Literature and the Underground

Feature

THIS WEEK we briefly explore the subculture of literature with our long-overdue final installment of Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age, in which we examine a diverse array of personalities from Bob Dylan to Aaron Cometbus, on up to underground writers of now– who create work just a tad rougher, wilder, and real than standard refined “literary” writing.

Accompanying the essay is a new story by one of our favorite zine writers, fishspit. The story is titled, “I Was a Juvenile Delinquent– Now I’m Just a Delinquent.”

Even the title wouldn’t make it through an MFA program!

Them teachers weren’t the sharpest set of educators. You had to be pretty doltish to wind up down there . . . nobody with an ounce of spirit, a dram of intelligence, would put up with that kind of horror-show. We were a regular freak show . . . the teachers were about as intelligent as carnies.

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(ONGOING at one of our blogs is the All-Time American Writers Tournament. The latest news there is an appreciation of a prominent American author by Samuel Stevens. Don’t miss a post!)

I Was a Drunken Clifford the Big Red Dog

Populist Fiction

Underground writing? Have you ever read underground writing? Did you even know there was such an animal as underground writing?

We’re very high on zine/underground writing, because that’s where our roots lie. More than that, zines are authentic roots literature. They present writing that’s unprocessed and unfiltered– NOT strained through banks of editors and agents and committees and workshops full of politically correct, go-along thinking. They’re also throwbacks in their commitment to print, and to the U.S. Postal Service, in the way they present their art. Creating a zine, where you do literally everything yourself, from editing to formatting to designing to marketing and selling, is an arduous endeavor– but also fulfilling.

Today we have a story from one of the best, most politically-incorrect zine writers, who goes by the name of Fishspit. Read his story here, and see if it’s a more uninhibited story than the status quo variety!

Two things to note about Fishspit’s tale. 1.) it’s told in a folksy vernacular. 2.) in its voice but also its underlying theme it’s very populist– the reality of today’s economic situation is not broadly stated but everpresent.

(We have to ask: How many other struggling writers have donned the Clifford costume at some point?)

But we like the story because it’s entertaining!

I looked in the paper and the goddamned Smackover Library was hiring someone to shelve books. It was only a r a week gig . . . and it paid abysmally. Yet it somehow seemed prestigious . . . to work in a library . . . a far cry from all those fucking factories. To go from a factory grunt to a library employee seemed a step up, even though it was a step down in pay.

(Clifford photo courtesy of renowned children’s author Kathy Ellen Davis. Thanks!)

Breaking into Publishing

Essay

Ideas! New Pop Lit is first and foremost a project of ideas. In a period when the public is demanding populist change, we advertise ourselves as literary change agents.

Toward that end we’re offering an essay by Samuel Stevens about publishing, outlining how writers who seek to change the literary art– who offer new aesthetic ideas– have often faced difficulties.

The critics of the day repudiated authors with mountains of literary criticism about them now. Names like Hemingway, Pound, Joyce, Eliot were at one time the enemy. Hemingway’s friend, the memory-holed author Robert McAlmon, published Three Stories and Ten Poems; the New York world wasn’t interested in the young Hemingway’s work. 

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Sam Stevens is included in our first “Lit Question of the Month” feature at our Extras!/Interactive blog, along with twenty-three other writers. The response was such– the answers uniformly terrific– that we’re likely to try the feature again. The list includes DIYers– bloggers, self-publishers, zinesters; those changing the literary product– but also status quo reps, from university professors and creative writing instructors, to long-time award-winning story writers Kelly Cherry, T.C. Boyle, and Madison Smartt Bell, to best-selling novelist Scott Turow. Among their number is possibly even a member of the dreaded literary establishment!– if that animal can be credibly identified. We thank them all for the generosity of their time and their minds. Read the answers here.

We ask readers to join the conversation. What’s your favorite answer? Your least favorite? Take a minute and tell us in the Comments section.

 

Help a Poet!

News

Merry Christmas! As this is a season for giving, and thinking of others, we have news that one of the best spoken word poets in the country needs help. Read about it here.

What can be said about poet Michael D. Grover is that he’s an authentic undergrounder who lives his art. In the tradition of William Blake and so many others. He’s also evidence of the fact that at the grass roots level, poetry lives, propelled with energy, emotion, and power in a way it never could in the stultifying atmosphere of the ivory tower.

