Wednesday, March 15, 2006

American Literature Today: Aristocrats or the Street?

WHAT WE HAVE with the April 17th fake "Howl" reading at Columbia University is a small clique of Insider poets and writers exhibiting their privilege. If "poetry" is that which exists inside the academy, then as an art form it's dead.

Fortunately, it's alive and healthy outside the walls. The posers and professors know this, which is why they embrace long-ago outsider poet Allen Ginsberg (and his outsider period) as a way to bolster their scant credibility.

How does their sham continue? Because of literary enablers. Because of a large flock of sheep whose brains are so stunted by academy "training" they're incapable of considering action, much less taking it. They slavishly regurgitate their schooling in snobby imitation of the aristocrats and bureaucrats. They're not poets-- not flesh and blood human beings-- are bloodless anonymous mechanical robots, continuing eternally on-line the same irrelevant discussions from their days pursuing graduate degrees.

Discuss, discuss, discuss-- the same tired points-of-view, no new perspectives seen; never an impetus or urgency for change. Cultural revolution isn't made by such people.

The struggle of writers in this country is not something to which they can relate. Either they've never struggled themselves-- never suffered or starved for their art-- or they're not really writers. Literature for them isn't an obsession which possesses their souls and minds (as art has been for the greats); is instead a career or a hobby; something to do with their time. Do they care if the state of the art is terrible? Does it matter to them if they raise literature's role in this country? Not really. Change to them is an academic question to be discussed academically, detached from the populace and the larger society.

Give me passionate writers! That's what we want in the ULA. It's what we've brought into our ranks time after time. A few years ago we conducted a ULA Survey. The first question asked writers to rate the importance of literature in their lives on a scale of 1 to 10. ULAers invariably answered with at least an 8. Many said 10. Establishment writers and their demi-puppet followers who responded by contrast seldom gave as answer more than a 5.

There are two questions now to answer.
1.) Is literature worth changing?
2.) How far are you prepared to go to change it?

The ULA exists as an activist organization. It's why we were created. We're here to inject energy into a moribund lit scene. We bring with us voices and change. Watch out! We're coming your way.

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