Thursday, March 19, 2009

STATEMENT

WE the undersigned petition PEN American Center in New York to democratize their organization by appointing, as Trustees, not solely writers who are entwined with book companies owned by media monopolies. This includes writers who've dissented against the established U.S. literary mainstream. We ask all writers, from all backgrounds, to sign this Petition, including current PEN members and Trustees, in the interest of realizing the PEN mission, voiced by PEN's Larry Siems, of "bridging intellectual chasms and cultural divides."
******************************************
PEN was created as an organization to protect and defend dissenting, outcast, and marginalized writers. PEN American Center makes this its mission-- except in America itself! In these economic hard times, impoverished writers shut out by the monied academies and conglomerates are in worse shape than since the 1930s. Democratizing PEN's board will aid the hope that as a designated charity, PEN's concerns and financial largesse not go to already successful authors like Philip Roth, but to talented writers facing real hardship.
Sincerely,

-Karl "King" Wenclas
-Tom Hendricks
-Frank Marcopolos
-Lisa F. Falour
-Francis D. Walsh Jr.
-Patrick King
-Madrea Loy
-Jaria Cecil Sowl
-Fred Wright
-Ann Sterzinger
-Richard Cummings
-Rita Webb
-Emerson Dameron
-Brady Russell
-James "jimmy the hyena" Nowlan
-Bill Blackolive
-Jim Wittenberg
-"Crazy" Carl Robinson
-David S. Pointer
-Tony Christini
-William W. Haywood
-James Chapman
-Kathy Brandon
-Ernie Brandon
-Mindy Mageors
-Ross Vassilev
-David Blaine
-G. Tod Slone
-Cassidy Wheeler
-Kevin Keck
-Jacqueline Sarah Homan
-Natalie Wychozowycz
-Sandy Hildebrandt
-John Rodriguez
-Adriana Husta
-Wendy Stevens
-Nanette Rayman Rivera

(Nothing to click. To sign see note to left.)

38 comments:

Pen Petition said...

To sign this Petition and join this protest, please send a note to this blog's e-mail (listed at "Profile") with this request. No fake identities, please!
Thanks.

Pen Petition said...

Please see my remarks regarding PEN at Attackingthe DemiPuppets, linked on the top left of this blog.

Pen Petition said...

Thanks to those who've so far signed this, "boldest of the bold."

Toast said...

Wow! 14 whole signatures. That should blow PEN right off a cliff! I hope you'll be merciful rulers when you take over as the new overdogs.

Pen Petition said...

No, we want to open up the system for all writers, "Toast." Fortunately there are a few brave writers left in this country-- maybe just a few-- who, unlike you, aren't afraid to append their name to their opinions. It's, er, called democracy.

Toast said...

Democracy is based on the principle of the secret ballot, super genius. You really think that signing this petition makes you "boldest of the bold"? What do you think, the secret lit police are going to knock your door down and take you away?

Pen Petition said...

But surely no one votes under a false identity??
Democracy is also based on open and honest discussion-- which has been denied me in the campaign to change literature for eight years. I'm forever dealing with people wearing masks. What's their motivation? What's yours? Why the hostility? Surely you must have your reasons. Do those who hold all power and privilege really need your defense?
***************
The boldness of the signers is proved by how few there are, for a cause that to most writers makes sense.
It's in the interest of most writers to open up the system. To have more democratic representation on PEN's membership and board.
To have scarce grant money not go to successful authors like Philip Roth. (What can he do with it? Buy a second yacht?)
To have DIY books and zeens reviewed in mainstream mags and newspapers if they're good.
It's the same situation faced with a similar petition in 2001, when-- as recorded by the New York Post-- many renowned wtiters agreed with the underground stance but did not sign the protest.
Why was this?
Did they have something to lose?
Or, as with you, was it simply a case of intellectual cowardice?
If you had the courage of your convictions you'd identify yourself. As it stands, you're a disagreeable species of Internet pest-- an electronic worm-- of a kind which has ruined many an Internet site encouraging fair discussion.

Toast said...

