The Iconoclast: Revolutionary Love Poems by Nadia Abou-Karr

“She wears controversy all over her body… I love the Iconoclast. I need her. Can’t wait to hear the next sacrilegious thing to escape her lips.”

My first, very late in life, introduction to zines was through poet and artist Nadia Abou-Karr. I was definitely on the older side of this amazing self-publishing art form that Abou-Karr was, in fact, a pioneer of in her teens. It was thru Abou-Karr and a few other shared friends that I learned about the rich history of zine-making and eventually began to make my own. It’s now been a few years since I last made a zine but I remain excited about the possibilities that zines present. Zines are fully self-published and can include written and visual work. While zines have long been a collage-makers dream, zine artists have creatively found ways to utilize their own photography and other art forms as well as found photos. Abou-Karr has been at the forefront of keeping zine-making fresh and original and with The Iconoclast: Revolutionary Love Poems, she gives us a beautiful and unique zine in her own style.

The Iconoclast is, as the title suggests, a collection of poems. But what does “revolutionary love” mean? Based on the poems included, it is clear that revolutionary love includes love of self as much as love of others. And for many women of color and otherwise marginalized women, perhaps self-love is the most revolutionary of all. Abou-Karr’s poetry challenges the notion that love is merely devotion to another, though there is plenty of evidence of that kind of love in the zine also. The most striking message in The Iconoclastis that love means stretching oneself, trying new things, challenging not only self but also society. After all, the Iconoclast is “a destroyer of… established conventions.” And sometimes those conventions are one’s own even.

“The coyote looks across a canyon

wide and deep

turning his back to family and tradition

to take a chance”

The poems included speak of self-value, loving another, devotion, and leaving a lover when self has been stifled by expectations or when people becomes disconnected. There is heartbreak and honesty and even a little brutality, but ultimately hope. Because revolutionary love always survives and loves again.

“a place to be loved, the worst place

the best place, the hard place,

the home space”

Visually, The Iconoclast is a mix of repeating images, self-portrait, and Abou-Karr’s own art. The mix of light and dark, one of the special aspects of a machine copied zine, is perfection and the poems jump off the page and demand to be read aloud and really felt in the heart of the reader.

The Iconoclast: Revolutionary Love Poems can be purchased direct from Nadia Abou-Karr HERE.

This review originally published at 


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