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Subject:

Re: academic verse PS

From:

Mark Weiss <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Mark Weiss <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 10 Feb 2005 23:34:18 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (1654 lines)

I was obviously using MFA to denote writing programs--this is a poetry list.

We obviously disagree. Let's leave it at that.

Mark


At 05:43 PM 2/10/2005, mairead byrne wrote:
>I don't at all think poetry in the U.S. is dependent on one kind of
>environment.  I think it's alive and kicking in all sorts of places,
>some of them unaware of each other.  I teach an an art school and see
>people working with poetry in very interesting ways.  Tom Phillips is
>very London I know but many visual artists work with language and
>poetry, and within that economy as I think Kenneth Goldsmith, another
>example of someone thriving in poetry far from MFA programs, might
>say.  There's these incredibly rich webzines like The Big Bridge, the
>culture of which does not relate to MFA programs.  There are people
>working with sound, and music.  There's a whole field of cyberpoetry,
>and poems that go.  There's Slam: Providence is particularly strong
>there.  MFA programs are a significant component in the poetry economy
>here but poetry is not in any sense entirely or largely dependent on
>MFA programs.  Even how you're using the term "MFA," Mark, is way off
>the mark: for many people, MFA does not connect to poetry at all but
>to studio arts.  I think you're making a gross overstatement which is
>really unjustifiable.  Poetry, in any case, is not completely
>dependent on the various frameworks which articulate it; the opposite
>may be the case.
>Mairead
>
>On Thu, 10 Feb 2005 13:28:35 -0500, Mark Weiss <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Precisely. It can't be good for any art to become entirely dependent on one
> > kind of environment, which is what's largely happened in the US.
> >
> > Mark
> >
> > At 12:40 AM 2/10/2005, Thomas Fallon wrote:
> > >Mark -
> > >
> > >I have found the same make-up of writers' groups in my
> > >small and rural US state.  I think we need the diversity
> > >represented by these different groups.
> > >
> > >We all choose "our" groups if we can, but I would hope
> > >that we wouldn't discourage aesthetic diversity through
> > >our personal biases.
> > >
> > >Tom
> > >
> > >>--=====================_6854281==.ALT
> > >>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed
> > >>
> > >>That stings, Lawrence. I picked up the phrase from an earlier post. Meant
> > >>it as a stand-in for all the informal environments in which people hone
> > >>their skills.
> > >>
> > >>I understand the need that many have for a structured, non-threatening
> > >>environment for exchange, given the complexity of their lives.
> > >>
> > >>In the US it's become common for groups of writers or would-be writers to
> > >>form freestanding writers groups. They often serve as an alternative to
> > >>beery environments like the Mermaid. Many are women-only. The members
> > >>(regardless of the gender mix of  a given group) usually have day
> jobs and
> > >>often children. Some of these groups have gone on for years.
> > >>
> > >>Reading groups are also increasingly popular--anything from the latest
> > >>best-seller to the arcane. For several years in the eighties and early
> > >>nineties I was in such a group with, among others, Armand Schwerner, Hugh
> > >>Seidman, the anthropologist Susan Slyomovics, Mike Heller, a bunch of
> other
> > >>people. We read Vygotsky, Aztec Poetry, Victor Turner, a lot of other
> > >>stuff--a book a month. The focus was always on language and practice,
> > >>however far afield the readings might seem.
> > >>
> > >>What I found useful about the reading group is that it brought people of
> > >>different ages and extremely varied experience and expertise together to
> > >>discuss their enthusiasms. Willard Gingerich, a scholar and translator of
> > >>Aztec poetry, for instance, was brought in by a member who knew him.
> > >>
> > >>Academic writing programs tend to be less various in their membership.
> > >>Mairead will probably tell me I'm wrong, but my impression is that
> most of
> > >>the students are in their twenties, and usually the only older person in
> > >>the room is the teacher. In informal settings writers have always
> sharpened
> > >>their skills and thoughts through contact with their contemporaries, but
> > >>not exclusively. What I've always found exhilarating about
> > >>non-institutional groups of any kind of artists is the mix of different
> > >>ages and experiences. In those environments the age-span of one's cohort
> > >>can be 40 years. Fraught with the same tensions as all friendships, but
> > >>nonetheless a way in which accumulated wisdom could be passed on.
> > >>
> > >>Mark
> > >>
> > >>At 10:06 AM 2/10/2005, Lawrence Upton wrote:
> > >>>let's hear it for pub-based apprenticeships in writing
> > >>>
> > >>>L
> > >>>-----Original Message-----
> > >>>From: Mark Weiss <<mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]>
> > >>>To: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]
> > >>><<mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]>
> > >>>Date: 10 February 2005 14:59
> > >>>Subject: Re: academic verse PS
> > >>>
> > >>>All graduate education in the US carries with it social cachet,
> certainly
> > >>>as opposed to the older solitary learning and pub-based
> apprenticeships in
> > >>>writing. I don't know anyone who went for an MFA who didn't see it as a
> > >>>career-builder. Here are a couple of paragraphs from Cornell's site.
> What
> > >>>do you think they imply?
> > >>>
> > >>>Will I be able to get a college or university-level teaching
> position with
> > >>>a Cornell M.F.A. degree?
> > >>>
> > >>>Writers with Cornell M.F.A. degrees and a national publication
> record have
> > >>>found tenure-track positions at colleges such as the The University of
> > >>>Arizona, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of
> > >>>Michigan, the University of Minnesota, University of Montana, Oregon
> State
> > >>>University, Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh,
> Syracuse
> > >>>University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Wisconsin,.
> Other
> > >>>Cornell M.F.A.s have found temporary or visiting-writer positions at
> > >>>places such as Boston College, Brown, Bucknell, Colgate, Howard,
> Stanford,
> > >>>Trinity (Hartford), and Hobart-William Smith.
> > >>  >Will I increase my chances of finding a university-level teaching
> position
> > >>>if I earn both an M.F.A. degree and a Ph.D.?
> > >>>
> > >>>Not necessarily. If you have a Cornell M.F.A. degree and some kind of
> > >>>publication record, there is a good chance you will be competitive when
> > >>>you apply for university or college level teaching positions. If you
> want
> > >>>to enter the job market as a scholar as well as a creative writer, you
> > >>>might want to earn two degrees.
> > >>>
> > >>>Cornell, by the way, doesn't allow MFA students to teach until their
> > >>>second year, and they are required to take a pedagogy course first.
