Water~Stone Review is a collaborative project of students, faculty, and staff at Hamline University Creative Writing Programs. In addition to working with our faculty, and to fulfill a larger initiative of providing a place for new/emerging and underrepresented voices at Water~Stone Review, we now have rotating contributing editor
This is a wonderful opportunity for our graduate student assistant editors to collaborate with renown writers in order to expand our reach and further innovation. Past Contributing Editors include Sun Yung Shin, Keith Lesmeister, Sean Hill, Carolyn Holbrook, Mona Power, Kao Kalia Yang, and Ed Bok Lee.
In this post we introduce Vol. 26 Contributing Creative Nonfiction Editor, Juliet Patterson.
What will you be looking for as you review creative nonfiction submissions for Water~Stone, Volume 26?
I’ll be looking for essays that take risks emotionally and formally. I’m especially interested in personal narratives that are scaffolded by research, digressions and journalistic techniques. I love to be inside another writer’s obsessive mind or quiet interiority. Show me what you’re thinking about this moment in American life. Where are we in the wake of COVID-19, the murder of George Floyd, in the dissolution of Roe vs. Wade, and the impending climate disaster?
What do you hope the collection of creative nonfiction for V. 26 achieves as a whole?
A diversity of voices expressed through form, style, content and authorial identities.
How does your experience cross genre (poetry and creative nonfiction) shape you as an editor?
I’d like to think that my own experience transitioning from poetry to prose makes me a more fluid and receptive editor. As a writer driven by fragment and image, I’m generally drawn to the lyric, but as a writer whose shift to prose was hard won, I have a keen sympathy for how difficult it is to wield narrative. Which is maybe another way of saying that my experience of writing across genres has loosened me up: my readerly expectations are not as fixed as they used to be. As an editor, I might describe myself as generous and curious. I’m reading to discover the writer.
What is it that you love about the genre of creative nonfiction?
I love the flexibility of form and the latitude of tone and register the genre affords; the expansive possibilities of the essay; the way each essay can differ from the next.
If you could be any book, which book would you be? (If you like, you can choose more than one!)
This is an interesting, but impossible question. I think I can only answer this question as one of the present moment. And at present, I’m reading and studying the work of Édouard Louis. Louis is a practitioner of auto fiction (fiction based on autobiography) and his “novels” are often organized in short chapters and have the feel of essays. He’s an impassioned writer, who uses the force of memoir to glide between first and second person. I love in particular his Who Killed My Father, a book that is in essence a political document addressing homophobia, poverty and class. I’m not sure I’d want to “be” this book, but perhaps I want to “be” like its primary gesture: to pose a question without a question mark.
Congratulations on your book launch of Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide. What does it feel like to be at the end of a book length project and what do you hope to do next?
Sinkhole took more than ten years to complete. It was an emotionally complex project, but also a challenge at the level of craft. I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment now that the book is published and off my desk. I don’t have another big project in mind yet, but I’m interested in learning to master the 1200 word essay.
JULIET PATTERSON is the author of Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide (Milkweed Editions, September 2022) and two full-length poetry collections, Threnody, (Nightboat Books 2016), a finalist for the 2017 Audre Lorde Poetry Award, and The Truant Lover, (Nightboat Books, 2006), winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2006 Lambda Literary Award. A recipient of a 2011 Arts & Letters Susan Atefat Prize in non-fiction, and a 2010 Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize, she has also been awarded fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Minneapolis-based Creative Community Leadership Institute (formerly the Institute for Community and Creative Development). She teaches creative writing and literature at St. Olaf College and is also a faculty member of the college’s Environmental Conversations program. She lives in Minneapolis on the west bank of the Mississippi near the Great River Road with her partner, the writer Rachel Moritz, and their son.