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After Christmas we’ll present our end-of-year wrap-up. Then, for 2016, we are lining up much strikingly original work from some of the nation’s– and world’s– most exciting writers.

Happy holidays!

Buy New Pop Lit!

Announcement

We’ve published some terrific fiction, poems, interviews, and essays on this site this year– in overall ideas, innovation and quality matching any other lit site anyplace. We’ll be making improvements to this site in coming weeks, to make it the ultimate reading experience.

But we want more! Our long-term goal is to be a publishing entity taking on the big guys– competing with the moldering “Big Five” Manhattan-based book giants. NO ONE in the entire lit scene today has more indy credibility– or is better positioned with DIY background and ideas to be at the forefront of the change which is shaking up the book industry.

So, we’ve introduced our first title, NEW POP LIT #1, a collection of new writing.

IF you want to glimpse what literary change looks like, and you’re eager to support that change, you’ll be eager to purchase a copy. For now we have our NEW POP LIT shop linked at our Detroit blog. Soon we’ll be selling the issue at other places. This project’s editor was once very able at obtaining attention for lit projects– and will do so with this one.

This is an opportunity to step on board the pop lit train as it’s leaving the station– perhaps literature’s most exciting new happening. We’re only beginning. Watch what we do in 2016! Thanks.

Surviving the Dally

News

Quite an event!

Detroit’s “Dally in The Alley” street festival has more authenticity than any music festival you’ll ever attend. A neighborhood block party gone out of control. Total DIY. No corporate sponsors. No Budweiser banners. No beer logos.

It’s also quite a bit less genteel than your garden variety New Yorker book festival with its bland Jonathan Franzen-style authors. The Dally takes place in Detroit after all. Not Manhattan or Brooklyn. We were one of the few literary outfits represented at the event. Our goal is to make pop lit as much a part of people’s everyday life as music– of which at the Dally there was a lot of.

Read our report on the Dally, and how we did at it, at our News blog here.

Interview with Allied Media Conference!

Events

allied media con

We at NEW POP LIT are furiously readying our first print issue– which will contain words and art from a dozen talented writers. We also have a dynamite cover by Detroit artist Alyssa Klash. A Sneak Preview of the issue takes place in less than a week, beginning June 19th at our table at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, at Wayne State University.

Though she’s extremely busy, AMC Program Director Morgan Willis was able to give us and our readers information about the nationally renowned conference, and answer a few general questions.

NPL: Where can our readers learn about the history of the AMC event?

https://www.alliedmedia.org/amc/background

NPL: What inspired organizers to choose Detroit for the venue this year?

MORGAN: The AMC has been in Detroit since 2007. The move facilitated more young people, queer people, people of color and low-income communities to participate in the conference. More artists and organizers from Detroit were participating, and people from other places were excited to learn from Detroit’s legacy as a Black Power and Labor Movement city. Detroit offered many examples of visionary organizing models emerging in the midst of post-industrial crisis; at the same time, out-of-town visitors to the AMC brought with them skills and experiences from their home communities that were valuable to Detroiters.

NPL: The AMC has so many events, meetings, dialogues and expositions… what are your favorites and are there any you’d recommend especially for modern short fiction writers?

MORGAN: My favorites are often in the Intergalactic Intergenerational Justice Practice Space (https://www.alliedmedia.org/amc/tpsng). There are tons of storytelling sessions, and as a short fiction writer myself I find various perspectives on what it even means to tell a story a tremendously helpful lens. The entire schedule can be found at http://www.amc2015.alliedmedia.org. Other content areas that may interest “modern short fiction writers” could be the Spoken Movement Track as well as the brilliant exhibition area that features recently published books, zines, magazines, etc.

NPL: Are there new features for participants to look out for this year?

MORGAN: Yes, check out this blog post: https://www.alliedmedia.org/news/2015/06/09/10-reasons-why-amc2015-will-be-best-amc-ever

Thanks Morgan! We’ll see you at the AMC.

(Read more about NEW POP LIT’s new journal at our house blog, http://www.newpoplitinteractive.wordpress.com)