A River & Sound Review
As impressive as it would be to say A River & Sound Review is an arts organization that grew out of one man’s vision to promote the literary arts in a rural community with an undernourished appreciation for belles lettres, that would not be completely true. The truth is it's the product of a grad school assignment whose sole purpose was to help its founder, Jay Bates, stay awake during readings. Having attended too many readings where the entertainment value competed with watching rocks erode, Bates designed (as part of his "Outside Experience" at Pacific Lutheran University's Rainier Writing Workshop) a program that could appeal to book lovers with short attention spans.
In February 2006, A River & Sound Review held its first live performance and quickly showed itself to be a one-of-a-kind, literary entertainment program that blended sophisticated readings with music and tongue-in-cheek literary game shows. All of the early productions were performed in Puyallup (pronounced Pyoo-AL-up), Washington, home of the world famous “Puyallup Fair,” the Daffodil Parade (fifth largest floral parade in the nation), and exactly one bookstore (a Borders that has since gone out of business). The nice thing about Puyallup is that its inhabitants don’t trust anything that reeks of too much pretension. Ergo, the show was a perfect fit. Its combination of resonant voices with a self-deprecating humor made it endearing as well as engaging. Designed initially to remain in existence for only the year that its founder had to complete the assignment for grad school, RSR (as it came to be known) quickly gained a following that refused to let it fade away.
And it hasn’t faded away. In fact, it has substantially grown. After that first show, RSR soon started producing a recorded podcast of its live shows so bibliophiles outside the Puyallup city limits could enjoy the program too. And with the growth of the podcast, the live show, too, has grown and gone on to be performed in other locales, including Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, and on the San Juan Islands.
Now an online journal has been added to further publish the best in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and humor for the world to read. What’s next? Who knows. One thing we'll do is continue our stated mission: To showcase and support the talents of literary and musical artists from the Puget Sound region and abroad, and enrich readers with a diversity of established and emerging voices.