been away from blogworld for a minute, but have been thoroughly entertained by all the discussion about seth abramson’s for-profit ALC and the MFA industrial complex in general. one friend emailed me and asked: “how can you stand to read any of the dribble that seth writes on his blog or in comment boxes defending ALC?”
now friends, let’s be fair, seth doesn’t write dribble (tho he was a defense attorney, so his defensiveness is only natural). no no, seth quite skillfully blog-comments in a style that the ancient greek rhetoricians called “dumbsiopesis”–that is, you write 10,000 words of convoluted logic to only end up saying something dumb. a rare rhetorical device, but one that seth has mastered (unlike this here blog where it only takes me a few sentences to say something dumb).
it would be fun (tho too time consuming) to take apart most of his defenses, but like silliman, i have a soft spot for defense attorneys, so i’ll go easy and just focus on one thing he wrote, which segments nicely to the main point of this post.
on the advertising-blog for the creative writing handbook, seth writes in a comment (you can read the whole rather entertaining thread here):
I know that, pre-MFA, nearly every single MFA applicant in the country takes advantage of some resource or another–some free, some for-fee–to get feedback on their work. If it was easy to get free feedback, and/or if free feedback was synonymous with high-quality feedback, ALC wouldn’t exist.
let’s be clear, ALC exists because the founders want to make money. if they didnt exist merely for profit, they would instead have fulfilled the perceived lack of for-free feedback. for example, they could’ve rounded up all the talented Iowa alum and created a non-profit called ‘IWAMN’ (‘Iowa Writers Alumni Mentorship Network’), which would provide free advice to MFA applicants and free portfolio reviews–connecting writers to possible mentors. clearly, ALC only exists because the founders werent interested in creating something based on community.
in a previous post, i asked why ALC is for-profit and ACENTOS FOUNDATION is for-free? the answer: one group is more concerned about Po-Bizz and the other is more concerned about Po-Comm. Money vs. Community.
a few of us here in the Bay Area have decided to take a first step towards expressing the spirit of community to those in the bay area who are interested in applying to an MFA or to other kinds of writing programs. here is the official announcement, from barbara jane reyes’ blog:
I’ve been in a series of emails with Oscar and Craig, especially after the latest MFA Industrial Complex round of blog posts. We’ve decided to do a joint event between PAWA and Achiote Press for emerging writers of color interested in learning about community and college writing programs.
The event will take place at SFPL on 12/06/09, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. A formal announcement is forthcoming.
- Part I: Panelists will speak on their experiences as writers of color in community writing programs such as VONA, KSW Intergenerational Writers’ Lab, Kundiman, Cave Canem.
- Part II: Panelists will speak on their experiences as writers of color in their respective MFA programs, the application process, the benefits and challenges of pursuing the MFA degree.
- Part III: An extensive Q&A.
yes, this event is free. because we know there are many writers out there (many of them being young writers of color) who can’t afford for-profit services but who desire mentoring nonetheless (mentors are different than consultants). in addition, we believe that those of us with the privilege of having gone thru either MFA or community programs should help others who desire to get into these programs–for free, for community.
everyone, let’s support efforts in the poetry world that value community over profit, mentorship over consultation, support over competition.
and let’s warn against & shame those who don’t.