Spring 2021



Keats Chaves, Editor
Class of 2022


Today, for the first time in weeks, I saw blue skies. It still wasn’t very sunny, and it definitely wasn’t warm, but the end-of-winter rain stopped long enough for an enjoyable walk through the wetlands near my home. For me—as for many of us—the winter months are prone to nurturing my already hermitic tendencies, and one year after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, staying indoors and limiting in-person contact has become the new normal. As an extreme introvert, now, more than ever, I’m finding it even easier than before to isolate myself, and forget what it feels like to be connected to the world around me.

Here at Soundings, we tend to take this moment in the springtime to revisit the ideas of connectedness and community, and this year is arguably when those tenets are the most important to remember, as they have been the easiest to forget. With that in mind, this issue strives to bring us all out of our reclusion and back into our own social communities through the inspiring words of our fellow RWW students, alumni, and faculty.

To start us off, not just one, but four faculty members share with us their thoughts about the importance of writing and the meaning of community in four uplifting micro-essays. First, Peggy Shumaker takes a moment to acknowledge the “elegiac impulse” familiar to many of us as we continue to lose friends and loved ones to pandemic and time; next, Rick Barot considers the natural world, and the role of humanity in the expanse of time and place; Wendy Call reflects on the importance of staying connected, no matter the times and turmoil surrounding us; and, finally, Suzanne Berne reminds us that, no matter how finished we feel, it is always only the beginning.

Continuing on the topic of community and beginnings, in an interview with Contributing Writer Abriel Newton, second year student Aldric Ulep (2022) gives insight into his Outside Experience working with The Speakeasy Project. And, finally, Managing Editor Sydney Elliott gives us a look at how RWW alum and former Outside Experience coordinator Holly Hughes is giving back to her creative community by offering writer retreats at Flying Squirrel Studio in Indianola, Washington.

Please also join us in recognizing the many accomplishments and literary roles of our RWW community members in the Publications, Announcements, Opportunities, and Literary Citizenship sections.

And, as a special note, alum Kathleen Flenniken (2007) will be hosting the second RWW remote alumni reading on March 30, 2021, from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. PT. Alumni readers for this event are: Kelli Russell Agodon (2007), Katie Eberhart (2010), Alicia Hoffman (2015), Jessica Barksdale Inclan (2015), Jean McDonough (2008), Gerry McFarland (2011), Warren Read (2015), and Jen Soriano (2018). We hope to see you in your respective Zoom squares as we celebrate the hard work of our alumni presenters, and special thanks to Kathleen for making these incredible events happen!

Thank you all for supporting Soundings as we look forward to more blue skies ahead!