Tuesday, September 07, 2010


SOME of the assumptions in the current issue of Poets & Writers magazine reveal the distorted thinking process of those who blindly support MFA programs. I don't include the magazine in that category, by the way-- I mean, not the "blindly" part. P&W supports MFA programs for one sound reason: That's where their ad dollars come from. The scam process, the mythology involved, sustains not only the university programs and attendant instructors. It also supports THEM.

Perhaps the most misguided individual of them all is Seth Abramson--
who writes about the rankings; rankings which despite his noise about transparency etc. act in practice at keeping the "writer" suckers involved.

Two points:
-Abramson refers to MFA programs as artistic "patronage." Patronage? Who's paying whom? Writers are going heavily into debt, for what? Scroll down on Seth's blog a bit and you'll find a host of disclaimers about the programs. Among them, clearly, is the admission that the programs are a waste of time and money, unless the goal is nothing more than bourgie self-expression.
-Abramson refers to the MFA "revolution." Yet, nothing is being turned on its head. MFA programs are a continuing trend. There's nothing revolutionary about them. They encourage not rebellion or innovation, but the status quo. More of the same.

The result? The American short story, once a thriving, popular art, is all but dead, economically and artistically. (See my page about literary stories under "Fun Stuff," at the upper left part of this blog.)

I've found MFA writers to be incredibly gullible. My experience in half-a-dozen forays onto HTML Giant, for instance-- whose participants were thrown by the very idea that a writer WOULDN'T have an MFA-- is that MFAers, for the most part, think slowly, question nothing, and are unable to sustain an argument. A harsh assessment but an accurate one.

1 comment:

King Wenclas said...

Note Seth's response to a comment I made at his blog. He restricts the matter to POETRY-- when clearly what I'm talking about is the sad fate of the American short story.
The poetry scene IS fairly healthy today-- outside the academy. Academic poetry, of the kind which appears in standard university lit journals, is terrible. Anyone who attends an academic reading, and compares it to "street" open mics, can immediately see the difference.
All one has to do, though, is read Seth's main post regarding writing programs to see the mentality at work with the professionalization of lit, and how it deforms literature. Look at the language! This is the apparatchik mentality.