Summer 2020



Abriel Newton, Editor
Class of 2021


In the past few months, we’ve had to quarantine to protect ourselves and each other from a global pandemic. We have communities fighting for survival. This year has proved emotional and baffling, near twilight-zone, and has left many of us without our support systems, isolated and walled up. Routines in Central Pennsylvania have returned to “normal,” but situations are far from normal. Writers need their community. We need to attend readings, launches, conferences, and workshops. We need to talk and spend time with other writers and suck in the vivacious energy a group of creative people puts out. We’ve been plugging away on couches, home offices, lofts, basements, beds, parking lots with WiFi. We’ve been reading and writing alone, as may be normal, but we may feel that our spirits have been neglected. I’ve seen a great outpouring of virtual readings, cohort zoom meetings, threads of support online. Existing as a low-residency program, RWW has had much practice with being a virtual community, and our training at working this way is benefiting us now. We have the opportunity to not only survive, but thrive.

Scavenging is a form of survival. Scavenging allows us to practice using what we have available, searching for what we can use. Scavengers cannot be picky; we must exhaust our resources and then dig into ourselves. The more we practice, the more we can thrive. We are excited to offer Molly Spencer’s (2017) featured essay, “On Scavenging, or, How to Read Like a Poet.” Spencer will join us for the Summer 2021 residency as a guest faculty member. Here she reflects on “generative reading,” reading everything, “writing in the dark,” and how this work has influenced her writing practice.

Sydney Elliott presents us with a timely piece, “Storing What Remains: An Interview with Rebecca McClanahan.” They discuss Rebecca’s new memoir, In the Key of New York City: A Memoir in Essays, set to release just as the city shut down in March, and how, somehow, this already makes the written city become a city of the past.

We’re also excited to introduce two new faculty members to our community, Wendy Call, who Contributing Writer Nathaniel Youmans (2020) interviewed for this issue, and Sejal Shah, who will be featured in the Fall. “Found in Translation: A Conversation with Wendy Call” highlights Wendy’s translations, her views on mentoring, and is full of leads to further content.

As always, we celebrate the RWW community’s accomplishments in our Publications, Announcements, Opportunities, and Literary Citizenship sections.

I want to thank my small Soundings community for all their tremendous help this past year. As I step into my role as Contributing Writer, please welcome Keats Chaves as Editor and Hannah Markley as Assistant Editor of Soundings for the coming year.

Thank you all for your support!


Abriel Newton