Fall 2018



Nathaniel Youmans, Editor
Class of 2020


Beyond the window of the room in which I write this, there is a quaking aspen. Its bark is that subdued gray color of a November morning, and in the whole tree only three golden leaves, three relics of brighter days, remain, making a tiny song in the wind’s abrasion until they, too, will each fall and fall silent. For those of us who don’t live near the Equator, here at the beginning of November, our gaze out on the world naturally fills with the quiet understanding of the coming dormant period; without leaves on the trees, we can more clearly see their depth of field. We apprehend their vulnerability as well as their endurance. We observe the skeletal frames laid bare and know that hidden music is still bursting within. We apprehend the same dynamic within ourselves.

This is why I am delighted to share with you Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s timely faculty craft essay, “Endings, Continued.” Drawing on the work of a renowned Japanese Jungian psychologist, a British critic, Shakespeare, and the book of Revelation, Mockett explores the psychosocial underpinnings that influence how and why we construct the endings that we do. Many of us undoubtedly still feel an abiding sense of the end, not least because the specter of Election Day has once again passed over us and the impulses toward terminality and endurance are just as loud and polarized as our city halls. Mockett’s essay shows that what we think of as an ending is an opportunity to ask ourselves what we need: what we need to believe about our own worth, the worth of our writing, and the integrity of our fraught story-driven species. For now, though, let us throw another log on the fire and reheat the kettle. We’ve only gotten started.

Also in this issue of Soundings, Contributing Writer Hannah Comerford (2019) reflects on the impact her Outside Experience had on her resolve as a writer entering her thesis year at RWW, and we have Darien Gee (2019) to thank for her recap of Paisley Rekdal’s visit to Pacific Lutheran University this past August. Darien’s piece showcases one of the most invigorating elements of the Rainier Writing Workshop’s annual residency: the Judith Kitchen Visiting Writer series. Finally, alum Warren Read (2015) offers a thoughtful piece on this summer’s inaugural Alumni Refresher Residency, and, as always, we celebrate the accomplishments of the Rainier Writing Workshop community with our listings of Publications, Announcements, and Literary Citizenship.

Finally, I am excited to share with you a note from RWW Director Rick Barot, reminding us of our program’s resoundingly successful first fifteen years of operation and looking ahead to March 2019 and the Rainier Writing Workshop’s presence at the AWP conference in Portland, Oregon.

Thank you all for supporting Soundings, and for welcoming Abriel Newton as your assistant editor and me as your new editor for RWW’s fifteen-year anniversary.



Nathaniel Youmans