Joanna Valente - photo credit Brooklyn Magazine

Behind the Editor’s Desk: Joanna C. Valente

By Lauren Eggert-Crowe

We’re reposting last year’s interview with Luna Luna editor Joanna C. Valente, in honor of October and witching season. Luna Luna is open for all Halloween themed submissions now!

Are you a witch?

Do you have a dark, strange story or poem looking for a home?

Are you drawn to the magical, the mysterious, the occult?

Then it’s time to start reading and submitting to Luna Luna. Founded four years ago by Lisa Marie Basile, Luna Luna is a delightfully witchy feminist journal dedicated to all things occult, poetic, and otherworldly. At Luna Luna you’ll find everything from a personal essay on Mexican White Magic to a Berry Lip Stain Spell for Confidence to a rundown of movies about BDSM to directions on how to sew a poppet. The mixture of essays and magickal ephemera is beautiful.

I asked some questions of Managing Editor Joanna C. Valente.

As Managing Editor at Luna Luna, what does your role entail?

The short answer: a little bit of everything. The great thing about LL is it’s really just about creating an amazing space for people who are making a positive difference in the world, who should be highlighted. I help manage the schedule (posting things/scheduling them), curate and accept content, and write one piece a week. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of fun working with Lisa and Nadia, the founder and associate editor respectively. Together, we all bring a little something different to the table, which is really necessary when curating and writing well-rounded content with diverse perspectives.

What are you looking for in submissions? What makes a submission really stand out?

I’m looking for something honest, raw, authentic, and unafraid to take a strong stance, whether it’s poetry, fiction or nonfiction. Of course, when it comes to poetry and fiction, I’m especially interested in work that is surreal, bizarre, and explores the unseen, the world around us, our traumas, our triumphs, how we deal with becoming ourselves, allowing ourselves to be who we are, especially in spaces that aren’t always safe.

For me, a submission stands out when I feel like someone is telling their truth, but also taking accountability as well, for seeing many angles, for doing the hard work. For being brave.

How about cover letters? As a Managing Editor, do you read cover letters? What do you like to see in them?

I do read cover letters, and I do think they are important, but not more than the work. For instance, if you get my name wrong or the journal name wrong, that’s a bad look. For me, I like cover letters to be concise, briefly explain who they are and what their submission is about (if they choose), but it is always especially nice when someone points to a piece they read on the site. It not only shows me they actually read the place they’re submitting to, but also support other people’s work. That level of care, and empathy, is important to me.

What would you say is Luna Luna’s mission statement and how do you select writing that aligns with it?

Our mission statement is to support women and marginalized communities, whether you are a POC, trans, queer, or a person with special needs, and provide a platform and space for their voice. Because these are perspective I’m especially interested in reading, and promoting, I do gravitate toward that. Which, of course, is not to say that cis men are not welcome, since we definitely do select and publish writing by men, but it’s not necessarily my top priority, if that makes sense. It’s really just all about a unique perspective, of course, and that takes on many forms.

Luna Luna is known for your interest in the occult and magic. There are a lot of interpretations and misconceptions of those words. As Luna Luna interprets it, could you talk about what the occult is, and what it isn’t?

For us, the occult is the supernatural, or what humans consider supernatural or otherworldly (although I believe the “supernatural” is all part of the world we live in, not necessarily some strange, ethereal separate universe, but that’s a whole other discussion). It’s about trying to understand the universe around us, practicing in traditions or beliefs (spells, tarot, palm reading etc).

It’s not about just taking goth photos or watching horror films or appropriating magical practices and beliefs just for Instagram or to sound cool or on trend, but to explore it, interview people who practice, and really try to educate ourselves and our readers. Otherwise, it’s inauthentic and fake – and that can be truly dangerous, especially when you dive into something that has a lot of history and cultural history.

Joanna C. ValenteJoanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016) and the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). Joanna received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere.


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