> > >>>
> > >>>I have no idea what's typical or not--it's not my world. But I certainly
> > >>>hear the stories.
> > >>>
> > >>>Mark
> > >>>
> > >>>At 07:21 PM 2/9/2005, you wrote:
> > >>>>I'm sort of surprised at your example Mark as the Columbia School of
> > >>>>the Arts MFA program is exceptional in not being based in an English
> > >>>>Department; it seems more like the School of the Art Institute of
> > >>>>Chicago model.  Most MFA students earn their stipends teaching English
> > >>>>101; I'm guessing that the School of the Arts does not offer 101
> > >>>>classes.  Interestingly though, the School does offer its students
> > >>>>teaching opportunities:
> > >>>>
> > >>>>"We provide teacher training through the Writer as Teacher seminar and
> > >>>>mentoring sessions, and we offer a wide variety of teaching
> > >>>>opportunities - on and off campus - through the Division's CA/T
> > >>>>program (Columbia Artist/Teachers), open to all Writing students. We
> > >>>>prepare students not only for college level teaching, but also for
> > >>>>leading workshops in primary and secondary schools and community-based
> > >>>>organizations. In addition, the Division offers students the chance to
> > >>>>edit, manage, and publish their own national magazine, Columbia: A
> > >>>>Journal of Literature and Art, as well as other informal publications.
> > >>>>Students also curate two reading series."
> > >>>>
> > >>>>I haven't yet found the part about the guaranteed social cachet and
> > >>>>middle-class income.
> > >>>>
> > >>>>Also it would be interesting to compare how MFA programs advertise
> > >>>>their financial offers in journals such as American Poetry Review,
> > >>>>versus website reservations such as you cite.  I think there is an
> > >>>>increasing tendency, with PhD programs anyway, to make a point of
> > >>>>indicating the difficulty of the job market and to warn prospective
> > >>>>candidates officially at point of entry.  It's all very double-edged.
> > >>>>
> > >>>>Mairead
> > >>>>
> > >>>>
> > >>>>
> > >>>>On Wed, 09 Feb 2005 18:05:56 -0500, Mark Weiss <[log in to unmask]>
> > >>>>wrote:
> > >>>>  > This from the Columbia School of the Arts website. I'm assuming
> > >>>> that the
> > >>>>  > situation is no better elsewhere--I suspect that it's in fact
> worse at
> > >>>>  less
> > >>>>  > well-endowed schools.
> > >>>>  >
> > >>>>  > >Because of the limited availability of University aid, the
> > >>>>limitations of
> > >>>>  > >federal programs, and the varying costs that individual students
> > >>>>  incur, it
> > >>>>  > >is not always possible to meet each student's demonstrated
> need. In
> > >>>>  > >addition, the School seeks to ensure that students who rely
> heavily on
> > >>>>  > >loans to meet their need do not incur such indebtedness that
> > >>>>they will be
> > >>>>  > >unable to manage repayment following their graduation.
> Therefore, we
> > >>>>  > >strongly encourage students to explore all options actively, even
> > >>>> before
> > >>>>  > >their acceptance into the School, in order to develop a
> > >>>>comprehensive and
> > >>>>  > >realistic plan to support the costs of their graduate study.
> Please be
> > >>>>  > >aware that fellowship offers are not made to all admitted
> > >>>> students, even
> > >>>>  > >those requesting consideration for financial aid. The average
> > >>>>awards that
> > >>>>  > >are offered rarely exceed half the cost of tuition. Incoming
> > >>>>students are
> > >>>>  > >generally notified of fellowship awards with their acceptance
> letter.
> > >>>>  Most
> > >>>>  > >students are eligible for the maximum in Stafford loans.
> > >>>>  >
> > >>>>  > The financial aid section goes on at length.
> > >>>>  >
> > >>>>  > The interest on student loans is currently 6%.
> > >>>>  >
> > >>>>  > Columbia estimates fees at $35,000 per year and living expenses at
> > >>>>  $17,430.
> > >>>>  >
> > >>>>  > At 05:34 PM 2/9/2005, you wrote:
> > >>>>  > >Agreeing and disagreeing with Mark:
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >I've had experience of 3 (excluding the MFA programs not
> dealing with
> > >>  >> > >poetry, e.g., at Rhode Island School of Design where I now
> teach).
> > >>>>  > >The great majority of students in the MFA programs I have
> knowledge of
> > >>>>  > >do not pay fees but work as teaching assistants for stipends
> between
> > >>>>  > >$10,000 and $14,000 (my figures are  4-10 years old).  I agree
> with
> > >>>>  > >Mark to some extent in his analogy with the dole.  I wrote 2
> plays, a
> > >>>>  > >short book, and a lot of bad poems on the dole in my twenties
> (but the
> > >>>>  > >minute I got married I was cut off without mercy: I wasn't even
> > >>>>  > >eligible for Fas schemes, Ireland's other training ground for
> artists.
> > >>>>  > >  It took me a hell of a long time to recover from the shock
> of being
> > >>>>  > >cut off the dole -- so long I think they had revised the policy on
> > >>>>  > >married women being ineligible for assistance).  The dole has made
> > >>>>  > >life possible for so many artists in Ireland, to a point, but
> there's
> > >>>>  > >not much dole in America.  MFA programs may be a 2-4 year rather
> > >>>>  > >stimulating surrogate dole experience.  Time to write.  I found it
> > >>>>  > >very valuable.
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >I don't really think Mark's example of John Clare as
> germane.  I think
> > >>>>  > >for a lot of poets the questions of how to be a parent, how to
> be a
> > >>>>  > >citizen, how to be a useful member of a community, how to work
> at what
> > >>>>  > >one is good at: these are real enough questions.  I don't identify
> > >>>>  > >that strongly with John Clare.
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >I don't agree either that an MFA purports to guarantee social
> cachet
> > >>>>  > >and a middle-class income: I've never heard that claim at least.
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >And I wouldn't ask either Gertrude Stein or Andre Breton's opinion
> > >>>>  > >about cooking cabbage.  And if anyone attempted to discuss such a
> > >>>>  > >subject with me at a social gathering I would walk away.
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >Mairead
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >On Sun, 6 Feb 2005 10:59:38 -0500, Mark Weiss
> > >>>>  <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > >>>>  > > > I'm always hesitant to post to Britpo because I'm acutely aware
> > >>>>  that its
> > >>>>  > > > value, certainly for me, is that it's not dominated by USians.
