Friday, April 23, 2004


My point in conversation with Conrad is that the NEA/Pentagon/Boeing Inc.ultimately will not be able to control the direction the soldiers & veterans take in their writing. As a tactic, it could be messy. It's hardly smart-bomb propaganda, given that satellite-controlled literature won't (I don't want to say can't) be the final product. The potential for blowback is great, though this caviat seems to be of little concern for an administration that refuses to learn from past intelligence strategy foibles.

That being said, the program is a sinister attempt to harness a literary propaganda in support of a pre-emptive presidential doctrine. The workshops are instructed by folks that have been good public relations for the military. You ain't getting Studs Terkel, George Evans or Bruce Weigl. These workshops are not open per se, since the NEA selects the soldier/writers who are given the opportunity to attend them. And it is a reallocation issue, certainly. From top to bottom, domestically & internationally, this administration has had a "with us or against us" attitude, in theory at least. Why fund the Poetry Project, where last year's Poetry Is News event was held in opposition to Iraqi invasion? It’s a bad investment, according to this line of thinking. With Clancy & co., they're banking on higher dividends. But the teachers can only really teach technique. They can't tell the vets what truth is to be written. Just like we can't. They're the ones who really know what's going on in Iraq. And there's a possibility that this may someday become a monster beyond federally-funded control.

- Frank Sherlock

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