More Than a Literary Journal: An Interview with Mothers Always Write Editor Julianne Palumbo

As many of you know, Mothers Always Write (MAW) published my first piece. (You can read my post about what I learned from my first publication here.) For this reason, the journal holds an honored place in my heart. However, my relationship with MAW has become so much deeper: the editors have created a supportive and encouraging environment that includes a Facebook group, online feedback groups, and of course the relationships they develop with their contributors.

Because of all of this, I am privileged to share with you an interview with the Editor-in-Chief, Julianne Palumbo. Intrigued by MAW? Check out this positive write-up at The Review Review; at the end of the interview, you’ll find information about their current calls for submissions.

DC: Describe the inception of MAW.

JP: I founded MAW a year ago because I felt there was room for a publication that focused on mother writing from a literary point of view. As a writer, I found myself writing more and more about raising my children, and I loved to read the writing of other mother writers who were doing the same. I wanted to provide a place women could go to share their motherhood and their writing, a place to rest from their day. Soon after MAW was started, I was joined by our talented and generous editors who have contributed so much to the growth of MAW as a literary magazine of mother writing.

What kinds of work is MAW looking for?

MAW seeks literary essays that explore any facet of mothering. We don’t like to focus on the trendy; we avoid the judgmental; and we don’t look for how-to or listy pieces. We love free verse, non-rhyming poetry, with strong imagery and subtle message. We love when emotion is created through craft. What really gets us excited is a new point of view and well-edited writing.

What sets MAW apart from other similar publications?

I think there are two primary things that set MAW apart. First, we don’t focus on someone’s ideal of what motherhood should be but describe motherhood as it is. Second, what is important to us is serving our writers by providing encouragement, community, and promotion. Beneath our goal of providing high quality writing on a topic dear to us is the goal of uniting an otherwise often divided world through a common love for mothering our children and for writing.

You are a published author in addition to MAW’s founding editor. How did you get into writing in general, and editing MAW specifically?

I have always loved writing, and have written poetry since I was young. In college I studied English and journalism but went the route of law school. I further developed my writing as an attorney. Although legal writing is terse and restrictive, it provides good discipline because every word matters. The wrong word can easily get someone into trouble! I published legal and business articles as an attorney and did a lot of speaking. About ten years ago, I returned to creative writing. I have done a lot of editing as an attorney and then continued editing as a writing coach to teens.

What kinds of things do you write?

My first few years after I left law, I wrote a bunch of YA verse novels. Since then I’ve written short stories, essays and both adult and YA poetry. I am now writing a book about parenting poetically and have a bunch of poetry chapbooks in the works.

What’s your schedule like?

I spend about 40-50 hours a week on MAW. In doing so, I try to make sure that I take a couple of days each week just to work on writing and submitting my own writing. What I love about writing and creating MAW is that there is always something to be done and the work is so varied. I am used to working as an attorney and raising three children, so I am happiest having a lot to do. My youngest turns 18 in a week or so, and, while my children are still around, they need support in a different way. I find myself with time and energy to put into MAW, and it’s been really fun. I alternate my time between reading submissions, creating the month’s issue, promoting MAW, promoting our contributors, and curating book reviews and columns. There’s also the business of trying to earn income so that we can pay our writers—that is a big goal of mine, one that proves to be difficult as a literary journal.

How does your work as an editor help you now that you are writing and submitting your own work?

Working as an editor has clearly helped me to refine my ability to discern what a publication is looking for and to identify the differences between styles of writing. In this way, I’ve been able to streamline submissions of my own writing and be much more directed and efficient. I’ve also learned from reading the many talented writers that write for us. When you read so many beautifully written pieces, you are bound to learn something that can apply to your own writing. At the same time, I have learned much from my editors. They have a wonderfully discerning eye for good writing, and I enjoy reading their analysis of submitted pieces.

What advice would you like to give to authors when it comes to submitting their work?

Study the writing of writers you like. Dissect their poems and essays and figure out what it is that moves you. Definitely take the time to read a publication you are interested in. Each publication has its own voice, its preferences, its mission statement. These are important to glean before you submit. Also, revise your writing until it is perfect. Too many pieces are submitting that need editing and rejected because editors just don’t have enough time to edit them all.

Describe the ideal submission.

The ideal submission is one on a fresh topic with a new point of view. It contains all of the elements of literary writing and it has been fiercely edited. No publication will turn down a piece like this.

What has been the biggest surprise in creating MAW?

The biggest surprise from MAW is the reception it has received. We have writers and readers from all over the world. Our writers have been so incredibly generous and supportive of us. I could never have dreamed that such a warm, talented and supportive community would be created around MAW. It feels like so much more than a literary journal.


I couldn’t agree more. The writing community at MAW feels like friends, family. We celebrate our successes, we share our rejections and ask what went wrong, we share markets we’ve found that other writers might be interested in.

If you’re interested in being part of this creative, intelligent publication, please submit your work! They are accepting general and themed submissions: labels (May issue), awakening (June issue).

I look forward to reading your work on this lovely site!


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