Submission Guidelines: “Outside of our announced contests, we publish by solicited submissions only. Here is a link to our contest page, which we update as new contests and reading periods open throughout the year.”
Interview with Fox Frazier-Foley, Founding Editor-in-Chief
How did Agape Editions start?
Well, I felt during 2015 that I had garnered enough experience in the publishing industry to successfully run my own micro-press, and I felt like starting my own independent press was probably the only way I would get to do what I wanted, how I wanted, when I wanted. I had learned a lot at the different literary, commercial, and academic presses I’d worked for, but I never felt like I had the chance to really do what I wanted, per se, when it came to selecting manuscripts and making books. So I decided to make my own chance. And I asked Erin Elizabeth Smith at Sundress Publications if she thought having us as an imprint would be mutually beneficial, and she said yes and was super kind and supportive. And then Jasmine An, our Poetry Editor, found us through Sundress, and Saumya Arya Haas, our Social Media Manager, and I were already friends—so we were off to a really exciting start. Julianna DeMicco started as our Blog Intern and now manages our Blog, and Ruth Awad signed on as our Blog Editor. Most recently, Bennet LeMaster has begun working as our Staff Director, and we’ve got a resident reviewer working on the blog, and a super-smart team of interns helping out on other initiatives and projects as well! So we’ve been growing on kind of an as-needed basis, and I think we are all lucky (especially me!) that it’s such a fantastic team of people.
Tell us a bit about Agape Editions. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
We aren’t necessarily very prescriptive or proscriptive when it comes to aesthetic. We’re interested in literature that is visionary—embracing or interrogating Mystery as it enacts a sense of ecstasy or otherworldly consciousness/experience. But I think that, in terms of aesthetics, there’s such a wide variety of ways to render that, and so many different topics or perspectives could lend themselves to that work. We are also interested in work that promotes interfaith and/or intercultural exchange. Our full mission statement can be found here.
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
We just published Nandini Dhar’s Historians of Redundant Moments, which is a novel in verse; Kazim Ali’s non-fiction book of lyric and critical essays, Anaïs Nin: An Unprofessional Study is coming out at AWP; and later this year, we’re releasing a book of poetry by Arielle Greenberg, titled Come Along With Me to the Pasture Now; early next year, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie’s amazing book Strut, which is a book of poetry about lineage, self-acceptance, mourning, celebration—everything.
Another really cool thing we do is the Morning House series. We create ebooks—usually chapbook-length, though we’ve actually got a few longer ones coming out during 2017, as well—and distribute them in partnership with THEThe Poetry Blog as free PDF downloads. It’s poetry for the people, literally!
We used to ask, “What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?” We’re still interested in the answer to that, but we’re even more interested to know what you think needs to change.
The aspect of the small/independent press publishing world we were, and still are, most excited about is the opportunity for greater inclusivity, including along class lines and regarding disability, as well as with regards to race and gender. Though this work is far from finished and the indie-lit world is (very obviously) not immune to the -isms of society at large, we hope the flexibility and freedom of micro-publishing can create a space for the existence of presses who invite a diversity of authors and readers as a central aspect of their mission, rather than as special occasions to be touted, celebrated, and then forgotten.
How do you cope? There’s been a lot of conversation lately about charging reading fees, printing costs, rising book costs, who should pay for what, etc. Do you have any opinions on this, and would you be willing to share any insights about the numbers at Agape Editions?
This topic has been a tough one for us. We do charge a reading fee for our annual NOLO contest to offset the cost of book production (our first contest just barely paid for itself, and we were very excited and considered that an accomplishment). We will try to balance this by having fee-free reading periods for our Morning House e-chapbook series during 2017 and beyond. We also distribute our e-chaps as free PDFs to increase accessibility of quality, contemporary literature. Unfortunately, a lot of the expectations traditionally placed upon literary presses presupposes that anyone who helps create a literary landscape in America will either have university/institutional funding or else will be independently wealthy. This, too, is of course a form of classism—and this is how wealthy cultural elites have long maintained control over who is published, what is read, and what is considered great art. We find that unacceptable, and yet of course as a press and as editors we want to be able to support our authors and their work to the best of our abilities. The result we’ve experienced thus far is a balancing act: how to help shape literary spaces and tastes in the USA today without exploiting our authors or ourselves.