Q&A: Tomas Moniz brings Rad Dad book/zine tour to the Denver Zine Library on Saturday
The Denver Zine Library at 2727 West 27th Avenue is hosting a special Rad Dad reading on Saturday at 1 p.m. featuring Tomas Moniz, editor of the Rad Dad zine and co-editor (with Daddy Dialectic editor Jeremy Adam Smith) of the new book Rad Dad: Dispatches From the Frontiers of Fatherhood.
We caught up with the Berkley, CA-based zinester for a conversation about the politics of parenting, the dearth of good resources for fathers, and why zines still matter.
Westword: The parenting sections at most bookstores were completely underwhelming in terms of anything geared towards dads when my kids were born. I would have been so stoked to have found a book like Rad Dad at the time.
Tomas Moniz: My experience was similar. I was a really young parent -- I was 20 -- and the first few years it was just kind of chaos trying to get through everything. As my son got older I started to begin realize that I wanted to parent differently than the ways I was parented and found myself reacting to the messages I was getting about parenting from mainstream society, particularly in relation to fathers. That lead me to the same search you were doing, like, 'What's out there? There's got to be something.'
Tomas Muniz, author photo courtesy PM Press
Did you find anything?
I certainly was inspired by Ariel Gore's Hip Mama and began to come across a lot of amazing, alternative publications around parenting, like China Marten's The Future Generation and things like that, but there was still a dad-void, and so I took it upon myself to try to fill it. As I became more involved in the zine world, I realized I was doing a lot of writing about my struggles I was having with my son: He was about 10 by that time and as he was going on he started getting into more and more trouble. At that point I realized I would really love a space with other fathers to talk about parenting that is not based on the gender-normative examples that we're typically given, and also to talk about some of the radical politics that were on my mind with regard to parenting. I wanted to have those kinds of conversations with people, and that's what started it.
How did you start to make those connections and find your first contributors for the zine?
'Rad Dad #18: Sex & Love' Parenting young kids is the easy part: Moniz has had to tackle more difficult topics as his son and two daughters have grown up along with his zine
I put it out there on an anarchist parenting blog and it just must have touched a nerve right away. Between that and word-of-mouth I got enough material to do the first zine, and it picked up steam really quickly after that. I immediately found a lot of support from other parents out there.
How would you describe the ideal of parenting and specifically fatherhood collectively represented through the stories in Rad Dad?
It was really important to me to get a really diverse range of voices for the zine and especially for the book, so there really isn't any one 'ideal' that's being communicated. The zine now is open to people of all genders and you don't even necessarily have to be a parent to contribute, because I think other voices, and also stories around multi-generational social movements, are also important to larger conversations about parenting. But the book is primarily focused on fathers and I just kind of wanted to present everyday parents dealing with the difficulties and pleasures of parenting in a way that hopefully inspires and, in a way, creates the kind of world that we want to live in. It's difficult because we live in a world that sends such mixed messages to men -- and to women and children -- about the definitions of fatherhood and parenting. It's tough! I think the main thing is that I feel like I'm always kind of searching for help, and to have a lot of other voices together doing the same thing is a nice reminder that by sharing our stories we can be there for each other.
The zine/book tour and the event at the Denver Zine Library is kind of a return to roots for you after getting the book published. What has the experience of opening these stories up to a bigger audience through the book been like for you? Have you been surprised by the response?
'Rad Dad #19"
Even the struggle to choose which texts were going to be in the book was interesting, because the zine certainly is a little rougher in its presentation and has a slightly more radical element to it around attitudes toward authority and the police, for example, and towards corporations. Some of that unfortunately didn't get into the book as much; it's more about the family as opposed to really engaging with some of the more difficult, touchy subjects about the ways in which families and societies interact, which we've gotten into in the zine over the years. But overall the response has been really nice, and it's been great because I've now done a lot of readings in various communities and they always end up being about the community and not at all geared towards me: These events are creating opportunities for communities to get together to talk about radical parenting. I've seen that now in a number of places, where the zine and now also the book has been an impetus for getting a group of parents together to talk about what they can do to support each other in their community, and I've just sat back and watched it. It almost makes me wish I had a young baby again, because I was so alone when I was going through it all and I realize now that I didn't have to be. That's one of the biggest things I realize now: What a difference having that kind community might make.