Archive for the ‘Screed’ Category


Bat Terrier, like most writers, is a big believer in libraries, so Robert Darnton‘s idea of a national digital library seems like a Very Good Thing Indeed. (For more details, see this post.) A national digital library, as Darnton envisions it, would make freely available via the Internet virtually all of the books and other documents now held by America’s best research libraries. There are hurdles, of course, primarily legal, but the cost is surprisingly cheap, compared, say, to the costs of maintaining a war. Well worth thinking about as we muddle onward. More detail and discussion here.

Ezra Pound Great Modernist Poet Wanted

–Must write the most ambitious, technically accomplished long poem of twentieth century.
–Must edit The Waste Land into masterpiece.
–Must pick Joyce, Eliot, Hemingway, H. D. and Williams as winners when everyone else thinks they’re losers.


— Must not publicly support MussoliniItalian Fascism, or other dreadful politics
— Must especially not broadcast over the radio for the enemy during wartime
— O do not, do not, get yourself charged with treason
— And finally, please, please, do not get yourself declared insane and spend twelve years in an asylum
— Etc.


See Harper’s Magazine online for a gracious little feature on John Keats’ great poem, “Ode to Autumn.”

(So touching to see again the image of the poem written in his own hand.)

No mention, of course, of the poem’s real tragedy: “Autumn” was Keats’ last major work. He was broke, financially unable to continue writing poetry as a primary occupation, and already ill with the TB that would kill him in two years, at 26.

Keats mentioned none of that.  He simply sat down and wrote out, in 33 lines, the best short poem ever written in English. And mentioned everything.

How does artistic innovation happen? A good  guess is that it happens the way most innovation happens, from within what cognitive anthropologists Jean Lave and Etienne Wegner call “communities of practice.” That is, innovation may not be due to the isolated Rodinesque savant, but to changes in the concepts shared by the ad hoc, marginal, often fugitive groups to which the artist belongs. The group in effect shares a fantasy about how art works and then experiments on the basis of that fantasy. Power scoffs at these trivialities, of course, but in truth Art’s little riverings outlast Power’s monuments.

An interesting piece on MFAs. (See The Rumpus, Annelise Chen. )

Having been both pro- and anti-MFA in the same lifetime, even while enduring/barbaricyawping an MFA at a Famous MFA Place, the Bat Terrier found that often Chen’s prose seemed like a fingernail plucking at Ye Olde Crusty Wounde. Why does an MFA in Creative Writing, unlike, say, a Master’s degree in, who knows, Communications or Accounting, hurt so damned much?

Takeaways: The MFA may turn you into a creaky machine-human, perhaps like the Tin Man. Do not go into debt to be made into a Tin Man.