Creative Writing

Beth Staples promoted to Lookout editor, Ecotone senior editor

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wilmington, NC — In a joint announcement, Lookout Books and Ecotone magazine are pleased to promote Beth Staples to editor of the literary imprint and senior editor of the magazine. Staples joined the Department of Creative Writing faculty at UNC Wilmington in 2012, serving as assistant director of the Publishing Laboratory and soon thereafter assuming the additional role of associate editor for Ecotone and Lookout Books, for which she most recently edited Clare Beams’s story collection, We Show What We Have Learned, a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award for Debut Fiction, the Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award.

Says Beams, “Beth knows and understands my stories as well as I do, and made them, in every case, into truer, more powerful versions of themselves. The book and I both owe her a tremendous debt.”

Staples came to UNCW’s Publishing Laboratory from The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University where she managed the literary journal Hayden’s Ferry Review and the center’s other publications from 2007 to 2012.

 “Since joining us five years ago, Beth has proven herself a perceptive and accomplished editor—especially adept at nurturing writers in the promising early stages of their careers,” says Emily Louise Smith, founder of Lookout Books and publisher of Ecotone. “As our authors attest, she is as enthusiastic as she is incisive. UNCW’s students are fortunate to learn from such a talented and dedicated teacher. For these reasons and more, I’m beyond thrilled to make this announcement.”

Under Staples’s editorship, stories and essays from the pages of Ecotone have been reprinted or named notables twenty-one times in the Best American, O. Henry, and Pushcart Prize series.

Anna Lena Phillips Bell, the editor of Ecotone and an editor for Lookout, notes, “Time and again I’ve seen Beth’s care, humor, and keen editorial sensibility in action. Simply put, she is indispensible to Ecotone—so I’m delighted we’re able to recognize her work in this way. These well-deserved promotions more accurately represent all she does for the magazine and imprint.”

Ecotone publishes writing and art that reimagine place. Department chair David Gessner founded the magazine in 2005 to encourage and revitalize the field of place-based writing. In 2009, the founding of literary imprint Lookout Books by Publishing Laboratory director Emily Louise Smith and editor emeritus Ben George began a collaborative relationship between the Publishing Laboratory, Lookout, and Ecotone. Lookout, which publishes books by emerging and historically underrepresented voices as well as overlooked gems, has produced multiple award-winning titles, notably the National Book Critics Circle Award winner Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman.

The magazine and imprint are the centerpieces of the Publishing Laboratory, and provide students engaged learning experiences in publishing arts. Through various course offerings, students read and recommend manuscripts, undertake apprenticeships in editing, design book and magazine spreads, develop marketing strategies, and plan and staff author book tours, trade shows, and conferences.

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Beth Staples (front right) works with GTA Megan Ellis in The Publishing Laboratory.