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Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26, 2013: AmericanStudies Wishes: My Favorite Writer

[Each of the last couple years, I’ve expressed some holiday-season wishes for the AmericanStudies Elves. I’ve still got plenty on my list, so this year I’ll share five more wishes. Add your own in comments, please! And happy holidays!]

On the contemporary writer whom you should definitely check out in the new year—and yeah, I’m biased, but it’s still true.
One of this blog’s central goals, from its earliest posts into this now fourth year of existence, has been to highlight American writers with whom we should all be a lot more familiar. Charles Chesnutt. Sarah Piatt. Carlos Bulosan. Sui Sin Far. Catherine Maria Sedgwick. William Apess. I could go on—oh, could I go on—but you get the idea: American literary history is full of incredibly talented and important voices with whom we barely engage at all, even into this multicultural, canon-broadening 21st century moment. And while there are many valuable communal and social and historical reasons we should read these folks, the strongest argument is also the simplest: they’re great, and well worth your time on their own terms even if you don’t care about any of those contexts or connections.
I say that to say this: there are certainly contexts and connections for the writer I’m sharing in today’s post that it’s important for me to note. For one thing, she’s my girlfriend. For another, related thing, I happen to know that she manages to find the time and space to write in a life full of other impressive responsibilities and interests: as a single mother to two young kids, while working full-time in marketing and promotions at a major transporation company, and while making her own jewelry to sell at craft shows, to name only three of those other pulls on her time and energy. But while knowing all those contexts and connections makes me that much more impressed that in the last year Jessica Afshar has started a writing blog, gotten multiple poems and short stories published, and gotten well into the work on her first novel, the truth is this: her talent, like that of the folks I highlighted above, speaks for itself.
So AmericanStudies Elves, my wish for today is two-part: that Jess keeps finding the time and space to write (with some help from her friends); and that she can find audiences with whom to share her talents and work. She deserves it!
Next wish tomorrow,
PS. Wishes you’d share?

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