Dude I'm not hostile, you are. My identity is no more hidden than yours. You can look at my blog and see who I am. My interest is simply to keep reminding you that there's no power hierarchy that excludes you from the literary mainstream -- it's an aesthetic one. You can't write for shit, so why should anyone give you grants to whine and drivel? And on the subject of boldness, I still wonder how signing this petition shows even the tiniest hint of bravery when the only person who has paid the slightest attention to it is me, and you don't care what I think. A petition needs to gather vast numbers of signatories to establish the substance of its claims, otherwise, by definition, it's pointless. By submitting your paranoid theory for public approval and receiving a response so tiny it barely qualifies as a greeting card, much less a petition, you have demonstrated for yourself and the rest of us that your cause has no support. And since your cause supposedly has to do with democratic openness, you should do the democratic thing and give up your candidacy. You're not the Ralph Nader of this election, you're the Crazy Loonie Rabid Chicken Party.

King said...

Sorry, but I can't find a real identity anywhere on your blog-- but the blog does say a lot about you, as does your post.
By the way, many of PEN's own petitions gather only 65 names or so-- an indication of the basic timidness of people today, whatever the issue.
The quality of the names is more important than the amount, I would think. Throughout history much real change has been done by tiny groups. (Look at the Bolsheviks in 1917-- the smallest of all the Russian political parties at the time.)
In fact, today, Good Friday, we celebrate the death of a long-ago and very poor radical whose hard core supprters numbered in the neighborhood of twelve-- and upon his death, scattered. Quite laughable characters, by your standards. Did they ever have any impact at all??
(It's a circular argument to claim that an attempt to influence an apathetic mass has no support, and therefore one shouldn't support it!
The promotion of this petition is far from over. I ask people to read the arguments at the DemiPuppet blog and judge the issue on its merits.

Toast said...

Lenin and Jesus, huh? You put yourself in their league? Not a lot of democratic petitioning going on among those folks. Maybe you could show boldness by emulating them and starting a civil war or getting yourself martyred. That might be bold, eh?

King said...

All you've provided, "Toast," are insults, not arguments. You're against the Petition. Duly noted.

Toast said...

I've provided plenty of arguments, King. The insults are a free bonus. If I thought you'd hear the arguments any clearer without the insults, I'd drop them, but I don't think that. I do want to clarify something, though: I'm not against the petition; I'm in favor of it. I'm against the demands it makes, but I'm in favor of the exercise as a democratic referendum on your ideas, King. It's a vote that says, "sorry, you don't have the support." It's funny — for someone who claims that fair representation is his only goal, "King" is an odd nickname, and Lenin and Jesus are peculiar ideals to follow; neither of them had any interest in democratic representation. In fact, the thing is, King, your history shows that you're not really interested in fair representation for all writers, you're only interested in running the show yourself. You're a demagogue. That's why you got tossed from the ULA. The real problem here may be that what you think of as power structures in the world of literature just aren't that powerful. You imagine that the world of literature is like the world of politics and commerce in your paranoid imaginings — sinister forces control all the power and exert their might to punish those who transgress: "We live within the context of a vast and mighty hierarchical civilization in which the Popular Voice is skewed, co-opted, or overwhelmed by mighty machines of noise-- global publicity engines-- controlled by a relative few. The objective of the few is simple: the retention of power." The only way you can imagine yourself in this world is either as the oppressed rebel, or the ruling overdog. Only, that's ludicrous. There's not cabal organizing what can be literature and what can't. Writers can't agree on anything, much less create a fortress of protection around some notional elite. Your expression is not constricted and you're not excluded. You can babble as much as you like, it's just that very few people are interested in what you say, and you should learn to be content with the very small audience that you have. I vote against you, King, and so do the vast majority of people who ever visit your site — they just don't bother to tell you. So what would you rather have: insults, or cold cold silence?

CS said...

Toast isn't Harland, is he?

Toast said...

Nope.

CS said...

Ah...so I see.

Pen Petition said...

Funny, CS.
The irony is that "Toast"'s kind of writer would benefit from the petition-- whose ultimate goal is to open up the literary system to ALL writers. It's too bad that people judge an issue according to what others are doing. By this standard, nothing would ever get done. Change would never occur.
The keys to any action like this one are patience and persistence.
I have a great deal of both.
(P.S. I'm going to again request real identities, please. Thank you.)
-Karl W.

Pen Petition said...

