Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Naming Names?

I respect and applaud much of what Foetry stands for and is doing. At the same time, I've been looking on their site for who they ARE, and can't find a name.

The strength of the ULA is that we've stood behind our attacks with our names (and in person)-- put our asses on the line from the very beginning, notably with our Protest against the Rick Moody Guggenheim award. (Our petition was signed by around 40 print-undergrounders-- but not one of 300 established lit people we sent it to.) The six ULA founders crossed the Rubicon when we signed it. It was a daring, unprecedented moment in American literature.

When one attacks a System, and its leaders by name, then putting your own out there seems necessary to have credibility. It's been the way of writers from Zola to Solzhenitsyn.

From the outset I've made myself available to anyone-- Eggers, Moody or any of their friends can come to Philly and meet me for a beer if they want. We've discussed and debated the ULA campaign in every kind of public venue-- have never hid from anyone.

The Foetry people-- whoever they are-- have questioned why Adam Hardin is in the Underground Literary Alliance.

First, he's supported what we're doing, publicly putting his name behind our campaign.

He's written public letters and Monday Reports for us.

He's a person of subversive thought; a born activist. My only worry is that we'll have to restrain him.

Lastly, he has real promise as a writer. I think he'll be a good one.

That some of his taste in literature is different from mine means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The ULA is not a monolith. There is no orthodoxy-- though some types of writers have to go further and wait longer to prove themselves to us. (So far we have only one Ivy Leaguer on board.)

We're always on the lookout for talented literary activists-- provided they exist, have identities, are not just Internet ghosts.


Adam Hardin said...

I have seen nothing like the fear new writers have of being blacklisted in the literary world. It is so small and incestuous, that the possibility is quite real.

This also carries over into censorship in that young writers do not want to tackle difficult issues of the day for fear of offending people. Young writers "learn" to write empty, dreamy, non-offensive irrelevant white-washed stuff, and then they are told that it is good because it is exactly like what the other writers write.

Foetry is a good tool, but the ULA is the entire movement.

Alan Cordle said...

You say, "The Foetry people-- whoever they are-- have questioned why Adam Hardin is in the Underground Literary Alliance."

Let's distinguish between the Foetry Admins and Foetry Forum members. Foetry (us) has never questioned why Adam is in the ULA. There is a small group of poetasters actively trying to identify the Foetry founders and some of the forum members.

As Adam says, and for poets in particular, the only reason to unmask us is to blacklist us. Standing up to fiction/nonfiction writers with your actual names is admirable, but it's not practical in the poetry world until things change.

While we share some philosophical views with the ULA, wouldn't it be better to unite rather than divide our two groups?

King said...

??? Unite with who? WHO are you?
(For all I know you're Jon Franzen or Dave Eggers.)
The flimsy and charlatan-filled poetry world looks to me nothing to be afraid of-- unless you're interested in sticking to "the rules" and playing the same-old game.

Anonymous said...

Adam Hardin has always been on the up and up. I admire him for his bluntness and for using his real names. He shows he has nothing to hide, unlike others at Foetry. The identities are slowly trickling out and what do we learn? That it's all sour grapes and bellyaching by more privileged Ivy Leaguer's and MFAers. Those who played the silly game and are scratching their heads wondering why they're not famous yet. People like Steve Barron from Columbia (aka Mallie at Foetry) and people like Kevin Goulding (Monday Love at Foetry) Iowa attendee and used-car-salesman extraordinaire.)

The ULA are from the streets and the workplaces, not crybabies firmly ensconced in a system they claim to hate, unlike the hypocrites of Foetry.

Jason Ochs

- Leopold said...

I'd argue that if you want to make change, you have to commit to it. Criticizing the industry while hiding your identity either means you are part of the industry, or already somewhat invested in it. What kind of change can you make when you are wedded to an industry that will blacklist you for trying to speak out?

I don't really know much about Foetry, but I don't see any big battle brewing between the ULA and Foetry. King's critique wasn't particularly agressive, he was merely and fairly explaining the ULA's decision in the light of somebody questioning it. It's good of you to point out the destinction between foetry members and posters, as not everyone who posts on this blog is a ULA member either.

