Charles Boyle | Active Voice: Writers Respond

We’re excited to announce a new series at 49 Writers, Active Voice: Writers Respond, that will call on you, the Alaska writing community, to react, reflect, and respond to current events.

The opening months of 2017 have been tumultuous and unprecedented. The cultural, societal, and civic direction of our nation is being challenged under the new Presidential administration. Each day seems to contain a new “breaking news” update on cable, a new policy, a new protest, a new argument between talking heads broadcast across the country. And, thanks to social media, anyone can share their thoughts instantly with an audience of thousands. It’s hard to escape the sharp divisions that mark American society today. Citizens on both sides of the divide dismiss the perspective of those they disagree with outright. At 49 Writers, we want to know: how has this changed the way you approach your work?

As writers, we look to the world around us for inspiration. Whether it’s the short story that borrows dialogue from an overheard conversation at the grocery store, or an essay that’s rooted in an event from our childhood, our experiences inform our writing. For poets, fiction, and nonfiction writers alike, our writing can also be a response to what we see, feel, and experience happening in society around us. Writing can be a response to deep injustices—think Atticus Finch in the courtroom. (Though, maybe not the Go Set a Watchman version.) Some works, like The Diary of Anne Frank, inform how society interprets moments in history for generations.

What is our role as writers today?

In the coming weeks, we will post a series of blog posts from Alaska writers exploring how current events and issues are shaping their work and their perspective on the state of our democratic values of justice, freedom, equality, and liberty. In addition to the blog series, we will also host 49 Writers Active Voice events in Juneau and Anchorage featuring local and visiting writers.

The most important role in this new Active Voice project is yours: we want to hear from you. Do you like a post, or disagree with it? Do you see a point the author missed? Or do you want to turn one of their points on its head? Comment directly on posts, or submit your own thoughts to info at with “Active Voice” entered in the subject line.

Active Voice: Writers Respond is just a starting point in a longer journey—we look forward to seeing where you take us next.

Charles Boyle is a second year student in the University of Alaska MFA program in creative writing. A legislative enthusiast, he splits his time between Anchorage and Juneau. He has also called Wasilla, Nunam Iqua, Emmonak, and Baltimore home.

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