Soundings revamped with web version and more issues

April 2, 2019 — by Howard Tang

Since 1986, Soundings, the school’s literary and art magazine, has published collections of photography, art, prose and poetry. Its underlying philosophy, as stated by the editors of the 1988 issue, is to “encourage both conscientious reading and exemplary writing.”

This philosophy has remained relatively unchanged over the 33 years between its inception and the present. While continuing to provide a platform to promote creativity in literature, the program has begun to lean more toward the recognition of art.

“We saw that there wasn’t really a lot of ways that students could express their interests in these arts at the school, so we wanted to continue the tradition of Soundings to students’ thoughts and ideas of the world around them,” said senior Anisha Byri, a Soundings staff member.

Although part of the journalism program, Soundings currently does not have an adviser. Journalism teacher Mike Tyler, who is the adviser for the school newspaper and yearbook, works with the group to arrange for the printing of the publication but does not assist otherwise.

The word “soundings” refers the nautical term of measuring the depth of a body of water, but in this case, it refers to the measuring of the depth of student writing.

This year’s Soundings staff has already published one web-only issue in December and is planning to run a print issue before the end of the school year.

The theme for their next issue, which they hope to publish in mid-May, is “halcyon,” which can refer to a species of kingfishers mostly present in Africa and Asia; a “period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful,” as defined by the Oxford Dictionary; a mythical bird that breeds in a nest floating at sea at the winter solstice, charming the wind and waves into calm; or an ancient Greek myth.

According to senior Cheryl Wang, a Soundings staff member, the tale tells of a woman named Halcyon, who jumped into the sea to join her lover who died there. They then emerged from the sea as a pair of halcyon birds and found happiness afterwards.

“We wanted to communicate this idea of great sorrow and finding happiness after hardship,” Wang said. “We know that there is going to be a wide theme of submissions to Soundings, so we didn’t want to find a theme that would restrict any of the works that came to our magazine. Since ‘halcyon’ is such a versatile word with multiple meanings and associations, we felt it was the strongest choice for our theme this year.”

Soundings has traditionally been published once a year, but the current staff decided to revamp the publication a little to showcase more student works, Wang said. Although they originally planned on running three issues this year, they predict that only two will be completed. This year, Soundings also introduced the addition of an online issue.

Another gradual change that Soundings has noted over the years is a drop in the number of submissions. While issues in the 1980s received more or less 150 pieces of writing, the December issue only collected around 50 works.

The staff leaves the accepted submissions untouched except to correct grammatical mistakes or to shorten the works to resolve spacing issues.

The Soundings staff is looking forward to an ambitious issue to showcase some of the best creative talent on campus, incorporating works they have acquired all throughout the year. For the final issue, they have recruited four new members; sophomore Henry Weng, junior Connie Liang and seniors Arin Chang and Elaine Fan; to their previously seven-member team consisting of Byri, Wang, sophomore Manasi Garg, junior Anishi Patel and seniors Sherrie Shen, Kaitlyn Wang and Colleen Feng.

“A lot of us on the team are seniors, and this is our last year to work on Soundings,” Wang said, “so we’re hoping that this issue will be a memorable one that we can look back on in the future and be proud of.”

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