Welcome to Issue 7.2

Deandra Lee, “Epiphany”


A Note From the Editor:

This is an uncertain time—in the midst of COVID-19, we don’t know when or how all of this might end and we can get back to our old habits of rubbing our eyes and meeting up for tacos. But one certainty that has arisen from the overwhelming confusion is that art is necessary. A good story can turn a lonely living room into a window onto other lives and places. And what has made these long hours indoors with only our thoughts for company bearable but the sudden proliferation of art on the internet. Musicians are holding living room concerts live on Instagram. Celebrities are reading bedtime stories on Twitter. Orchestras are stitching together the “Ode to Joy” instrument by instrument from their home recordings. Broadway and West End shows are streaming on YouTube. Authors are releasing stories and online content for free. 

People are always saying to me, “Oh, what are you going to do with your English degree?” with the air of indulging someone deluded enough to choose a career in art over the more stable and respectable science. I never knew what to say to these people. I recently came across a line from Star Trek Voyager that was also referenced in Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven: “Survival is insufficient.” It struck me as the answer to that well-meant question. While it is clear that the world needs scientists and medical professionals, grocery store workers and delivery drivers, the world also needs artists. Without music, TV, movies, visual art, theater, and literature, we’re just surviving, not living. 

We offer Issue 7.2 of the Rappahannock Review as an antidote to basic survival, an antidote to uncertainty. We lost ourselves in the lush language of Amanda Baledeaux’s “Space Camp.” Brenda Miller and Julie Marie Wade invited us to reexamine the themes of family and tradition between two pieces of bread in their collaborative essay “Sandwiches.” Dean Rader’s “The Fire That Consumes All Before It” connected us to the rich history of Cy Twombly’s visual art and Homer’s Iliad. “Dental Therapy,” an audio piece by Geoff Martin, showed us a humorous side to dentist visits. Two poems by Tom Laichas explored the psyche of Venice, California and Robert Boucheron’s “Audible Cities” spirited us away to three imaginary cities (though Hushington is beginning to look quite familiar these days). Featured artist Deandra Lee’s gorgeous, ethereal photographs offered us new ways to look at the relationship between humans and nature. We contemplated “the smallness of individual existence” with a poem by Nicole Mason, full of surreal humor and wisdom. Among the voices of our contributors we found the strength to confront grief and trauma, the freedom to celebrate beauty and family, the insight to explore politics and disability, and the levity to find humor even when times seem dark. 

After the University of Mary Washington’s campus closed due to the coronavirus, our team speedily learned to use Zoom and overcame the various challenges of slow internet and malfunctioning microphones to bring you this issue. I’d like to thank all of our editors, as well as our faculty advisor Laura Bylenok, for their hard work and commitment to producing a great issue. We hope the wonderful work of our contributors will be a reprieve from the stresses, fears, and uncertainties of daily life. Be well and safe.

Krista Beucler, Editor in Chief