> > >>>> But I
> > >>>>  > > think I
> > >>>>  > > > can be helpful in this instance, as I've watched with
> increasing
> > >>>>  dismay the
> > >>>>  > > > results of the academicization of the arts in the US.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > The topic comes up from time to time on all poetry lists.
> > >>>> Usually any
> > >>>>  > > > critique of the status quo is met by an extraordinary degree of
> > >>>>  evasiveness
> > >>>>  > > > or hostility, as a threat to the daily bread, or at least
> > >>>>the sense of
> > >>>>  > > moral
> > >>>>  > > > rectitude, of many on the list.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > Here's a bit of what I posted last month to Poetryetc,
> minus the
> > >>>>  parts that
> > >>>>  > > > are too referential to the context of that discussion. I posted
> > >>>>  something
> > >>>>  > > > like the first paragraph to britpo earlier this week, but
> there's
> > >>>>  plenty of
> > >>>>  > > > fresh meat beyond.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > Several things here. First, in the mouths of poets of my
> kind and
> > >>>>  > >generation
> > >>>>  > > > "academic" has nothing to do with intellectual; it
> > >>>>  > >was, from the
> > >>>>  > >50s into
> > >>>>  > > > the 70s, a convenient name for the then mainstream, which
> > >>>>  > >became
> > >>>>  > >what
> > >>>>  > > > Silliman calls "the school of quietude," despite the fact
> > >>>>  > >that then as
> > >>>>  > >now
> > >>>>  > > > many non-quietudiness types, like Doug, held university
> positions.
> > >>>>  > >One
> > >>>>  > >could
> > >>>>  > > > even be an acadmic poet without ever passing through the gates
> > >>>>  > > > of
> > >>>>  > >a
> > >>>>  > >university.
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >The larger issue is, I think, not how some poets make a
> > >>>>  > > > living and how
> > >>>>  > >much
> > >>>>  > >time it may take away from their writing, but the
> > >>>>  > > > process of
> > >>>>  > >professionalization and homogenization at work in MFA programs.
> > >>>>  > > > The
> > >>>>  > >result,
> > >>>>  > >across the entire spectrum, has been a patholgical degree
> > >>>>  > > > of
> > >>>>  > >predictability--MFA-trained Language poets write more like
> > >>>>  > > > Language
> > >>>>  > >poets
> > >>>>  > >than their langpo teachers, who managed to become poets
> > >>>>  > > > without the
> > >>>>  > >benefit of
> > >>>>  > >several years of workshops, for instance. And the
> > >>>>  > > > same is true for the
> > >>>>  > >endless string of suburban poets filling the designated
> > >>  >> > > > poetry spaces in
> > >>>>  > >the New Yorkeror Poetry.
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >What gets attenuated is the
> > >>>>  > > > discovery of craft and its use as a tool for
> > >>>>  > >discovering the world, absent
> > >>>>  > > > any experience working in the world beyond
> > >>>>  > >the schools.
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >There's of course
> > >>>>  > > > an enormous ambivalence built into this. I'm aware when
> > >>>>  > >I
> > >>>>  > >publish books that
> > >>>>  > > > if they don't sell well to university libraries and
> > >>>>  > >to
> > >>>>  > >MFAs they won't sell.
> > >>>>  > > > And I also think that it's great that you and
> > >>>>  > >others
> > >>>>  > >don't have to herd
> > >>>>  > > > goats. The problem is that with every graduating
> > >>>>  > >class
> > >>>>  > >there are more
> > >>>>  > > > half-baked late adolescents licensed to call themselves
> > >>>>  > >poets, nine tenths
> > >>>>  > > > of whom will never write anything even mildly useful,
> > >>>>  > >who expect to be able
> > >>>>  > > > to muzzle up to the trough and teach yet another
> > >>>>  > >class how to write
> > >>>>  > > > well-behaved poems of whatever kind, and mediocrity
> > >>>>  > >becomes progressively
> > >>>>  > > > the norm.
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >Years ago, when I applied to the MacDowell Colony my friend
> > >>>>  > > > Richard
> > >>>>  > >Elman,
> > >>>>  > >who taught in the Columbia then-proto-MFA program, wrote
> > >>>>  > > > a
> > >>>>  > >recommendation
> > >>>>  > >for me, which he let me read. I was struck by the phrase
> > >>>>  > > > "though he
> > >>>>  > >is
> > >>>>  > >self-taught as a poet..." I told him that wasn't true--I knew
> > >>>>  > > > dozens
> > >>>>  > >of
> > >>>>  > >poets and learned from several, I'd run reading series', edited
> > >>>>  > > > a
> > >>>>  > >magazine,
> > >>>>  > >published my first book, read endlessly, etc. "Listen," he
> > >>>>  > >said,
> > >>>>  > > > "of course it's bullshit.
> > >>>>  > >But it will get you in." It did.
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >
> > >>>>  > >OK, now back to
> > >>>>  > > > this list. To the extent that the world needs poets at all it
> > >>>>  doesn't need
> > >>>>  > > > them mass-produced, and we could certainly do without most
> of the
> > >>>>  > > blathering
> > >>>>  > > > of licensed 25 year olds, who now publish each other and
> > >>>> promote each
> > >>>>  > > > other's work from the classroom or profit-making journals or
> > >>>>  publishing
> > >>>>  > > > houses for which the MFA is an entry requirement for
> > >>>> employment. And
> > >>>>  > > what do
> > >>>>  > > > we do with all the tenured poets who would have stopped
> writing if
> > >>>>  they
> > >>>>  > > > hadn't found a sustainable career as poets because they
> wouldn't
> > >>>>  have been
> > >>>>  > > > sufficiently called to keep on? Someone recently commented
> > >>>>  something to the
> > >>>>  > > > effect (forgive me for garbling) that everyone's a poet at
> 20, at
> > >>>>  40 it's a
> > >>>>  > > > different matter. Yes, but the rewards of the current
> system means
> > >>>>  that
> > >>>>  > > > those who take the poetry career track at 20 are decreasingly
> > >>>>  tested as
> > >>>>  > > they
> > >>>>  > > > approach maturity, and many remain unaware that the making of
> > >>>> poetry
> > >>>>  > > > requires constant internal testing and questioning. Within the
> > >>>>  universities
> > >>>>  > > > a poet at 20 is likely to be calling himself a poet at 40.
