Meet the Editors: Outgoing Managing Editor, Robyn Earhart
For twenty-five years, Water~Stone Review has been a collaborative passion project of students, faculty, and staff. Creative Writing Programs staff member, Meghan Maloney-Vinz serves as the journal’s executive editor, while established writers in the field act as contributing editors for each genre. Current MFA (creative writing) students work as invaluable editorial board members and assistant editors.
In this series of blog posts we introduce you to these incredible and accomplished contributors and editors. In her last post as managing editor, we hear from the incomparable, Robyn Earhart.
To the Water~Stone Review Community:
A few weeks into the fall of 2019, after the publication of Volume 22 “Tending to Fires”, I received a perplexing text message from my sister-in-law upon her receiving her purchased copy in the mail. She wanted to know if I had suggestions for how she should read the issue. I replied with what I now consider the most unhelpful of responses: Just read it how you would any other book. She was a voracious reader; we often talked about what books we were currently reading anytime we saw each other. Was a journal that much different from the fiction and YA books she liked to read? When she asked me a similar version of this question again after purchasing her copy of Volume 23, I realized then that to someone outside of the writing field, the concept of a literary journal may be quite unique.
When I first applied to graduate school at the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University, I was already familiar with several literary journals, my favorite at the time being the now-defunct Tin House journal. What drew me to Hamline’s program was the opportunity presented for graduate students to work as editors and readers on Water~Stone Review, in addition to teaching students in the BFA program with the undergraduate literary journal, Runestone. I liked reading journals for their content, but classmates also shared with me how literary journals serve as a multitude of pathways for career progression. And who are the readers of journals? Writers. We read journals as part of our research for places to submit our work, to learn from studying the works of other writers, and for those like me who want to work in publishing, to discover new writers. Supporting literary journals is one way that writers can feel connected to others in a field that can often feel solitary and isolated. It’s one piece of our literary community.
Community. It’s a term that I understand differently now after three years in my post as managing editor. Community for WSR has always been our bread and butter — our journal has been an institution in the Twin Cities for twenty-five years. A critical need for an editorial position like mine has been both to provide a learning opportunity for a student and for someone to connect with our audience of contributors and readers. When I accepted the position, I was thrilled to take over managing the “In The Field” interview series on our blog. Many of the interviews I conducted with our contributors deepened naturally into private conversations I chose to keep offline. I’ve cherished talking with Kristin Laurel on the arduous work of healing from great loss; I’ve felt affirmed with Noah Davis on changing societal perceptions of rural populations in nature writing; and I’ve just enjoyed waxing poetic with E.A. Farro on how to engage with non-scientists on issues of climate and ecosystem deviation and change.
Yes, my work was mostly done in the solitude of my house, but somehow, interacting with and promoting the work of our contributors had allowed me to bridge a divide and feel connected to a community of people I admire and respect. I’ve cheered on the sidelines as Halee Kirkwood was selected for the 2022 In-Na-Po Poetry Fellowship with Poet Laureate Joy Harjo; as Keith Lesmeister and Denton Loving expand the insightful work of East Over Press with a forthcoming fiction anthology of rural writers of color; and as Su Hwang, Sheila O’Connor, Carolyn Holbrook, and Kao Kalia Yang won Minnesota Book Awards (among the many WSR contributors honored as finalists) in the past three years. It’s been a true joy to see Michael Kleber-Diggs and Allison Wyss, two contributors I’ve admired for many years, publish their debut books to glowing reviews. Tt’s even funny when your own husband sees a contributor’s name in the media and says “Isn’t that so-and-so that you’re always mentioning?”
Since her initial question to me, I’ve had a few conversations with my sister-in-law about how to read a Water~Stone Review. In teaching her, I hope I’ve invited her to feel a part of this community as well, to join the fold of writers and readers who look forward to each issue in the fall. To see their work, or the work of their loved ones, in a beautiful print journal with curated photographs that mirror images and themes of written work, carefully constructed by writers, editors, artists, printers, and local distributors in the Twin Cities community. To see the mutual aid resources, the connections created with other local organizations, and the work of all contributors—past and present (always)—hyped up and shared around on our social media accounts. I’ve felt fortunate to learn that a literary journal like WSR truly is the work and love of community.
As I began to transition out of my position, I had the privilege of reading the final pieces selected for publication in Volume 25, forthcoming this fall. I wish I could mention here whose work you’ll enjoy reading soon, but I’ll leave that honor I’ve always enjoyed up to the new managing editor, Rachel Guvenc. But I will say this: after three issues of raging fires, a hunger for something intimate, and the ghosts that continue to haunt us, I witnessed resilience and redemption resonating in several forthcoming pieces. They bring to mind that literary journals, like the human spirit, will always continue to exist, for us all.
With an abundance of gratitude,
Robyn Earhart lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her husband and pets.