Fall 2019



Abriel Newton, Editor
Class of 2021


Today at 9 a.m. the natural gas power plant in my town will implode two smokestacks from the old PPL coal-fired plant. The paper runs a story. People are devastated; it’s a landmark. I work at the Starbucks on the hill across the highway. We are unexpectedly swamped. Hundreds of people come to sit (mostly in trucks) to witness a familiar skyline morph. They take off work to do this. The powerplant sets off the implosion early. No one is prepared. The building shakes. Our chest cavities shake. It’s ten seconds. People shrug and mill around, but no one says anything. Underwhelmed, they get in their cars and sit in line at the red light. When I leave work, a fine brown dust covers my car. It’s autumn, the earth is browning and changing so it can regenerate after quietude. Leaves and steam are unable to be held.

Autumn has always felt much more of a fresh start than January. We let go of the summer and let go of the heat and let go of our messy year. We quit trying to control our messy writing, a suggestion Jason Skipper offers in his featured essay, “Learning to Let Go.” Here, he reminds us that we all orchestrate our stories and poems down to the simplest and most minute details. Still, so much can happen if we relinquish that control, and let our writing be what it wants to be, let characters be who they want to be.

Soundings extends a warm welcome to all new faculty members: Jason Skipper, Jennifer Foerster, Renee Simms, and Justin St. Germain. This issue includes interviews with Renee and Justin, conducted by Nathaniel Youmans and Chris Liek, respectively. Last summer’s issue featured profiles of Jason and Jennifer. This issue also features a photo-essay celebrating some highlights from Carl Phillips’s reading and visit at the 2019 residency.

As always, we celebrate the numerous accomplishments and successes within the RWW community in the Publications, Announcements, Opportunities, and Literary Citizenship sections.

Thanks to everyone for your support of Soundings. We welcome Keats Chaves as the new assistant editor, and me as the new editor. Endless thank yous to our Managing Editor, Sydney Elliott, and our Creative Director, Garrett Brooks, for working their magic and ensuring this publication is possible.

Happy Fall Y’all! (I couldn’t help myself.)

Abriel Newton