> > >>>>  > > > Since my return to New York from the wilds of San Diego
> I've found
> > >>>>  > > myself at
> > >>>>  > > > several gatherings of young MFAs. They compared career
> notes and
> > >>>>  nothing
> > >>>>  > > > else. When I was their age, after the requisite gossip and
> > >>>>  flirtation what
> > >>>>  > > > got talked about was poetry, and information about each of our
> > >>>> latest
> > >>>>  > > > enthusiasms was passed about.  Ties between older and younger
> > >>>>  poets were
> > >>>>  > > > forged that acted as a sort of apprenticeship.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > I'm aware that one of the arguments for the MFA is that it
> > >>>> levels the
> > >>>>  > > > playing field--presumably even the occasional student too
> poor to
> > >>>>  > > afford the
> > >>>>  > > > monstrously high fees (in the tens of thousands of pounds a
> year)
> > >>>>  > > charged in
> > >>>>  > > > the US gets admitted on scholarship, and aspiring poets from
> > >>>>  > > > poetically-impoverished places are spared the expenditure of
> > >>>>  energy and
> > >>>>  > > risk
> > >>>>  > > > needed to make contact with other writers (in exchange for
> having
> > >>>>  their
> > >>>>  > > > focus sharply restricted), whether through epistolary
> brashness or
> > >>>>  actually
> > >>>>  > > > moving to say NY or San Francisco. But the reality on the
> ground,
> > >>>>  even more
> > >>>>  > > > in Britain than in the US, is that these days a John Clare
> without
> > >>  >> an MFA
> > >>>>  > > > would not be condemned to destitution--he'd live in council
> > >>>>  housing, be
> > >>>>  > > > treated by the national health service, and feed himself
> > >>>>either from a
> > >>>>  > > > disability pension, or, in the case of those not so
> incapacitated
> > >>>>  as Clare,
> > >>>>  > > > earn a minor but sufficient living, under modern rules of
> > >>>> employment,
> > >>>>  > > > complete with vacation time that in the US is for most
> people only
> > >>>>  a dream.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > What the MFA purports to guarantee (and there are far too many
> > >>>>  MFAs in the
> > >>>>  > > > US to make that claim more than a cruel joke) is social
> cachet and
> > >>>>  a middle
> > >>>>  > > > class income.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > Mark
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > At 08:18 AM 2/6/2005, cris cheek wrote:
> > >>>>  > > > Hi Tim,
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > sorry. I didn't think it defensiveness on my part. More an
> > >>>>offering of
> > >>>>  > > > a conundrum, which sought to muddy the waters so that
> actual work
> > >>>>  could
> > >>>>  > > > enter the frame of discussion by example. I did want to get to
> > >>>>  names to
> > >>>>  > > > try to understand who was actually being referred to.
> Although I'll
> > >>>>  > > > fully accept the charge of tired listing. I was, obviously
> wrongly,
> > >>>>  > > > wondering if a conflation of working in academia and
> > >>>>teaching criteria
> > >>>>  > > > developed through personal practice might not be the point of
> > >>>>  > > > conflation. Clearly, as in my own example, the majority of
> those on
> > >>>>  > > > that list had lengthy histories of practice before teaching,
> > >>>> although
> > >>>>  > > > many also studied as undergraduates when young. The lists were
> > >>>> quite
> > >>>>  > > > deliberately intended to include some 'ringers' and deploy
> > >>>>  > > > inconsistencies in order to find out to whom the mesh
> > >>>>between academic
> > >>>>  > > > verse and avant &c was referring. Also to include for
> example two
> > >>>>  > > > generations of those broadly considered lang-po in the US
> > >>>> context and
> > >>>>  > > > whatever (linguistically innovative if that works) likewise
> in the
> > >>>>  > > > British ones.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > I do agree that the grounds from which many newer, younger
> > >>>> (whatever)
> > >>>>  > > > poets are emerging are creative writing courses and their
> orbital
> > >>>>  > > > activities in further education. Many of the latter are now in
> > >>>>  > > > universities (on both sides of the pond) -  and they are
> nothing
> > >>>>  if not
> > >>>>  > > > quick to spot financial opportunities (the universities i
> mean).
> > >>>>  > > > Creative Writing courses have become a cash cow and
> increased in
> > >>>>  number
> > >>>>  > > > over the past few years dramatically. I'm not saying this
> is a good
> > >>>>  > > > thing per se either, but it is undeniably so. Generally,
> which of
> > >>>>  > > > course i use advisedly, many of those who are graduating
> from these
> > >>>>  > > > courses are going on into MA and even PhD pursuits.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > It *does mean that poets have been acculturated to producing
> > >>>> critical
> > >>>>  > > > materials and reflexive writing in close relation to or even as
> > >>>>  part of
> > >>>>  > > > their emergent writing practice. So critical tools,
> vocabularies,
> > >>>>  > > > perspectives, strategies (from philosophy, literature, cultural
> > >>>>  > > > studies, performance studies, media studies,
> bio-informatics . .
> > >>>>  .) are
> > >>>>  > > > becoming integral to a poet's experience of language.
> Reading and
> > >>>>  > > > Writing both are certainly changing and with the growing number
> > >>>> going
> > >>>>  > > > on into further education the readership is changing also.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > One reason, perhaps, why taste tzars such as Don Patterson
> > >>>>are getting
> > >>>>  > > > publicly jittery is that the texts available for further
> > >>>>education are
> > >>>>  > > > becoming increasingly numerous from those kinds of poets whose
> > >>>>  > > > practices and critical perspectives are lang-po and
> ling-inno-po
> > >>>>  (among
> > >>>>  > > > the many variant po in evidence) grounded, partly since it
> is those
> > >>>>  > > > poetries whose poetics most form an energisiing mesh with other
> > >>>>  > > > critical discourses as listed in brackets above. You know,
> > >>>>it's pretty
> > >>>>  > > > simple. To whom is one going to refer to and to differ from
> > >>>> (classic
> > >>>>  > > > avant-garde strategies). That does accept the existence of
> quite
> > >>>>  > > > differing readerships, but that's surely nothing new. What
> might be
> > >>  >> > > > warranted is a kind of new punk poetry to counter too much
> of the
> > >>>>  > > > dominance from today's scriptoria.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > Being on such courses do allow for reading of poetries that
> > >>>>offer more
> > >>>>  > > > resistance and are less easily absorbed (PERHAPS,
> perhaps).  Many
> > >>>>  > > > readers, not allowed such luxury of shared interpretations
> > >>>>(outside of
> > >>>>  > > > the experience of belonging to a book group) cannot give
> over their
> > >>>>  > > > waking hours to such sustained mulling (perhaps, perhaps).
