2008-09 Gathering of Voices


Welcome to the first online edition of A Gathering of Voices, Whatcom Community College’s literary and arts journal. This online format, we believe, will make the excellent student work in this edition more accessible to students, faculty, and staff at the college as well as other readers in our local and virtual communities.

In this edition, you will find an excellent range of essays and artwork. The artists represented, for example, are working in various styles and mediums from acrylic and charcoal to digital illustrations, collage, and mixed media. Some of the art, such as Steffrie Akers’ Study in Charcoal are traditional studies of the representation of 3-dimensional space and form in a 2-dimensional medium. Other works are more personal in expression. Melissa Watt’s Trapped and Unaware and Rachel Comchoc’s Dada Collage are rich in imagery and symbolism. No matter what the assignment, all of the art pieces reflect the artist’s sensitivity not only to formal elements such as composition, line and value, but also a sensitivity to the materials which becomes an integral part of the artistic expression.

The writers in this edition have contributed essays from a wide field of study, including biology, film, nursing, communications, English and music, and address a variety of topics from Sieka McCoy’s analysis of the relationship between language and culture to Hillary Straatman’s investigation of culturally competent health care for Mexican-American women. Some of the writing in this edition addresses global issues, such as Blu Schwarzmiller’s excellent analysis of how current economic theory works against environmental needs, while other essays are much more personal in nature, such as Hung Nguyen’s moving account of his life in America after leaving Vietnam.

What is particularly impressive, though, is the quality of analysis and sophistication in all the writing included here. Evan Knappenberger’s research on the “phytotoxic effects of bisphenol A,” for example, is the kind of work one might encounter in a professional scientific journal. Its methodology and research are of excellent scientific merit, yet the results of his study are easily understandable by a lay audience and chilling in their results. Similarly, Robin J. Henley’s feminist rereading of Beowulf is sure to impress. Henley demonstrates how translations of Beowulf have traditionally emphasized negative characteristics of Grendel’s mother, unfairly and inaccurately labeling her as a “monster woman” or “demon's mother.” Henley argues the original language describing Grendel’s mother does not reflect that bias and that Grendel’s mother, unlike her son, fights and dies by the Anglo-Saxon heroic code.

Unfortunately, there isn’t time in this introduction to talk about every essay and piece of artwork in the anthology, but we are certain you will be impressed by how thoughtful, creative, analytical, and talented all these writers and artists are.

Finally, we would also like to thank the instructors who nominated student work for this edition: Courtenay Chadwell-Gatz, Susan Lonac, Lori Martindale, Matt Rager, Guy Smith, Darlene Wagner, Christopher Roberts, Wendy Borgesen, Danielle Gray, John Rousseau, Teresa Pinney, Lloyd Blakley, Gena Grochowski, Pamela Richardson.

Wayne Robertson and Karen Blakley