Last week my friend Sheryl Humphrey, creator of extraordinary nature paintings, and author of The Haunted Garden: Death and Transfiguration in the Folklore of Plants (available on Etsy) tagged me as part of THE NEXT BIG THING interview series.
Thank you, Sheryl; I should have had a post on Greenwoman Magazine a long time ago. — Sandra Knauf
What is the title of your publication?
Where did the idea for the magazine come from?
A long-time obsession with garden writing! The genre was completely unknown to me when I picked up American Garden Writing, by Bonnie Marranca, in a used bookstore about 20 years ago. I was a budding writer, fresh out of college, and a new mom. Little did I know that this book would be the start of a life-long love affair. I was mesmerized by what I discovered; every essay in this book about gardening and agriculture (from colonial times to the present) had other connections—to politics, religion, fashion, science, even personal relationships. I learned that gardening was not just about botany; it was about humanity.
At the same time, I was developing an environmental awareness. I wanted to learn about our food, about the climate—and what we were doing to both. It took awhile to get from there to starting this magazine a few years ago. I see Greenwoman as a vehicle to turn others on to garden writing, to expand their world.
The title comes from the fact that for a while I was obsessed about the history of the Green Man. I learned that this was an ancient archetype, symbolic of humanity’s oneness with nature. Where, I wondered, was the Green Woman? There are many nature goddesses, but I could not find an equivalent–so I made my own.
What genre does your magazine fall under?
Garden Writing: with sub-genres of fiction, creative nonfiction, biography, humor (including cartoons), interviews, poetry, photography, and other art. Everything but “how-to.”
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your magazine?
Greenwoman Magazine is a garden of literary delight and nourishment.
How long did it take you to put the first issue together?
Close to a year. This was a D.I.Y. project and I had to learn everything about creating a publication: how to use In-Design and Photoshop, all the business aspects, all aspects of social networking! I am still very much in the learning process.
Who or what inspired you to publish this magazine?
The subject matter in itself is inspirational. It can inspire people to go out and dig in the dirt (as it did me), to become a master gardener, to want to raise bees, chickens, goats, to eat healthy food, to join a community garden, to get politically involved, to do a thousand different things! More importantly, garden writing opens your eyes to the beauty, the wonder, and the possibility in this world. I love every aspect of garden writing; so much that I cannot not publish and write these kinds of stories.
What else about your magazine might pique the reader’s interest?
I think it’s notable that in a culture where we have multi-national corporations in control of most of the print media there are still some of us who are trying to do something original and independent. Here’s one of my pet peeves: look at the major magazines—most are selling ads from pharmaceutical companies! Gardening magazines too! I want to be part of a new beginning, where we bring back independence, integrity, and diversity to journalism.
Oh, I do have something else–I am sending out a free digital sample copy of Greenwoman to anyone who visits the website and signs up for our mailing list!
Will your magazine be self-published, or represented by an agency?
Mine is a completely self-funded enterprise, though I see my subscribers as co-creators. I want to have their input not just financially, but creatively. I want the magazine to grow and to get even better with age.
Postscript: I tried to tag a few writers yesterday to keep this going, but haven’t heard back yet. The way I look at it–feel free to tag yourself. Ha!