The stories in Adanna are not only for women and about women, but they are also all written by women, each illustrating in some way, either directly or indirectly, what it means to be female.
“Mulberry” by Yelizaveta P. Renfro uttered some of my favorite lines in the journal and captured the heart of Adanna for me when she wrote:
Significance accrues only in hindsight, one filament spun out at a time, encasing the moment, hiding it from light, from danger, the only way we know to preserve memories, to nurture them. We become ourselves through stories. And our stories are the cocoons that gently hold the things that cannot be uttered.
I found myself also particularly struck by Jessica McCaughey's nonfiction story “I Tell You Something,” about a woman tutoring a Taiwanese woman who she learns was accused of neglect when her youngest child drowned in a pool. As the narrator expresses, “I am winded, overwhelmed by how difficult it is to understand our own stories, let alone tell them in a language that forces our mouths open awkwardly, that pulls sounds and inflections from us that at another time in life, would have sounded silly, a squawk.” I love how the unifying elements of womanhood transcend other differences.
Not only does the short piece reflect a fraction of the difficulty of being an international student in an English-speaking world, but it shows, in part, some of the masked pain that women wear as they strive to overcome life’s difficulties. I also got the impression from this line that the need to tell stories, regardless of how difficult they are to tell, was another reason for the birth of the journal.
The poems cover topics from the joy of love to the pain of loss, to the betrayal of abuse, and the experience of growing up and learning what it means to be a woman. I loved the lines of the poem “The Guest” by Patricia Fargnoli about a French woman who came to visit the narrator and her brother every summer after their mother died. The poignancy for me is echoed in the last lines:
We sang as she rowed,
not ever wondering
where she came from, or why she was alone,
happy that she was willing to row us
out into all that beauty.
Thus the author ends on a peaceful note of gratitude for the influence one woman took the time to make.
The magazine's editor, Christine Redman-Waldeyer, in telling her story of growing up and the events that inspired the birth of the journal, states that “Like many women of my generation, I wanted to be utterly female and do what the boys could do . . . I hope that Adanna will be one more place to celebrate the lives and writing of women.” “Utterly female” summarizes the whole essence of the journal. It is born out of a feeling that women need another outlet to fully express themselves in written form and be able to share their unique yet familiar experiences with other women. That said, while the intended audience is obviously female, men may also admire the perspectives it offers.
Adanna expresses itself in poetry, short fiction, short creative nonfiction, essays, and book reviews. The journal has an overall uplifting tone to it, making its readers feel as if they belong in the slew of experiences and poetic fragments of life. I can see Adanna becoming a welcome friend to its readers as they lose themselves in shared experience.