Spring 2020



Abriel Newton, Editor
Class of 2021


It’s rained for weeks in Pennsylvania. When it snows, it hardly sticks on the ground and we’re left with this damp, dark, freezing grayness that settles inside the mountains. The apartment has large windows, but we keep them covered in plastic and thick curtains; the building is old and uninsulated and terribly drafty. We sometimes use a “Happy Light” to stave off seasonal depression. Today the sun is out. It’s fifty-seven degrees. We take a walk in the real light. Elijah squints and babbles and points. Horse and buggy traffic picks up. I always get giddy for the freshness of a new spring.

As I’m busy preparing for an energy renewal, I realize this is the first spring that Elijah, at 18 months old, will experience. He’ll probably see a first spring next year too. He’ll be much more present than we all will, as we continue to hurry and tackle our lists and work and make supper. Let’s try and revisit the sun on our faces, the smell of honeysuckle and hyacinth, the church bells up the block, the honeybees on the porch. Let’s appreciate what is given to us and take spring as an opportunity to trust in our guts, to grow in confidence, or quietness, in assuredness, in connectedness.

On connectedness and quietness, we are delighted to share Geffrey Davis’s featured essay, “Some Thoughts on a Poetics and Practice of Philia.” In this three-part essay, “through poetry and friendship,” Geffrey meditates on caring for the artist as much as the artist’s voice, connecting with and being held accountable by his students, and how a voice can shift and change our perspective. He looks at the use of light in art and photography, and the surprisingly humanistic qualities of slowed crow speech.

In “Pressing On: Conversations with Kelli Russell Agodon and Jill McCabe Johnson,” Contributing Writer Nathaniel Youmans explores the creation of independent presses Two Sylvias Press and Wandering Aengus Press, spearheaded by RWW alumnae Kelli Russell Agodon and Jill McCabe Johnson, respectively. Small presses are of the utmost importance in the literary community, and it’s exciting that two writers from our community have committed themselves to this “labor of love.” Nathaniel discovers the moments these presses came to life in Kelli and Jill’s minds, the greatest challenges and joys they’ve experienced, and what’s next for Two Sylvias Press and Wandering Aengus Press in 2020.

Kristy Gledhill (2021) reflects on her “perpetual” Outside Experience, and the homecoming journey she made. She visits her breakdowns, her childhood, and her self-given permission to exist as a poet outside of a program, to be a poet-person, “opening a more vulnerable, wondering part” of herself.

As always, Soundings celebrates the smattering of accomplishments produced by the RWW community in the Publications, Announcements, and Literary Citizenship listings.

Thank you all for supporting Soundings. Enjoy!