October 2013 marked Literary Mama’s ten year anniversary! On Wednesdays for the next few months we’ll celebrate this milestone with editors and columnists, both past and present. They’ll share what being a part of Literary Mama has meant to them, what they hope for the future of the magazine, and how Literary Mama has shaped their writing, their mothering, and their lives.
Sharon Kraus– Poetry Editor
Nine years ago, I miscarried and found myself invisibly bereft, sad, silenced. No one would ever know my daughter. I wouldn’t know her; her father and her brother wouldn’t. Because no one had seen her, no one could even feel sorry for not seeing her. Sobbing in the grocery store? I was just weird. I stopped writing, because I couldn’t stand facing that pain.
Then, months later, I found Literary Mama.
I won’t say that Literary Mama cured me (which would be pretty weird in itself), but Literary Mama was my clinic, my not-physical therapy. Over the years, I have slowly healed – more than I would have without the companionable hubbub of writers puzzling over, disclosing, ruminating, hollering, howling over how-to-mother conditions; over children; over lost (“miscarried” is rather blaming, yes?) babies. It was and remains a huge relief to find other thoughts like mine. Literary Mama is more than a home to me (having lost several, to echo Elizabeth Bishop): it’s the coffee shop where the hybrid creatures, the poet-mothers, think aloud, think unacceptable thoughts, admit being flawed, conflicted, and still learning how to mother. Sometimes Literary Mama is the classroom, sometimes the park, but always it is replete with women trying to write truthfully, carefully, precisely.
Back then, my husband worried on my behalf about the indefinite sabbatical from writing that I was permitting myself; at his prompting, I realized that what I was capable of was still something. The fates agreed, because they (well, really, Caroline and Amy) put out a call for an editorial assistant to the Poetry column. Caroline and Rachel responded to my email, and then the welcome emails poured into my inbox: I was a part of the Literary Mama town.
I joined the magazine hoping to help in any small way – proofreading, record-keeping – and was so happy to have fellow writer-mothers as my colleagues. Rachel Iverson showed me the ropes and set an intensely positive tone for working with contributors. A few years later, when Rachel left for graduate school, I inherited a solid entity and have been allowed to continue curating it with nuance. I love the work I am allowed to do here, and I believe in it.
Because we are a virtual community, we are perhaps more focusedly aware of what we share and what we make. Literary Mama is amazing; Literary Mama matters. We, all of us, commit to the work of putting out the magazine for the sake of abstractions (ideals? principles? intangible health benefits?). All of us who grapple with conflict about and in mothering want to contribute, give back, and help shape our culture, whether that culture is the discipline of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, reviewing, or conversing with the like minds who are our contributors. I’m proud of us, and honored to be here, and happy to be having coffee together, all these years, with my fellow LM-ers.
Also, down there in the monthly nuts and bolts, plastic wrenches and pre-algebra books, I am really lucky to work with Ginny, who is more than just about anyone, privy to my (ahem) mercurial moments. Someday, Ginny, mint juleps, on me!