Thursday, January 16, 2014

Jan.14 Budget for National Endowment for the Arts Increased!

This is so important for all the arts, including literary fellowships for prose writers, poets, and translators. Especially in Kansas, where we no longer have an arts commission because of Gov. Sam Brownback's cut, this is welcome news. Here is the Americans for the Arts report of Jan. 14. 2014:
"Last night [Jan. 13], appropriations leaders in Congress finally unveiled the Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which includes $146 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Thanks to your advocacy efforts, this is a welcomed increase from last year's sequester cut, and we avoided the disastrous proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives to reduce the agency by 49 percent!

Happily, the support for the NEA among Senate appropriators, led by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Senate Cultural Caucus co-chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), remained strong and helped drive the final result.

Also included is $25 million in funding for the Arts In Education program at the U.S. Department of Education, which had previously seen efforts both to zero out or consolidate all funds.

The Omnibus bill is anticipated to pass Congress this weekend following a short-term continuing resolution allowing room for Congress to finalize the legislation. This concludes a very turbulent and often heavily divisive year that saw a fractious appropriations process and a government shut-down that lasted 16 days.

A breakdown of the final FY 2014 appropriations is as follows:

Key Federally Funded Arts ProgramFY 2013 Appropriations*
(in millions)
FY 2014 President's Budget Request
(in millions)
FY 2014 Omnibus
(in millions)
National Endowment for the Arts$146.255$154.466$146.02
National Endowment for the Humanities$146.255$154.466$146.02
Institute of Museum and Library Services$232$225.813$226.86
U.S. Dept. of Education's
Arts in Education Program
Corporation for Public Broadcasting$445$445$445
*These FY 2013 levels are pre-sequester.

Congress will now turn to work on FY 2015 starting with the President's State of the Union scheduled for January 28 and the Administration's budget request to follow about a month later.

Help make sure your message is heard as the next budget is put together by joining us in Washington, DC, for National Arts Advocacy Day on March 24 - 25, 2014, and let your members of Congress know the arts are important to you and your communities!

Thank you for your support of the arts! Please help us continue this important work by becoming an official member of the Arts Action Fund. If you are not already a member, play your part by joining the Arts Action Fund today-it's free and easy to join!"

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Robert Bly Reads Three Poems, Jan. 2014

This beautifully made video of Robert Bly shows him in "The Little House" as he reads three poems. Watch for well framed shots of his surroundings, which are a mosaic of objects, that become a biographical subtext.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


At the Local Authors' Fair at Topeka and Shawnee County Library, I was on a panel for ADVICE TO BEGINNING WRITERS. Here are my notes from that event, as I promised several people. Other panel members were Dennis Etzel, Eric McHenry, and Thomas Fox Averill. They echoed many of these ideas and discussed the role of magazine editors and writers in more depth. Thanks to them all.

·         Pay more attention to quality than to publication. Being a published writer is not like being a rock star. It is learning to articulate life experience well, and it is a life-long pursuit. Most writers continue to improve into old age, so buckle up for the long haul. When you go to conferences, try to learn more about writing and less about how to publicize your writings.
·         Do the apprenticeship time. Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers has a wonderful section where he gives examples of 10,000 hours as a minimum apprenticeship for exceptional accomplishment. The Beatles played in Germany seven days a week, several sets, for years before they returned to Liverpool and become outstanding. My mentor, a novelist, said it took ten years to learn how to write a novel. Ten years.
·         Send individual pieces out for publication. If you are a poet, send out 3-5 poem submissions to literary magazines or commercial niche magazines. If you are a prose writer, send out short stories or essays or novel excerpts. When you have about a third of a book already published in magazines, then consider a book. The validation of the magazine publishing process will show book editors that you have experience and quality.
·         Consider publishing a chapbook first. This is a 12-24 page booklet, usually staple bound or it can be a letterpress art piece. This is a closely related group of poems, in form or content. It is an inexpensive way to share poems.
·         Know your local presses. Buy books from them. Support them. This is localvore literature, and you can participate!
·         Prepare for the page, part 1: 5 ½ by 8 ½ normally, 10.5 to 11 pt font, so poets need to be aware of limitations. Prepare for the page, part 2: have letter-perfect grammar and spelling and usage. Hire a professional proof reader if necessary
·         Understand the difference between a “vanity” press and an independent press—small literary, university, or industry presses
·         Take advantage of print-on-demand. Start a press or magazine. Publish yourself if your audience is local or family or another niche not served by literary presses and/or the NY industrial complex
·         If you submit to any press that is not vanity, be prepared to show (1 previous publications of individual poems or excerpts if possible (2 a target audience and indication of interest from your target audience (3 a market plan—reading schedule, friends who will used the book in reading clubs or classes, etc.
·         Be ready to market your work—no one does publicity any more
Here's a link to a related podcast with authors who appeared at the event, interviewed by Miranda Ericsson