Re the "demagogue" charges. That seems to be the standard narrative that's been pushed by anonymous opponents for some time. It's a Catch-22 anyone who makes noise is caught in. Nevermind the facts are very different.
Also, the idea that because one criticizes corruption in the literary world, one is "paranoid" etc etc is ludicrous. Such statements set up barriers against ANY change.
At the moment the focus is very narrow-- the PEN American Center organization. I've been presenting on the DemiPuppet blog real facts and evidence. Let's stick to the matter at hand.
(Beneath whatever ballyhoo I've engaged in over the years have been very strong reports on corruption and decline in the house of literature. Throughout have been attempts to change the subject-- misdirections-- including attacking the messenger.
If my cause is so marginal-- why have many people, including one of the richest writers in America, been so panicked at what I've said?)

Toast said...

Really? Who has panicked at what you said. Where can I read about this exciting incident?

CS said...

I've written you at length -- and, I think, respectfully -- about your petition and what I think is the matter with it. I haven't seen the comments appear on Demi-Puppets, where I attempted to post them.

You really have got to get over the idea that the anonymity of its source necessarily negates the value of an opinion. That is unclear reasoning, Karl W. It is a process of fatal rationalization under any circumstance, but particularly given the context here. I am not saying anything libelous or even remotely controversial about you, and I'm not pretending to the possession of an expertise or credential I don't have. I'm just disagreeing with you.

My offer still stands, Karl W. I am very happy to sponsor you for membership in PEN. I would be very happy to protest, as a member of PEN, if PEN declined your membership application. Plenty of opportunities for good press there, Karl W. It would be a most righteous position to assume, far more so than the bullshit idea of seizing control of the board to -- to what? To be on the board.

Toast said...

Well, CS, if that's the case, how about sponsoring me for membership in PEN? I bet I could make up a list of 15 names and call it a petition. There is, after all, a terrible dearth of troll representation at PEN, a deficit I will not cease to struggle and fight against until, um, I find some other litblogger to taunt.

CS said...

Toast, you don't want to be a member of PEN. Nobody really wants to be a member of PEN, not once they find out the group health insurance costs a thousand bucks a month. So much for the "power of unified blocs" that some people place so much stock in.

I think it's up to sixteen names now.

King wants to be on the board though, and I'm offering to help him with the first step. Let's see if he holds out for the Room at the Top.

Toast said...

Can I keep my regular job with its benefits and avoid the hefty insurance premiums? I mean, I doubt King will let me join once he's in charge, so maybe I could get in before he takes over. Then I'll be able to benefit from his generous and just distribution of the wealth.

Pen Petition said...

Hmm. You think I can be had fairly cheaply, don't you, Harland? (Bissell?)
Let's see: I'm to abandon this protest, stop posting, stop readying snail mailings, rip up the many coming facts to follow, based on the assurances of someone who refuses to give his name?
Just how stupid do You think I am, anyway?
You're offering meaningless token concessions. You're asking me (us?) to rely on YOUR generosity-- you, a person who's been posting against change on my other blog for many months and who refuses to identify himself.
What you've been giving with your long remarks here and to my other blog are endless rationalizations for no change; justifications for doing nothing.
You've suggested that we might someday be allowed in as members, but warning us (or really, just me) that this would swamp us with process-- this one person, myself, might not actually get in; and then I'd have to lobby about THAT, and perhaps start the petition over again etc etc.
Usual bureaucratic tactics.
Apparent throughout is that you still treat PEN like an exclusive club.
Why does any writer need to be nominated at all? I don't get it.
I'd think you'd want ALL writers in PEN.
What the Petition is after is to change PEN itself-- not have one or two token sellouts while the corrupt ship continues sailing as is.
Change NOW.
Isn't this the time in this society for it?
If not now-- when?

Pen Petition said...

