Conversation with Lily Gordon

//Written by Daphne Chen//

Year: Third
Hometown: Villanova, PA
Major: Environmental Studies
Find her on campus: Teaching yoga through jU, writing features on sustainability and food for Chicago Studies, babysitting, practicing Ashtanga yoga, being a SAGE ambassador with the Office of Sustainability, cooking frequently.

Lily Gordon just wrapped up an apprenticeship at Graze, a literary food magazine based in Chicago. We talked to Gordon about the magazine, her experiences, and her favorite Chicago food places. [Interview has been edited for conciseness.]

On the magazine: Graze, I think, dubs itself the “anti-food magazine” food magazine. Everyone who’s contributing is obviously interested in food and loves food, but you’re not gonna find recipes or restaurant reviews. It’s a literary magazine, so there are fiction pieces, nonfiction, poetry, and a lot of graphics stuff, like illustrations and photography.

On what drew her to Graze: I thought it sounded like a cool magazine, and then I applied through a UCIJAM grant to intern during the academic year. I was especially interested in this magazine because it’s small and it’s based in Chicago, and it’s run by two friends who are the editors. They both do it as a passion – they both have other jobs, but this is kind-of an artistic outlet for them. They really take pride in the appearance and the printing.

On her role: I don’t necessarily do things on a daily basis, but some of the things I have done include proofreading issue five, which just came out, and helping to plan this [release] party that just happened. I’ve also been working on a piece for the following issue that will come out in the autumn.

All of the pieces are about food and food experiences. So mine is kind-of connecting two experiences from different times in my life – one of them from when I was little, one of them from just a couple months ago in Spain when I was abroad – and they’re similar experiences, but it’s about being accepted into the adult community in the second one.

On what she’s learned from Graze: I have a background in journalism and journalistic reporting, so proofreading for a literary magazine was definitely a different experience, in that you don’t necessarily look for things to be as concise as possible, but you try to leave that personal touch that each author has. I learned a lot about what magazine editors have to do – I attended a lot of their weekly meetings where they go through their current agendas.

Also, [I was] trying to get raffle donations from different Chicago establishments… It’s definitely harder than you’d expect. Places are getting tons and tons of requests all the time, so that was challenging.

On future plans in the field: I think I’m mostly interested in writing, but I did surprise myself by how much I enjoyed editing.

On her favorite pieces from issue five: I really liked a lot of them! I found this “Pokeweed Dialogue” really interesting. I had trouble at first with this “Tarheel Barbeque” poem – but I think it’s cool, and it’s a very different piece for the magazine.

On her favorite places to eat in Chicago: I love Chicago food. Some of my favorites are probably Mana Food Bar in Wicker Park, The Purple Pig, and the Chicago Diner for brunch – they have the best vegan milkshakes.
Want to get your hands on the latest issue of Graze? You can order copies online at, or find them at Publican Quality Meats, Uncharted Books, Women and Children First Books, Quimby’s, Green Grocer Chicago, The Boring Store, saki, and City Newsstand.


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