By Jen Hill
RANGELY | This spring Colorado Northwestern Community College will publish the 10th issue of Waving Hands Review, a magazine showcasing the “literature and art of Northwest Colorado.”
The magazine was created in 2008 by CNCC literature and philosophy instructor Joe Wiley who, after a class he’d planned to teach was canceled, found himself with some extra time and an idea.
“I floated the idea of starting a literature and arts magazine, and the idea proved popular. I’d edited a similar magazine for Front Range Community College when I taught there, and it had always been in the back of my mind to start something similar at CNCC, but my full-time teaching load had never allowed it. So that 2008 scheduling error provided me the time and opportunity, but I also recognized a need,” he said. Wiley’s wife Elizabeth, owner of Elizabeth Robinson Studio in Rangely, helped him recruit contributors. “She began seeking out other local artists, and it turned out there were a lot of them—all these people doing interesting things that nobody knew about.”
According to Wiley the magazine began with a clear mission: to publish exemplary works by emerging and established writers and artists of n northwest Colorado. “We are a community college; we want to serve and reflect the community,” he said.
Since then, both the magazine and its contributors have been recognized by the Community College Humanities Association. The 2015 issue, which featured Heather Zadra’s article on the Tank, earned second place in the best magazine from a small college category.
“It’s an excellent piece of research and writing, and as far as I know, it is the definitive piece on the history of the Tank. That issue came out just as the Tank was starting to become a ‘known’ entity, so in terms of publicity, the timing was really good—for the Tank and Waving Hands,” Wiley said.
The Tank article isn’t alone in its award winning status. Last year in the 2017 Issue, Ken Bailey’s essay “High Noon for a Western Oil Town” garnered a second place award for writing.
Wiley’s favorite piece from the last decade highlights local history. Written by Rangely True Value owner Rodger Polley, the 2016 issue featured his article on the Uintah Railway and its role with the Ute Indian Tribe.
“For Waving Hands he wrote about the railroad and the Utes, whose ancestral homelands were traversed by the railroad’s right-of-way. His article focuses on one Ute in particular, a tribal outcast named Augussi, about whom little else has been written. If you look at all the photo captions that accompany his story, including the photo of Augussi, they all read ‘photograph from the author’s collection.’ In other words, Augussi’s story, and all the unique and rare photos in that article, are simply not available anywhere else—except that issue of Waving Hands. They were from Rodger’s personal collection bought and traded for years and years. That issue belongs in libraries, as far as I’m concerned,” Wiley said.
Participation in the magazine is varied. “It’s about 50/50 in terms of people affiliated with the college (students, faculty, staff) and community residents. And submissions are about 50/50 between Craig and Rangely,” Wiley said. However, he is hopeful that Meeker residents will see the value in the magazine and get more involved. “I know there are a lot of practicing artists of many types in Meeker,” he said.
In his years of producing the magazine Wiley has seen social media play both a helpful and harmful role for the publication. In the past when students or community members wanted to share their work they sought print publication.
“It still meant something to be selected for and published in a juried magazine. If you wanted to share your poems, that’s how you did it,” he said. However, with the increasingly large role of social media, fewer young artists and writers are seeking print publication. “Most Waving Hands contributors and readers, and the people who really support the magazine, have at least a little gray in their hair. But vinyl records are making a comeback, so who knows about the future. A magazine is just more substantial, in so many, many ways, than the alternatives,” Wiley said.
Wiley doesn’t credit the college alone for the success of Waving Hands, “All that we do at the college is compile, lay out and publish the magazine. What’s being recognized is the excellence of the content, the artistic excellence of the writers and artists of northwest Colorado, and one thing’s for sure, northwest Colorado has a lot of interesting characters and stories that deserve to be told. If an outsider had absolutely no idea what northwestern Colorado was about—what its people valued and cared about, and their experiences—if they sat down read a few issues of Waving Hands, they’d have some understanding. Northwestern Colorado is a unique place and Waving Hands has helped document that.”
The 2018 issue will be available near the end of April. Copies can be found throughout the community. Submissions for the 2018 issue are due by Feb. 15 and can be sent electronically on the CNCC website by clicking on the Waving Hands button on the homepage. There you can also find the submission guidelines and archived issues.
By Jen Hill