Many writers still believe the entire MFA system of expensive degrees, seminars, conferences, retreats, grants, awards, agents, etc., can be saved, only improved on the margins a bit. This is nonsense! The system has failed writers. It's failed literature. It needs to be junked. Modest repairs to a crumbling structure of corruption won't cut it. Best to blow up the tottering tower of elitism and start over.
Even the most laudable of the new literary activists-- MobyLives, say-- are moderates reluctant to cut loose from the status quo. Some time ago I sent MobyLives a copy of Phillip Routh's Camellia City, and urged him to read it. The Routh novel strongly criticizes the present system of finding and creating writers. MobyLives wouldn't read it-- practically refused to-- as if afraid of its words. Only later did it dawn on me that Dennis himself was a "literary" writer, product of the system. He and his mouthpiece (alter ego?) B.R. Myers criticize the type of literary art the system hands us, while leaving the foundations of that system untouched. They don't examine too closely the rusted machine of literature, or draw up a different blueprint.
History shows us-- with Lafayette; with Kerensky; with Gorbachev-- that moderates who try to fix a broken machine inevitably fail. The design is too flawed, and the parts which keep the machine barely operating are worn.
The ULA is eager to work with other writers and lit-groups, but will do so without abandoning our principles. Those who wish to work with us have to leave their snobbery and their old suitcases of failed ideas at the door.
We're creating an entirely new, more democratic kind of literary machine, starting over from the beginning. To do things this way is a hard process. We'll take occasional steps backward. Ours will be no easy success. But what we build will serve the writer and artist, instead of the reverse. It will leave us with a literature more responsive and relevant to the public because it will be of that public, with as few layers of mediation, professionalization, and hierarchy as possible.
(Those who don't like the ULA way should instead purchase for $14.99 a book from Writers Digest, Some Writers Deserve to Starve, an apology for the corrupt lit-system by lit-idiot and WD shill Elaura Niles. I would subtitle the book "How to Be a Demi-Puppet.")