Literary talent & power & elitism

So this is just a random, not-really-class-related blog post, because I’ve been following a conversation online today regarding a former MFA program instructor and the responses that his article has generated.  My blog on Brandt and Heath is just below this one.

So this is the first article, by Ryan Boudinot, wherein he basically stands behind the elitist idea that some writers are born Talented, and others Aren’t and shouldn’t try already.  Here it is: http://www.thestranger.com/books/features/2015/02/27/21792750/things-i-can-say-about-mfa-writing-programs-now-that-i-no-longer-teach-in-one

This produced a couple of different responses, which for me are the interesting part of the conversation.  Foz Meadows (an author in her own right) responded, and had this great observation:

“By conflating a ‘lifelong intimacy with language’ with a childhood spent reading, Boudinot is not only doing a grave disservice to oral storytelling, but is actively insulting every literary adult who learned to read late, or who struggled with dyslexia in childhood, or whose love of reading was otherwise delayed for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with their appreciation of stories.”

Her response to his article is here: https://fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/ryan-boudinot-and-the-peril-of-mfas/

Chuck Wendig took great umbrage to Boudinot’s article, and found that what he objected to–that some writers are innately talented and others aren’t–is something that had some fans.  So he wrote a post in response to that subject, here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/03/02/the-toxicity-of-talent-or-did-you-roll-a-natural-20-at-birth/

He has a great section in there that ruminates on not only the nature of “talent,” but also the relation of what is considered talented and how this is related to elitist ideas and the overarching power structure.  These respondents are not academics, but regular creative writers–moreover, they are genre writers, who as a group tend to feel viewed as hacks by “real Literary Types.”  (Sometimes this feeling is not unjustified, unfortunately.)

He’s also got an earlier blog post that responds to Boudinot’s article, but it has many more obscenities and some really imaginative rage-imagery.  Good times.

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