Midwifing Stories in the American South: A Conversation with Josina Guess

Editors hold a hidden yet sacred role in the publishing world. As managing editor of The Bitter Southerner, writer Josina Guess works closely with storytellers to hone their work. At times she acts as midwife to writers, helping form narratives on difficult topics like domestic violence and racism.

Before she became an editor, Josina attended three writing workshops at the Collegeville Institute, including Writing to Change the World led by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in 2014, Revision, Christian Spirituality, and the Writing Life led by Lauren Winner in 2017, and Exploring Identity and (Dis)belonging through the Personal Essay led by Enuma Okoro in 2019. She is also a former regular contributor to Bearings Online.

In this interview, Josina discusses her work as an editor, as well as her own writing on themes of race, violence, and family. Josina’s posture as an activist, writer, and editor is rooted in curiosity and empathy. From her home in rural Georgia, she shares wisdom from acting and storytelling within a particular community, which she believes is the best way writers can change the world.

Featured writing by Josina Guess:

Josina Guess is the managing editor for The Bitter Southerner. She writes about faith, race, family, violence, activism and home rooted in the rural and urban landscapes of her life and memory. She lives in an old farmhouse on four acres in rural northeast Georgia with her husband Michael, four children, two dogs, three cats, several chickens and a goat. You can view her writing portfolio here.