We Want Your Writing.

Q&A with Co-Editor AJ Bermudez

I recently had the chance to catch up with AJ Bermudez, whom we were excited to recently welcome as Co-Editor of The Maine Review. Here’s a bit of our chat. – RG

Rosanna Gargiulo: What brought you to The Maine Review?

AJ Bermudez: I’d happened upon an exceptional piece early in the 2021 season (Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí’s “Birdboy“), which initially brought The Maine Review onto my radar. At the time, I’d been thinking a great deal about the confluence of pursuing and creating opportunities in the literary space—how literature might take the shape of an ecosystem more than a simple production/consumption process—and was especially drawn in by the idea of community-supported literature. Beyond a commitment to compensating writers (which is very important), there’s a generosity and authenticity in The Maine Review’s approach to creating space for its writers and readers.

Rosanna Gargiulo: What do you look for in a piece of writing?

AJ Bermudez:  I love when a piece of writing gives the impression of participating in the evolution of the form. A great piece of writing often has a foundation in familiarity with its lineage, but also brings something new to the conversation. Writing is dialogical: you aim to say something, but you also aim to listen, and to be understood. I’m especially attracted to works that give me about 90% of what I want. The writer should always know a little bit more than the reader.

Rosanna Gargiulo: When you’re not writing and editing, what do you do in your spare time?

AJ Bermudez: I’m a filmmaker, so I try to work on film sets (both my own and others’) as often as I can. Right now I’m working on a very cool feature set at an abandoned hotel in upstate NY. Writing and editing can both be very isolated if you’re not careful, so finding opportunities to break out of routines, experience changes in venue, and work collaboratively with others can be essential.

Rosanna Gargiulo: What book is on your nightstand right now?

AJ Bermudez: There are always a few, but I’m currently in the midst of Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Shelley Jackson’s Half Life, and am revisiting War Against All Puerto Ricans, a really remarkable text on American [de]colonization by Nelson A. Denis.

Rosanna Gargiulo: What do you hope to see in the future of The Maine Review?

AJ Bermudez: I anticipate that, like anything promising and young, The Maine Review will continue to surprise. I’m very hopeful and excited to participate in the growing community of writers and readers of The Maine Review, and I think our community can expect to see some very exciting workshop offerings and other programming in the days ahead. The journal is backed by an exceptionally innovative and generous group of people, and I’m honored to be working among them.


Rosanna Gargiulo

Rosanna Gargiulo (she/her) lives in Maine with her family and the perfect number of dogs (six, in case you were wondering). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tahoma Literary Review, New South, Bacopa Literary Review, Sweet Lit, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

A. J. Bermudez

AJ Bermudez, Editor

AJ (she/her) is the author of Stories No One Hopes Are About Them, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award and current Lambda Award Finalist. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Chicago Quarterly ReviewMcSweeney’s, Electric Literature, BoulevardThe Masters ReviewCreative NonfictionStory, and elsewhere. More of her work can be found at amandajbermudez.com. You can reach her at aj@mainereview.com.