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > The flavor of a particular program is strongly inflected by
> its key
> > >>>>  > > > poet(s). It'll be interesting, to take one obvious example,
> > >>>>to see how
> > >>>>  > > > writing emerging from Buffalo change over to the coming
> > >>>>years, between
> > >>>>  > > > Charles Bernsein's and Steve McCaffery's authored climates
> > >>>>of research
> > >>>>  > > > and umbrellas of enthusiasm. Another example is the shift
> from Burt
> > >>>>  > > > Kimmelman and Sylvester Pollet to Ben Friedlander and Steve
> > >>>> Evans at
> > >>>>  > > > Orono (even though Burt and Sylvester remain, Ben and Steve are
> > >>>>  > > > bringing other energies and enthusiasms into play). It isn't
> > >>>> exactly
> > >>>>  > > > big thinking to point this out I realise that. One might
> take the
> > >>>>  > > > current clutch of young poets active around Birkbeck as another
> > >>>>  example
> > >>>>  > > > over here or the past decade of fierce enquiry at
> Dartington. I do
> > >>>>  > > > think this is going on in the UK as much as in the US now. The
> > >>>> scale
> > >>>>  > > > and intensity differ for sure but with Dartington, Exeter, Edge
> > >>>> Hill,
> > >>>>  > > > Warwick, Bangor, Southampton, Roehampton, Royal Holloway, UEA,
> > >>>>  > > > Manchester Metropolitan, Salford . . .  and many others the
> > >>>>burgeoning
> > >>>>  > > > US model of the Writer's House is likely to follow on.
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > Staying in education, living off small research
> > >>>>studentships and so on
> > >>>>  > > > has (perhaps perhaps) supplanted the dole as one way to
> develop a
> > >>>>  > > > writing practice in the largely commercially non-viable
> worlds of
> > >>>>  > > > contemporary poetry (given rare exceptions). There are real
> > >>>> problems
> > >>>>  > > > too. One is that writing can become too pedagogically inclined,
> > >>>>  writing
> > >>>>  > > > what students might usefully study as example. Another is
> that of
> > >>>>  > > > getting sucked into teaching without ever having much
> experience of
> > >>>>  > > > outside, in other words skipping that vital phase of
> resistance and
> > >>>>  > > > struggle, developing a practice outside the institutions. I've
> > >>>>  > > > certainly witnessed examples like that in the US in recent
> > >>>> months and
> > >>>>  > > > maybe that produces the efficient and yet smug poetry that you
> > >>>>  might be
> > >>>>  > > > trying to get at?
> > >>>>  > > >
> > >>>>  > > > love and love
> > >>>>  > > > cris
> > >>>>  >
> > >>>>  >
> > >>
> > >>--=====================_6854281==.ALT
> > >>Content-Type: text/html; charset="us-ascii"
> > >>
> > >><html>
> > >><body>
> > >>That stings, Lawrence. I picked up the phrase from an earlier post. Meant
> > >>it as a stand-in for all the informal environments in which people hone
> > >>their skills.<br><br>
> > >>I understand the need that many have for a structured, non-threatening
> > >>environment for exchange, given the complexity of their lives.<br><br>
> > >>In the US it's become common for groups of writers or would-be writers to
> > >>form freestanding writers groups. They often serve as an alternative to
> > >>beery environments like the Mermaid. Many are women-only. The members
> > >>(regardless of the gender mix of&nbsp; a given group) usually have day
> > >>jobs and often children. Some of these groups have gone on for
> > >>years.<br><br>
> > >>Reading groups are also increasingly popular--anything from the latest
> > >>best-seller to the arcane. For several years in the eighties and early
> > >>nineties I was in such a group with, among others, Armand Schwerner, Hugh
> > >>Seidman, the anthropologist Susan Slyomovics, Mike Heller, a bunch of
> > >>other people. We read Vygotsky, Aztec Poetry, Victor Turner, a lot of
> > >>other stuff--a book a month. The focus was always on language and
> > >>practice, however far afield the readings might seem.<br><br>
> > >>What I found useful about the reading group is that it brought people of
> > >>different ages and extremely varied experience and expertise together to
> > >>discuss their enthusiasms. Willard Gingerich, a scholar and translator of
> > >>Aztec poetry, for instance, was brought in by a member who knew
> > >>him.<br><br>
> > >>Academic writing programs tend to be less various in their membership.
