This brought tears to my eyes.
I’ve been waiting for the right time to make this post, because it means a lot to me. I chose tonight because today I visited my college for the first time since graduating. I caught a glimpse of who I was, right as I was leaving the college. I saw myself full of emotion and excitement for the world.
One of the biggest reasons I became this person was due to learning the wonderful phrase: Literary Citizenship.
For those of you who have never heard the phrase before, I’ll say that it’s more of a vague philosophy than a concrete definition, and that many writers you meet will have slightly different interpretations. My beginner’s description might be something like: One part of living as a self-identified writer is trying your best, whenever possible, to help make this world a better place for readers and writers. It involves becoming a part…
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Literary citizenship isn’t just about engaging people who already love to read or write and talk about books, but also about expanding the literary world. Books can change lives and influence attitudes for good or ill.
Let’s practice some genuine literary citizenship, people. Let’s do something positive.
AWP is this close to having a quorum. They are at 54%. They need to get to 60%. By next week!
Incentive for them: If they get to 60%, they save beaucoup bucks in legal fees, and they’re better equipped to serve you.
Incentive for you: You can win a Kindle Fire or Paperwhite. Plus, you know, making a difference and all that.
Just go here and vote.
Even if you voted last year–the last time I tried to help in this effort–you have to vote again!
How should you vote? Vote yes or no. Doesn’t matter. Just vote.
Who should vote? Every freaking body. Tenure-track faculty. Non-tenure track. Individual members.
What are you voting for? Here’s the explanation from my friend and colleague, Jill Christman, member of the AWP board.
We are closer than we have *ever* been to reaching the quorum necessary to reform AWP’s governance and enter this millennium with pens poised. AWP’s current articles of incorporation and bylaws have many vestigial remnants from the 1960s and 1970s, when AWP was a much smaller organization. We need new bylaws and articles to help AWP to better serve a more diverse and bigger association. Regional representation of the programs and faculty will continue in the new system of governance, with the regions expanding from five to six groups of membership. Each of the new Region Councils shall have a representative on the board, as the regions have now.The last call for votes brought us up a couple percentage points, but we’re not to 60% yet, and we need to get there before the end of this semester.
You don’t have to vote “yes.” You don’t even have to vote “no.” You simply have to register your presence. Let us know you were there. Remember, the voting cycle started anew in Fall 2013, so if you voted *before* that, do it again now.
Remember the final pages of Horton Hears a Who? The mayor tearing up those fabulous Seussian staircases in Whoville with his megaphone in search of that single shirker? That final, critical, town-saving “Yopp”? Go find the Jo-Jos in your program and encourage them to put down their yo-yos and vote. We can do this.
After you vote:
- Leave a comment here.
- Tweet “I voted in the AWP election. I’m a #litcitizen” and I’ll see it.
- Share this link on Facebook and rouse YOUR friends into a voting frenzy.
- Let’s do something positive.
What if all creative writing programs did this? What if instead of expecting our students to figure it out on their own, we gave them some stars to steer by?
These are excellent questions: What are some books that you needed and didn’t know about? What are some books that you had that helped you figure things out? And how are you making sure that other people know how great they are?
When we talk about Literary Citizenship, it seems like we say a lot about making the world a better place for writers, and getting people interested in books. Which they definitely should be. But maybe we should start talking about how to make the world a better place for readers too. Let me explain. As a kid, reading was such an important part of my life. I read on the toilet, at recess, when I should have been sleeping, during church.
One series that I loved with all of my heart was A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. What made it so great was that Violet Baudelaire, the oldest, was a girl like me and she was the one who was generally in charge, saving the day, fixing everything. As a kid who was also, incidentally, a girl, and someone not very in control of the events in her life…
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THANK YOU SO MUCH Cheryl Russell for talking about Literary Citizenship and for inviting my students to contribute to your blog.
Lit Citizen-literary citizen. Loose definition—promoting others’ work over your own.
It’s a concept worth practicing—share others’ work instead of relentlessly promoting your own. But not just anyone’s work; share work you believe in.
*Read books and share the good stories, across all genres. Read, and then promote the work that you believe needs shared with the literary world.
*Support literary magazines through subscriptions if you can; but at the very least track down issues at a library, read, and then share the stories that resonated with you with others.
*Buy books and post reviews of the ones you believe need more readers.
*Support authors you enjoy by sharing their work and sending them a note of encouragement/appreciation.
Read more about literary citizenship at the Literary Citizenship blog.
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