Prickly Pear Issue 1: Desert/Water
Agave Press is thrilled to announce our newest quarterly publication, Prickly Pear Kids, debuting in print this winter. Inspired by colours and contrasts, textures and senses, culture and the natural world, Prickly Pear brings an accessible community of learning and creating to children aged 5-12 across the globe.
Calls for submissions are open until November 1st.
Agave Magazine is read in over 75 countries, and readership continues to grow thanks to the immensely talented writers, artists and photographers who fill our pages. Vol. 3, Issue 3 is titled Best of Agave--keep your eye out for its release later this year. In the meantime, calls for submissions for the following issue close November 1st.
We are looking for manuscripts, artistic portfolios and mixed-genre work to bring to print in our 2018 series. The deadline for submissions is December 1st. Further information can be found here.
Agave Press is pleased to offer a range of services, from book design to editing, writing and even website customisation. Get in touch!
Considering a collaboration with Agave Press? For details about our publications, including reviews, stats, and prices for our integrated support services, please send us a request for our 2017 media kit.
By Deb A.
If you're in need of some inspiration to begin your week, look no further:
Art is good for us: On Wednesday the British Parliament will announce the results of its two-year inquiry into arts, health and wellbeing. In anticipation of the report, Nicci Gerrard offers an eloquent account of the role of arts in helping people with dementia. (The Guardian)
Beware the selfie: A single snapshot was to blame for the domino effect that knocked over a row of plinths holding $200,000 worth of art. Too perfectly awkward to be true? (The New York Times)
Sketching the unknown: How artists and researchers teamed up to find and introduce new species to the rest of the world. (The Atlantic)
Illustrator, cartoonist, trailblazer: Canadian artist Jillian Tamaki's new book of graphic short stories marks her emergence as a "consummate storyteller". (The Walrus)
Visual activist: Photographer Zanele Muholi highlights racism, homophobia, and hate with Somnyama Ngopnyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, a series of self-portraits she took every day for a year. The Guardian dedicates two spaces to her work, and rightly so: a striking photo gallery and a compelling article.
When is a Modigliani not a Modigliani? Twenty-one artworks have been confiscated from a major exhibition in Genoa after several were confirmed as fakes. (The Telegraph)
The Commuter Pig Keeper? You still have time to vote for the Oddest Book Title of the Year. (The Bookseller)
Agave alumna: Agave Magazine contributor Karla K. Morton's twelfth book, Wooden Lions, is now available.
By Deb A.
As the world's largest library and America's oldest federal cultural institution, the Library of Congress boasts over 164 million items stored on over 1300 kilometres of bookshelves. Its stated mission is to "document the history and further the creativity of the American people" and to ensure that its collections "record and contribute to the advancement of civilization and knowledge throughout the world." And this month the library has been particularly busy.
Welcome Tracy K. Smith, Poet Laureate
Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith has been named as the Library of Congress's 22nd poet laureate. She is the author of three books of poetry--The Body's Question, Duende, and Life on Mars--as well as a memoir, Ordinary Light. Her new post does not include any specific duties, but former poets laureate have attempted to popularize poetry beyond current audiences; in keeping with this tradition, Ms. Smith reports that she intends to hold poetry events in smaller towns, "where literary festivals don't always go".
Welcome to the web
It owns a Gutenberg bible and is now also home to lolcats. This week the Library of Congress launched two digital collections: The Web Cultures Archive and the Web Comics Archive. The former includes memes, GIFs, emojis and more in an effort to "help scholars 25 and 100 years from now have a fuller picture of the culture and life of people today," according to Elizabeth Peterson, director of the American Folklife Center. The Web Comics Archive is a natural extension of the library's comic book collection, which, with 135,000 issues, is the world's largest. It includes longstanding web comic classics such as XKCD alongside works by artists who are part of underrepresented groups, such as women, artists of colour and LGBTQ+ artists.
By Deb A.
Before it was devastated by invasions and war and sectarian violence, Baghdad had a very different reputation as the heart of literature in the Middle East.
