Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Celebrating Ten Years of Literary Mama: Libby Gruner

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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.  


Libby Gruner- Founding Editor and Columnist

There’s an email file on my computer marked “books and babies.” The first item in it, from March of 2003, is an automatically-generated welcome message from a yahoo groups site letting me know that I’ve been subscribed to the booksandbabies literary magazine groups site at Yahoo groups. It was the first time I “met” Amy Hudock. I had just started writing about my life as a mother, and I was looking for places to submit my work. Amy accepted an essay I’d written and invited me to join her online writing support group. Somehow the online magazine and the support group both morphed, very quickly, into Literary Mama, and I was there when it happened.

What I loved about Literary Mama from the start was the feeling of community. My essays for Books and Babies and my columns and essays for Literary Mama got the kind of attention that my academic writing hadn’t always received: sustained attention to detail from other writers. I spent six years as an editor and columnist for Literary Mama, and during all of that time it was the feedback from other writers that kept me going. From the beginning, the columnist listserv was a writing group, and the fact that we were all in it together, working together to improve our writing, supporting each other in our work, was enormously important to me.

Writing for Literary Mama helped me develop a voice, concision, and speed. I wrote for real people rather than the disembodied ideas that had sometimes been my primary audience as an academic, I wrote short for internet attention spans, and I wrote fast, on deadline. Over the years I made Literary Mama my home, bringing together my academic and personal lives, writing about the books I was teaching, about real life and fantasy, dead mothers (in books, mostly) and children’s adventure. It was in writing for Literary Mama that I worked out ideas about children’s literature for my teaching—and then that I brought back ideas from my teaching and expanded on them for a wider audience. While it’s been over four years since I gave up my column, I still feel a part of the Literary Mama community, and I’m delighted to celebrate this milestone with the rest of the family. Congratulations, fellow writers!

Libby Gruner teaches English and Women’s Studies at the University of Richmond in Richmond, VA, where she lives with her family. Her academic writing has appeared in SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Children’s Literature, and other journals. Her personal writing has been featured in Brain,Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers the Seal Press anthology Toddler: Real-Life Stories of those Fickle, Urgent, Irrational, Tiny People We Love, and Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life.

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