By Dictate or Argument?


SO MUCH of what’s considered literature today is run by dictate, that we hope at some point with the All-Time American Writers Tournament to do things differently.

The recent Granta issue of “Young American Novelists” is an example. Four well-placed judges decided the matter– then word came down from on high. “You WILL accept these selections culled mainly from those given us by the Big 5 conglomerate book companies.”

It’s how the system is run and how it’s always been run. Tops-down in every aspect. The professor tells you, “You WILL appreciate these authors, no matter how stuffy, irrelevant, meaningless, or boring they may be.”

Recent p.c. changes in the university have scarcely altered this– only the names mandated to be appreciated have changed.

The student, like the hapless consumer of Granta, has no say. The decision runs always, always one way.


As many have noted, the situation, in academia and the greater intellectual community, has become ever more totalitarian. There is one accepted ideology. One acceptable set of ideas. One way of thinking.


We’ll be setting up our brackets for the Tournament with a new mix, according to our best judgment and the standards we’ve outlined– but we don’t pretend to have all the answers. We’d like to receive throughout the course of the Tournament suggestions and arguments about which writers should be included– from writers, general readers, and elite critics alike. If “literature” is to be a living thing and not just an authoritarian dictate, names and ideas should come from everybody.

The All-Time American Writers Tournament will be at our Interactive blog, previously used for fun stuff and pop poetry. (Which we’ll still sneak in on occasion.) Here’s format information. Here’s other tourney info.

We’re at newpoplit AT

#1 seeds are upcoming. . . .


Pop Lit Fiction

ARE we entering a golden age of the short story?

The case for the proposition can be made, based on the kind of stories being written– and more and more published by outlets like NEW POP LIT.

What characterizes new story writers is their ability to combine a clear writing style, reader friendly, with intelligence and meaning.

One of the best of them is Joshua Isard, who has terrific short stories upcoming at a number of places. We were fortunate to snag one of them, “Nanoseconds.”  The story is about a young woman with tattoos trying to make her way in a buttoned-down institutional setting.

Where is the short story going? Read it and see!

She could feel everyone looking at her forearm. She turned it slightly, to make sure they could all see.

“Would you have asked me about my ink if I was a man, Dr. Kerr?”