> > >>Mairead will probably tell me I'm wrong, but my impression is that most
> > >>of the students are in their twenties, and usually the only older person
> > >>in the room is the teacher. In informal settings writers have always
> > >>sharpened their skills and thoughts through contact with their
> > >>contemporaries, but not exclusively. What I've always found exhilarating
> > >>about non-institutional groups of any kind of artists is the mix of
> > >>different ages and experiences. In those environments the age-span of
> > >>one's cohort can be 40 years. Fraught with the same tensions as all
> > >>friendships, but nonetheless a way in which accumulated wisdom could be
> > >>passed on.<br><br>
> > >>Mark<br><br>
> > >>At 10:06 AM 2/10/2005, Lawrence Upton wrote:<br>
> > >><blockquote type=cite class=cite cite=""><font size=2>let's hear it for
> > >>pub-based apprenticeships in writing<br>
> > >></font>&nbsp;<br>
> > >><font size=2>L<br>
> > >></font>
> > >><dl>
> > >><dd><font face="arial" size=2>-----Original Message-----</b><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>From: </b>Mark Weiss
> > >>&lt;<a href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]</a>
> > >>&gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>To:
> > >></b><a href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">
> > >>[log in to unmask]</a>
> > >>&lt;<a href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">
> > >>[log in to unmask]</a>&gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Date: </b>10 February 2005 14:59<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Subject: </b>Re: academic verse PS<br><br>
> > >></font>
> > >><dd>All graduate education in the US carries with it social cachet,
> > >>certainly as opposed to the older solitary learning and pub-based
> > >>apprenticeships in writing. I don't know anyone who went for an MFA who
> > >>didn't see it as a career-builder. Here are a couple of paragraphs from
> > >>Cornell's site. What do you think they imply?<br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd><font size=2>Will I be able to get a college or university-level
> > >>teaching position with a Cornell M.F.A. degree?</b></font> <br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd><font size=2>Writers with Cornell M.F.A. degrees and a national
> > >>publication record have found tenure-track positions at colleges such as
> > >>the The University of Arizona, the University of California at Santa
> > >>Cruz, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, University
> > >>of Montana, Oregon State University, Penn State University, the
> > >>University of Pittsburgh, Syracuse University, Vanderbilt University, and
> > >>the University of Wisconsin,. Other Cornell M.F.A.s have found temporary
> > >>or visiting-writer positions at places such as Boston College, Brown,
> > >>Bucknell, Colgate, Howard, Stanford, Trinity (Hartford), and
> > >>Hobart-William Smith.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Will I increase my chances of finding a university-level teaching
> > >>position if I earn both an M.F.A. degree and a Ph.D.?</b></font>
> > >><br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd><font size=2>Not necessarily. If you have a Cornell M.F.A. degree and
> > >>some kind of publication record, there is a good chance you will be
> > >>competitive when you apply for university or college level teaching
> > >>positions. If you want to enter the job market as a scholar as well as a
> > >>creative writer, you might want to earn two degrees.<br><br>
> > >></font>
> > >><dd>Cornell, by the way, doesn't allow MFA students to teach until their
> > >>second year, and they are required to take a pedagogy course
> > >>first.<br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>I have no idea what's typical or not--it's not my world. But I
> > >>certainly hear the stories. <br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Mark <br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>At 07:21 PM 2/9/2005, you wrote:<br>
> > >><blockquote type=cite class=cite cite="">
> > >><dd>I'm sort of surprised at your example Mark as the Columbia School
> > >>of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>the Arts MFA program is exceptional in not being based in an
> > >>English<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Department; it seems more like the School of the Art Institute
> > >>of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Chicago model.&nbsp; Most MFA students earn their stipends teaching
> > >>English<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>101; I'm guessing that the School of the Arts does not offer 101<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>classes.&nbsp; Interestingly though, the School does offer its
> > >>students<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>teaching opportunities:<br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&quot;We provide teacher training through the Writer as Teacher
> > >>seminar and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>mentoring sessions, and we offer a wide variety of teaching<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>opportunities - on and off campus - through the Division's CA/T<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>program (Columbia Artist/Teachers), open to all Writing students.
> > >>We<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>prepare students not only for college level teaching, but also
> > >>for<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>leading workshops in primary and secondary schools and
> > >>community-based<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>organizations. In addition, the Division offers students the chance
> > >>to<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>edit, manage, and publish their own national magazine, Columbia:
> > >>A<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Journal of Literature and Art, as well as other informal
> > >>publications.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Students also curate two reading series.&quot;<br>
> > >><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>I haven't yet found the part about the guaranteed social cachet
> > >>and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>middle-class income.<br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Also it would be interesting to compare how MFA programs
> > >>advertise<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>their financial offers in journals such as American Poetry
> > >>Review,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>versus website reservations such as you cite.&nbsp; I think there is
> > >>an<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>increasing tendency, with PhD programs anyway, to make a point
> > >>of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>indicating the difficulty of the job market and to warn
> > >>prospective<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>candidates officially at point of entry.&nbsp; It's all very
> > >>double-edged.<br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>Mairead<br><br>
> > >><br><br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>On Wed, 09 Feb 2005 18:05:56 -0500, Mark Weiss
> > >>&lt;[log in to unmask]&gt; wrote:<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; This from the Columbia School of the Arts website. I'm assuming
> > >>that the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; situation is no better elsewhere--I suspect that it's in fact
> > >>worse at less<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; well-endowed schools.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; <br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;Because of the limited availability of University aid, the
> > >>limitations of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;federal programs, and the varying costs that individual
> > >>students incur, it<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;is not always possible to meet each student's demonstrated
> > >>need. In<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;addition, the School seeks to ensure that students who rely
> > >>heavily on<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;loans to meet their need do not incur such indebtedness that
> > >>they will be<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;unable to manage repayment following their graduation.
> > >>Therefore, we<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;strongly encourage students to explore all options actively,
> > >>even before<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;their acceptance into the School, in order to develop a
> > >>comprehensive and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;realistic plan to support the costs of their graduate study.
> > >>Please be<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;aware that fellowship offers are not made to all admitted
> > >>students, even<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;those requesting consideration for financial aid. The
> > >>average awards that<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;are offered rarely exceed half the cost of tuition. Incoming
> > >>students are<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;generally notified of fellowship awards with their
> > >>acceptance letter. Most<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;students are eligible for the maximum in Stafford
> > >>loans.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; <br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; The financial aid section goes on at length.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; <br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; The interest on student loans is currently 6%.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; <br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; Columbia estimates fees at $35,000 per year and living expenses
> > >>at $17,430.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; <br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; At 05:34 PM 2/9/2005, you wrote:<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;Agreeing and disagreeing with Mark:<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;I've had experience of 3 (excluding the MFA programs not
> > >>dealing with<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;poetry, e.g., at Rhode Island School of Design where I now
> > >>teach).<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;The great majority of students in the MFA programs I have
> > >>knowledge of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;do not pay fees but work as teaching assistants for stipends
> > >>between<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;$10,000 and $14,000 (my figures are&nbsp; 4-10 years
> > >>old).&nbsp; I agree with<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;Mark to some extent in his analogy with the dole.&nbsp; I
> > >>wrote 2 plays, a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;short book, and a lot of bad poems on the dole in my
> > >>twenties (but the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;minute I got married I was cut off without mercy: I wasn't
> > >>even<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;eligible for Fas schemes, Ireland's other training ground
> > >>for artists.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;&nbsp; It took me a hell of a long time to recover from the
> > >>shock of being<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;cut off the dole -- so long I think they had revised the
> > >>policy on<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;married women being ineligible for assistance).&nbsp; The
> > >>dole has made<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;life possible for so many artists in Ireland, to a point,
> > >>but there's<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;not much dole in America.&nbsp; MFA programs may be a 2-4
> > >>year rather<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;stimulating surrogate dole experience.&nbsp; Time to
> > >>write.&nbsp; I found it<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;very valuable.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;I don't really think Mark's example of John Clare as
> > >>germane.&nbsp; I think<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;for a lot of poets the questions of how to be a parent, how
> > >>to be a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;citizen, how to be a useful member of a community, how to
> > >>work at what<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;one is good at: these are real enough questions.&nbsp; I
> > >>don't identify<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;that strongly with John Clare.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;I don't agree either that an MFA purports to guarantee
> > >>social cachet<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;and a middle-class income: I've never heard that claim at
> > >>least.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;And I wouldn't ask either Gertrude Stein or Andre Breton's
> > >>opinion<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;about cooking cabbage.&nbsp; And if anyone attempted to
> > >>discuss such a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;subject with me at a social gathering I would walk
> > >>away.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;Mairead<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;On Sun, 6 Feb 2005 10:59:38 -0500, Mark Weiss
> > >>&lt;[log in to unmask]&gt; wrote:<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; I'm always hesitant to post to Britpo because I'm
> > >>acutely aware that its<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; value, certainly for me, is that it's not dominated by
> > >>USians. But I<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; think I<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; can be helpful in this instance, as I've watched with
> > >>increasing dismay the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; results of the academicization of the arts in the
> > >>US.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; The topic comes up from time to time on all poetry
> > >>lists. Usually any<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; critique of the status quo is met by an extraordinary
> > >>degree of evasiveness<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; or hostility, as a threat to the daily bread, or at
> > >>least the sense of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; moral<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; rectitude, of many on the list.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Here's a bit of what I posted last month to Poetryetc,
> > >>minus the parts that<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; are too referential to the context of that discussion.
