2.24.2005

foetry.com

Anyone else stumbled across this site? It's a watchdog for student-teacher nepotism in literary contests. They want to file class-action lawsuits. Like, seriously. The Iowa short fiction and poetry awards are viewed with particular scorn. Interesting reading, if nothing else.

On a less serious note, I recommend queryletters.blogspot.com. Hi-fucking-larious.

21 comments:

segall said...

This tidbit caught my eye:

Foetry has no use for college sports. The University of Iowa President, David Skorton, issued a statement about some guy named Pierre Pierce -- whatever -- Skorton should take another look at the large scale mail fraud operation at the University of Iowa Press.

It's relieving to know that someone is looking out for the real injustices in the world - crooked literary contests and the like - and not letting the chaff, such as basketball players who home-invade and burgle ex-girlfriends, get in their way.

Bully for you, Foetry.

Grendel said...

That foetry site seems pretty serious. Particularly liked the "Jorie Graham" rule, where you are not allowed to pick a former student. That seems sensible. You would think that these contests would do better at protecting themselves from the appearance of favoritism.

As for queryletters, that is superfunny.

El Gordo de Amore said...

I kinda like Foetry -- although clearly there are more important injustices in the world (like, Why Won't Lumpy Invite Over Cute Friends So El Gordo Can Group Wrestle Them in Pudding), they have a point, and the fact they are so vehement about it might slap some sense into some of writing's luminaries.

Ultimately, the obvious patronism of certain favorite students hurts the beginning writer, not the established award-giver (I'm pretty sure Jorie Graham fails to lose any sleep over this issue, and feels she can give awards to whoever she wants -- it won't affect her career at all).

What scared me about Foetry was its call to boycott the winning authors, which does suck. It's not their faults that the powers that be like them more than others -- or that that like came from a personal relationship with the judge (the quality of a piece of writing is subjective, after all).

I've heard many people disparage one writer or another because they got an award from a teacher who clearly and openly views them as a favorite student. And it's not fair to the student writer. If anybody ever gave me an award, I'd jump all over it, no matter who it was from -- even if that writer/award judge was Lumpy (not that she would give it to me, see above Pudding issue). I shouldn't be in a Lumpy-judged contest, but if I could be, I'd find it hard not to apply. I think I should be clearly ineligible from the get-go.

I think the established folks giving awards need some sense smacked into them -- if Foetry can do it with spurious lawsuits, more power to them.

ian said...

In its obstinacy, foetry reminds me of the great everyonewhosanyone.com—and if you've never visited that site, by all means do; it's best enjoyed with a glass of wine or a shot of whiskey—although not as quixotically endearing.

SER said...
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ian said...

Awesome post, SER. (I hope you didn't mean you were annoyed by my posting about foetry, tho. I more or less share your opinion.)

Anyway, I hereby nominate "The smoke rose like smoke." as the official subheading of Earth Goat. Grendel, can we make that happen?

Grendel said...

Voila. Nothing is permanent, though. If something better or more apt comes along, just say the word.

SER said...

Ian, no - I meant the Foetry post that Segall quoted, not your post (which I am rather fond of). I saw it the other day because it had been linked on MaudNewton.com.

dunkeys said...

Hey, MAYBE the person who wrote "The smoke rose like smoke" was making, I don't know, an ironic commentary on language and metaphor and stuff. Did you ever think of that? Did you?

I'm not being defensive!

AND SO WHAT IF IT WAS ME!!!

ian said...

Really, dunkeys? You really wrote that? Shit. I don't know whether to feel guilty or laugh. Fuck it. I'm a-gonna go eat an orange.

bR said...
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Pete said...

Br- I see your point, but I don't think that's quite "justification."

If a contest is going to favor certain people, than it should do so honestly or not charge a reading fee. It seems to me that if I'm paying you to consider me, you should consider me fairly.

As for agents playing their game, I realize that this is currently in my interest. But let's face it: a lot of crappy books have been published by Iowa grads (and memebers of other favored groups), and that's the source of resentment. (Obviously, present company excluded.)

I understand fairness is a logistical nightmare, and I am not so naive as to think "something should be done." There are far greater injustices in the world. I get it. I'm cool. It's a jungle out there. Man's gotta do, gotta look out for number one and dogs are eating dogs everywhere and oh hey look... there's that nice guy bringing up the rear. But is that justification?

Jane said...

Looking at Foetry is a good (and much needed) reminder to me of how futile and counterproductive it is to get caught up in and distracted by things like contests and fellowships and publication and the like.

I don't mean to say that it's easy or even possible to ignore them entirely, but if what you're writing for is acknowledgment or money, then you're basically fucked.

I thank my lucky stars I got into Iowa, because I realize what a huge leg up it is in terms of getting noticed and published (not that these things have happened yet). But I often ask myself: if I hadn't, if I'd gone to a "lesser" program, or not gone at all, would I still write, knowing the chances of my getting published were that much smaller? I'd like to hope that the answer is yes; that writing is a lifelong pursuit, something I do because I find it rewarding and fulfilling, not to get my name in Poets & Writers for winning the Podunk Press fiction contest.

Sure, I want people to read my work. Sure I'd like to get my work published, and I'd be thrilled to actually get paid to write. But that can't be the longterm goal or the focus -- at least not for me. I'm too competetive a person, and it would drive me bonkers to "fail" all the time. Hell, I barely survived Iowa with my ego intact.

Alastair (my husband), as a folk musician, deals with the same issues -- there are all kinds of contests and festivals and things; nepotism and favoritism and politics abound, not to mention market forces. But none of it has jack shit to do with writing songs and playing music, which is why he started doing what he does in the first place.

Anyway, it just seems to me that the Foetry folks' time would be better spent writing, not whining. (Even if the whining is justified.)

Jane said...

And for the record, if Lumpy had ever invited me over for group pudding wrestling, I would have gladly accepted, as long as the pudding wasn't vanilla or pistachio.

dunkeys said...

Ian, I didn't actually write that line. I was going for broad comic effect. Anyway, maybe the original author forgot the hyphen: "The smoke rose-like smoke."

Now doesn't that sound nice? I wonder if Grendel might consider adding the hyphen to the subtitle? Hmm?

El Gordo de Amore said...

Roper --

Holy Smokes! I find this out NOW? This is clearly more proof that fate hates me. But I am happy to hear you recognize the full En Fuego Loco Sexo Mucho Possibilities of El Gordo, Earthgoat's Only Beatified Member!

Maybe I'll go give Grendel a noogie -- although that's not really the same thing at all.

But, what are you gonna do? He's down the block.

SER said...

I tend to agree with Pete that if you're charging a fee, you're essentially promising NOT to use these sort of overt screening mechanisms. For agents and editors of publications, it makes sense - they're inundated with unsolicited queries, and they have to find shortcuts, just as McKinsey and Goldman Sachs have their "target schools" for recruiting.

If this kind of process were for a real job, you'd be outraged to find that you'd paid a fee to be considered at the same level as people from Harvard and Stanford, but were immediately sorted out based on the fact that you went to Sul Ross State (home of the college rodeo!). I think the entry fee is the key; otherwise, it's normal to do some pre-sorting based on the highest odds of success.

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