It is hard to believe Literary Mama has been publishing writing about motherhood for twenty years while so many journals struggle to stay afloat. We have been fortunate to continue to thrive thanks to two decades worth of women dedicating their time in the midst of having babies, raising children, establishing careers, and maintaining or ending marriages. 110 women, to be exact. Our volunteers span the country, and the globe. We currently have 28 women who select, edit, and publish the pieces that appear in Literary Mama every other month. For each staff member, working for Literary Mama is a crash course in cross-country collaboration as well as what it means to help bring out the best of writers. Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (which was awarded the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award and a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction), called her years on staff, “her MFA program.”
Over our two decades we have published almost 2,000 contributors, some well-established authors, some whose work in our journal signaled their very first publication. This includes Stephanie Land, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed book Maid, whose 2015 piece “Your Every Move” was one of her very first publications. It includes Catherine Newman, whose new novel was just reviewed in the New York Times. Since she published “Daddy Lover” with us in 2004, she has published six books. It includes Jacinda Townsend, who published “Unbricking” with us in 2009, whose 2021 novel Mother Country, just won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.
The reason I bring these names to your attention is that Literary Mama is more than a place where mothers come to see their perspectives valued and validated on the page (though it is that!). It is where artists come to test their voices. It is where writers are nurtured and cultivated. It is a place that builds confidence and connection and keeps women writers writing.
I joined Literary Mama last fall, in what we hoped were the waning days of the pandemic when giving mothers a voice felt essential. Mothering was a crucible during the pandemic, and mothers were rebelling, as being a mother became something you could not escape, not even for a moment. When we reach the edge sometimes the only place we can turn is the page. Luckily, Literary Mama is here and has been here for mothers who write about their experience and wonder: Does anyone care? Does this matter? Was it worth even writing this?
And the answer at Literary Mama is yes. We want mothers to feel seen, heard, and validated, not for their sacrifice and selflessness but for their personhood. For the ways they are still set up to struggle. For the messy and magical parts of motherhood. For its frustrating ambiguity.
Help us keep doing the work. Every dollar you donate helps us keep publishing new voices and will allow us to grow even more, in this climate when writing about motherhood is as important as ever.
Thank you for reading our work, and we hope you will join us in keeping this journal running for another twenty years.
–Literary Mama is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All donations are tax deductible.