It seems obvious to start my letter addressing the challenges we’re facing as a result of the pandemic and how it has affected our team, but instead, I’d like to thank our team and our mentors who always guide us through challenging times. I would like to thank everyone who was brave enough to share their poems and stories with us. I would like to thank all the essential workers who are still out there serving others. And, I would like to thank you, the readers, who are the whole reason why we do this work.

I have a wonderful team, and I am so grateful for the solidarity we shared as we read through these amazing submissions. All of us are here for the same reason: to bring our readers the best set of stories and poems we can offer. Because this was my second semester as managing editor, I felt more confident and comfortable in this leadership role; however, once my school district shut down along with so many others, I felt fear. Would we still receive submissions? Would people have time to write? Would all the submissions be related to the pandemic? Would my team have the time to read and evaluate the submissions? None of these issues, thankfully, came to fruition. With the help of the intuitive and insightful genre editors, our team dove into these works with passion and dedication. These pieces enlightened us, captured settings and characters so vividly, told stories that brought about feelings of nostalgia and wonder and inspired us long after we had read them.

These pieces moved us in ways that great works of art always do. I hope they will move you too. That you will feel enlightened, inspired, and passionate about them, like we do. In this time of great uncertainty, words can unite us and provide comfort and solace. They can help us escape grim realities and offer guidance and hope for our future. Words, such a simple, little thing, but they have so much power.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my team. First, I’d like to thank creative nonfiction editor, Jennifer Tarr. Over the past two semesters, she has become not only a team member at Wilkes but also a friend. Her invaluable input always helped to guide us and keep us going. Additionally, I would like to thank Jake Cannington, our fiction editor. I was fortunate to work with Jake as an editor for a second semester as well. Jake’s knowledge and way of envisioning stories and poetry is unique and truly inspiring. Although this is Wayne Benson’s first term serving as poetry editor, it was rewarding to see how he grew from offering perspectives of a reader to an editor. Wayne has a way of digesting and teaching poetry that is quite beautiful, and his love for his craft is evident. Finally, thank you to our other readers, Heather Jenkins and Juton Myers. We were thrilled to have you join the editorial team this semester!

I would also like to thank Danah Lassiter, our production and design editor, for the amazing work she does. Without her, these stories and poems would not be here on the page. A special thanks to social media editor, Danie Watson-Goetz, who continues to work tirelessly with our social media accounts and creates art that amazes me. Finally, I’d like to thank our proofreader, Toni-Lyn Sorger, who has one of the most important jobs of all! Thank you again to everyone for all your hard work.

Most importantly, all of this would not be possible without our incredible team of mentors and advisors. First, thank you Dawn Leas, editorial advisor, for always being available, encouraging, and understanding. With this issue especially, we faced challenges, and you were always patient in helping us navigate through them. In addition, thank you to Bonnie Culver, director and co-founder, and Bill Schneider, associate director, of the Maslow Family Graduate Program. In the past five years of knowing both of you, I have grown so much as a writer, teacher, and person. I thank you both for your kind words of encouragement and praise. I am so grateful for having gotten to work with you both.

Amanda Cino
Managing Editor
River & South Review