> > >>I posted something<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; like the first paragraph to britpo earlier this week,
> > >>but there's plenty of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; fresh meat beyond.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Several things here. First, in the mouths of poets of
> > >>my kind and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;generation<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; &quot;academic&quot; has nothing to do with
> > >>intellectual; it<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;was, from the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;50s into<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; the 70s, a convenient name for the then mainstream,
> > >>which<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;became<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;what<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Silliman calls &quot;the school of quietude,&quot;
> > >>despite the fact<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;that then as<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;now<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; many non-quietudiness types, like Doug, held
> > >>university positions.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;One<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;could<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; even be an acadmic poet without ever passing through
> > >>the gates<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;university.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;The larger issue is, I think, not how some poets make a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; living and how<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;much<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;time it may take away from their writing, but the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; process of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;professionalization and homogenization at work in MFA
> > >>programs.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; The<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;result,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;across the entire spectrum, has been a patholgical
> > >>degree<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;predictability--MFA-trained Language poets write more
> > >>like<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Language<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;poets<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;than their langpo teachers, who managed to become poets<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; without the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;benefit of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;several years of workshops, for instance. And the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; same is true for the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;endless string of suburban poets filling the designated<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; poetry spaces in<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;the New Yorkeror Poetry.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;What gets attenuated is the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; discovery of craft and its use as a tool for<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;discovering the world, absent<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; any experience working in the world beyond<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;the schools.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;There's of course<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; an enormous ambivalence built into this. I'm aware
> > >>when<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;I<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;publish books that<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; if they don't sell well to university libraries
> > >>and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;to<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;MFAs they won't sell.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; And I also think that it's great that you and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;others<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;don't have to herd<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; goats. The problem is that with every graduating<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;class<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;there are more<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; half-baked late adolescents licensed to call
> > >>themselves<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;poets, nine tenths<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; of whom will never write anything even mildly
> > >>useful,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;who expect to be able<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; to muzzle up to the trough and teach yet another<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;class how to write<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; well-behaved poems of whatever kind, and
> > >>mediocrity<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;becomes progressively<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; the norm.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;Years ago, when I applied to the MacDowell Colony my
> > >>friend<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Richard<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;Elman,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;who taught in the Columbia then-proto-MFA program,
> > >>wrote<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;recommendation<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;for me, which he let me read. I was struck by the
> > >>phrase<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; &quot;though he<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;is<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;self-taught as a poet...&quot; I told him that wasn't
> > >>true--I knew<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; dozens<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;poets and learned from several, I'd run reading series',
> > >>edited<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;magazine,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;published my first book, read endlessly, etc.
> > >>&quot;Listen,&quot; he<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;said,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; &quot;of course it's bullshit.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;But it will get you in.&quot; It did.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt;OK, now back to<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; this list. To the extent that the world needs poets at
> > >>all it doesn't need<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; them mass-produced, and we could certainly do without
> > >>most of the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; blathering<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; of licensed 25 year olds, who now publish each other
> > >>and promote each<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; other's work from the classroom or profit-making
> > >>journals or publishing<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; houses for which the MFA is an entry requirement for
> > >>employment. And<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; what do<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; we do with all the tenured poets who would have
> > >>stopped writing if they<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; hadn't found a sustainable career as poets because
> > >>they wouldn't have been<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; sufficiently called to keep on? Someone recently
> > >>commented something to the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; effect (forgive me for garbling) that everyone's a
> > >>poet at 20, at 40 it's a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; different matter. Yes, but the rewards of the current
> > >>system means that<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; those who take the poetry career track at 20 are
> > >>decreasingly tested as<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; they<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; approach maturity, and many remain unaware that the
> > >>making of poetry<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; requires constant internal testing and questioning.
> > >>Within the universities<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; a poet at 20 is likely to be calling himself a poet at
> > >>40.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Since my return to New York from the wilds of San
> > >>Diego I've found<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; myself at<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; several gatherings of young MFAs. They compared career
> > >>notes and nothing<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; else. When I was their age, after the requisite gossip
> > >>and flirtation what<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; got talked about was poetry, and information about
> > >>each of our latest<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; enthusiasms was passed about.&nbsp; Ties between older
> > >>and younger poets were<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; forged that acted as a sort of apprenticeship.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; I'm aware that one of the arguments for the MFA is
> > >>that it levels the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; playing field--presumably even the occasional student
> > >>too poor to<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; afford the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; monstrously high fees (in the tens of thousands of
> > >>pounds a year)<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; charged in<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; the US gets admitted on scholarship, and aspiring
> > >>poets from<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; poetically-impoverished places are spared the
> > >>expenditure of energy and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; risk<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; needed to make contact with other writers (in exchange
> > >>for having their<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; focus sharply restricted), whether through epistolary
> > >>brashness or actually<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; moving to say NY or San Francisco. But the reality on
> > >>the ground, even more<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; in Britain than in the US, is that these days a John
> > >>Clare without an MFA<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; would not be condemned to destitution--he'd live in
> > >>council housing, be<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; treated by the national health service, and feed
> > >>himself either from a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; disability pension, or, in the case of those not so
> > >>incapacitated as Clare,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; earn a minor but sufficient living, under modern rules
> > >>of employment,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; complete with vacation time that in the US is for most
> > >>people only a dream.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; What the MFA purports to guarantee (and there are far
> > >>too many MFAs in the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; US to make that claim more than a cruel joke) is
> > >>social cachet and a middle<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; class income.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Mark<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; At 08:18 AM 2/6/2005, cris cheek wrote:<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Hi Tim,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; sorry. I didn't think it defensiveness on my part.
