Lyrics As Poetry is a new print journal with a simple, novel way to consider and celebrate quality songwriting: by showcasing the full lyrics of worthy songs alongside short, thoughtful essays dissecting their significance. Apropos of the journal’s title, songs are formatted like poetry and intended to be read as such, providing the reader with a new angle from which to interact with work from a roster of artists that includes Courtney Marie Andrews, Anna Tivel and Rachael Yamagata.
Writer/editor Erik Hayden and singer-songwriter Sara Noelle founded the journal, which has, at press time, released two issues and has a third volume in the works. American Songwriter caught up with Hayden and Noelle to discuss how Lyrics As Poetry came to be and what they have in store for the journal’s future.
How did you first come up with the idea for Lyrics As Poetry?
Hayden: We first started talking about this project about two years ago. It sort of came from both of our interests —writing and editing and music and songwriting.
Noelle: Yeah, it just combines our interests really well. The original idea was to create a space where lyrics could be appreciated on their own, as art on the printed page, in a well-designed print journal free from all the online clutter.
Hayden: For our second issue, that idea kind of evolved and we asked each individual artist to write personal notes about their featured lyrics, which gives more of a sense for the context for each song.
What do you believe the format of the journal offers to readers — whether they’re fans of music or fans of the written word?
Noelle: All of the songs in the journal are recorded works, so it’s a cool way to find an artist or get reacquainted with one you may know by reading their lyrics first. It adds a deeper, more special listening experience.
Have you considered any kind of accompanying audio feature or are you wanting to keep the project print-only?
Noelle: Yeah, we would love to do that at some point, but it adds licensing complications.
Hayden: And I think it’s special that it’s a print-only reading experience with both songwriters contributing and writers and journalists spotlighting lyrics that have personally resonated with them.
As far as the artists you approached to be part of the project, how did you determine who you’d feature? Were they artists you’d already admired?
Noelle: First we started by creating a loose theme for each volume, and we started looking for lyrics that fit that theme. The songwriters are an eclectic set of emerging and established artists that span multiple genres. And every artist grants their permission to be in the journal, of course. I love discovering new music, whether that’s through friends or playlists or going to shows, so it’s really a great group of diverse artists.
Hayden: For issue two, all of the artists wrote a small commentary about their own lyrics. There’s sort of a partnership when they feature their lyrics.
I love the design, too, and the different illustrations.
Noelle: We work with a great designer. His name is Justin Page.
Have you begun work on a third volume?
Noelle: The theme is going to be love.
Hayden: We’ll probably put it out late Spring.
For more information on Lyrics As Poetry and to purchase copies, visit www.lyricsaspoetry.com.