Thursday, July 21, 2011

Saving American Writers


The fate of Eric aka Jellyboy-- and as much or moreso of poet Frank D. Walsh-- illustrates the need for ways to protect and defend American underground writers, and to archive their work.

Most mainstream writers won't acknowledge that the underground variety even exists as a unique type. System writers come from, or are co-opted into, a narrow world, and insist that their bounded space is all there is.

Standard writer organizations, such as PEN American Center, are elitist and privileged, solely unto themselves, and so for our purposes are useless.

I'd love to be proven wrong about that, but don't think it will happen.

One path is to outcompete the mainstream. Extremely difficult given the circumstances, but not impossible.

Another way is to do some of the things a one-time underground writers group engaged in, including advocacy and the exposing of system corruption. As we've seen, at least some writing has been saved; the fact, the existence, the histories of a few great American folk writers recorded.

At the moment my first task is to save myself!

You can aid in this by purchasing Ten Pop Stories for 99 cents at:

Amazon's Kindle store at

or as a Nook Book at

1 comment:

JeffOYB said...

There are lots of points of entry for undergrounders to strike at. Academia and establishment reviews still seem worth chipping away at.

I'm outta the loop, but zines were being included in a few curricula the last I heard. I don't know how they're doing today.

Man, the zine wave of the 90's was really something. Thinking of the plight of the undergrounder -- they were ignored/trivialized then but they made great work. It won't be forgotten. There was some great art made and it's out there. Writing-plus-art-plus-printing = wonderful stuff. It'll be remembered. Sadly, it might also be de-fanged, but it'll endure. Zining was truly a big part of the best of the 90's.

Heck, I think the zine idea turned into the web. A bold assertion but worth making. Might help keep the zine idea alive. Of course the web has since made huge impacts. But it still isn't everything.

But what about the artists? Some arts have made good progress, but writers languish.

There are a few underground writer websites, meant for other writers. How much do they really interact there?

What was so cool about zines was that a good one might've only sold in the hundreds of copies, but it sold in dozens of kinds of places to dozens of kinds of readers -- neighborhood, newstands, in reviews, to a subscriber list, globally. The Web is easily too inbred, especially regarding writing.

Hopefully Kindle, Nook, et al, can help the writers. I'm all-in!

(ps: I just heard about a new annual $150k writer prize. It is funded by a writer who was neglected himself, who was part of a once-alienated caste. I didn't even speak up. I even know people involved with it. It just seems like there's no hope that a writer in need will ever get any of that money. Every year it'll go to a professor as part of his/her funding/grants/salary portfolio. There's a slim chance it'll go to a pre-approved minority who is halfway up the ramp into professorship. To suggest any other option would call into question the values of everyone involved.)