A September Summer: Refections of July

It’s been hot here the past few weeks. Like summer-hot. 90+ degree September days will make anyone reflect on their most recent July.

Somewhere between July barbecues, vacations, and family get-togethers we host a little space for writers, the Water~Stone Review Summer Writing Workshop on the campus of St. Olaf College, in Northfield Minnesota. An easy 45-minute drive from the Twin Cities, the WSR Writing Workshop provides a great opportunity to work with nationally-renowned authors close to home while also having some relaxation and fun.

Within the workshop, we carve out a special Publishing Panel for our participants, and invite folks from all walks of the industry to join us in a discussion about those waters and all its tributaries. Participants on this year’s panel were Mary Logue and Esther Porter. The panel was moderated by assistant managing editor, Sophia Myerly.

In these last few days before our autumn bursts into our twentieth season of submissions, readings and events, and pumpkin spice, we take this moment to recall a day at our Summer Writing Workshop this past July.

READ the full interview here. 


Meet the Editorial Board: Sophia Myerly


For twenty years, Water~Stone Review has been a collaborative passion project of students, faculty, and staff. While it is a staff member who holds the position of managing editor (Meghan Maloney-Vinz), and esteemed faculty (Katrina Vandenberg, Patricia Weaver Francisco, and Sheila O’Connor) who serve each issue as section editors, it is our current MFA (creative writing) students who work as invaluable editorial board members and graduate assistants. Led by the faculty editors in a semester-long course, our editorial board members learn the art of careful consideration and in doing so curate the beautiful writing in our journal each year.

In this series of blog posts we introduce you to some of our incredible and accomplished student editors.  In this post we meet Sophia Myerly.


Hello! I’m Sophia, the new assistant managing editor for the literary journals of the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University. I’m a second-year student in the MFA program here, focusing on creative nonfiction with a deep passion for poetry. My own writing draws a lot of energy from the natural world, stemming from the fact that I live next to a National Scenic Riverway and find my everyday life influenced by many species and environmental considerations.

While I have just finished my first year of study in the MFA in Writing program at Hamline, I have been involved with the Hamline CWP for nearly six years. I graduated with a BFA in Creative Writing with a double minor in English and linguistics from Hamline in the spring of 2016. During my time in the BFA program, I had the unique opportunity to gain experience with the world of literary journals through the efforts of Katrina Vandenberg, the founding editor of Runestone Literary Journal. Runestone came into existence during my undergraduate years at Hamline, and I served as a member of the student editorial board for Creative Nonfiction for the inaugural volume of the journal. The experience was so rewarding and beneficial that I came back as an assistant editor for creative nonfiction for volume 2.

Runestone was created with Water~Stone Review’s literary tradition in mind, and it was through my time in the BFA program that I became familiar with the work that Water~Stone does in the literary community. The opportunity to gain further experience through reading and discussing submissions, learning more about the literary publishing world, and acquiring further editing skills through participating in the Water~Stone class was one of the biggest reasons why I chose to attend the Hamline MFA program. I served on the CNF editorial board for our upcoming issue, Volume 20, and am honored to now be working on the production and promotion of Volume 20 as assistant managing editor in addition to working with Runestone and the Hamline MFA’s in-house literary journal, Rock Paper Scissors.

Reflecting on my experiences working on Water~Stone Review as a student editor, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the lessons I’ve been able to learn as a writer and an artist by looking at pieces of writing with an editorial eye. In looking at the work of others, I’ve gained the perspective to see my own idiosyncrasies as a writer more clearly and thus work towards writing with greater clarity and precision. Now, as I work on the journal from the production side, I’m also learning about the ways that design and visual art can interact with text to create thought-provoking intersections. Finding these connections requires a deep consideration and care for the work of all artists involved, and we take our roles as supporters of diversity in voice and form very seriously. All together, this experience calls for a ‘learning mindset’—a blessing for any writer who wishes to practice literary citizenship and be a meaningful contributor to this phenomenal community. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to gain these experiences during my MFA studies, and I look forward to what’s ahead.


