This year, the Soundings Literary Journal celebrates their 50th anniversary with multiple events to commemorate their history.
Soundings began in 1972 with a group of students and faculty who cared about the creative writing arts.
The journal has featured several alumnus and professors who are well known in the surrounding Oklahoma Christian University community. These members include Paul Varner and Merle Gatewood.
Assistant professor of English Nathan Shank has helped to supervise Soundings during his time at Oklahoma Christian. He said his main goal is to make sure the editor in chief has all the resources and support they need.
“Despite the fact students cycle in and out every four years, Soundings has remained because of the continual care for the humanities by students, faculty and the community,” Shank said. “I’ve come to admire the beautiful design that goes into it.”
This care for Soundings has followed various generations of editors and student staff in the past 50 years. Alumna and former editor Samantha Nelson said her time as editor prepared her for life after college.
“Soundings was a place where I could express myself, work with my friends and learn valuable skills,” Nelson said. “I loved being a part of a group dedicated to the arts and to each other.”
Shank said the development of Soundings has kept the journal from dying out throughout years of publication at Oklahoma Christian.
“Soundings is taking this anniversary to not so much look back as look forward and use this year and our editor Sage’s leadership to energize the group moving forward,” Shank said.
Current Soundings editor Sage Bramlett said she had the opportunity to watch two senior editors grow into their positions before taking the baton from them.
“Both senior editors before me worked hard to make the Soundings journal more representative of the different cultures and communities here on campus,” Bramlett said. “Each year has seen an influx of submissions from people with unique perspectives who were encouraged to submit their work after seeing themselves represented in prior journals.”
Bramlett said her mom was a part of Soundings in the 1990s and she is now carrying on the legacy with her position as editor.
“The history of Soundings was here before me and before my mother even, and putting that into perspective is something I’m working hard to do as Senior Editor this year,” Bramlett said.
Soundings success over the years is providing grounds for more opportunities in their future.
“While it sometimes seems like it’s housed more in the Language and Literature department, I’d love to see it drawn in other majors and fields with even more intentionality,” Shank said.
This goal was something Nelson said was important to her while she was editor for Soundings.
“It was so rewarding to see everyone tackling challenges like champions and creating something beautiful by the end,” Nelson said. “Our team learned how to rely on each other, and by the end of my time there, I felt our team could handle anything life threw at us.”
Bramlett said Soundings is an opportunity to share creative works when academic work feels fruitless.
“Soundings gives students, alumni and faculty the chance to submit and even win awards for their creations,” Bramlett said. “Speaking from experience, getting the email that your work has made it into the journal makes the all-nighters, energy drinks, disappointing grades and homesickness a little more tolerable.”
Students can continue to celebrate Soundings 50th Anniversary through all the merchandise, contests and events taking place throughout the rest of the academic year. Their first event, Open Mic Night, is taking place Sept. 22 in the Brew from 6:30 to 8 p.m. For more information, go to their website or follow their Instagram page @ocsoundings.