In a recent conversation with a fellow prose writer, I articulated my frustration with writing my artist statement, one of the many documents I crafted on the job market this past fall and one I am still revising. (Is an artist statement ever done?) I told her while I know my work is interested in the relationship between artistic practice and social justice, I don’t yet know what that relationship is. She put down her glass and blinked at me as though I had asked her if paper was thin, then proceeded to tell me that while art itself might not be capable of instituting change in the world, it creates the space for change to be imaginable.
Since my last post, I’ve said goodbye to my twenties. One minute I was a flower opening, the next I’m not allowed to carry a children’s lunch pail or purchase fake Uggs anymore. I’m reluctant to buy into the notion that thirty is the age when you should become the person you’ll be until you die, and the age at which you should stop wearing glitter. But if the rest of the world expects age to herald change, there are a few habits I’d like to tilt toward or away from in the writing department–and not because my youthful metabolism will soon grind to a halt.
Going through my parents’ bookshelves, where all the books of my life end up, is a distinctly pleasurable activity. Like a song, the titles stacked along the shelves contain distilled memories, and the best books are not actually the ones I’ve read countless times, but the ones I picked up only once. The books I’ve read time and time again give me the sensation of greeting an old friend, and the feeling is comfortable and sweet. “Oh, you again,” I think, my finger slipping across the spine. But the books that belong solely to one time and place, these books give me a tiny jolt, like encountering the name of an old crush whom I haven’t thought of in years. My finger will pause, and then tug against the lip of the spine to take a peek at the cover, to see if memory has warped, or amplified, the book’s original charm.