Deep in the winter (literal and figurative) of 2017, my second year in RWW, I have allowed myself to slide into the lifestyle of a hermit. Working from home as often as my day job permits, hoarding as many of my night and weekend hours as I can for the solitary work of reading and writing, grudgingly pulling on my “outside pants” for grocery store trips, I have been at risk of forgetting the importance (and perhaps even the means) of connection. So editing this issue of Soundings, with its common thread of connection running throughout, has been a tonic.
Isolated in our own limited experience, we risk missing fruitful opportunities to enlarge the circle of things and people we care about. In her craft essay, “The Imaginative Power of Fact,” RWW faculty member Sherry Simpson shows us how opening ourselves to the generative potential of facts—whether sought or stumbled upon—can lead us to insight and empathy. When we let facts about the outside world work their way into our imagination and then outward to our writing, we build brand-new connections, not just between the individual facts themselves but also between ourselves and everyone else who shares the world with us.
Our managing editor Sydney Elliott connected with incoming faculty member Jenny Johnson, who will be joining us at the 2017 residency. Her first full-length collection, In Full Velvet, has just been published by Sarabande Books. In our profile feature, you’ll read about how Jenny explores and interrogates images drawn from her experience of growing up among animals and birds in rural Virginia. You may also come away with a hankering for brunch next weekend. Get to know Jenny here.
If you’ve ever attended AWP, or any of the other big conferences where writers make connections, you may have wondered how all those panels get selected. You may even have wondered, “How can I get up there behind that table with the microphones?” If so, you’re in luck. In this issue, you’ll get the inside scoop from Oliver de la Paz, RWW faculty member and member of the AWP Board of Trustees. In his article, “The Rules of the Dance,” Oliver lays out the strategies and tips that will help you craft a winning panel proposal.
Finally, distressed about the cultural and political forces that are working to divide us from one another, I asked RWW alumnus Michael Schmeltzer (2007) for some ideas about how writers and editors can come together to build literary spaces that are just and welcoming for all. Read our interview for an infusion of inspiration and hope.
Thank you for connecting with your RWW community here at Soundings. I may be wearing my inside pants, but my thoughts are reaching out to you.
—Lisa Morin Carcia, Editor