It's Lit: Water~Stone Review
Water~Stone Review is a literary journal produced by the The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University and publishes work in creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry from both established and emerging writers. The journal is a collaborative project between faculty editors, MFA student editorial board members, and Minneapolis College of Art & Design student designers and photography curators. Beginning in 1998, Water~Stone is currently in the process of curating its 20th volume.
I recently sat down with Managing Editor Meghan Maloney-Vinz to talk about literary journals and the roles they play not only in the literary landscape, but in our cultural landscape as well.
“In highschool I thought I was a poet, capital P ‘Poet.’ Then I went to the University of St. Thomas as an English major, came out a high school English teacher, and never got to write myself for eight years.” After exploring a couple of classes at the Loft, Maloney-Vinz began pursuing a master's degree in Creative Writing at Hamline University. “Hamline spoke to me because of that Loft experience. It seemed like I’d be in classes with that same diversity of age and range and experience. I couldn’t imagine going back to school full time with people who had just left undergrad.”
Maloney-Vinz began her Water~Stone career first as an editorial board member, and then as an assistant editor. “So I had two years of working with Water~Stone under my belt, and I was about to graduate, and I really thought that there was room for a managing editor. So I made a pitch for the position.” She was hired, and has happily served as Managing Editor for the past ten years. “It’s been a way for me to stay in this world that is hard to break into, it’s definitely a job that I don’t take for granted.”
It may be trendy to talk about literary journals as dying and/or irrelevant, but Maloney-Vinz still believes they serve a purpose in the greater literary, and cultural, landscape. “There are not many 20th century artists, or writers I should say, that didn’t start this way. Whether it was publishing stuff themselves and handing it out or as patrons of, and submitters to, these early presses and literary journals. It’s a stepping stone, or a rung on the ladder.”
“And in the larger scope, [art’s] what we’re left with when we look back at history. I mean talk about ancient civilizations, we’re left with their architecture and their art and their writing. So I think it’s pretty darn important to have institutions in place that encourage and support and archive that for generations to come.”
So how can we, the average lover of art and literature, help support this? Subscribe! “It’s important for me to go to AWP every year and walk away with two subscriptions, one to an established journal that I have always admired and want to throw some money at and one to some wacky new funky journal. I think that it’s important to support both ends of this.”
But in this digital age, are print journals really worth the extra time and money they take to create and produce and sustain? “You’re talking to a paper nerd,” Maloney-Vinz quickly informed me. “Call me analog, but I still feel like there is something to be said for the physicality of words, the weight of a book, the texture of its paper. Don’t get me wrong, the readings that I’ve been to stick with me, absolutely. But I still love going back to the page. I can’t recall every word said, the older I get it’s harder and harder, but I can always be reminded of that feeling, that call to action, that image, whatever it is, when I pick up that book and feel that page and see that dog ear and have that physical sensation of underlining that line. There is an emotional weight to physical weight, it’s just really good to hold a book.”
If you’d like to see your name in print, consider submitting to Water~Stone Review. “I always encourage people who think that their work doesn’t necessarily fit structurally or aesthetically with Water~Stone to submit anyway, because the editorial board changes every year. And sometimes we’re just looking for something new that we haven’t had before. Or maybe your piece really hits four people and they make an argument for it, that’s all it takes sometimes.”
The journal is open for submissions every year from October 1st to December 1st. Prose writers can submit up to 8,000 words, and poets can submit up to three poems. Water~Stone also holds a contest each year, rotating between the three genres. The contest for volume 21 will be in creative nonfiction, and offers a $1,000 prize.
What’s next for Water~Stone Review? “We have a big reading planned for AWP for our 20th anniversary next spring. But I’d like to do some things locally or regionally as well to celebrate that. When you get to be a 20 year old journal, it really means that you’re not going anywhere.”
Meghan Maloney-Vinz is the managing editor of all three literary journals of The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University: Runestone (a national, online undergrad journal), rock, paper, scissors (the in-program graduate student journal), and the nationally acclaimed literary annual Water~Stone Review. She also works as the director of the Hamline Young Writers Workshop. Aside from her work with The Creative Writing Programs, Meghan is half of the creative duo behind broadcraft press.
Sara Krassin is a Minneapolis based poet, editor, and bibliophile. She currently serves as Poetry Contest Editor for the Water~Stone Review, reads submissions for Jellyfish Highway Press, and interns at The Loft Literary Center in Marketing & Communications. Her poems have appeared in Third Point Press, Artemis Journal, and The Sand Canyon Review. Find her at @MsKrassin.