Where The Meadows Reside greets us this new year with its open-access, online seasonal quarterly publication of poetry, prose, creative nonfiction, hybrid, artwork, and audio. Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief Meadow Sherif is a literary artist whose name you might think was the inspiration for the publication, but its inception is much more than that.
“I’ve always been intrigued by the liminality of the world,” Sherif says, “particularly in Augé’s non-places, though even beyond when I could ever put a name to it. Where The Meadows Reside is endlessness, an inevitability. I find the relationship between humanity and endlessness very enduring.
“We are constantly in our own fields — filled with moments like wildflowers, meadows. Though it seems as though there is a conflict between our external fields — our world in revolution around work, survival. So, in a world that revolves around endlessness and necessity, it seems as though what remains of the world – land – suddenly, endlessness with purpose.
“I wanted to see what writers and artists had to say about this – Where do you think endlessness resides? – in simplicity, flair. In return, we establish these instances in glint, intrigue, and design, and much like our Issue 1.1 contributor Michał Zieliński put it: ‘a loophole in a foreign place.’”
Grand ideas often initiate motivation, but actually getting a lit mag started takes a great deal more thoughtful planning and commitment, as Sherif explains, “Anyone can start a literary magazine, and credentials are not a requirement. The considerable requisites are if you have a good concept and intentions that you can proliferate and upkeep. From those two components, you’ll have an audience who’s interested or one willing to adapt to your vision.
“For literary creatives, starting a literary magazine (in the indie scene) is great to have your own project that may or may not be adjacent to your creative endeavors or interests. It adds personality to your own truths and philosophies, those which are mutually shared by various writers.
“And as a plus, you get all the insider info. You learn the qualities of standout submissions and good cover letters (if accepted) – which you can equally implement in your own work if actively publishing. You’ll craft more ‘intentful’ work by reading a plethora of submissions and styles. It’s also a good tool to network, making you more sensitive to the ever-evolving literary world. (In our premise, you have more wildflowers.)
“But don’t begin a literary magazine for the minutiae: fame, followers, prestige. You’ll end up with a hashed result, that, while may be perceived as accessible, isn’t a fairly new premise. We’ve solved the feat of accessibility/inclusivity in the literary world – now, innovation is on the decline.
“As such, if you’re thinking about creating a magazine or are in the beginning areas of development, I highly recommend taking a little more time to sort and settle your concept. How your brand ties into housed work, to its web design, to the tone in your word-of-mouth, your re-tweets and Instagram posts, among others – and perhaps how these concepts relate to something otherworldly (not nuance for the sake of nuance, since that ultimately comes with time). Treat your magazine like a poem – polished and inevitable. If you can bring something new to the field of the literary world, then you’ve done something undeniable. Endless.
“And if you’re worried that you don’t have the best concept now, don’t. You can always re-evaluate your brand. The intention of starting is invaluable. Take things slowly, one step at a time, and the big picture will form by itself. Just be significant and kind on all grounds, and you’re set to create a stunning magazine.”
For writers considering submitting works to Where The Meadows Reside, Sherif reads all submissions on a rolling basis, with a response time of around 1-3 weeks, at most, two months. “We are always open to giving feedback, simply inquire in the body of the email,” she says. “Do note that if you request feedback, it will take a while since we prioritize reading submissions. But we are always glad to send a perspective and opinion, with the intent that you do the same when sending us your work.”
For readers, Sherif tells us that Where The Meadows Reside offers “simple, inevitable, and endless literary work, audio, and art that tugs at the mind, the self, and life with correlation to the outdoors. Expect a thought-provoking design with an unforgettable flair.
“Where The Meadows Reside seeks to create a complimenting collective of work that is not bound by strict formatting or guidelines. Moreover, we deeply value authentic writing that makes a difference when it comes to the memorabilia of the publication. If you create themed work for our collective that still sounds like you, it’s perfect. Authenticity is vulnerability, and we want vulnerable artwork.”
Some recent contributors include Bethany Cutkomp, Gale Acuff, Margaret Rozga, Monique Quintana, Melissa Ren, Madisen Bellon, Paul atten Ash, Patrick Clancy-Geske, Silvia Rose, T.R. Healy, and Zoe Davis, a few of our 1.1 contributors. From 1.2: Alex Stolis, Wanda Deglane, Amanda A. Gibson, Michelle M. Tokarczyk, Naomi Benson, Dani Salvadori, Priscilla Bourgoine, and Aaron Sandberg.
Reflecting upon lessons learned from starting a literary publication, Sherif shares the greatest lesson learned: “Always be kind and significant with your intentions.”
“Running a publication,” she expands, “especially one that aims to be international, comes with constant adaptation. That’s why it’s important to simply begin, because you can always re-evaluate. You’re going to be reading lots of different submissions that may or may not align with your values. But that’s the beauty of beginning a publication, you receive so much variety that opens your eye to, well, endlessness.
“When reading, always have an open eye. Treat each submission with the intent that you would want with yours, with the fact that the writer has done the same. For us, receiving submissions via email comes with the occasional missteps of writers forgetting to attach their submissions or not reading the submission guidelines. When it comes to rejections, we often leave special notes on work that we did enjoy reading and to remain active with our magazine. If you send us a reply for feedback, we’ll do our best to offer perspective. From this, we’ve seen writers submit completely different work from an initial submission, and seeing the versatility from a previous submission really shows the kind of initiative that makes a publication worth it – a mutuality to your vision.
“On the note of significance, always stay true to your brand and your values. We live in such a world where it’s always about the minute: the followers, the word-of-mouth, the outreach. A good concept goes a long way, so keep producing quality work, and you’ll look back at all that you’ve done with an accomplishment and satisfaction unlike any other.
Sherif also offers some insight into the rejection process from the publication’s point of view, “Sending out a rejection is truly the hardest thing to do. You never know if this little email will be the tipping point for a writer or artist who has tried so earnestly at their craft. And rejections cover a scope of vague things – one word or an off-theme piece. We always recommend sitting with your writing and ensuring that every word and scene is inevitable before sending it for consideration.
“It truly is difficult, especially with the constant circulation of the literary world. If you can prioritize your work and sit with it before sending, we will notice your effort. And should you receive a rejection, send work again – it’s not nosy or too much. And we don’t have waiting requirements. Our premise is that you re-evaluate your work so that it is polished and tackles a new subject or perspective. We love to see the adaptation and growth because that means you believe in what we’re promoting, and we want contributors exactly like that.
“Finally, always remember that rejection is redirection.”
In the future, Where The Meadows Reside looks to expand by hosting themed content and establishing print issues, solidifying our brand in the literary world. “We’re always in support of supporting aspiring artists as a rationale for the ambition to let our past contributors judge contests,” Sherif says. “Where The Meadows Reside is prospectively looking at creating a collective of literary artists who are dedicated to the collective’s brand and mission and having select print issues from the collective. We want to do more for the literary world instead of just publishing work, promoting it, and moving on to the next issue. We want the process to be engaging, memorable, and endless.”