II. We know we're making progress when the usual jack-in-the-boxes begin popping out of their wind-up music boxes.
What this character-- "C.S."-- doesn't understand (or maybe he does!) is that democracy means having input to the decision-making process-- to ensure that grants go to writers who need them; to lobby for access to review outlets for all writers.
It means having a seat at the table.
That's what the Petition is about.
And no, I'm not going to allow myself to get sidetracked or bogged down by discussions, illusory concessions, or stalling tactics.
As I said on the ATDP blog, I'm making an unshakeable case for change to the PEN board itself.
To date I've barely scratched the surface with my arguments.
There's a lot to come.
And yes, there are only sixteen names on the petition at present-- but this protest has only begun.
The other jack-in-the-box, "Toast," has no patience.
He wants a hundred names delivered up in an instant!
That's not how it's done.
I intend to keep adding names, and adding them, slowly but steadily, as the force of argument continues to build and build until its momentum, its logic, is irresistible-- and maybe at some point the dam will burst and many will join at once. (I'd suggest the bandwagon jumpers get on now.)
****************
"C.S." acts sincere, though his history demonstrates he's anything but. He's posted on my other blog under several phony names-- he can't be consistent even at that.
Presumably he's more than a malicious computer program.
We can assume a real person of some kind is behind the falseness.
I'll then put the real person to the test.
I'll ask him to demonstrate his good will to us.
Instead of offering to nominate myself as a member (by what authority? did he clear this with PEN?) he can INSTEAD nominate the most recent signee, Bill Blackolive, for membership and see that he's accepted.
This is an underground writer, of some need, who already qualifies for PEN admission, having had two novels published by an independent press. NOT Print-On-Demand.
What say you, Ghost? Are you up to it? Demonstrate your cred.
(If nothing else, it might get the head-in-sand publisher of said books to acknowledge the usefulness of my tactics.)
***********************
ABOUT the real identity question-- which, sorry, I'm going to insist on.
It's of a piece with the Petition; with the entire literary rebellion.
That is: literature making a new start based on character, honesty, integrity. It's a sea change of mindset which says the days of lies, cheating, and other abuses of the system are OVER.
-Karl W.

King said...

I'll give "Toast" this:
at least he admitted he's a troll!
p.s. Anyone wishing to nominate novelist Bill Blackolive for PEN membership can get contact info from ULA Press. (There's a link to it on the DemiPuppet blog.) He'd be glad to have the notice.
Thanks.

Toast said...

We're all trolls, Kink. I'll give you something too: you don't quit. You'll go to your grave proclaiming the imminent dawn of a new age, and it won't ever come, whatever it is you're imagining, but you just don't seem likely to quit.

Toast said...

I'm also still wondering which wealthy writer panicked at your instigation.

james nowlan said...

these disinformation agents seem to have a lot in common with those sponsored by right wing think tanks what's their connection with PEN? Makes it look like a false flag operation.

Pen Petition said...

To J.N.
"C.S." aka Harland has been expending an enormous amount of time and energy attacking my various blogs the past nine months; so much so that I hope he's being paid for it!
(As he keeps telling me, I don't post all his comments. There are just too many to keep up with-- a novel's worth-- and frankly I've had it with the guy's phoniness and endless sophistry.)
To "Toast":
The wealthy writer is Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket, who's been harassing me for years; most recently panicked over the Paris Review issue, discussed on ATDP. A panicky email from his real identity led me to compare his IP# with that of certain anonymous comments, which led me to uncovering who he is. (The fake letter he concocted in 2005 was done more, er, openly.)
No, I don't give up-- and on this issue have a long way to go. But it's merely one step in regenerating the literary rebellion, whose first wave peaked from '01 to '03.
You know, Toast, we'd love to have you on our side. If you could drop the fake identity, you'd have a lot of fun on our side of things stirring up the literary mainstream. You know they're a bunch of stiffs. (I've seen them up close. There's nothing there-- Handler and "Harland" are actually the best they've got. The rest remind me of slow-thinking apparatchiks during the final days of the Soviet Union. They deserve to be toppled!)
-KW

G. Tod Slone said...

Good statement on quality vs. quantity, King. I get that horseshit all the time. We've got so many more "hits" then you inanity. Well, my response is that Brittany has more than them... and so does Barbey Doll. Fuckin A. I sent an open letter to PEN last March. Not one person responded. PEN New England where I operate refuses to even send a little form response. Check out the open letter: http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2009/03/open-letter-to-pen-america.html.
Best,
G. Tod Slone, Ed.
The American Dissident

Jacqueline S. Homan said...

I am one of those "Jack London" writers, and I am from the underclass 9and I am STILL poor with NO health or dental care at all).

