Welcome to 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 Autumn Purdy, Reviews Editor. She told me about her current writing project, the cadence of E.E. Cummings, and how to open minds to diverse perspectives with book reviews.
1. Tell us about yourself and your position at Literary Mama.
In May 2020, I joined Literary Mama as a Reviews Editor working alongside Rudri Bhatt Patel. I’m overjoyed to be a part of this remarkably talented and welcoming team of women devoted to producing such a fine publication. I remain in awe of the gifted writers I work with and feel lucky to play a part in publishing their creative visions.
I hold a BA in English from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA (hometown of Fred Rogers) and a certificate from The Summer Publishing Institute at NYU. In past career positions, I was an editor/reporter for my hometown newspaper, a fundraiser for a nonprofit, a nanny, in sales and marketing for higher-education textbook publishers, and I’ve dabbled in freelance writing and editing. Currently, I’m contributing personal essays to Sharing Magazine (the publication of National Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc.) and I’m at work on a memoir about my experience with recurrent miscarriage. When I’m not reading, writing, and editing, I practice nature photography and enjoy hiking and exploring local metro parks with my family. The greatest privilege of my life, though, is being in a true partnership with my husband and a mother to our children.
2. Is there a passage, sentence, or line of a poem that you absolutely adore? Why is it so good?
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
These opening lines from E. E. Cummings’ “i thank You God for most this amazing” strikes me profoundly. There’s a delectable kind of freedom I find incredibly appealing in this poem. The run of words and bothersome punctuation enlivens me. The cadence lifts my spirits. And the insight of the entire piece captures my exact feelings when I’m found alone outside, face up toward the vast sky above me, bathing underneath a forest canopy—an awe-inspiring wonder borne of Nature; pure, heavenly bliss.
3. What do you look for in submissions? What type of writing grabs your attention?
What I’m seeking in submissions is sound craft and a writer’s ability to condense a book’s lengthy premise into a cohesive review. Though, I’m equally interested in discovering why a reviewer is passionate for a particular story and what it was that affected them so deeply about an author’s work. I’m drawn to the combination of multi-genre motherhood literature with wide-reaching appeal, stories and shared experiences that bridge the distance between us, with the potential to open minds to diverse perspectives, and a creatively drawn symphony of words sounding a deep perspective worth considering. The type of writing that takes hold of me is the kind that transcends a narrative’s truth and distills it in such a way that the point becomes universal and meaningful, has the potential to connect one person to another, personifies resonance, captivates my mind, and moves me in a way that the piece lingers on well past the reading.
Read something you liked? Let us know in the comments!