Final Thoughts From Outgoing Assistant Managing Editor, Sophia Patane
Dear friends, contributors, and readers,
As I pass along the mantle of Assistant Managing Editor and graduate from Hamline’s MFA program, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all for the incredible support and enthusiasm you have for Water~Stone Review.
The literary world, particularly in the realm of publishing, is a difficult place to feel at home in without the benefit of mentorship and guidance. In the case of Water~Stone Review, I had the opportunity to get experience and a great education in the finer details of editing, designing, producing, publishing, and selling an annual publication, in addition to learning how to use social media as a positive tool for creating community. I’ve documented much of the journey––from joining the Water~Stone Review team to AWP Conferences and beyond––on this blog, so it only seems fitting to conclude with sharing my gratitude.
To Meghan Maloney-Vinz, our Managing Editor and my super supervisor, I want to convey how grateful I am that this assistantship was available to me as an MFA student. Meghan helped me discern that I want to be involved in the sharing and promotion of writers and voices from all corners of the literary world and beyond as a career, and your mentorship has provided me with the tools to do so. Huge thanks to Mary François Rockcastle, Patricia Weaver Francisco, Katrina Vandenberg, and Sheila O’Connor for their tireless service to this journal and for being an extraordinary team of women doing marvelous work in the world.
During the process of working on Volume 20, Volume 21, and the forthcoming Volume 22, I’ve gotten to meet many of you and learn about your lives and work and projects, and that has been one of the greatest joys in the two years I’ve served in this position. Looking back on my time with the Water~Stone team, I am proud to have started the “In the Field: Conversations With Our Contributors” interview series during the celebrations for our 20th volume, and ecstatic as many of you found common ground and points of mutual interest with our contributors. To have the chance to get to know the artists creating the work we are sharing is an experience I will always treasure as a highlight of my time in the Hamline MFA program. To all of the contributors who I had the honor of interviewing, please know that your time and attention and vision meant the world to me, and I wish each of you all that you desire in life and in your work!
A number of you have asked me what comes next, and that’s a solid question. Graduation with a master’s degree is, in this creative field, a terminal academic achievement, but the term also implies gradual and gradient, two words more aptly encompassing the creative life. The process of writing my thesis manuscript, Current, taught me this accomplishment is not a bound book of endings but a document of admission into something I can only define now as what’s next. I wrote about the natural world and national parks and the duality of America’s attitudes towards wild lands and waters throughout history, and plan to continue documenting the ever-shifting developments that affect the nature of our small planet. There will be forthcoming visits to Minnesota’s only national park, Voyageurs, and the Boundary Waters, and I plan to spend as much time on the Saint Croix River as possible this summer. All is in service to the deep joy of research and writing, which––as I have learned from the wisdom of our contributors––is perhaps the most crucial point to remember in these turbulent times.
So, in closing, I leave with a line from Mary Oliver’s 2016 essay collection Upstream, a sentence that I keep on my own writing desk and remember each time I read an interview with our contributors: “The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and by the work––who is thus responsible to the work.” May we all be responsible to our work, and to each other, and be energized continually by both.
With gratitude and respect,
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR
Sophia Patane is an essayist, poet, and perpetual student of the natural world. She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University in May 2019, and served as the Communications Assistant for the Creative Writing Programs and as the Assistant Managing Editor for Water~Stone Review and Runestone Literary Journal. She lives in Woodbury, Minnesota with her husband and their cat.