Sophia Myerly

Assistant Managing Editor for the Literary Journals of the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University

A transplant from the fields of Iowa to the deep forests and flowing waters of Minnesota, Sophia delights in the natural world and considers it to be her writing muse. She is fascinated by the complexities of the written word and the hidden marvels of the brain, which explains why she savored the opportunity to pursue a double major in Creative Writing and Psychology with a double minor in English and Linguistics at Hamline. Equipped with a deep, reverent appreciation of research and heavily laden bookshelves, Sophia is currently delving deeper into her studies of creative nonfiction in the Hamline MFA program.

An Interview with Outgoing Assistant Managing Editor, Danielle Bylund


For twenty years, Water~Stone Review has been a collaborative passion project of students, faculty, and staff. While it is a staff member who holds the position of managing editor (Meghan Maloney-Vinz), and esteemed faculty (Katrina Vandenberg, Patricia Weaver Francisco, and Sheila O’Connor) who serve each issue as section editors, it is our current MFA (creative writing) students who work as invaluable editorial board members and graduate assistants. Led by the faculty editors in a semester-long course, our editorial board members learn the art of careful consideration and in doing so curate the beautiful writing in our journal each year.

In this series of blog posts we introduce you to some of our incredible and accomplished student editors.  In this post we meet Danielle Bylund.


What genre and volume did you work on?Danielle_Bylund

I was a CNF student editor and the assistant managing editor for volume 19. 

Where are you in the MFA and what is your primary project?

I am in the middle of thesis! My thesis is a novel of literary fiction. Sheila O’Connor told me once that while she’s in the middle of working on a project that she usual says, “It’s about a family,” so my novel is about a family but not the same family as Shiela’s.   

Tell us a little about yourself (job, publication, history outside of Hamline, etc.).

Previously, I have been an editor for Water~Stone ReviewRunestone Literary Journal, and Columbia East Asia Review. I’ve taught at the Hamline Young Writers Workshop and was an after school tutor for the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute. Currently I am the CNF editor for rock, paper, scissors and I am employed by Wise Ink Creative Publishing as the Author Engagement Director. I’m a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and I hold a BA in English from Columbia University. I am also an old person so I could go on and on and on, but I think those are the hits. 

What drew you to be a student editor with Water~Stone Review?

Water~Stone Review is one of those journals that is just aesthetically impressive. When I came to my first Hamline MFA informational event and they put it in my hand it was really exciting to see this journal that was so beautiful and well-curated. I really wanted to be a part of making WSR as soon as I read it. Finding out that the selection process for pieces was in-depth and guided by such prestigious faculty was really exciting to me as a student.  

What did you learn while on the editorial board that surprised you?

That typos matter and tone matters. I was also an advanced reader for the submissions for volume 20 so I was able to read many of the submissions that didn’t make it through to the board and what struck me most was the lack of care that some submitters used when submitting to the journal. On the flip side of that I was also blown away by the quality of writing that we receive and how hard it is to whittle down pieces to make a cohesive journal. 

Do you think that your aesthetic was well represented in the issue of Water~Stone Review that you worked on? Why?

Yes, absolutely. I was thrilled by the CNF choices. I loved that the CNF board cared about showing a range of structure and form. We were also really excited to amplify the voices of emerging authors. Also, the fiction was so well chosen and worldly. I couldn’t stop talking about The Rabbits and The Americans for a while (maybe I had a little fiction envy). I was also incredibly excited by the emphasis on Hmong poets in this volume. Katrina curated some amazing work there. 

How do you think literary journals affect the writing world?