Twenty-five-year-old Ali al-Moussawi is doing his best to revive his city's literary soul. With a BA in English translation and a passion for reading, he began selling books from a stall to finance book clubs and writing seminars. He now employs a staff of four and drives a converted van full of books around Baghdad's barbed wire and bomb-proof barriers.
Mr. al-Moussawi is often stopped by security teams that suspect him of carrying explosives in his van, and he is well-versed in long discussions over where he can set up shop. Still, he hopes that the books will serve as a starting point to bring communities together.
For now, the disparities facing Baghdad's readers are mirrored in the titles on display, which he changes according to the neighbourhood's clientele. Shiites and Sunnis can both easily find their respective religious texts, and the biographies of Saddam Hussein that continue to be popular in Sunni communities are available there. But when Mr. al-Moussawi sets up amongst students, it's biographies of celebrities, not political leaders, that are the order of the day, along with poetry, textbooks, and fiction.
By Deb A.
Does your tattered copy of Daniel Deronda smell like chocolate or wood? Researchers know that your sense of smell is important to how you experience a book (sorry, e-reader aficionados).
She was wondering how power affected a politician's physique, so Herlinde Koelbl asked to photograph up-and-coming German politicians once a year from 1991 to 1998. In 2006 she started the series up again. One subject who's been with her from the very beginning: Angela Merkel.
Goodbye, dandelion, hello, some sort of blue? Crayola is retiring the dandelion crayon. Perhaps before he quits?
This superhero skulks the streets of Bristol looking for bad grammar. As he tells the BBC, defacing signs with his Apostrophiser can hardly be considered criminal: "It's more of a crime to have the apostrophes wrong in the first place."
Poetry lovers, rejoice! The Observer highlights how poetry festivals and book sales are booming.
Thanks to the New York Times we can all enter one of Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Rooms:
Schizophrenic, wrenched by two styles,
one a hack's hired prose, I earn
my exile. I trudge this sickle, moonlit beach for miles,
to slough off
this love of ocean that's self-love.
To change your language you must change your life.
I cannot right old wrongs.
Waves tire of horizon and return.
Gulls screech with rusty tongues
Above the beached, rotting pirogues,
they were a venomous beaked cloud at Charlotteville.
Once I thought love of country was enough,
now, even if I chose, there's no room at the trough.
I watch the best minds root like dogs
for scraps of favour.
I am nearing middle-
age, burnt skin
peels from my hand like paper, onion-thin,
like Peer Gynt's riddle.
At heart there's nothing, not the dread
of death. I know too many dead.
They're all familiar, all in character,
even how they died. On fire,
the flesh no longer fears that furnace mouth
that kiln or ashpit of the sun,
nor this clouding, unclouding sickle moon
whitening this beach again like a blank page.
All its indifference is a different rage.
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
By Deb A.
Happy new year, dear Readers! Here are a few items that might have slipped past you during your holiday celebrations.
Really, we could start and end this list right here: Jeremy Irons reads T.S. Eliot for BBC's Radio Four. The five-part series that ran on New Year's Day also includes commentary by Jeannette Winterson and other guests.
Joe Fassler at The Atlantic pulled together writing advice gleaned from his 15 interviews with writers in 2016.
A £5 note tucked into a Christmas card turned out to be one of four notes featuring a 5mm engraving of Jane Austen. The notes are estimated to be worth 10,000 times their face value. Two more remain unfound: British Readers, check your wallets for Graham Short's creations... you might not be able to see the portraits, but you can look for serial numbers AM32 885552 and AM32 885554.
The Guardian has kicked off "a series dedicated to culture that can uplift us in 2017" with six thinkers and creators sharing the works they rely on for a fresh burst of energy.
Art critic and writer John Berger died at age 90 on January 2nd. His "Ways of Seeing"--a BBC television series and subsequent book--tackled traditional thinking about art, including the relationship between art and advertising and the objectification of women: "to be naked is to be oneself; to be nude is to be seen by others and yet not recognised for oneself. A nude has to be seen as an art object in order to be seen as a nude."
