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

Meet the Editorial Board: Nicola Koh


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 Nicola Koh.


What genre and volume did you work on?Nicola Koh

Fiction, Volume 19
 

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

Finishing in Dec 2017 and working on a short story collection with Sheila O’Connor.
 

Tell us a little about yourself.

I went to Calvin College in Grand Rapids MI for my BA and took a ridiculous amount of credits, then went to the seminary across the pond (Calvin Theological Seminary—literarily across a pond), where I got two Masters degrees despite losing my faith.

Because I’m on a student visa, my job opportunities have been limited to part-time stints and internships, such as working as a grant writing intern with Tubman (Minnesota’s largest provider of services for victims of domestic violence), a Supplemental Instructor at Normandale Community College, an editorial intern at Graywolf Press, the associate poetry editor for Vol. 3 of Runestone Literary Journal, and one of the instructors for the Introduction to Creative Writing course this Spring here at Hamline.

I’ve had work in all genres published or forthcoming with Southwest ReviewWord RiotHermeneutic Chaos Literary JournalSweet: A Literary Confection, and A-Minor Magazine.
 

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

I’ve been interested in editing for a while now. Both because I enjoy helping others realize their visions and also because I find editing makes me a better writer. Water~Stone offered something for both those sides of me, editor and writer.
 

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

My biggest takeaways were:

  1. (Outside of screening) pieces that caught fire with a few board members seemed to have a better shot than maybe pieces that pleased everyone on a simpler level.
     
  2. The student boards gives so much time to the submissions. Because it’s a learning experience, I think we’re allowed more time to really think about the pieces than at bigger journals.
     
  3. Shorter wins out—– even when the guidelines allow for really long work, it just gets exhausting to go through a 8000 worder and the shorter piece can feel a lot less daunting. Like it or not, that can impact a first read.
     

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

Yes. Sheila worked hard to make sure everybody’s voices were at least somewhat represented.
 

How do you think literary journals affect the writing world? 

It’s difficult to say. It used to be that literary journals were the teeth cutting place for new writers and even established writers wanting to try wacky things, or a different genre. But as more and more established writers have to shop stories around to get new book deals, some tiers of the literary journal have become almost impossible for new writers to break into. [I think] the general infiltration from all these big writers seems to be leading to an unfortunate conservatism.
 

What other literary journals do you admire?

Ruminate Magazine is a journal I worked on back in undergrad and have read for a few times and I like the work they produce and how they manage themselves. I also like BrevityBlack Warrior ReviewApogee, and Prairie Schooner.
 

What are you reading right now?

The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

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

It made me a lot more apathetic toward rejection and also helped me see ways of improving my own writing.
 

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

Apart from thesis, I’m working on a fictional self-portrait where I am a glitch in a computer program.
 

Who is your least favorite historical figure?

Pseudo Paul (author of Ephesian, Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy in the Christian Bible). Oh, and Ronald Reagan. Screw him.


BIO:

Nicola Koh is a trans-androgynous, Malaysian Eurasian, depressed writer and Tetris demi-god. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Southwest Review, Word Riot, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and A-Minor Magazine. When not studying (MFA ’17), writing, reading ,Tetrising, or procrastinating, they cuddle with their animals (Anya the dog and Magic the cat) and go to various art things. More about Nicola can be found at nicolakoh.com.

From the Fiction Editor


Brief note from the managing editor: 

For this week’s blog post, we feature Shelia O’Connor’s thoughts on 2016 WSR Fiction Prize winner, Saba Waheed’s piece “World Cup”. Ms. Waheed will be joining us on Friday for our Annual Reading and Reception. We hope you can be with us to hear Saba and other contributors for what is always a very special event on our calendar. See Facebook event.

From the fiction editor:

Every few years, Water~Stone Review hosts its annual fiction contest, a call for anonymous manuscripts with the winner selected by an outside judge. For me, securing the judge is nearly as exciting as the early screening of manuscripts, mostly because it means an esteemed writer whose work I’ve long admired will be making one of the most anticipated editorial decisions of that year, and I am as eager as the writers to learn what the decision will be.

This year our judge, Nami Mun, selected “World Cup” by Saba Waheed, the story of Adeena and Bilal, and their awkward, whiskey-infused reunion. But like the best short fiction, “World Cup” is about so much more, including love and loss, family and tradition. Rich in subtext, with pitch-perfect dialogue and well-drawn characters, “World Cup” is the work of a serious writer to watch. Out of the more than sixty manuscripts we received, I am delighted this powerful story won.

As Nami Mun so eloquently wrote of “World Cup”: “When I finished reading ‘World Cup,’ I immediately wanted to read it again. I wanted to see how the writer, in only a few pages, got me to think about Kate Chopin, Grace Paley, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Essentially, the story had me thinking: How can a person be when a personhood is filled with so many beings? Or to recycle a bit of Sartre: this story of sharp dialogue and artful compression reminds us that the ‘others’—with all of their silent and not-so silent judgments—have given us the means (possibly the only means) for how we judge ourselves.

“In ‘World Cup’ hell isn’t other people. Hell is realizing that there is no escaping aunts or parents or a nation of expectations; that it’s nil-nil, no matter how one keeps score. I could go on about ‘World Cup’ and its merits, but I think that’s my point. A good story never ends. A good story, in the right reader’s mind, can only expand.”

Read it once, then read it again. And again. And then, pass it on.

Sheila O’Connor


Surfacing for Fall


While the inevitable scroll of first day school photos are infiltrating my Facebook feed, I am a woman still straddling the gap between these seasons. One child already well into her first month of a year-round middle school and a barnacle of a boy attached to my every move while we wait for his year to start.

Much of the hard work of making this year’s journal behind me, the nervousness of the printing and launch yet ahead. Movement in this gap is slow. It is navigating a season of anticipation while maintaining a semblance of daily structure for which there is no guiding force.

Pretending it’s still summer but with a newly imposed 4 o’clock punch in to be back for help with homework, emails from the office, and home-cooked meals—the time clock has reversed.

And then there is the packing up to do—the cleaning up from summer. The closing of the cabin or cottage on the lake, the bike rack reattached and loaded, the family dog bathed and dried before the drive back to the city… all of which is actual, and a metaphor of course. There is so much work in the reemergence.

So most of my day, these long weird days in the gap between summer and fall, is spent thinking of the work behind me and the work ahead. Of a summer filled with lake water and family and of the fast fall rush of Water~Stone and office hours spent at a desk other than my kitchen counter.

It is something like destiny that this happens each autumn.

That a new school photo is shared, a new tooth showing in her once gapped smile—that a new journal, our nineteenth, will emerge from the summer like a new and full breath after full submersion in a small, rocky lake—this too is inevitable and comforting. The surfacing is what sustains us.

Special thanks to our WSR summer crew: Anne Kelley Conklin, our trusty copy editor, Dylan Cole, studio manager at MCAD’s DesignWorks, Joe Letchford, our student designer this year, and Danielle Bylund, our production and social media assistant who has kept the ship afloat while the rest of us abandon it for the sweet relief of inflatables on tethered lines. Additional summer support generously comes from Christine Rousu, Ruthie Nelson, and Jenniey Tallman who are our lifeguards and watch for fresh water sharks and storms on the horizon. Thank you. Everyone.


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