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Friday Finds for Writers

Treasure ChestWriting-related resources, news, and reflections to enjoy over the weekend.

  • Looking for some good essays to read? Check out this list for some source recommendations. (h/t Brevity blog)
  • In keeping with my interest in and appreciation for “writing on writing,” I point you to Daniel Bosch’s poem “Call for Submission” on the NewPages blog.
  • An analysis of President Obama’s recent book purchases.
  • A video visit with fiction writer George Saunders, on the campus of Syracuse University, where he teaches.
  • Some interesting career-oriented items crossed my screen this week. First, this New York Times piece describes “the real humanities crisis” as the circumstances that prevent artists and writers from practicing their craft. Then, of special interest to me as a writer with a full-time, non-teaching job in a university, this Inside Higher Ed column takes a closer look at “alt-ac” careers.
  • Have a great weekend, everyone.

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    4 Responses »

    1. Gary Gutting’s essay touches only on surface problems in the field of humanities (which includes history, by the way) and his “specific suggestions” are pointless considering the nonresponsive hiring and funding components of organizations such as universities and legislatures. He is correct in noting the plight of the Minnesota symphony and others nationwide that operate at the brink of fiscal disaster. Suggesting that 10% be given to the musicians is an unrealistic pipe dream, because the Minnesota legislature is one of many interested in athletics rather than the symphony. Patrons in the balcony of the ballet do not paint their faces and fight outside the concert hall for the chance to buy tickets; nor do adjunct teachers in the humanities receive proper benefits or appreciation for the work they do to benefit their institutions. Instead, their research is stolen, they are patronized and underpaid, and used as scullery workers so that the athletic departments can continue to attract sports enthusiasts willing to pay big bucks at the cost to the enrichment of future generations.

      • Sandra, I happen to agree with you that the suggestions are idealistic (at best). What I appreciated in his essay was a somewhat more nuanced discussion of the types of employment available (or not) to artists/writers, and how those options are likely to affect artistic productivity. For example:

        “Teaching should be an obvious solution for many humanities majors. But secure and well-paying tenure-track jobs are disappearing, with at least half of college teachers now part-time adjuncts, many of whom, even when they combine several academic jobs, fail to make a living wage. As for non-college teaching, the sad state of so many of our K-12 schools — with their unprepared and undisciplined students, overcrowding, lack of funding and obtuse, test-obsessed bureaucracies — make teaching there a path to frustration and burnout.

        The situation is even worse for those who want to produce the literary, musical and artistic works that sustain our humanistic culture. Even highly gifted and relatively successful writers, artists and musicians generally are not able earn a living from their talents. The very few who become superstars are very well rewarded. But almost all the others — poets, novelists, actors, singers, artists — must either have a partner whose income supports them or a “day job” to pay the bills. Even writers who are regularly published by major houses or win major prizes cannot always live on their earnings.”

        I thought that this was noteworthy.

    2. “Call for Submissions” is a good, fun poem. Thanks so much for sharing it here (I would not have found the piece on my own — as is often the case with your valuable links).

      Thank you.

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