> > >>More an offering of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; a conundrum, which sought to muddy the waters so that
> > >>actual work could<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; enter the frame of discussion by example. I did want
> > >>to get to names to<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; try to understand who was actually being referred to.
> > >>Although I'll<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; fully accept the charge of tired listing. I was,
> > >>obviously wrongly,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; wondering if a conflation of working in academia and
> > >>teaching criteria<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; developed through personal practice might not be the
> > >>point of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; conflation. Clearly, as in my own example, the
> > >>majority of those on<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; that list had lengthy histories of practice before
> > >>teaching, although<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; many also studied as undergraduates when young. The
> > >>lists were quite<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; deliberately intended to include some 'ringers' and
> > >>deploy<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; inconsistencies in order to find out to whom the mesh
> > >>between academic<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; verse and avant &amp;c was referring. Also to include
> > >>for example two<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; generations of those broadly considered lang-po in the
> > >>US context and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; whatever (linguistically innovative if that works)
> > >>likewise in the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; British ones.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; I do agree that the grounds from which many newer,
> > >>younger (whatever)<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; poets are emerging are creative writing courses and
> > >>their orbital<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; activities in further education. Many of the latter
> > >>are now in<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; universities (on both sides of the pond) -&nbsp; and
> > >>they are nothing if not<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; quick to spot financial opportunities (the
> > >>universities i mean).<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Creative Writing courses have become a cash cow and
> > >>increased in number<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; over the past few years dramatically. I'm not saying
> > >>this is a good<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; thing per se either, but it is undeniably so.
> > >>Generally, which of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; course i use advisedly, many of those who are
> > >>graduating from these<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; courses are going on into MA and even PhD
> > >>pursuits.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; It *does mean that poets have been acculturated to
> > >>producing critical<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; materials and reflexive writing in close relation to
> > >>or even as part of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; their emergent writing practice. So critical tools,
> > >>vocabularies,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; perspectives, strategies (from philosophy, literature,
> > >>cultural<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; studies, performance studies, media studies,
> > >>bio-informatics . . .) are<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; becoming integral to a poet's experience of language.
> > >>Reading and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Writing both are certainly changing and with the
> > >>growing number going<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; on into further education the readership is changing
> > >>also.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; One reason, perhaps, why taste tzars such as Don
> > >>Patterson are getting<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; publicly jittery is that the texts available for
> > >>further education are<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; becoming increasingly numerous from those kinds of
> > >>poets whose<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; practices and critical perspectives are lang-po and
> > >>ling-inno-po (among<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; the many variant po in evidence) grounded, partly
> > >>since it is those<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; poetries whose poetics most form an energisiing mesh
> > >>with other<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; critical discourses as listed in brackets above. You
> > >>know, it's pretty<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; simple. To whom is one going to refer to and to differ
> > >>from (classic<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; avant-garde strategies). That does accept the
> > >>existence of quite<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; differing readerships, but that's surely nothing new.
> > >>What might be<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; warranted is a kind of new punk poetry to counter too
> > >>much of the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; dominance from today's scriptoria.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Being on such courses do allow for reading of poetries
> > >>that offer more<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; resistance and are less easily absorbed (PERHAPS,
> > >>perhaps).&nbsp; Many<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; readers, not allowed such luxury of shared
> > >>interpretations (outside of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; the experience of belonging to a book group) cannot
> > >>give over their<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; waking hours to such sustained mulling (perhaps,
> > >>perhaps).<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; The flavor of a particular program is strongly
> > >>inflected by its key<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; poet(s). It'll be interesting, to take one obvious
> > >>example, to see how<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; writing emerging from Buffalo change over to the
> > >>coming years, between<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Charles Bernsein's and Steve McCaffery's authored
> > >>climates of research<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; and umbrellas of enthusiasm. Another example is the
> > >>shift from Burt<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Kimmelman and Sylvester Pollet to Ben Friedlander and
> > >>Steve Evans at<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Orono (even though Burt and Sylvester remain, Ben and
> > >>Steve are<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; bringing other energies and enthusiasms into play). It
> > >>isn't exactly<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; big thinking to point this out I realise that. One
> > >>might take the<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; current clutch of young poets active around Birkbeck
> > >>as another example<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; over here or the past decade of fierce enquiry at
> > >>Dartington. I do<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; think this is going on in the UK as much as in the US
> > >>now. The scale<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; and intensity differ for sure but with Dartington,
> > >>Exeter, Edge Hill,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Warwick, Bangor, Southampton, Roehampton, Royal
> > >>Holloway, UEA,<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Manchester Metropolitan, Salford . . .&nbsp; and many
> > >>others the burgeoning<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; US model of the Writer's House is likely to follow
> > >>on.<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; Staying in education, living off small research
> > >>studentships and so on<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; has (perhaps perhaps) supplanted the dole as one way
> > >>to develop a<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; writing practice in the largely commercially
> > >>non-viable worlds of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; contemporary poetry (given rare exceptions). There are
> > >>real problems<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; too. One is that writing can become too pedagogically
> > >>inclined, writing<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; what students might usefully study as example. Another
> > >>is that of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; getting sucked into teaching without ever having much
> > >>experience of<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; outside, in other words skipping that vital phase of
> > >>resistance and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; struggle, developing a practice outside the
> > >>institutions. I've<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; certainly witnessed examples like that in the US in
> > >>recent months and<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; maybe that produces the efficient and yet smug poetry
> > >>that you might be<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; trying to get at?<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt;<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; love and love<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; &gt; &gt; cris<br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; <br>
> > >>
> > >><dd>&gt; </blockquote>
> > >></dl></blockquote></body>
> > >></html>
> > >>
> > >>--=====================_6854281==.ALT--
> >

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