Combining Words, and My Word!

Justin Duckwitz

Yesterday, in Julie Nichol’s office, we cracked into one of the boxes that contained our freshly printed journals. The smell of new print stuck to the crisp pages, some sticking to one another and coming unpeeled, was a revival to my senses during these weeks of finals. The experience actualized what had only been ideas, and not even just our ideas as Touchstones editors, but the ideas of the authors and artists that we've worked so hard with this semester. And now they're here, ready to be shared.

For the semester’s final blog post we decided to try an uncanny experiment—a blog post with each of us on it. This idea has found itself in our midst as the most reasonable, the most meaningful, and the most authentic way to polish off this semester. And it only makes sense: through all our attempts at trying to make this process of editing a journal rational, we have ended up here almost by accident, publishing a journal full of words and images that we were only recently pleasantly surprised to get to know. And maybe among what we have learned from this experience is that despite personal tastes, despite each of our individual knowing the we have the best ideas, in fact the cooperation with others in the realm of imagination will always render the most unexpected and wonderful effects. We hope you think so too. 

Please come to My Word! Tonight at 7:00 at UVU in CB 511 

Caitlin LaVange

Since I was a sophomore, I’ve wanted to find my place in a meaningful community. That community has become Touchstones. I longed to unwrap literary goodies, but I also found sweet friendships. This semester as Editor-in-Chief, the experience has made me realize just how many hands, minds, souls, and memories it takes to keep up the quality that we strive for as an editing staff. As contemplative creative writers, thinkers, introvert and extroverts alike; we do value our precious alone time, but grow much more by working with each other.

Every single staff member has helped make this issue of Touchstones progress forward. The journal continues to hold its past poise, while it expands new ranges of color and meaning.

Here is to my Tribe this semester--Cheers to ten individuals who deserve a long genuine toast, or treat, for putting so much time and passion into Touchstones. We have also learned this in this increasing day of technology, we as writers and editors have learned some of the visual technical process this semester. Thank you to the staff who helped specifically on typesetting night, and Shauntel, Jared, and Joe for being in for the long, late haul.

To Shauntel- For always being the most thoughtful, caring, and organized. You have the grace of Alicia Markova and Ginger Rogers, energy of Misty Copeland, and strength of Natalia Osipova. Not to mention, the ingenuity of Doris Humphrey. You have been at the forefront of all this entire process. I wouldn’t have probably survived without your support. Your memory and sharp thinking was a gift to Touchstones!

To Joe- For being so damn reliable. I could always count on you to get the job done. It’s clear that you really care about this journal. You were like the backbone, who also happens to be a badass musician and poet. Your very heightened view towers over us, you are the man, the loyal dude. Thank you.

To Amanda-Your honesty and point of view is incredibly refreshing. You have also been a seriously dedicated editor, and I could depend on your every word. You are exactly the kind of feminist I would want to read, really though. I admire your passion for social change and fairness to everyone.You brought the edge, the essential complexity and something I continue to be inspired by. Thank you for also the laughs. That is needed as well.

To Justin- Thank you so much for all the excellent work you have put into Touchstones this far. You are one talented dude. I can see how much this journal means to you, and your determination is a huge strength. I admire your input and ability to start a conversation with anyone. Not to mention your sophisticated chef skills! Also, I had no idea you were so good at playing the guitar! Also, you’re next up to bat in the fall. I have no doubt you will create a fabulous issue!

To Jared-I feel extremely lucky that we got to have you on staff as one of our poetry editors. You are sharp as hell, and your calm, collected, kind self emanates from you. In other words, you are a serious pleasure to be around. Your hard work and poignant insight has meant a lot. Also, your taste in music is in my opinion, is richly top grade. Keep on.

To Stockton- You have also been very responsible and reliable in regards to helping to keep the journal going. You’re a part of the T-stone's family now and you’ve helped unite our staff. Your sarcasm and historical knowledge paired to be educational, plus hilarious. Thank you for all your fantastic work.

To Kristal- Kristal, Kristal. The keeper of the art flame. You have no idea how much you have helped Touchstones move forward and grow. We’ve been lucky to have your gorgeous art published in the journal for so long and now this semester we were enlightened by your artistic eye. Touchstones would not be what it is without the art. Thank you a million. You lit up the staff with your beautiful presence, and not just your fantastic blue hair.

To Julie- I couldn’t be more pleased with you as our Faculty Advisor for this semester. You are an incredible professor, writer, and editor. You really care about the quality of the journal, and you care about us as students. Thank you Julie, for being such a lovely guide throughout this process from start to end. There is so much to learn from you, as I will have the privilege of taking your advanced fiction class in the fall. You are a beautiful person, and all of your edits have been such important ways of heightening and clarifying language. I couldn’t have done it without you!

To Lilly-Thank you so much for being our technical expert this semester. This part of the typesetting and visual creation of the journal is an imperative part, and you really helped us a ton with the tedious process. It is not easy, as we all found out. However, it was very comforting to have you to trust as I handed you the keys. You are awesome, and the visual design is ultimately what makes or breaks it as a finished journal, so thank you!

To Geoff- You brought the humor, the silly and the smart jokes. You are a great editor. You are savvy with the creative, the technical, and you pick things up super fast. You’re a well-rounded fellow, thank you for all your help!

Joe Roberts

In his collection Some Love, poet Alex Caldiero writes:


                   I open my

side, take out my heart, hold it,

still beating, in my hands, & insist that 

everyone come close & verify that

this is no trick.

There isn't a way that I could better articulate the artistic process. I like to think that Touchstones offers us a place to put our hearts on display, like a museum exhibit called "The Human Heart." Each room of the exhibit is filled with the percussion of flowing blood as people wander through, past thumping cardiac samplings, and learn a little better the shapes of their own hearts.

Thank you all for allowing us on Touchstones staff to display your hearts, whether they're shaped like words or shaped like paint. 

Shauntel Peterson

Diversity like  

a kaleidoscope that paints

pictures of our time.


Stockton Carter

"Take the risk of thinking for yourself--much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way." --Christopher Hitchens


Amanda Steele

I thought for this collaborative entry I would share some of my own work. This poem is about creativity in its all its paradoxical glory. Art is sensual and appealing as well as dark and draining. Creativity and life is all about paradox and how to reside and exist in that space.



Insomnia’s Caress

Feasting on frozen huckleberries

While dancing demons flicker

around this mundane kitchen.

Mint leaves and orange peels make

wreaths around their heads.


It is three am. Time for looming over

newspaper ads while consuming

midnight snacks as the dark

dancers get their fill on me.


The sweet berry juice sticks to tile

as it leaves my lips. Air,

smell of cranberries, Water

slip slips from the erotic faucet.

My brain matter never sleeps.


Jared Price

Being able to get your hands dirty in another person’s words is an altogether visceral and harrowing experience. An editor is a surgeon of sorts—navigating a complex web of word-nerves and language-arteries. It’s a dangerous game: one false nick and the piece bleeds out; play it safe, and you run a risk of ignoring its potential. 

This semester, I’ve been amazed by watching my editing peers navigate the guts of prose and poetry—deftly poking, slivering, and prodding in just the right ways, shaving away any malignance and allowing a body of words to soldier on, even stronger than before. I’ve learned a lot watching my peers slice and dice; I owe them much for their aid and, in some circumstances, resuscitation. The idea of going solo without them makes me nervous, as I’ve come to rely on their skill and experience. I hope that with all of the things I’ve learned this semester, maybe I’ll have fewer deaths on the table in the future. Keep your fingers crossed.