level, even though I am so very far away. My love floats onward.

I just hope more people read what you write, and feel more or less the same.

Your forever friend,

Alyssa

http://dakotafloyd.tumblr.com/ 8/15/2013

The Hard Fifty Farm is a new zine from Punch Drunk Press about farm life, ranging from living in small towns and ideas of home to personal interactions with both the animals as well as people surrounding this lifestyle.

Everything feels different in a farm town, and this zine does a good job of really illustrating that. Growing up in a very rural area of Northeastern Georgia, a lot of Hard Fifty really hit home. Maybe that gives me a bias, but I thought this zine was really nice. Nice as in this-really-resonates-well-with-me nice, not happy-go-lucky nice. The Hard Fifty Farm contains some pretty heavy themes. But I think that’s a lot of the reason I like it. It contains aspects that often get overlooked or conveniently skipped in other farm / rural narratives.

strusty26 8/15/2013

This zine actually made me cry, which I find to be an incredible thing. Incredibly moving and just real.

Rich Baiocco 8/15/2013

So there’s Duke Ellington in music, and cinema’s got Werner Herzog (herzog is similar to the title of Duke in German, the filmmaker changed his last name to Herzog when he first started out because he felt cinema needed a Duke like music’s Ellington). Now there’s the Duke of Zines writing and distributing and publishing great things off the Hard 50 Farm in Kansas: Jessie Duke. (pretty bad ass interview here) Read this collection, especially the story Pulling The Life From Spring. This type of candor is rare, even among zines, which, if nothing else, at their best are the purest candor.

Sample: “Tonight a young raccoon will scale the paddock fence, move the cement slab that leans against the duck-house door, and jimmy the latch open. She doesn’t have a chance.// In the morning I’ll hide in bed while James digs a hole for Jenny. It’s gotta be deep so nothin’ digs her up. I wonder how James keeps track of all the holes he’s dug. There aren’t any markers, far as I can tell. This is the hardest part for me. Knowing someone’s going in the ground. I don’t know where any of them are buried. I can’t know.”

There are 2 more stories from Duke, a poem from an unknown source & a rambler from Adam Gnade called Gospel Plow that was especially hard to read after the Connecticut school shootings, but nonetheless drew my attention and forced me to acknowledge the complexity of my sympathies towards the 2nd amendment. if im sympathetic at all, I found out within myself it’s not a simple sympathy.

Cool zine from 2 great writers. You can get The Hard Fifty Farm zine here.

One Minute Zine Reviews 8/15/2013

Writing as an act of meditation, recollection, refocusing on what has heart and meaning. The Hard Fifty Farm presents timeless moments, a dawn, a sound, a conversation, and awareness as one engages in the world of here, now, and place. The writing is steeped in the cycle of the seasons, birth and death, distinctive voices and the ebb and flow of consciousness. This is literature for the rest of us – an exceptional publication.

Lily Pepper, Ravenswing Zines 8/15/2013

The Hard Fifty Farm is a split zine by two formerly urban folks who live in rural Kansas. It’s about adjusting to the aspects of country life that aren’t necessarily or immediately scenic or adorable or heartwarming. Duke writes about the sad loss of a one-legged duck, about comforting a sick baby, and about trying to fit in in a place where your family hails from. Gnade relates a story about hearing older friends tell stories, and not necessarily quaint ones, but stories about all the heartbreak that can accrue in a life, the good people you know and lose, and the bad things you see and how they change you.

The Hard Fifty Farm is a pensive, slow-paced, quiet zine, with a writing style well suited to its content. Having grown up rurally, I think I’m less inclined to romanticize country living, and more attuned to the way it puts you right up on the raggedy edges of things, with all the newborn stuff struggling for life and the dead stuff frozen in the ditches. If that’s your background, too, this speaks to it eloquently. If it’s not, but you’ve thought about starting a new, pastoral phase to your life, maybe check this zine out.

Utne Reader 8/15/2013

Jessie Duke's The Hard Fifty Farm reveals the stark beauty of rural life through poetry and prose.

 
 
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