Water~Stone Review Presents:
Hunger for Larger Things — Writing As an Act of Uprise and Resilience

WSR Volume 23 contributors and hosts, Michael Kleber-Diggs and Halee Kirkwood, invite conversation with fellow contributors Libby Flores and Ruth Mukwana, about the literary journal’s role in amplifying the narrative of struggle and resilience to inspire meaningful social change.

A corresponding reading featuring a selection of work by these panelists, hosts, and additional contributors Judy Halebsky, JJ Peña, Sam Stokley, Mariela Lemus, and Krischan Stotz will round out an evening meant to mark the celebration of Water~Stone Review’s publication and send us into the world sustained and inspired by the good, hard work on the page.


Link to Zoom event:


Halee Kirkwood, a 2019-2020 Loft Mentor Series Fellow, received their MFA from Hamline University. Their work has been published in Lunch Ticket, Muzzle Magazine, The Under Review, Cream City Review, and others. Kirkwood was an inaugural teaching fellow for the 2019 Desert Nights, Rising Stars writing conference at Arizona State University and their mini-chapbook, Exorcising The Catalogue, was published in Fall 2018 with Rinky Dink Press. 

Michael Kleber-Diggs is a poet and essayist. He is the recent recipient of the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. His manuscript Worldly Things is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2021. His writing has appeared in McSweeney’sPoetry CityNorth Dakota QuarterlyPollen MidwestPaper DartsWater~Stone Review, The Midway Review, and a few anthologies. Kleber-Diggs is husband to Karen Kleber-Diggs. They live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and have a daughter who is pursuing a BFA in dance performance at State University of New York at Purchase. You can learn more about Kleber-Diggs at his website.


LIBBY FLORES is a 2008 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow. Her short fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, Post Road Magazine, Tin House /The Open Bar, The Guardian, Paper Darts, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She is the former Director of Literary Programs at PEN Center USA (now PEN America Los Angeles). In 2018 she directed the second annual Believer Festival in Las Vegas. She is currently the Director of Audience Engagement and Digital Projects at BOMB magazine. Libby holds an MFA in creative writing from Bennington College. She lives in Brooklyn, but will always be a Texan.

RUTH MUKWANA is a fiction writer from Uganda. She is also an aid worker currently working for the United Nations in New York. She’s a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars (MFA) and an Associate Fiction Editor for Kweli Journal. Her short stories have appeared in Solstice MagazineBlack Warriors ReviewConsequence Magazine and The Compassion AnthologySpeak the Magazine ,and The Wrath Bearing Tree. She lives with her daughter in New York and co-produces a podcast and blog on storytelling and humanitarian advocacy.


JUDY HALEBSKY is the author of Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged), Tree Line, and Sky =Empty, which one the New Issues Poetry Prize. Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she moved to Northern California to study poetry at Mills College. On a fellowship from the Japanese Ministry of Culture, she studied Noh theatre at Hosei University in Tokyo. Her poems have been published in American Poetry Review, Field, Zyzzyva and elsewhere. She directs the low-res MFA in Creative Writing at Dominican University of California and lives in Oakland

MARIELA LEMUS is a Minneapolis-based writer and educator. She contracts for the Sphinx Organization and serves as the assistant poetry editor for Midway Journal. Her work can be found at journals such as Third Point Press, Barzakh, and Flypaper Magazine, among others.

JJ PEÑA is a queer, burrito-blooded writer living & existing in el paso, texas. he is the winner of blue earth review’s 2019 flash fiction contest, cutbank’s 2019 big sky, small prose contest, & mythic picnic’s 2020 postcard prize. His work has been nominated for best micro-fiction, best small-fiction, is included in the best micro-fiction 2020 anthology, & wigleaf top 50 (2020). his stories have appeared in, or are forthcoming from, HobartCream City ReviewPembroke MagazineThe Kenyon Review, & elsewhere. He serves as a flash fiction reader for Split Lip Magazine.

SAM STOKLEY is a disabled artist, educator, and editor from Peoria, IL living in Minneapolis. He teaches poetry through the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. A 2019 finalist for BOAAT Press’ and Driftwood Press’ chapbook prizes, and a 2020 semifinalist for the Tomaž Šalamun Prize, Sam’s writing can be found inside The Arkansas InternationalBrevityFairy Tale ReviewPoetry City, and other homes. Sam was born and lives with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. Follow him on IG (@bovinii).

KRISCHAN STOTZ  is a queer writer from Canada. His writing is concerned with finding the new and unused parts of the modern soul and expressing them in symphony with nature. He’s appeared in EVENT Magazine, The Antigonish Review, and has been published in chapbook by Anstruther Press. Currently, Krischan writes from his home province of Nova Scotia, where he’s querying agents for his first novel, Trespassing, and creating his second novelFind out more at his website www.kstotz.com.

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