I wrote a 352 page tome, "Classism For Dimwits" which I self-published for lack of real opportunity by a heavy-hitting big trade publishing house (such as the one that made Barbara Ehrenreich a fortune).

The voices of those of us who have been kept down at the bottom as a consequence of unearned social class privilege are never acknowledged, recognized, or heard. Instead, we're told to shut up; we're told to stop whining; we're told if we can't get a chance for a middle class job with health and dental benefits so we don't have to walk around with visibly decayed/broken/missing teeth and maybe end up further disabled or premautrely dead from abscessed teeth that our failure us somehow all our own fault for failing to get with the middle class program. Anger is an understatement for how I feel.

http://www.amazon.com/Classism-Dimwits-Jacqueline-S-Homan/dp/0981567916/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250845925&sr=1-2

Pen Petition said...

This is a great comment. It reminds me of the fate of a woman I worked with in a local calling room named Kate. She'd been an activist in the 60's and because of her record had a tough time finding employment. (Telemarketing is one of the last places where you're not ultra-screened with background and credit checks.) She was in her sixties. When I was in Detroit last year I heard she'd died-- was filled in more when I got back to Philly. An infection in her teeth spread through her body. . . .
Affluent writers who treat us with unalloyed scorn have no idea how many of us live in this country; how tough it is to survive. Detroit is impossibly tough-- but the real motivation for the Petition was when I returned to Philly in February and stopped by to visit a local poet with whom I'd stayed before fleeing Philly in '07. It's wintry cold and icy, and the guy is living in a dilapidated rowhouse with no heat, no hot water, broken toilet, etc etc-- and seemed to have more missing front teeth than the last time I'd seen him. (The quickest way to spot an underground writer is to look at his/her teeth.)
How can someone live that way, you comfortable people ask?
The Poet has been existing off the books for years, is frankly not bourgeois enough for the standard hyperregulated office scene, works the kind of odd jobs that used to be performed by starving artists but now go to grossly underpaid illegals. (Plus he had his old truck and tools seized-- another story.) Incidentally, this person is a great poet and one of the best performing poets in the country. In this caste-ridden society that means nothing. Instead we get from academia posturing no-talent fakes.
************
Our role models from history are stolen from us-- like Shakespeare, a hard-drinking genius actor. Or even Jesus Christ, for crissake, who according to historian Dominic Crossan was a semi-literate underclass often-homeless peasant who went around screaming "Woe to you hypocrites!" on a regular basis until crucified. His "gang" were hard-drinking working class guys and outcast girls who horrified the society of the time. That's the reality.
************
We're beaten-down and co-opted, yet we keep going and we're the ones capable of real change. For us, you see, change is kind of a necessity.

mark hamill said...

i wanna sign but i'm a terrible writer. an unpublished writer. my name is Reginald D. Johnny aka Mark Hamil--that's my alias. How do I sign?

Toast said...

Jeeze, King. I'm sorry you find things tough out there. I'm not opposed to your claim for health care and an adequate social support network, but you think that there's some connection between being poor and being entitled to have your work published? You too Jaqueline S. Homan. I hope you can escape the grind of poverty, but I don't ever look forward to reading your prose in print from a "heavy-hitting big trade publishing house." You need to be more than poor to earn a publishing contract. You need to be able to write a decent sentence. Figure it out.

Pen Petition said...

??? I for one am not after a "big trade publishing contract." Obviously, my activities preclude that idea! We're fighting for outfits like PEN to recognize alternatives to the mainstream.
Figure it out.
********************
Re signing the Petition. Please follow instructions on the left side of the main page about where to send an email. No phony identities please.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

If you really want to get things going I suggest you start a blog in WordPress.com about corruption in the whole PEN organization, international and domestic. Personally, I have written a story about the suffering of African slaves, and was censored because they considered it a "pornographic horror" unworthy of "superior intellectuals". And they have an international Congress in Senegal, and another in Columbia too. Indeed we should be honored by the glories of the rabid racism of the organization. By the way, I am an Argentine writer. Good luck to you.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Underground writers like myself get slammed by life again and again and again-- not having even a memory of security and stability. This adds to the creation of our art difficulty but also urgency.

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