This is a question I have been thinking a lot about lately, particularly in our political climate. The role of the literary journal has historically been to showcase the new and the radical. The contemporary conversations around literary journals that I have been following are about representation. How do we get editorial boards to look like the rest of the world and bring back the new and the radical? Because art-making is viewed as a luxury and not a necessity many people who work for literary journals are in an enviable economic position to be able to work for nothing or next to nothing for long periods of time. When you have that kind of paradigm there is a flattening of narratives, a homogenization. What I see as promising is the explosion of journals that are cropping up to combat that lack of representation on editorial boards. I am also seeing long-running journals take the issue of representation really, really seriously so there are some hard conversations happening about the best way to publish work that matters and is aesthetically important. Ultimately, these changes ripple outward into the larger world of writing so I think of literary journals as generators of change and canaries in the coal mine. If you follow and read lit journals today you’ll see what big publishers and famous writers will be talking about next year. 

What other literary journals do you admire?

I love the Black Warrior Review, Paper Darts, BOMB, The Third Rail, Slag Glass City, Apogee, The Offing and a lot of other super amazing journals that I can’t think of right now. 

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading What Ever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins, The Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadI have also just begun Dr. Sleep by Stephen King so that fellow Water~Stoner Lily Crooks and I can start our podcast about really popular books that are not very good – stay tuned. 

How do you think that being a student editor for Water~Stone Review helped you in your writing/editing journey?

In terms of skills acquisition, I’ve sharpened my editing skills and definitely developed a more diplomatic communication style through my interactions with my fellow editors. I submit more and don’t take rejection so personally. I am definitely far more invested in small journals and the communities that they create.

Are you doing something literary that you would like to share?

Nope! Thesis and work and planning a wedding is about all I can handle right now. 

Who is your least favorite historical figure?

I could say some despot who changed world history but I think, really, it’s Jack Kerouac. He gave a generation of middle-class white dudes an excuse to exalt jazz as noble savagery, borrow money from beleaguered aunts, and generally be insufferable. I really, really dislike Jack Kerouac. 

 


Danielle Bylund

Former Assistant Editor in Creative Nonfiction

Danielle Bylund is a writer, editor, and graphic designer living in Saint Paul, MN. She is the Associate Editor for Runestone Literary Journal and the assistant managing editor for Water~Stone Review.

Meet the Editorial Board: Lily Crooks


For twenty years, Water~Stone Review has been a collaborative passion project of students, faculty, and staff. While it is a staff member who holds the position of managing editor (Meghan Maloney-Vinz), and esteemed faculty (Katrina Vandenberg, Patricia Weaver Francisco, and Sheila O’Connor) who serve each issue as section editors, it is our current MFA (creative writing) students who work as invaluable editorial board members and graduate assistants. Led by the faculty editors in a semester-long course, our editorial board members learn the art of careful consideration and in doing so curate the beautiful writing in our journal each year.

In this series of blog posts we introduce you to some of our incredible and accomplished student editors. In this post we meet Lily Crooks.


What genre and volume did you work on?

I was a student editor for creative nonfiction in Volume 19. 

Where are you in the MFA and what is your primary project?

I’m right in the middle of my fourth full-time semester. My focus is creative nonfiction and I am currently essaying about family history and local history and see if I can’t put the two together. I will start thesis in the spring of 2018.

Tell us a little about yourself (job, publication, history outside of Hamline, etc.).

I spent most of my early adulthood waitressing and traveling. Currently I am the director of a small preschool in south Minneapolis. I love going to estate sales and knitting and watching terrible horror movies during my infrequent downtime.

What drew you to be a student editor with Water~Stone Review?

I knew that being a student editor with the Water~Stone Review would give me a unique opportunity to see the inner workings of a long-standing and respected literary journal. I was extremely curious about the selection process, and the different types of criteria and standards that the genre editors and student editors would bring to that process. I wanted to read what other writers were sending out into the world to be published. I wanted to scope out the competition! And while being a student editor on an editorial board is not a universal representation of the work that goes into every literary journal, I wanted to see if working for a journal was something I might want to pursue in the future.

