LivingArts: A Literary Arts Wishlist

The new year is here and, forgive the cliche, with it comes possibilities. On a personal level, a new year breeds resolutions, and the belief that the year ahead can be different than the one that just passed. This year, I’m low on personal resolutions. That’s not to say I’m low on ambition, but 2015 was a successful year for me. I’m looking forward to building on the goals I set for myself last year without throwing too many new ones into the mix.

However, what I lack in personal resolutions, I make up for in hopes for Hamilton’s literary arts community. In fact, I have so many hopes for the year ahead that I’ve compiled a wishlist -- one that I hope is achievable.

In 2016, I hope local media invests in literary arts coverage.

Earlier this year, I wrote about why arts coverage matters on a local level. My sentiments were echoed when all three panelists who took part in “Navigating the Literary Landscape in a Time of Change,” the panel discussion I hosted as part of the Living Arts Symposium, shared their own frustrations about the lack of literary arts coverage in Hamilton. We need media organizations to commit to cultural coverage, not only because it shines the light on deserving local artists, but also because by supporting local authors, we also support local independent bookstores that are committed to selling local works and local arts journalists in need of a platform.

In 2016, I hope we recognize deserving local writers.

In 2014, there were zero nominations in the category of Writing at the City of Hamilton Arts Awards. Zero! Nominations just closed for another awards ceremony I am involved in (it’s too soon to release any details), and nominations in the category of arts and culture were considerably lower than expected. In a city that has been hailed for its art scene in recent years, it’s easy to think we’re recognizing our artists, but it’s up to us (especially those within the arts community) to make sure it’s happening. Recognizing artists on a local level can be a source of encouragement for both emerging and established artists, showing them their work matters. (Let’s face it, sometimes being an artist can feel like a thankless job).

In 2016, I hope we support local authors and local literary events.

I’ve been to my share of literary events where you can count the number of spectators on two hands. In fact, I’ve organized quite a few of them, and nothing can be more discouraging. I can only imagine how authors who have spent years publishing a novel or collection of poetry must feel. This year, I hope Hamilton is as enthusiastic about supporting local authors as we are about supporting local musicians, mom-and-pop shops, and trendy new restaurants, but we can’t expect this to just happen. It’s up to us already within the literary arts community to make a difference by committing to attend not only the literary events we (as organizers, authors, etc.) are stakeholders in, but the many others that take place in the community. We can’t expect community members to unite to support local authors, events, and bookstores if we’re not supporting them on a significant level ourselves.

I have to admit I’m a sucker for a new, fresh year ahead. I can’t wait to see what 2016 holds.