Chelsey Clammer

A “Greetings” Straight from the Heart

Call it the heart, the kernel, the point. Call it the main idea, the key, the essence. Call it the purpose or the nugget, the occasion or answer—whatever it is you call it, it’s that one focal point that each piece of writing gets down to. The focal point of the Spring 2016 issue of Soundings? Finding the heartbeat in each piece of our writing.

In this issue, we have three different craft essays that all creatively trim/shear/cut away at words until the heart of the text is found. RWW faculty member Lia Purpura poetically discusses the act of “trimming” words, and two of her previous mentees, Meghan McClure (2013) and Hilary Schaper (2008), respond to Purpura’s ideas with their own creative craft essays about what we cut during the revision process, what we keep, and what we take out in order to keep a piece of the heart from which more writing can later grow. Whether through trimming or shearing, we all eventually get to that main thought, that sentence, that experience for which we are writing. We get to the heart of the matter.

Sometimes that “heart” is an encounter. Last November a collection of short essays edited by RWW faculty member Dinah Lenney and RWW co-founder Judith Kitchen was released. Brief Encounters is a wonderful anthology that features a variety of authors and narrative voices, including over twenty RWW-related contributors. From previous and current participants, to faculty members and RWW guest lecturers, Brief Encounters features many of our program’s honored voices. In this spring issue of Soundings, we interviewed Lenney about the collection and invited RWW-related contributors to write about the “heart” of their own essays.

Finally, Soundings Contributing Writer, Colleen Rain, provides an in-depth profile of the inaugural Judith Kitchen Visiting Writer, Bernard Cooper. In her profile, Rain discusses Cooper’s ability to shift between fiction and nonfiction, and how Cooper’s words are rich with experience and intrigue, regardless of what genre he’s working in; his prose is alive and pulsating on each page.

There’s a quote from Hilary Schaper’s craft essay that I feel is fitting for my experience of putting this issue together. She says, “Most often when I begin, I allow the surge of words to carry me off, spirit me away. The rush to get it all down is exhilarating. There’s a lure, a seduction to losing oneself in one’s words.” As the pieces for this issue started to come in, I felt that exhilaration, that surge of creativity. I welcome you to lose yourself in these words.

-Chelsey Clammer
Soundings Editor
March 1, 2016



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