Monday, April 11, 2005

I really can’t compete with the travelblogging of Argot and Frink. However, my life continues in its own little way.

The other night I attended the recognition ceremony (or whatever they were calling it) of the Arts and Letters department, accompanied by my frolleague Andrew. It was being held in the "Intermedia Gallery" (what?) of the student union, which was a clue right off.

There was food in the form of crudités, artichoke dip, and cheese, so we did get to have a free dinner. On tiny napkins. While some may have raised their eyebrows at my having a chock-full napkin in each hand, no one knew who I was anyway, so it wouldn’t matter, would it?

There were a number of pieces of Art on display, which confused Andrew. Not the pieces themselves, mind you, but the fact of their being on display at this event. “It’s The Intermedia Gallery, Andrew,” I explained sotto voce, “that means there could be several kinds of creativity occurring all at once.” (At least, that’s how I remember explaining it.) I hoped no performance art would suddenly occur, at least not very near us.

As it turned out, there were a few people who read some things aloud (poems, fiction) for nearly an hour, and then the announcer Officially Recognized the finalists of the graduate student short story contest. This consisted entirely of reading the list of our four names. I was disappointed, as this didn’t incur any actual recognition at all! (Probably better in the long run considering my behavior at the buffet.)

Oh, if they had even said, “Raise your hand if you are present,” I would have been satisfied. I also would have been a lot happier if being a finalist had involved getting anything at all besides…well, nothing.

At least the great mystery of how the winner was chosen came to light. A selection committee of sorts read all the entries (approximately 35, as it turns out) and chose four finalists, which were sent to an apparently well-known author, who then chose his own favorite as the winner*.

Really, the only part that was gratifying at all was hearing that the selection committee were “impressed with the quality of the writing from outside the department,” coupled with the fact that of the four finalists, I was the only one who was a Psych major instead of a Creative Writing major.

What, they believe that no one can write who hasn't specifically gone to graduate school for writing?! The arrogance.

Thus, I strike a blow for Outsider Art of the literary kind.

*(Looking at the books he has written, I guess it's not too surprising that he did not select my story about eating disorders, ghosts, sexual harassment in the workplace, magic, revenge, cannibalism, and the supportive relationships of women in a family, all set in a structure of domesticity including gardening, family pets, and cookery.)


Tim said...

Congrats on being one of the finalists. I'm not at all surprised that you grabbed a spot.

And riddle me this...why do creative writing programs take themselves so seriously? I have a degree in creative writing and I never understood that. It's just writing.

liz said... may be endemic to *all* graduate programs.

Once we've spent so many intensive years doing something, we attribute some very serious quality to the activity, perhaps? (Consider the alternative.)

Andrew said...

I love that bit about "all the fine submissions we received." Just once I'd like to hear a presenter say "Everything we received sucked, so we're not handing out an award at this time." Of course, I wouldn't want to hear that if *I* had submitted something.