Sentire creators Hannah and HendrikjeCharlotte Wilson

As a Sidgwick girlie, I often find my overly-lined eyes widening in surprise when I discover that some people have never heard of a “zine” (pronounced zeen) before and have no idea what it is. Turning to the creators of Sentire Zine for answers, we huddle up in the red-brick embrace of the Robinson café, sausage rolls and hot chocolates in hand, to discuss all things zine-related. In response to the confused queries of STEM students everywhere, co-founder Hannah quite simply defines it as the “Cambridge word for a maga-zine.” Her colleague and college wife Hendrikje explains how in Cambridge this less formal magazine has “taken the meaning of being literary and arts-based. In the wider world, it’s rough and edgy and underground and that’s just not what it is here.”

“We’re quite stubborn so we wanted to do it in our own way”

“Our colour scheme is pink and yellow,” Hannah quips, “we’re not edgy.” Between the two they agree that lots of the Cambridge zines are really “curating anthologies— but with less pressure on that word.” With so many zines already on the Cambridge scene, I wondered what inspired them to stake out their own territory last year. Hendrikje explains that “we wanted a way of getting into the zine creative community, but we’re quite stubborn so we wanted to do it in our own way.” But with all these zines available to submit to, what makes this one stand out from the ever-growing crowd? Their unique selling point is the way in which they choose their themes— taking words from “the first sentence from a piece of literature.” Hannah jokes that “it felt like throwing a surprise, like ‘have all these words, ah-hah!’” Hendrikje adds that the “nerdy answer” is that “intertextuality is just really fun and interesting and it’s a sort of backwards way of doing it where people don’t realise what they’re responding to, but the works they create will end up linking to each other and the novel in some way, which is a fun sub-conscious exercise.”

Hendrikje at one of Sentire's socialsHannah Beresford

Fun is very much at the centre of their zine, as they aim to make it a relaxed and welcoming space. Another key part of their creative vision comes in the form of their pub launch parties. Hannah encourages everyone to come along “even if you’re not in the zine. We very much just like meeting people.” Hendrikje recounts that she “used to be so nervous going to other zine events and other launches because I thought that people didn’t want you there if you weren’t in the crowd. But everyone’s so lovely in this community and genuinely just wants you to show up and meet new people.”

Fun is very much at the centre of their zine

Once they’d established the idea behind their zine, they then needed a name. Unless you too are a “massive nerd” who “loves Etomonline” as Hannah so fondly describes her zine partner, then you’re probably not aware that ‘Sentire’ is etymologically linked to the Latin for ‘sentence’ and the Italian word for ‘feeling’. Hendrikje explains that “we liked that double-nature where we’re playing with sentences but we also like things to be quite emotive.” Having already taken inspiration from the opening lines from ‘The Metamorphosis’ and ‘Twelfth Night’ I’m excited to see what they’re planning next to which Hendrikje covertly tells me, “it’s a secret, but there is some exciting stuff in the works.”


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However, for newcomers, they recognise that submitting work for the first time can be an intimidating step. Hendrikje says they “want people to feel comfortable sending their work in. We take it seriously but it doesn’t have to be serious.” To calm any fears about submitting, Hannah explains “we’re literally just people at the end of an email.” She recounts how the idea of submitting used to be “terrifying” because “I was like oh my god! They’re some big corporate body that’s going to reject me and be horrible. And it’s really not.” At the end of the day, they’re “just students, exactly the same as you are.” Hendrikje insists they’ve only ever rejected work because “there’s too much or because it doesn’t fit the theme in the way we want” but “it’s never a judgemental process.”

Come next year — as the two third-years depart into the dreaded depths of the real world— there’s going to be a different team working behind the zine. They’ve made the choice to pass it down, recognising how these creative projects struggle to thrive outside of the Cambridge scene. So, as Hannah jokes, “if anyone wants to adopt Sentire – start training now!” But, for the moment, the two are focused on creating and promoting their next edition, as well as working to sell a T-shirt they designed in aid of Blue Smile, a Cambridge-based art therapy charity for children. And of course, organising their next pub trip which they absolutely insist you should all come along too!