Ariana Lyriotakis is Agave Magazine's own Editor-In-Chief. We spoke with her ahead of the magazine's launch on August 1st.
AGAVE: What led you to create Agave Magazine?
ARIANA LYRIOTAKIS: Like many others, the vast majority of my reading is done hovering over a screen, clicking through websites, social media and online publications of sorts. Over time, I realised that I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied in the sense that how and what I was reading was failing to provide a continuity of experience. I speak more to this in the inaugural issue, but it's the notion that you can read an article here, jump through images in a slideshow there; ultimately, you are just cramming bits of information into your brain and lacking a well-rounded appreciation or understanding of the subject matter.
As a writer and editor, I suppose I have always had it in the back of my mind to launch a publication of my own, and I have always been fond of mixing genres and forms as well as finding the ways in which various modes of expression intersect and diverge. After a very inspiring trip through the desert earlier in the new year, the ideas for Agave started to really meld together; I decided to do a great deal of research, take the plunge and just make it happen. I am proud to be working in concert with a clever and supportive editorial staff who want Agave Magazine to succeed just as much as I do.
What experience do you want Agave Magazine's readers to take away with them?
When we go through submissions, one of the most important questions we ask ourselves is whether the work will stay with our readers after they've seen or read it. I want our readers to know that every piece we have selected provides an authenticity of experience that is worth remembering. We are fortunate to be showcasing so many exceptionally talented individuals who have interesting and fresh perspectives to share.
The look and feel of the magazine is streamlined and sleek without being intimidating. All of the literature, art and photography is brought to the fore and presented in an accessible format that we feel is engaging for a modern readership. Many of the pieces are accompanied by insights from our contributors discussing creative process, how they seek inspiration for their work, and behind-the-scenes information on the actual creation of the pieces themselves. We hope our readers will not only view our contributors as a valuable literary and artistic collective but also be glad to have discovered their work in our pages.
What are the challenges of creating the very first edition of a magazine?
There are many! I think there is definitely a learning curve when you're putting out a first issue – you have your own expectations and believe you have pinpointed what those are, and the writers and artists are trying to figure out how they fit within those parameters. Not having a previous issue for comparison can be a challenge to our contributors, but the payoff to be selected for our inaugural edition is invaluable: we offer a lot of space for artists and writers to create and to talk about themselves and their process. Our contributors set the framework for what the magazine will become.
What do you look for in a submission?
Restraint. Quiet fortitude. Skillful turns of phrase that take you to another place.... We love pieces that offer all the essentials – no more, no less. We also look for a contemporary narrative: does the author or artist weave a story or show us a new take for a modern audience? Do they have something valuable to contribute to the discussion? We avoid works with overt symbols and ideologies, experimentalism for the sake of pushing the envelope and not investigating form or genre, or anything that we feel is geared mainly toward antagonism or angst.
One of Agave's goals is to provide a more intimate experience with contributors. How do you do this, and why is it important?
It can be intensely frustrating for both writers and artists to submit their work for consideration, and then not to receive a response for ages - if they even do receive a response. Therefore, we work hard to give each contributor feedback so they know that we have received their work and that we are excited about reviewing it. If we have to reject a submission, we include whether we think they should re-submit for the next issue and offer some constructive criticism that we hope will keep them in good stead. With some authors, for example, we have been able to work with them closely on re-writes and edits of works that were perhaps 80% there, but just needed a bit of tweaking to make them even better. We want to get a good sense of who our contributors are so we can convey their strongest works, and in so doing, present high quality pieces to our readers that will encourage them to return for the next issue.
The inaugural issue of Agave Magazine comes out this Thursday. Subscribe here to receive Agave delivered directly to your inbox twice yearly.