What did you learn while on the editorial board that surprised you?

We met a lot of very different styles of creative nonfiction when screening for issue 19. I not only came to respect writing styles that I was previously unfamiliar with or did not care for, I also came to enjoy and understand them. Much of that was due to the variety of tastes and preferences among the student editors and the way that my colleagues would defend and celebrate pieces that I might not have considered for publication.  

Do you think that your aesthetic was well represented in the issue of Water~Stone Review that you worked on? Why?

Yes?  Ha ha, I guess I don’t quite know how to describe my personal aesthetic but I was just tickled with every single piece that we published in Volume 19. I think it was a really unique and exciting. I feel like we very intentionally widened our personal views of what could live under the creative non-fiction umbrella, and that effort was definitely represented.

How do you think literary journals affect the writing world?

Literary journals are where we as writers can to read and be read by our peers and colleagues and fellow artists. Not all of us are going to get published in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, or even other big literary magazines (but keep trying, everyone! Submit! Submit!).  Literary magazines are so varied- there is theoretically a home for any well-crafted piece. You, as the writer, just have to find your lit journal home. It’s out there!

What other literary journals do you admire?

I am extremely excited about my recent subscription to Fourth Genre. I find 1966, an online CNF specific journal, to be very aesthetically pleasing as well as a publisher of good things. My friend introduced me to Black Warrior Review recently, and it is bonkers good.

What are you reading right now?

What am I NOT reading??? For my classes this semester, I am in the middle of Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Duplex by Kathryn Davis, and The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard. Oh and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.

And then secretly, when my homework isn’t looking, I am making my way through Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, Dr. Sleep, and a Japanese horror comic, Dissolving Classroom, by Junji Ito.

How do you think that being a student editor for Water~Stone Review helped you in your writing/editing journey?

It absolutely inspired me and gave me hope for publication. Some of the things we read were so incredible, but they just didn’t work with some of the other pieces, or they were too long. It was nothing personal, and there was nothing literarily wrong with the pieces- it just wouldn’t work in that issue. It was a comforting reminder that sometimes it’s not your writing, it’s just the timing. I submitted like crazy after my semester in Water~Stone.

Are you doing something literary that you would like to share?

After a flurry of submissions, I am pleased to announce that one of my essays will be published in the forthcoming issue of Under the Gum Tree! Keep your eyes peeled. It’s about pizza!

Who is your least favorite historical figure (can’t be Hitler)?

Andrew Jackson. Man, fuck that guy.


BIO:

Lily Crooks is a writer and person in Minnesota. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in creative writing at Hamline University in St. Paul. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found around the Twin Cities knitting, singing karaoke, or falling off of her bicycle. 

Meet the Editorial Board: Chelsea DeLong


For twenty years, Water~Stone Review has been a collaborative passion project of students, faculty, and staff. While it is a staff member who holds the position of managing editor (Meghan Maloney-Vinz), and esteemed faculty (Katrina Vandenberg, Patricia Weaver Francisco, and Sheila O’Connor) who serve each issue as section editors, it is our current MFA (creative writing) students who work as invaluable editorial board members and graduate assistants. Led by the faculty editors in a semester-long course, our editorial board members learn the art of careful consideration and in doing so curate the beautiful writing in our journal each year.

In this series of blog posts we introduce you to some of our incredible and accomplished student editors. In this post we meet Chelsea DeLong.


What genre and volume did you work on?Chelsea Delong

I’ve had the opportunity to be on the fiction editorial board twice. First for Volume 18 with Mary Rockcastle and currently for Volume 20 with Sheila O’Connor. 

 

Where are you in the MFA and what is your primary project?

I’m in my final semester before beginning my thesis next fall. I’ve been working– technically reworking– on my thesis project since the fall of 2015. When I was a idealistic teenager, I wrote a speculative fiction novel (and its sequel, and the unfinished conclusion to the trilogy) that’s never quite left my mind. When I took The Novel class with Sheila O’Connor, I decided to take everything I’d written for it and completely rewrite it from scratch to shape it into the work I want it to be. It has a long way to go but I’m excited to further expand this post-apocalyptic, dystopian, sci-fi-ish world and its characters into something unique. 

