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And now it’s August.

I’ve taken a brief sanity break after delivering that ten-headed hydra in breech position we’ve nicknamed DB10.  I’m ashamed to admit (though not *that* ashamed, or else I’d keep it to myself) that I had not read every single bit of every folio of our tenth issue.  I’m not sure anyone but the intrepid and beloved Sarah Clark, now our assistant editor, had done so when we launched.  It’s so damned massive, occupying a space somewhere in the area of triangulation between “literary magazine issue”, “archives for the ages” and “group delusion.”

So I’ve been reading and want to share from time to time my own “looky heres” as I work my way through the current issue and how it rubs up against what’s happening out there in both the literary and grayer worlds.  We’ve also also offered our editors, genre readers and editorial assistants the opportunity to explore Drunken Boat’s latest issue and write blog posts.  I have a few takers among the staff and am hoping to spur or shame (either will do) a few more people to do so.

One of woolier folios in DB10 is the Black Mountain folio, whose copious materials were gathered by Doug Duhaime last year during a ten day voyage from Connecticut to North Carolina.  Doug spent time both at  Black Mountain College itself, as well as the North Carolina State archives and came back with over 1500 images, films and audio that pertains to this historic  experiment in education which yielded numerous writers and thinkers important to American literature.

 I was struck by an audio interview with BMC alum Michael Rumaker, who when asked why he decided to attend, says ” North Carolina sounded so romantic.” Sounds like a resonable answer to me, who decided to attend Bowdoin College thirty-odd years later because the gender ratio was 3:1 male to female.  Listen to his interview here:http://www.drunkenboat.com/db10/03bla/faculty/rumaker/

 I wonder how many current English Composition students could pass this “elementary English” exam, laboriously typed by the teacher: http://www.drunkenboat.com/db10/03bla/pedagogy/exams/

And here’s interesting (and yes, eyebrow-raising) insight into the admissions process, circa 1937.  http://www.drunkenboat.com/db10/03bla/history/admissions/

The sexism, the racism, the questionable use of power, it was all there in 1937 and remains alive and kicking today in various corners of our lives.  I’d like to leave you with a link to founding editor Ravi Shankar’s op-ed piece in the Hartford Courant, in which he describes his treatment at the hands of a couple of Manhattan traffic cops and the judicial system as he drove home from Drunken Boat’s last event in Chelsea a few weeks ago.


We live in interesting times.  May they become more just.

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Published Aug 03, 2009 - Comments Off on A Few Thoughts on the Black Mountain Folio

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