Behind the scenes: Lyra magazine

by Stine Fantoft Berg in July 2016
Current affairsEroticWomen

Fronted by a svelte tummy button and promising ‘a bold feminine perspective on society, politics and the arts’, Lyra magazine launched earlier this summer after several years of work by founder and editor-in-chief Georgina Gray (above, with co-editor Jago Rackham).

The first issue’s theme of lust produced several thought-provoking essays and articles, so I caught up with Georgina to learn more about Lyra and the magazine’s ambition to reach across genders and ages.

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To start at the beginning, what is Lyra and who is it aimed at?
Lyra is a quarterly print magazine offering a bold, inclusive perspective on society, arts and politics. Lyra is a magazine for women and men; we want to challenge the norm that female perspectives are for women only. We think it’s patronising to say, ‘this is a woman’s magazine’ and ‘this is a man’s magazine’ and the two shouldn’t mix.

We publish a wide variety of content, including journalistic investigations, philosophical essays, erotic stories, poetry, photography and fiction, alongside many reflective essays. Through this, we encourage thoughtful dialogues and critical perspectives.

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You describe Lyra as a cross-generational magazine; what do you mean by that?
We believe there is space in the market for a magazine that is aimed at more than just one age group and more than one gender. We are drawing from the ’70s hit mag Nova, which had broad male readership. Lyra, while maintaining modernity of its own, is full of brave journalism and insight into the underreported.

In order for things to change, for equality to take place, there needs to be a dialogue between all genders and sexes. So we think that media should be cross-generational and should appeal to people of different gender identities. This belief is also reflected in our editorial staff.


It’s been really refreshing to see so many alternative women’s magazines launching in the past few years – how does Lyra relate to other magazines coming from a feminine perspective?
Lyra is very much inspired by The Gentlewoman and Riposte, and like those publications it offers a broader approach to how we talk about women. What sets Lyra apart is, like I said, that it’s a magazine for women and men – we want to challenge the norm that female perspectives are for women only.

Lyra follows an aesthetic that is both natural (not forced) and original. It feels as if many magazines focus more on their visual content than the writing they publish. We strive to publish – at one end – real investigation, with almost academic philosophical speculation and literary essays alongside erotica, poetry and art.

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I’m interested in your background – do you have any prior experience with publishing? And how have you found the process of creating the launch issue?
Lyra has been my first publishing project and I’ve put my all into it. It has been a long process of evolution from a small idea for a magazine that would look with real seriousness and joy at sexuality and feminism, to one which encompasses a much greater range of culture, commentary and investigation.

Making Lyra has taught me and our editorial team a great deal about the process of constant compromise, often positive, that a project like this involves. The real challenge starts now on how we get our magazine out to the readers and how we could possibly make it a financially sustainable business. Right now we’re focusing on developing a good business plan that will get us through three or four issues and support us financially so that we can remain truly independent.

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This issue is themed ‘lust’ – why did you choose that theme, and how do you approach it?
We wanted to explore the subject of sexuality, which is something we believe is often left out of writing, or simply given a carefully controlled area in which to exist. We think sexuality should sit alongside culture, politics and so on.

Issue one is very much an appreciation of sexuality. The theme provides a fresh twist on the traditionally gendered model – in a sex-obsessed society where sex sells we wanted to celebrate sexuality and show that knowing and understanding it can be liberating. It’s celebration, and also seriousness.

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The printed magazine is only one part of Lyra – how else will Lyra exist?
Alongside the magazine we want to foster a community of people interested in critical debates. We want to host talks, panel discussions and exhibitions, and we have a blog where we publish time-sensitive news and short-form reflections. As we are a quarterly magazine, we want to be very actively involved with our readers during the time between issues.

Events are all about experience, workshops are about learning and self-development, and forums are about critical discussion. We need to come together as a society more often to exchange ideas and feed off each other’s energy. With Lyra we want to create a space to do just that. Being a Lyra reader shouldn’t mean just buying a magazine; it’s also about lifestyle, attitude and experience.

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