Welcome to our new Literary Mama blog series: Craft Talks. In this bi-monthly post, we’ll have a mini-interview with our own editors about craft, what they look for in submissions, and all things writing.
Today, I talked with Stephanie Buesinger, Blog and Photo Editor at Literary Mama. She told me about her journey to Literary Mama, Lauren Groff’s beautiful language, and what she appreciates in photography submissions.
1. Tell us about yourself and your position at Literary Mama.
I joined Literary Mama in March of 2020. Working with this very welcoming team has been one of the bright spots of this year. After leaving a career in finance to stay home with my kids, I shifted my focus to creative pursuits. In addition to writing, I enjoy illustration and photography. At Literary Mama, I serve as the photo editor and as a blog editor along with Bridget Lillethorup. You can find out more about my work on my personal blog, www.snowflakesanddust.com.
2. Is there a passage, sentence, or line of a poem that you absolutely adore? Why is it so good?
I love the closing lines of “Eyewall” by Lauren Groff in her 2018 short-story collection, Florida:
Houses contain us; who can say what we contain? Out where the steps had been, balanced beside the drop-off: one egg, whole and mute, holding all the light of dawn in its skin.
Seeking shelter in her house during a hurricane, the narrator is visited by people she mourns. The narrator survives her brutal, surreal passage through grief and loss. The closing lines read to me as poetry, with every syllable chosen with the utmost care. Straightforward words such as “house,” “contain,” “egg” are combined in such a masterful way, bringing the reader to contemplate life and survival. I love the repetition of who/what/we/where and the slant rhyme of “whole” and “hold(ing)”. The rhythm of the five-syllable phrase “Houses contain us” paired with the seven-syllable question “who can say what we contain?” invites the reader to slow down. The imagery of the egg, “whole and mute,” is powerful as a symbol of rebirth. It is as if the egg contains the world within it, and perhaps it, indeed, does.
3. What do you look for in submissions? What type of writing grabs your attention?
As the photo editor, I look for photography that is complementary to the writing pieces we publish. I like to be surprised with the creative use of focus, composition and/or color. We seek work that resonates with motherhood, as well as other themes including milestones, growth, and traditions. Nature photography is a personal interest of mine and popular with our editorial team. Our LM community is located around the world and I would love to see images that reflect that in our submissions.
We maintain a library of photos and seek to pair images with a piece of writing. We seek photography that could accompany a variety of literary categories from fiction to blog posts. For more information, please see our full guidelines here: https://literarymama.com/submissions/submission-guidelines-photos
Read something you liked? Let us know in the comments!