You may recall I declared this to be my year of the arts and encouraged others to do so. (See 2016: A Good Year for the Arts.) Here is what I’ve been doing about it in the last few weeks, and what these different forms of art have led me to think about lately.
I finished reading Emma by Jane Austen, again. I think I’ve read it four or five times now. I love Jane Austen’s characters, and the way she gives us a glimpse into women’s lives back then. Through Emma’s eyes, we have a good idea of the delights and the limitations of a young lady’s life in a small town in England. I was also struck by the things we have in common. While we have more freedom than they did, we still feature relationships and style in our conversations. And I have to add that Mr. Knightly is still one of my all-time favorite heroes. He’s still pretty close to perfect in my book. 😉
Last week, I participated in a panel discussion of Alaskan Anthologies at the UAA Bookstore. (You can find the podcast on iTunes University at https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/alaska-authors-and-themes/id737535014?mt=10.) Much of the event concerned the mechanics of putting together an anthology, which was interesting. But what I found compelling was the questions about how one chooses stories (or poems or pictures, etc.) and what we’d like to see in future anthologies. There is a hunger for diverse literature, which is something I’ve been wanting more of, and that complemented another event I went to this week, which was a discussion of diversity in publishing hosted by author Jolene Perry at Alaska Pacific University. They addressed reasons why we don’t see more diverse writers, and how we could help develop more through mentoring new writers, and increase demand by asking for more diverse books from our local bookstores. I’m going to make a list of books to bring to my local store.
And I just had to watch the last episode of Downton Abbey! I won’t say too much here so I don’t give any spoilers to people who haven’t seen it yet. But I was pleased at the way Julian Fellowes tied up so many loose ends. And I enjoyed the happy (or happy-for-now) endings. The characters showed acceptance of the changes in their lives and in the world. That is something we could all strive for in our current time. Some things can’t go back to the way they were ten or twenty years ago, so we need to start where we are and figure out how to move forward.
Last but not least in my recent arts consumption, I bought Bruce Springsteen’s box set The Ties That Bind, celebrating his album The River. Some of the songs, especially “Independence Day,” echo that same idea about accepting changes and moving on. Listening to the music and watching the video, I was struck by Bruce’s and the E Street Band’s youth, enthusiasm, and what great musicians they were. Another part that attracted me, then and now, was their passion for justice. Springsteen doesn’t shy away from pointing out the injustices in the world and encourages us to keep fighting the good fight. We need that from art, too.
May you find a way to add or keep art in your own life. Let’s make this the year of the arts!