 

Tell us a little about yourself (job, publication, history outside of Hamline, etc.).

I came to Hamline in September of 2014 after completing my undergraduate work at Central Michigan University. I lived my whole life in Michigan– so the move to Minnesota at 22 was daunting to say the least. I chose Hamline because of the opportunities to work in publishing and to not be forced into a teaching track and, needless to say, it’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself. 

I’ve been working as the Visit Coordinator for Hamline’s Undergraduate Admission Office since 2014, I was Water~Stone Review’s Production Assistant (Volume 18) and General Operations Assistant (Volume 19), and this past fall I completed a Development Internship at Graywolf Press— it’s been a busy two and half years. I also have one flash piece published on Five2One’s #sideshow, The Sky Is Green— it was the first thing I wrote for this program.

 

What drew you to be a student editor with Water~Stone Review?

Before I was accepted into the program, I knew if I was, I would be working on this journal as a student editor. Simply, I wanted to pursue the publishing track in Hamline’s versatile program because working in publishing is one of my passions. I want to help put something into the world that the author, those who worked on it, and the reader can enjoy and be proud of. Publishing is a truly unique and special industry and I love playing a small, but still vital, part of it. 

 

What did you learn while on the editorial board that surprised you?

It teaches you to be a better, more thoughtful writer. By reading others’ work, you learn so much about your own– where you succeed and where you falter. It also just encourages you to get out there and submit, submit, submit. 

 

Do you think that your aesthetic was well represented in the issue of Water~Stone Review that you worked on? Why?

Hmm… it’s hard to say. In Volume 18, I was far quieter on the board and was beginning to explore myself as a reader and individual. I’d say for Volume 20, it’s shaping up to better fit my aesthetic, but I would contribute that to being a more open and observant reader. I like more stories, love experiments, and just love well-written, thought provoking, heart-wrenching prose. 

 

How do you think literary journals affect the writing world? 

Literary journals are the lifeblood of the the writing world. By that, I mean literary journals give writers a platform to share their work, to build their publication history and readers, and introduce fantastic prose and poetry to the world that only existed to the author. As writers, it’s one of our goals to share our words. Literary journals let so many authors at all levels share their hearts and souls to whoever reads the collection. 

 

What other literary journals do you admire?

Ooh, too many to count! But I’ll give three: Five2One, Cease, Cows!, and The Slidestone Corrective.

 

What are you reading right now?

Aside from my mountain of homework, I’m slowly digging through some Graywolf Press books at the moment. That includes All That Man Is by David Szalay, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, and The Impossible Fairytale by Han Yujoo.

 

How do you think that being a student editor for Water~Stone Review helped you in your writing/editing journey?

Completely! I look at my work differently now–with newly critical eyes and even more inspiration to make it something great to get out into the world. 

 

Are you doing something literary that you would like to share?

I suppose preparing myself and my thesis project for my completion of the program in May 2018 would be the closest thing to something literary!

 

How about this weather we’re having (extremely relevant question for Minnesotans)?
You know, when I moved here from Michigan, I was expecting -50 degree winters. I wouldn’t say I’m “disappointed” at the three mild winters I’ve had here thus far… but what the heck Minnesota?! My extreme winter gear is sadly stuffed in my closet. 


BIO:

Chelsea DeLong is a 3rd year graduate student at Hamline University in St. Paul pursuing her MFA in fiction. Originally from Michigan, Chelsea has found her home in the Twin Cities and all of its rich literary history. She can usually be found writing her novel, cooking without recipes, and running around Hamline’s campus.

Instagram- chelsea.delong
Twitter- chelsea__delong (two underscores)
Publication: The Sky is Green

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