Student Spotlight with Maya Arthur
CHARM CITY: A junior from Baltimore, Md., Maya Arthur, 20, is an English major in the College of Arts & Sciences, with a creative writing concentration. At Kelly Writers House, she serves as the creative ventures program assistant, working directly with Alli Katz, program coordinator at Writers House, in crafting special programming for the Writers House community.
DREAM WORK-STUDY JOB: When she initially toured Penn, Arthur says Writers House was the place that piqued her interest due to its reputation as a welcoming space for writing and talking about writing. “That was always an interest and passion of mine in high school,” she says. She landed a work-study job at Writers House not long after she arrived on campus and says the position has been “probably the best thing that has ever happened to me at Penn.”
MAYA’S WORLD: Arthur, who is also the former co-programming chair of the United Minorities Council, says her Writers House position has allowed her to develop programs and events on her own accord. She has put together a communal cooking event modeled after the TV show “Chopped” and hosted mental health social worker, feminist writer, and Penn alumna Feminista Jones. In addition, in collaboration with the Community Futures Lab in North Philadelphia, she helped curate a Brodsky Gallery exhibit opening in March. “I also founded a zine library [at Writers House], so I do workshops with zines,” she says. “We create different small chapbooks and other small materials and booklets as part of the zine library.”
WRITE BY HER SIDE: During the Spring 2016 semester, Arthur was a part of the Bassini Writing Apprenticeship Program operated by the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. Working with mentor Rachel Zolf, a poet and scholar, she created a poetry workshop for LGBT+ students.
LINGUA FRANCA: Before deciding on English, Arthur considered several different majors. While in high school, she says she was set on studying communications and political science with the goal of becoming a journalist, but she became jaded about working in journalism and politics. “English was the best major for me,” she says. “I really like how writing can engage different political issues that I was interested in in high school, but it’s a more pedagogical practice than being a journalist and sharing news. You can educate people about politics through writing.”
WITCHING HOUR: Along with her friend Kenna O’Rourke, Arthur is the co-host of the iTunes podcast “Witching Hour,” in which they discuss contemporary witches in modern times, the idea of a witch, what witches mean for femininity and womanhood, and how witches are portrayed in pop culture. “We watch really old ’80s movies about witches, like ‘Teen Witch,’ and talk about that, or a H. P. Lovecraft short story about a witch,” she says.
TEACHING LITERACY: After she graduates, Arthur is interested in teaching elementary or middle school children, and has applied to the Reading, Writing, and Literacy Program at the Graduate School of Education. “I’m interested in racial literacy and not only teaching young kids how to read, but also adult literacy, too,” she says.