Tuesday, August 4, 2009


It's appearing legal intimidation may have not been factor. That is a great relief.

Moving on . . .

Scenerio: It's 2012. The end of the Mayan calendar.


Every single MFA program, workshop, consulting firm, literary magazine (print and online), press, lit blog, lit website, lit radio & television program, endowment, foundation, organization, scholarship, contest, club, listserve, message board, reading & lecture series explodes into fiery flames.

All that's left for writers is paper, ink, keyboards and screens. Perhaps a few wooden planks and some cotton balls.

We still have all the poems, stories, books, essays, etc. -- the art remains, but not any of the past infrastructure.

It's a blank slate.

How do writers recreate their world and communities? How do we share our work? How do we create our work? How do we learn? How do we nurture our new writers?


  1. To totally wipe the slate clean, you'd have t get rid of everything you said was left -- especially keyboards and screens. To take it back to square one, it would be campfires, writing longhand and walkabouts to share with other communities. Although something tells me that someone would try and start an MFA program using cave paintings and hieroglyphics.

  2. I love this idea. Interesting to ponder. I miss the art of letters sent from one poet to another. Email just isn't the same. I think we need to create the communities we need, rather than always settling for what's already there.

  3. revert to oral tradition. become wandering mistrels. dress ourselves in fancy rags and headdresses to signal our poethood.

    hmm, apocalypse is sounding sort of appealing all of a sudden. except i think i am too shy for wandering mistrelsy. maybe covert pamphleteering, slapping up broadsides with wheat paste.

  4. I've been thinking that when I retire I should come to the office on my last day clad only in sticky notes. Does this comment seem at all relevant?

  5. Collin, you may be right, but I don't want to limit the possibilities (in the sense of this discussion). My imaginary scenerio is not an apocalypse of literature or technology or universities, but the wiping out of all existing "support" systems for CW. A pass to do whatever we believe is truly best.

    So Shanna and V seem to be pointing to a time in the past as a framework. Tom is going in a brand new, very relevant, direction.

    Keep the ideas coming!

  6. Every poet in the world develops their own living book of poems, online. In their spare time, of course, because there won't be any teaching jobs out there to pay the rent.

    The folks who have the fortitude to wade through the living books, recommending and reviewing as they go - they deserve to be the new gatekeepers.

    If the new gatekeepers are unpaid, then we can bribe them to say nice things about our living books.

    Then someone will come along and want to do a living anthology of the best bits of the living books.

    We can bribe them too, or offer sexual favours. That sort of thing. As long as we get a poem in the living anthology and manage to keep it live on-site for many months.

    Then a person comes along and says: I can teach you how to write the best poetry for your living book, and also (for a premium) show you how to influence the gatekeepers and anthology makers ...

    And so it will go on and on until one day someone decides 'to hell with it all: I'm going to cut down a tree and print my book with inks and stuff and give it away to strangers'.

    And folks will say: that's a cool idea; can I bribe you to print some of my poems?

    My glass is, as ever, half-full.

  7. Rik, good to know there are still bribes and sexual favors in the post-apocalypse literary community! Don't stop believing, hold on to that feeling . . .