About me

Hey! I'm Katie. I live in Philadelphia, which is where I’m from. I work at a linguistics research lab and as a freelance writer and editor. My last name is German and my family pronounces it hay-glee. That’s not how a German person would pronounce it, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

I got my B.A. in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, and I'm still very interested in the thing some people think makes us human. (Language, that is. I happen to think that treating other living creatures with kindness is what makes us human, but that rules out some people, doesn't it? [I have to amend this because I now realize that humans are not the only animals capable of empathy. What is it that makes us human, then? Art, I guess. WAIT MAYBE IT'S JOKES! Holy crap I can't decide, this might be a pointless question.]) 

I have been publishing my writing in one form or another since I was a teenager, and over the years the subjects that have interested me the most include: clothing and identity, gender expression, obsolete and castoff objects, language usage and change, the many interpretations and uses of feminism, the many interpretations and uses of "punk," the pearls of wisdom to be found within pop culture artifacts, material culture, graffiti, cities, zines, and books. 

My book reviews, essays, and other articles have been published in print and online magazines—including the Utne ReaderBitch MediaAdbustersThe Comics JournalPhiladelphia Magazine, Rain Taxi, and Library Journal—and a number of newspapers, including the Philadelphia InquirerMiami HeraldPittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Minneapolis Star-Tribune. I was a regular contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer's book section from 2005 to 2016, and for a year I wrote a column for the Inquirer's Sunday magazine called DigitaLit, for which I looked at the places where traditional storytelling and new technologies intersect.

My work has been included in a few anthologies, including Fanzines by Teal Triggs (Thames & Hudson, 2010), My Red Couch And Other Stories on Seeking a Feminist Faith ( Wipf & Stock, 2010), and The Alternative Media Handbook (Routledge, 2008). I write poetry sometimes, too, and in 2013 my poem "Kaiho (A Definition)" was published as a Poems-For-All book. I have read from my work at Ladyfest Philly, the RADAR reading series in San Francisco, and the NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1; on the public radio station WXPN; and in a whole lotta DIY venues.

I am a longtime zine maker, and my etsy shop thelalatheory has been one of the top selling shops in the site's "books and zines" category for several years. Together with my husband, Joseph Carlough, I host a zine library and a show series at the East Falls Zine Reading Room. We've got a collection of more than 1,200 zines that is in the process of being cataloged and is open to the public to browse and enjoy during our events. Performers and exhibitors at our shows have included poets, memoirists, zinesters, a textile artist, a folk duo, a post punk band, and a chip tune musician. Sign up for our list to receive notices about our events.

In 2010 I was a writer in residence at the Anchor Archive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I worked on writing that would become my first book. That book, a memoir called White Elephants, was published by Microcosm Publishing in 2012. My second one, a collection of essays about language called Slip of the Tongue, came out in 2014. Cats I've Knownan illustrated collection of stories about cats, came out in late 2017. 

I really love cats.

  As you can see I was extremely happy to be asked to pose with a giant library card at the Portland Zine Symposium.

As you can see I was extremely happy to be asked to pose with a giant library card at the Portland Zine Symposium.

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About the name

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I've seen it explained and attributed in different ways, but here's what I know about "the la-la theory." During the 19th century, scientists and philosophers were interested in figuring out the origins of language. Some of their theories were pretty fanciful and had silly names. The pooh-pooh theory, for instance, suggested that human speech came from the instinctive sounds early people made out of frustration and anger. The la-la theory put forth that language was borne of the human need to express music, poetry and love. Both Darwin and a Danish linguist named Otto Jespersen thought that emotion inspired music, which they believed could have been the predecessor to language. Jespersen wrote, "[Love] inspired many of the first songs, and through them was instrumental in bringing about human language."

I read about this in some old linguistics book and I liked it so much, it inspired me to start a zine about language. I published the first issue of The La-La Theory zine in 2005, and even though I don't put it out as often or as enthusiastically as I once did, the name is forever intertwined with the way I think of myself and my writing.