Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
From the Editor, February 2017

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This book wishes you well. It wishes you the world. It wishes you somewhere warm, safe, well-lit, thoughtful, free, wide open to everybody, where you'll be surrounded by books and all the different possible ways of reading them. It wishes you fierceness and determination if anyone or anything threatens to take away your open access to place, space, time, thought, knowledge.
—Ali Smith, Public Library and Other Stories

I sang a concert a few weeks ago in a small-town library—not in a community room or a more formal performance space, but in the library proper, the nave-like center. There, with all the bookshelves, broad tables, and reading chairs, they keep an excellent 1910 Steinway parked under a potted coffee tree. Twenty-five or thirty people sat drinking tea from mismatched china, listening in company, not talking about politics for perhaps the first time all week. Together we anticipated spring with Felix Mendelssohn, celebrated romance in a gondola with Gaetano Donizetti, and visited Lahore and Jaipur as Maurice Delage saw them in 1912.

2017_Feb Editors Letter_HeatherV_for websiteCoincidentally, I had just finished reading Ali Smith’s Public Library (borrowed, I might add, from another public library). It’s a collection of short stories, at once weighty and charming, linked by reminiscences about libraries and laments for their closing. Communication and memory are central themes of the stories, but beyond that, they're often about letting—or rather making—the dead live again. Just one of literature’s miracles.

As a parent, I have sometimes regretted encouraging unbridled library patronage. I have found myself trying to keep tabs on upwards of 60 books that my boys have borrowed from 6 or more different libraries—classroom libraries, the school library, various town libraries, the library at the college where my husband teaches. I once told the school librarian, while reassuring her that we really had returned that overdue item, that I devoted 90 percent of my brain function to keeping track of other people’s library books. Nevertheless, I’m proud of my 10-year-old for having discovered that he can order in any book he wants simply by asking, and for having the confidence to ask. My 8-year-old is much more interested in building things than in reading about them, and he often has to be dragged along, grumbling, on our Wednesday afternoon library excursions. All the same, as soon as we walk through the doors, he’s reading on the floor between the stacks. The place itself is a persuasion.

We go home, then, and tend to our mundane concerns. But every week, as we return and check out, we collectively affirm both the value of books and the value of libraries, where we learn, discover, shift focus, reinvigorate our interests, vivify our memory, grow, commune.

The first Saturday of February was Take Your Child to the Library Day, but literary mamas know that every day is Take Your Child to the Library Day. The free exchange of words has no season. We hope that this month and every month you'll support your local public library—that place that wishes you the world.

Welcome to the February issue!


P.S. Stay connected between monthly issues by subscribing to our blog or by following us on social media. See you there!

Heartsong: Be Mine by Kate Ristau

Going South by Robin Littell

Literary Reflections
Good Words by MJ Lemire
Essential Reading: Adaptations compiled by Abigail Lalonde

Measuring for Hours by Caitlin Thomson
Night Waking by Emily Tuszynska
Come Lay Your Hands by Ellis Elliott
Red Beaded Gumbo Prayers by Danelle Lejeune
Smock by Catherine Young

A Conversation With Mary Volmer by Marianne Lonsdale
A Conversation with Tina Parker by Gina Consolino-Barsotti

A Review of Beyond Rain Man by Meisha Rosenberg
Childhood as Presence: A Review of Fuego by Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers

Photos by Heather Vrattos

Libby Maxey lives in rural Massachussetts with her husband and two young sons. With her academic career as a medievalist having died a stunningly swift death by childbirth, she now works as an editor, writes poetry, reads when able, and sings with her local light opera company. Her work has appeared in The Mom Egg Review, Tule Review, Crannóg Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Mezzo Cammin and elsewhereHer first poetry chapbook, Kairos, won the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices contest.

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