In many ways the literary underground is stronger than it's ever been, with two organizations now carrying, in different ways, the message of change. (I have tangential relations with the more historic organization; no relations with the other.)
The dilemma remains what it's always been, for the two main groups and for the many stray actors like myself who operate largely outside them. That is: Marketing. How do you let people know on a large scale what we're doing? How does our kind of writer stand out against monster publishing companies with huge resources, or scores of small presses with SOME resources, or many hundreds of other writers groups with their own lit-journals or books or web sites?
Few people in either underground group will acknowledge that I solved the problem. The solution involves paying the price in getting the word out. This means, STANDING OUT from the literary mainstream in every way possible-- in ideas, products, actions, attitude, and energy. (Ideas first.) This was accomplished when I was active in the ULA. As contention was the cutting edge of the campaign, the strategy was not for the squeamish! At the outset in 2000 I quoted a pioneer slogan I'd seen once on the historic Oregon Trail: "The weak didn't make it. The timid never set out."
ONLY if we represented the most kickass balls-to-the-wall writers ever seen did the campaign have a chance to accomplish its goals. We were that! For a time we were.
Our most exciting action-- the KGB Crash-- was also the most notorious. It also created the greatest buzz, sending shock waves through New York which put our movement on the map. Should we have not done it?
I know what WON'T work. That's to refuse to stand out. To refuse to criticize the Overdog competition. To neglect to differentiate ourselves from other writers. (Indeed, we have to be not writers but zeensters, taking writing to another level.)
If, for instance, we refuse to write "negative" reviews about competitors as a way to say, "We're better!" then we may as well take every Marketing 101 book and every text written on the subject and toss it into a dumpster, and admit we're idiots.
The question comes down to whether you're a serious player, or just playing around.
See www.happyamericaliterature. blogspot.com for more underground thoughts-- and watch for my latest poem going up soon on my "Happy Writing" blog.