Meet the Editorial Board: Lily Crooks

by May 10, 2017

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.


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. 

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