Monday, January 26, 2015

What Pop Writing Looks Like

At NEW POP LIT we’re on an ongoing search for models of Pop Lit—the story, poem, or novel which combines the attributes of pop with relevance and meaning.

At our web site we have three examples of these attempts.

First is an essay by my co-editor, Andrea Nolen, titled “How to Tell Stories to Children.” Andrea looks at the reading experience, and why understanding it is important if we’re to renew literature.

Then we have our current story, “Talkin Muhlenberg County Blues,” whose author, “Fishspit,” demonstrates how to create a narrative line.

Last we have my own very different pop story, “Press Conference,” an excerpt from my e-novel The Tower. In the book I aimed first for readability, while at the same time trying to capture the moment. It’s about an NFL press conference.

We want others to tell us what Pop Lit should look like. Or send us examples!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Death of an Underground Writer

Lisa Falour

I just received word yesterday about the death of underground writer and artist Lisa B. Falour. She was famed as “Bikini Girl” of the 1980’s. Later was a member of the Underground Literary Alliance in its heyday. Lisa had problems with a small press publisher taking advantage of her. Changing her work without her permission and not paying her. One of the ULA’s successes was obtaining a payment from said publisher for her, after some lobbying. I’d been invited several times to visit her and her husband in Paris, but never raised the money or time off for such a journey.

Lisa’s work defined edgy writing. By all accounts she was an edgy personality. RIP, Lisa.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Lost Essays

A WORRY common among all writers is whether any of his/her writing will survive the step out of this world. Part of the writing impulse no doubt is a desire to leave the shred of a record behind. A marker that we were here, and tried to make a difference.

Some of my best writing is not available on line. Chief among the lot is a long essay I wrote way back in 1994 for the prestigious literary journal North American Review. The essay was titled, “Detroit: Among the Lower Classes.” Though I have yet to find an archived copy anywhere, I do know of an essay about Detroit which references my piece, and has some flattering things to say about it.

I discuss that essay on another blog, here:


I did manage to discover the text of a much shorter and lesser piece I wrote in 2011 for the iNewp website, which seems to no longer exist. That essay, “A Tale of Two Literary Worlds,” is linked to the left, under Fun Stuff, if you care to take a look.

The trials of being an underground writer!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Two Literary Worlds


Our friend Keith Gessen at New York’s most chic literary journal, n+1, has been on a campaign of late identifying his journal with the downtrodden. See this post at NEW POP LIT’s Interactive blog:

Was this posture a result of an essay I wrote back in 2011 or so, at the now-defunct “Voice of Anyone” iNewp website, about the defunct Underground Literary Alliance? The essay was titled “A Tale of Two Literary Worlds,” contrasting the fate of two literary groups; one at the center of the literary establishment, with all that entails, and one not.

Keith Gessen misses not having the street cred of a bottom-up, populist literary organization. One not so highly placed; not backed by the rich and the powerful. He generously wishes to change places with a fledgling outfit—to go from top to bottom, and allow someone else to move to the forefront.

You know what? We at NEW POP LIT are going to do everything in our power to help Gessen accomplish this goal!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy 2015


Will 2015 be the year American literature is finally reinvigorated; made relevant again to the American people? Some of us keep trying! Join the campaign. Much will be happening at New Pop Lit particularly. (Right now you can see who we nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Read the stories and see what you think.)

(NOTE: The photo is NOT a collection of New Pop Lit writers!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What’s Wrong with this Picture?


WE at New Pop Lit ( received a tweet Tuesday from n+1 magazine leader Keith Gessen. The tweet was in response to a question we asked publicly, as to whether n+1 could be said to be “oligarch-backed.” Granted, that phrase might be exaggerating the situation—but only slightly. If media moguls are nice guys, and parents of your officially listed editor, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not oligarchs!

In his tweet, Gessen pleaded poverty. They’re a “nonprofit” (the word “nonprofit” having magical qualities). They’re mostly volunteers, struggling, none of them has any money; it’s all very bleak. A situation with which I can easily identify! Reading the tweet, in fact, I became quite concerned. I expected to run into the n+1 people when turning a corner here in Detroit, the lot of them squatting in rags on the sidewalk holding cardboard signs—Keith, Dayna, everybody—the signs saying “Please help me!” I thought, “What can we at New Pop Lit do to help these beaten-down writers?” A joint presentation?

Then I caught myself and asked myself a few questions. I outlined in my head a few facts and certainties.

Among them, that the n+1 staff consists of the so-called best and brightest. All are from Harvard, Brown, Columbia, and the like. They have access to the so-called best writers in the nation; bonded and branded, well-awarded and certified. Many of them published by the Big Five. n+1’s advisors include some of the shrewdest business people on the planet, including, as I mentioned, a big-time media mogul, as well as two of the publishing world’s most successful literary agents.

On top of this, for ten years n+1 has received more and better publicity than any literary journal in the country—including the McSweeney’s machine—always positive; in the most prestigious and widely-read newspapers and magazines. World-respected newspapers and magazines. Among them, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the Washington Post, the New York Times. And many, many smaller outlets. People love a designated winner. n+1 has received publicity and promotion that ANY business in any field could only dream of, much of it coming from the very center of media empire, New York City, n+1’s home base.

In short, everything has gone their way.

And they’re still not making it?

An intelligent person involved with a more modest project would try to learn from their mistakes. Would analyze the situation. During that analysis, I come up with three possible reasons for n+1’s unhappy plight. Feel free to tell me which one you believe is most, er, on the money.

A.) A bad product.

B.) Flawed thinking.

C.) On the wrong side of literary history.