I agree we share similar interests in this case and we both have better people to pick fights with, but I think King has a valid point about identities. The industry isn't going to publish us anyway. Why pull punches?

King said...

What I've wanted to do is treat our opponents fairly-- even the likes of Eggers and Moody. I think anyone deserves to know the identity of their accusers-- this is a basic principle of western civilization. To do otherwise is to create secret "Star Chambers" of mysterious personages floating charges around to which THEY CAN NEVER BE HELD THEMSELVES accountable. The idea to me is distasteful.
As we saw a year ago, when the Amazon anonymous poster scandal broke in the NY Times, it was Eggers and Franzen who were revealed to be lurking anonymously, while the ULA's insistence on using consistent identities retained our reputation.
I've paid a price for going public-- including severing friendsips of a sort with Tom Beller and Mary Gaitskill, and communications with Franzen and others. I COULD'VE become a minor player in the lit-establishment game (as Plimpton wanted when I was doing New Philistine), but it would've defanged me-- turned me into as harmless a pet as all the many of them we see being published in acceptable lit journals and papers.
That doesn't mention the storm of hate mail, crank phone calls, and the like I received when the ULA first broke on the scene. . . .
But, it comes with the territory if you want to make real change.

Jimmy said...

Another reason to out you is to hold you accountable. And another reason is because it's fun.

No one remains anonymous forever. Enjoy it while it lasts. Most of you don't need the anonymity and need not fear blacklisting: you're nobodies published nowhere.


Jimmy said...

Behrle that is.

Anonymous said...

Mr. King, after going over to the Fotry site, I think you may have misspoken. Foetry is not a "tool." Rather, the people at Foetry are "tools."

Fight the good fight--at least you have guts to say who you are.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe what they're saying about the ULA over at, King.

Adam Hardin said...

Do not let the Anonymous posters play the adolescent game of trying to get the ULA against foetry. Both are against the establishment. Both are good organizations.

Any comments at foetry about the ULA are by the establishment poetry thumbsuckers. Jim Behrle is one. He does not have to fear about being anonymous.

If we put publication of poetry into perspective, no one is really published except the major poets like Bukowski, and Dickinson, and Anne Carson.The rest essentially start up "Academic Presses" and publish 250 copies of their friends work, and thus their friend is published often by ripping off the public illegally. But if I go down to the Print store and pay $2,000 dollars to publish 250 copies of my work, I am not "published." Notice I said publish, because they actually sell about 50 copies each.

I am a novelist, and I am working more towards the other prose side of things, because the novel is more powerful than the poem. No offense.

Adam Hardin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff Potter said...

Adam says $2K, but it may well only cost about $700 to publish 250 nice paperbacks. This is the kind of cheap pricing that helped launch zining. (Saddlestitch it instead and color your own covers and it's $300 for a lot of pages.) Take publishing into your own hands then see what people think of it. Send it out, get feedback, do it again. This method quickly builds from quality. Of course it's not well-connected to establishment, but newstands and some stores are open to it. A winner using this method is hard to deny. They have their art. They get their word out. Of course it doesn't help them get that academic job.

The anonymous do have something to lose. Their arts have been professionalized. There's no more living, breathing give'n'take, rough'n'tumble. They can't publicly question the arts without losing what little they have. As the ULA grows we'll get more info from insiders---but it will often be anon and thus not trustworthy. It'll need laborious doublechecking, etc.

A hilarious thing is what they use their secrecy for! Anything big? Ha! They peck each other.

The thing is that we WON'T NEED IT MUCH LONGER!!! The establishment arts scene is so easy to outstrip and leave in the dust. Who has time to look back and down? Our goal is not to clean up a scene of henpeckers and small office politics. We aim big and out there to readers and those who don't know they're readers yet.

- Leopold said...

Adam Hardin said:

I am a novelist, and I am working more towards the other prose side of things, because the novel is more powerful than the poem. No offense.

- Interesting to hear you say this. I'm not offended in the least. I have been solely a fiction writer for a good ten years, but I've started getting into poetry and am slowly feeling the opposite of you, that (good) poetry is more powerful than a novel.

Anonymous said...

I've made no comments about ULA at or anyplace else. I have no opinion of and know very little about ULA.

Be well,
Jim Behrle