From the July Harper's comes further proof that the Underground Literary Alliance has won the debate over literature, in Lynn Freed's confession, "Doing Time: My years in the creative writing gulag," in which she admits that the philosophy of MFA programs is bankrupt.
Freed: "--I feel like a fraud. Week after week in come their stories . . . some rewritten so many times and under the aegis of so many different workshops that the writer himself has lost all sense of the authenticity of the piece."
Doesn't this sound like ULA ideas?
Freed: "--to my mind, writing cannot be taught. That workshops can be dangerous . . . That unless the student plans to spend his life moving from workshop to workshop, he will need to be able to rely on his own ear. And that if he does move from workshop to workshop, he is doomed to lose his sense of hearing anyway."
Well, Lynn Freed, long-time writing instructor, welcome to the fight-- one which members of the ULA were engaged in before we joined forces; a fight which Jack Saunders has been engaged in long prior to that.
Freed's essay is admirably honest. But something is missing. There should be more. Her name sounds familiar to me. Has she taught at the most cronyistic and corrupt writing program of them all, the one at Bennington College? I think so. Was she there the summer day in 1995 when issue #28 of my New Philistine literary newsletter was publicly destroyed? At the least, I know I "bombarded" Freed at some point afterward with my zeens and promo material. She's been aware for some time that ideas contrary to the workshop ethos were out there. Finally, in 2005, she's converted to them.
May Lynn Freed be one of a flood of converts away from a system and ideology that have fossilized literature and removed it from the public. Such individuals freeing their brains are the sign of the onward rush of ULA ideas.
Kudos to Harper's for at last partially recognizing the future. Maybe there's hope for the magazine after all.
The ULA's winning ideas will take tangible form on July 16th at our Medusa event in Philadelphia. Jack Saunders, among other writers of unquestioned authenticity, will be there. You should be too.