Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Federal Writers Project should make a comeback...

...if this was the kind of project the Feds were funding in the 30's under FDR. Mark Kurlasky's book The Food of Younger Land, on writers sojourning like Henry Stanley in Africa is reviewed in Slate.

So what are your thoughts--specifically on the book, or Laura Shapiro's review...or the WPA's 1930s version of a cultural "stimulus" plan...or whether we need one now?


Anonymous said...

It would probably be the cheapest and most cost effective bail out thus far. A writer could do well on just 20 large in a year, and for that, he or she could chronicle the USA or write an epic poem.

What will GM or some bank which isnt lending average people money money anyway do?

Monica said...

Being able to write is payment or reward. I don't feel that it's a government's responsibility to pay artists to create. Here's an idea for aspiring or out of work writers, get a damn job and write during your free time.

Having writers go out, actually build relationships people outside of their MFA workshop class will definitely result in a cultural renaissance. I’m beginning to wonder how much more richly textured artistic output would be if writers did something other than write. Let’s face it, most struggling writers are highly educated products of bourgeois households who have only seen life though the spectrum of their insulated experience. Most writing out there really isn’t interesting.

Here’s an idea, if you want to write a travelogue, work for a couple of years, save and take a year off to do your thing. The mind-numbing drudgery of working in a factory or in some greige cube will definitely increase your productivity in personal projects.

Max Reddick said...

My wife recently mentioned a project like this to me. I think it's a wonderful idea. In a recession, it's always the artists who are first to begin starving. Not only that, there is a chance to tell stories that might otherwise not get told. The first WPA project allowed rural African Americans who might have otherwise died anonymous a chance to have their voice heard.

Mike Licht said...

If I am not mistaken, The WPA Guide to Washington D.C. was heavily censored in its first edition, with "radical" passages describing institutionalized racism omitted. The material was restored in subsequent editions.

Ananda said...

I think this would be a wonderful idea. America needs to affirm artists, writers, and creative folks more.

Anonymous said...

I love you Nat!

Christopher Chambers said...

Nat loves you, too!

Andrea said...

Thanks, Max Reddick. Thanks for speaking up for my people (and Black Heritage collective roots in this country foremost) in the rural South. So many people don't understand that the only people being heard or taken seriously these days are hybrids of suburban living, inner-city and metropolitan class striving, or the socio-engineered biracials. The people of the South are out-of-style and have been usurped.

I don't really think that many in the South still have compelling voices because there has been a 40 year brain-drain to bounce creative energies and intellectual tennis-matching. But there are still vital voices in rural places and of poor people who have been left behind the technological revolution.

That's why so many that don't know their roots are speaking for us. They were born with the advantages of upward mobility and to know how to interlope class and attain education. That does not mean that poor, rural folks are void of the temerity or lack stamina. I think they lack the connections to develope because the brain-dreain left them with those that don't care to as their companions in citizenry.

Still social developments occur as continued unfinished business relevant to our entire existent in more metropolitan cities.

But those alive now don't see the importance in those left behind n rural places because they have no social capital or political campaign they can use. There is no futility in sending your children to post-agrarian places. Or rather people think it is a worthless experience.

That part of our heritage will shortly no longer have first-accounts of anything rich unless you think chronicling the Black Hipster mindset is a treasure.

I am happy someone speaks about the (lack of) visibility and awareness for those left behind in rural places. These young people today will think their heritage began at gateways of elitism that allowed them in--not the rural parts of country or the disenfranchised places of the world.

Those that have the microphones don't know those overlooked niches of America that are very valuable. They only want to know them when it is time to engage in the Disneyfied tourism of Black Heritage on leisure tours.