Feminist Agenda // Taylor Kirby
I spent most of last week in Washington, D.C. Had you been there, too, you likely would have found me staring at national monuments with the House of Cards theme running through my head or browsing through a 230,000-square-foot book fair.
Alongside many of my peers in the English Department, I travelled to the east coast to attend the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference. I was able to advocate for CU Denver’s literary journal, Copper Nickel, and attend readings from some of my favorite living writers, like Ta-Nehisi Coates. But it was the smaller, quieter moments that resonated with me most.
To walk through crowds of 10,000 novelists, poets, editors, publishers, and readers was a necessary exercise in validity. It wasn’t their success I desperately needed to see—just their passion. They believed in the industry of literary publishing, and they were doing whatever it took to keep it alive.
Since I was young, I’ve been told all of my aspirational careers were in their death throes. Novels, magazines, newspapers, what have you: all of them were only stumbling through the 21st century with the aid of healthy doses of morphine and corroded crutches. But while my friends couldn’t pick between a myriad of possible majors, I enrolled in the English program fully steeped in the fear that it was the only option I’d ever wanted—and it was potentially the one most likely to fail me.
Now, as I prepare to complete my undergrad, I still feign defensiveness about that choice. “English—the most useless major ever,” I tell people, just so I don’t have to listen to them chastise me. I don’t believe it. Even before becoming a degreed person, the opportunities I’ve had in the field—as a consultant at the Writing Center, as a writer and editor for the Sentry, and as a participant in Copper Nickel—have been numerous and fulfilling. AWP gave me a five-day reprieve from defensiveness. There, thousands of people came together believing in the power of literature to incite social change, believing there was a future for themselves and their community, and believing the risks being taken would not only eventually coalesce into art, but was perhaps art itself.