Saturday, May 2, 2015

INTERVIEW OF Christine Redman-Waldeyer

Christine Redman-Waldeyer launched Adanna in January of 2011.  Adanna, a name of Nigerian origin, pronounced a-DAN-a, is defined as “her father’s daughter.” Christine chose to name this literary journal Adanna because women over the centuries have been defined by men in politics, through marriage, and, most importantly, by the men who fathered them.  While the name itself is not burdened with the weight of feminism, Christine felt it spoke to the mission of the journal, which was to bring attention to the fact that women have fought in many cases for equality only to find that equality means the freedom to act like men, not necessarily create a unique and separate outlet for themselves. In college, she was inspired by women such as Anne Hutchinson who had the opportunity to study under her father. Today women are still bound by complex roles in society, often needing to wear more than one hat or sacrifice one role so another may flourish. While the journal is dedicated to women, it is not exclusive, and it welcomes men’s contributions on women’s topics.

Christine Redman-Waldeyer is founder/editor of the women’s journal, Adanna, is an Assistant Professor at Passaic County Community College. Her publications include Frame by Frame, Gravel, and Eve Asks with Muse Pie Press and she’s appeared in Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Texas Review, Verse Wisconsin, among others. She is co-editing, Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers, forthcoming from Scarecrow Press.

1. What inspired you to start a literary journal for women?

After I had my third child in 2008, I found myself cut off from writing groups and retreats which, in many cases, consisted largely of women. In particular, I missed going to a regular weekend getaway founded by the poets Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Laura Boss. Those retreats helped not only my writing life but also help me connect to other women writers as both Maria and Laura encourage poets to revisit the experiences that shaped their lives and dare us to knock the crow off our shoulders that tells us what we should or shouldn’t write. I missed those retreats and other opportunities to workshop with writers, and I wanted to find a way to reconnect but from home. I explored the idea of beginning a print journal and reached out to Diane Lockwood, a New Jersey poet who founded an annual reading for women.  About this time I had also read something on the victimization of Congo women.  It’s something that was in the back of my mind when I began the process.  That is how I stumbled upon the name when doing research for naming the journal.  Since our first edition in 2011 Adanna has printed four editions and also features poets quarterly online.  Even with my youngest child now four and a little less dependent on me, I am happy to continue Adanna and have met writers and editors from across the nation and even across the world.

2.  What was your vision for the journal?  What gap in the journal “market” did you aim to fill?

Initially I had been asked on a number of occasions to get involved with online journals.  I had my heart set on going to print.  And while I do a featured poets page quarterly, I felt it was important to continue making the investment in writers.  It is a statement that says, your work means something.  It might be an outdated thought and maybe old habits die hard but it was important for me to have something contributors could read from.  When writers get together to read their work, I am thrilled to be able to hand them a book in which they can read their work from.  It is a celebration.  There are a number of women journals out there but few, if any that included men.  I was reminded of dinner parties where the wives collect in one room and the husbands in the other.  I wanted to find a space where women could share that space that was important to them.

3.  What difficulties did you face getting the journal started?

I think I was lucky that I did not face any real difficulties.  As a college professor I had advised over journals in the past and knew what logistics were necessary to get it started.  It was just a matter of doing it.  Once I made it public, it was a commitment. Once I asked Diane Lockward to be Adanna’s first guest editor and she said yes I knew there was no turning back.  She was very supportive.  Unfortunately, I have come across poets that become competitive with each other.  She is not one of them.  She is a great supporter of the arts and holds regular readings for those who want to get their work out there.  Her efforts to help launch the journal were important in its start.

4. How much time does it take to edit the journal and how do you balance that with motherhood?

I balance a lot with motherhood.  It has always been that way so it has become a natural part of our lives.  When my first two children were born I was working through graduate school while teaching part-time.  Now I teach full-time and have decided to do a second doctorate in Educational Leadership.  I push myself but I also have had a very supportive family.  I make time to do the journal.  It is manageable when you have help.  Nearly every issue, I have had assistance.  Diane Lockward was Adanna’s first guest editor, David Crews assisted with our special edition on love poetry, Lynne McEniry with our “Women on Grief” issue, Rae Gouirand on our “Women and War” issue and Michelle Ovalle with our next annual print edition.  I also look forward to working with others.  It is a great way for others to get involved without having to make a long term commitment and I also have the opportunity to learn from them.  Each journal normally takes about two months after the submission period closes to go to layout and then print. 

5. What do you look for in submissions?"

Because this journal solicits work from both and women, I want the focus to be on topics that challenge the reader to better understand women’s experience.  If the topic is engaging, authoritative, and informative I am often willing to work the author if editing is necessary.  Topics on the everyday experience are just as important as more dramatic ones.  I want to hear about the daily lives of women, how they enjoy or are challenged by their roles.  Topics on motherhood and marriage are on my radar because it’s my here and now but I also want to hear from women on their feelings about their growth into their femininity—considering their childhood and reflecting on their identity as a girl— earliest memories of recognition in that role.

6. What are you writing and editing now besides Adanna?

I am co-writing a book for Arcadia publishing with, Matt Hiznay, a friend and relative who has had the same long time passion for uncovering the history to the riots that occurred in Asbury Park, New Jersey during 1970. My grandmother worked as a receptionist at the Berkeley Hotel and his grandfather was an elementary school principal during that time.  We had both grown up listening to stories.  A number of years ago, I wrote Acardia with a proposal and they recently contacted me.  The timing was right because Matt had just got involved as a member of the Historical Society in Asbury Park.   I have always been a history buff and being able to contribute to what I consider a pictorial narrative from an important time period in Monmouth County, New Jersey is exciting. This is where most of my family was born and raised. I am also co-editing “Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers”  with Carol Smallwood, (Scarecrow Press). Through Adanna, I have met many writers who either began their writing careers after retirement or refined their focus after retirement. I really look forward to reading the work of many writers who have successfully taken that plunge.

7. What writers have influenced you the most?

I always felt my poetry most closely resembled Linda Pastan’s or at least it was work that I felt closely connected to me. She visits themes such as motherhood that are real and understandable. I was excited to meet and hear her read at the Poetry Center in Paterson, New Jersey that is connected to the college where I teach.  As a child I was caught up with the Nancy Drew series which I think helped create an outlet for adventure.  Girls could do what the boys could do in those books; they were sleuths.  In college, the metaphysical poets baffled me the most but I found myself connecting to Shakespeare’s comedies.   I like finding meaning in the everyday events of our lives even if it is in an episode of Seinfeld.
8. What classes have you taken that have helped you the most?

My publisher R.G. Rader, founder of Muse-Pie Press has helped me the most with editing my work.  He has the ability to help me keep my voice while revising work.  In a sense I feel like I have been in class with him over the last five or six years.  I send him my work constantly and he probably knows my work best. Dr. Laura Winters who oversaw my creative dissertation at Drew University always asked in class, what is the author demanding from the reader.  She made me realize that spending time with literature was important.  The more you revisit, the more you are enlightened.   

9. What advice would you give other writers?

Write because you love it, not because you are being led by your ego.  It is hard to get started once you make the decision to go public with your writing.  Rejection letters are more common than acceptance letters in the beginning.   Go to readings and workshops.  Even if you are published, you can always learn new techniques or approaches to writing from other writers.