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Letter from the Guest Editor

Karris Rae


I started on my first instrument when I was seven—my mom’s old snare drum, already dimpled from years of use. I didn’t stick with it long (how long could I spend on a single note?), but I’d have more luck with the alto saxophone, the oboe, and the sousaphone in the following years. When my brother joined band, he started on clarinet, then borrowed my old saxophone, and then stood side-by-side with me in the tuba section. I guess you could say music is a family thing. This is why my mom, Shawnda McCollum, did the artwork for this month’s issue; she taught me to read notes and letters simultaneously, and has supported me in both since.

Each instrument I played taught me something new. From the saxophone, I learned the value of teamwork. Beautiful music is the result of every musician committing wholeheartedly to their role, supportive or executive, melody or harmony. The sousaphone made me tough. It did not care that I was a petite woman, or that it was sleeting, or that my left shoulder throbbed. No one could carry it for me. And the oboe taught me to be fearless, to sing out with a voice like no one else’s. I didn’t realize it at the time, but music was sculpting me into the writer—and the human—I am now.

When I started my MFA in Creative Writing at McNeese last year, I had never been in a literature class or creative writing workshop. To fill gaps in knowledge, my experiences in music guide me. Musicians breathe together, sway together, make room for and support each other. We must trust each other, or no one would dare to speak. I like to think that my writing cohort and I are creating beautiful things, and that our voices are strongest together, even if our parts aren’t the same. And, of course, I see the Boudin team the same way. My first year has been fantastic and I’m excited about the two more to come. 

I suggested the music theme for Espressivo because I know my connection to music, while deep, is also not unusual. Quite a few writers started as band geeks or punk rockers, or both, and just never stopped. Our illustrious high school contest winner, Vallie McGallion, shows how music inspires young writers. I hope that this issue reflects not only the depth of our musical connections, but also the ways they link us together. Please enjoy.


Playlist song: Joy Division, “Shadowplay”


🢠 Back Next 🢡

To learn more about submitting your work to Boudin or applying to McNeese State University’s Creative Writing MFA program, please visit Submissions for details.