What Are Writers in #OccupyWallSt?

I was unfriended by a writer today. I think it's because of my generally positivie review of Anis Shivani's. He was a proponent of MFAs. Shivani is not. I am not sure but open to questioning.

But then again maybe he was cleaning up his friends list, didn't like my radical leftist posts, or that I listen to Britney Spears on Spotify (but who doesn't!)

Yet, returning to my review of Shivani, I did ask: what is the purpose of the writer? What role does the writer function in society? In social change? And of course, how does writing as a part of the academy fit into this. (I paraphrased myself).

Perhaps in the #Occupy Movement we can see some answers.

Launched last week, the list is growing with big names and little names, fiction and nonfiction and poetry:
Dorothy Allison
Steve Almond
Russell Banks
Ann Beattie
Matt Bell
Charles Bock
Helen Boyd
Judith (fucking) Butler
Michael Cunningham
Deborah Eisenberg
Ursula Le Guin
(actually this list has gotten longer than I thought, so just go aheed and read it yourself)
What this highlights is that writers can be political, despite some who argue that art is simply for art sake. In Burn This Book from 2010 edited by Toni Morrison, the writers argue that writing is necessary because it shows reflection of reality (not reality itself), it also instructs, and art itself is a form of protest. Yet as a writer I feel that being political in art is bad manners. Don't be Ayn Rand they say, not because her theories were lousy, but because it makes for bad fiction. Rarely do writers actually go all Ayn Rand on their audience, but without it: how political can we get with our art? For example, how are Ann Beattie's short stories a political protest? (We also have to question if writers working now can produce anything for the political issues at the moment, since it does take awhile to write a story and then have it published).

I think poetry as partly a performance art (or taken as such) can very easily be identified as political (can be a political act). And indeed with the #Occupy movement, the poets are on it!

Poets@OccupyWallStreet is a movement of poets who have performed their poetry to show their outrage:
"A designated Poetry Corner has been established in the Liberty Plaza area, which protesters have been occupying since September 17th. Through the Poetry@OccupyWallStreet Facebook page, poets around the country can post poems or comments in dialogue with the movement. All poems will be read on-site and added to the community library, and one will be featured tonight at the General Assembly meeting."
Apparently there's also a People's Library and an anthology:

You know it's getting serious when writers are getting in on it.

No comments:

Post a Comment