Hyperallergic offered up its list of The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World.
Agave Magazine contributor and 2008 Texas Poet Laureate Larry D. Thomas released a new e-chapbook, Plácido, featuring original artwork by Steven Schroeder.
By Deb A.
... but it's going to be OK. Here are a couple things of beauty that have emerged from recent events.
Whether reacting to the American election results with sadness, joy or fear, New Yorkers are offering each other messages of hope and unity on their commutes.
(via the New York Times)
Leonard Cohen on democracy
Maria Popova at BrainPickings has assembled some insights from Canada's treasured poet, where she also reminds us of David Remnick's beautiful profile of Mr. Cohen in The New Yorker. If you prefer to close your eyes while you reminisce, listen to this.
By Deb A.
This week has been full of tantalizing tidbits:
Pearls have been clutched: the Museum of Modern Art in New York has acquired the original 176 emojis. (Medium)
The Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. has opened America's first major exhibit on the Qur'an. (The Smithsonian)
Claiming the news left him "speechless," Bob Dylan has finally accepted his Nobel Prize for Literature. (The Telegraph)
Speaking of prizes: Paul Beatty, the first American to win the Man Booker Prize, talks with The Guardian's Charlotte Higgins about The Sellout and his take on cultural appropriation. (The Guardian)
The Venn diagram of The Simpsons fans and Yoko Ono fans intersects in Iceland--specifically, with Ragnar Kjartansson's A Single Plum, Floating in Perfume, Served in a Man's Hat. (artnet)
Congratulations to Agave Magazine contributor Anne Whitehouse, whose Meteor Shower is now available from Dos Madres Press.
By Deb A.
By now you have heard that Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". You may have greeted the news with skepticism, outrage, joy or confusion, or maybe all of those at once. It's an announcement that requires some unpacking.
Is songwriting poetry?
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, nonchalantly lists Bob Dylan as a poet, but literary scholars have been debating for years about whether this should be the case. Clearly, lyrics do not need to be crafted as poems; they can succeed as part of a song. (Imagine submitting "Come on baby/Let's do the twist/Come on baby/Let's do the twist/Take me by my little hand/And go like this" to a magazine editor.) But that doesn't mean that lyrics can never stand apart from their music as examples of literary achievement.
America's former poet laureate Billy Collins told the New York Times that "Bob Dylan is in the two percent club of songwriters whose lyrics are interesting on the page even without the harmonica and the guitar and his very distinctive voice. I think he does qualify as poetry."
Would Dylan's lyrics have ever moved a generation without that harmonica and guitar? It's unlikely.
Is Bob the best?
If we accept that songwriting can be poetry (or some subsection of literature), the question then arises of whether Dylan is really the best lyricist out there. Leonard Cohen, who immediately comes to mind as a suitable candidate, likened the win to "pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain," and there can be no doubt about the impact Dylan has had on popular music and even other potential Nobel winners. Joyce Carol Oates dedicated her short story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" to Dylan and called the news "an inspired choice"... although she believed that the Beatles would have been an equally good, if not better, option.
Expanding the debate beyond whether Bob Dylan is the most deserving songwriter to whether he's the most deserving writer highlights a plethora of writers and poets (in the traditional, music-free sense) who have been snubbed in favour of a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who has already received multiple Grammys, a Oscar, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Oates and other favourites, such as Haruki Murakami and Ngugi wa Thiong’o, will have to wait another year.
Is this really innovative?
This year's announcement could be a cynical attempt to remain relevant or an innovative approach to the nature of literature, but it falls short of its goal on either count.
Every single one of the eleven Nobel Prize winners this year is a man. Nearly all of those men are white. In 115 years, only 14 women have received the Nobel Prize for Literature, and just four were women of colour. From the perspective of race and gender, this purported break from tradition is anything but. One has to wonder what Dylan, whose songs formed part of the soundtrack of America's civil rights movement and who has remained typically tight-lipped about his most recent honour, thinks about that.
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