Adanna Literary Journal, Christine Redman-Waldeyer (Interview)
Interviewed by Alina Muroski
Adanna Literary Journal is based in New Jersey. It was founded and run by Christine Redman-Waldeyer. Starting in 2011, the journal has successfully published 15 issues. Redman-Waldeyer’s main goal for this literary journal is to give women a platform to write about “women’s issues or topics, celebrate womanhood, and shout out in passion,” nationally and internationally.
How were you introduced to the field of editing and publishing?
Well, I guess through my job. I am a professor; I teach primarily composition, but I also advise a newspaper. I've advised literary journals at Middlesex County College and now at Passaic State County Community College, where I work now full time. It wasn't so much of how to get started, [but rather] the manuscript process so all those little things. And since I knew it (having a background with literary journals), I was like “well you know let me let me do it myself; [I knew] a lot of people [who] were doing it (starting up/running a literary journal).” I had just had a baby a few years prior (this is my third baby) and you know...I found myself kind of like not able to go out to poetry reading groups. I was involved with a lot of writing groups. I was just getting out of the house to get involved in literary circles. I was thinking about doing a literary journal and I guess the major thing is just doing it, so I asked for help.
Who was your biggest supporter when you started up the literary journal?
I guess, Diane Lockward. [She is] a poet and she runs (Girl Talk) every March, except for the pandemic. She runs a poetry reading, and I became one of the 30 women who have been asked to read poems for women's History Month. ...I have a mentor as well and his name (it is a him) is R.G. Rader. And he's published some of my poetry cause he has small press. I, you know, talk to him all the time. He was really supportive. He's like “just do it, just go for it,” and it's like, I think, once you make a public announcement, you're going to do something...[and] it forces you to do it.
Where is the farthest place someone has submitted their work?
Nigeria...[and] I guess...Japan. It's a Nigerian name, so I think people were interested in that. I've had [people from the] UK.... I have my book on the shelf here (she goes off screen to grab an issue). This was the original. The red book (she holds it up). Yeah, this was national, very national. [The first issue featured submissions from] France [and] South Africa [and] Indonesia. So, every issue, you know, has people from around the world in it.
I understand that Adanna, that term, comes from [Nigeria], do you relate that personally? How did you choose the name?
Oh gosh, that's a tough one. It was a long time ago. So, I'm a big nerd, and I watch PBS a lot. I was watching something on Africa; I don't think it was specifically Nigeria. I forget the country, but there was an episode about how poorly women were treated in some part of Africa. And how they had been terrorized and raped. I did a little research about it. I just googled. Then I was thinking about it, and this is the dilemma... that I feel that I'm in. [The dilemma] is [that] it's a woman's Journal, [and] I want to support women, but sadly my biggest supporters often have been men. I don't feel women support each other enough, so at that time I came across that name (Adanna). My father was always very supportive of my education. He [has] always [been] like “go for it, go for it, go for it,” so he was always super supportive. So, Adanna, I wanted something (a name) to reflect his mentorship.... he never said I couldn't do something. Adanna means “I look like my father” (she also implied that personally) and it's a literal term. But, also on the other hand, I feel [it’s] a metaphor [for] women [who] try to act like men.
How do you find volunteers? Is it the same recurring people, or is it different each year?
Lynne McEniry is one of the people that's been an editor several times for me. A lot of the people I just know from, you know, poetry circles in New Jersey. I have befriended them, my poet friends. Mary Anne Miller is also a good supporter, you know, so mostly [it is] Central Jersey people that I just happen to know. And I'll be like “oh, do you think you'd be interested,” or sometimes I might be approached. In one case, I was approached [by someone who said] “I have an idea for an issue,” and I was like “yeah that sounds good let's do it.” The one issue I did was Women in War, and that for that editor I met her at one of the AWP conferences.
How do you balance being a professor and running a literary journal?
I think, you know, I have to really work [during] my down time. I have, you know, Christmas break [it] is usually long for us, we got 3-4 weeks off and [the] summers to[o]. Those are the times [I can read submissions]. So, I kind of schedule my reading towards the end of the semester, so then I can work. I have to pick at things a little at a time... I always like a lot of activity, so I'm almost more organized with the more stuff I have to do (that's kind of a personal thing).
Out of all the issues you have published, which one is your favorite?
OK... my hardest was the love poetry issue. I think everyone thinks they can write a love poem, [but] it's very complicated to do it well. (Christine goes off camera to show me her first issue), I love it because this is my grandmother (she points to the artwork on the cover) [my] grandfather sketched her. I said, “wouldn't be nice if I could include his artwork?” So, I included his artwork, and I was having fun with it. The person (she did not specify) was helping me [with the cover] design, you know, I'm like I'll just cover her up a little bit (referring to the drawing of her grandmother on the cover) for my mom's sake. So, it's my favorite [because] I kind of got to use some of my grandfather's [work], he was kind of artistic... But I think (relating back to favorites) was the most recent one was the Mothering During the Pandemic.