thumbnail of Georgetown forum; Writers' conference
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Also it was up in the air and at sea. The topic by the eleven hundred and seventy ninth consecutive broadcast of the Georgetown University radio forum. Another in a series of educational and informative programs from Washington D.C. The Georgetown forum was founded in 1946. This is Wallace Fanning speaking to you by transcription from the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of Georgetown University historic Jesuit would seat of learning in the nation's capital. Today's discussion will be authors up in the air and at sea by dissipating our Dr. Riley heels founder and director of the Georgetown University writer's conference. Patricia McGirr novelist and mystery writer Marjorie Holmes nonfiction writer and a syndicated columnist. And Dr. Roland Flint a poet and assistant professor of English at Georgetown University.
Among the many summer activities on the Georgetown University campus is the 10th Annual writers conference. The one this year is scheduled for August. The conference brings together editors from leading book and magazine firms published writers and those who would like to be published. In this time of instantaneous mass communications the need for skilled and informed writers is greater than never. Yet it's a time of change for writers too. And there are uncertainties. The Georgetown University writer's conference undertakes to acquaint the writer with some of the problems and hopefully with some solutions. And so we begin today's discussion by asking Dr. Hughes the founder of the conference to tell us more of what it's set to do. I think we have and have had for the 10 years of our existence. And that's a very venerable age in my writer's conferences. We've had three girls. We try to give instruction instruction and techniques
give information. Current market needs and provide inspiration the inspiration of meeting other writers and meeting editors in a professional atmosphere and these things together. The construction of classes of short courses the information that comes from panels and the inspiration that comes from being together in the auditorium and on the campus and it both sessions and so on all together they make. Writers can probably guess it's pretty obvious. Doctor he was that the biggest problem for young writers and beginning writers that are getting published. But one of the problems inside of that. But what really can the writers conference do for them. Help identify the areas a problem. Yes I suppose you can say what new what that might say well. Dogen horror stories are not big this year and
the fact that we were that kind of region might be helpful but I think most of all it can give them a professional attitude is a great deal of difference between writing to write and wanting to publish and be able to countermand parado years ago. Firstly as you open your conference said many people don't really want to write. They want to have written and we want them to realize that merely wanting to have written is not enough that there is the actual physical labor of writing time consuming that students come to me and not just students but would be writers poets come to me and say I have I'm having a poem published and I'd like a professional opinion of it and I look at the poem and give my professional opinion and then I ask where has this been accepted and the reply is it hasn't been accepted. I just thought I would have it published.
I and lots of lots of people who are beginning to write think that it's as simple as that yeah Doesn't that you could throw a party you can. That's right. Dr. Flint we hear so much here. Yeah what is the interest on the part of young people in writing today. Well I think it's very high and I think it's influenced in some part at least by the popularity of the new rock music and the new rock lyrics. There are no good poets writing rock lyrics and not just Leonard Cohen though I think he's a fine poet and has written good poems to be sung to popular music. But to Bobby Dylan I don't mean that he's always good but he is now and then a very able poet in his lyrics. And Simon and Garfunkel and their many others the frogs even have a highly poetic record it seems to me and the kid is beginning to
write us or developing an interest in writing see that these lyrics do relate seriously to their lives and in meaningful language not the kind of lyrics that we grew up with a popular song lyric. You're adorable Bea orbit so beautiful and and so on. But when it Koran says of Jesus that he touched your perfect body with his mind. In the song Suzanne it's a lovely line and very truly poetic line it seems to me and so just is there much of the anti-establishment tearing as I'm sure you know it and not just the Beatles but Dylan too but all of them I suppose addressing themselves to the establishment and taking shots at it. Oh no doctor he was mentioned a few moments ago and that there there's not much of a market this year for horse and dog
stories. What about for the product that these young people are offering. Well those who are writing you know songs for popular consumption. I suppose have. Better market or more markets more markets available and they make more money from them but poets today as was poets always don't make very much money and the markets are shifting as Dr. Hugh suggests that is there are always new little magazines coming into existence and there are always old ones going out. But it seems to me the serious poet writing today who is not writing pop lyrics for popular songs isn't as interested in a market as other kinds of writers might be. That is writers writing things from which they derive more profit than is likely from poetry which there is very little money to be made. I mean Roger Stevens harmonium so probably 200 copies or 400 copies or something.
I just met your people riding today. They're interested in going through today. I've been reading the older poets you know the classic so-called or Except when they have to I suppose for class assignments do they draw anything from me I don't like very much and that is the last of them. Young men writing lyrics for popular songs learned of corn of course and some other popularizers have but I don't think that most of the kids do they want to dig and they dig it in by reading and listening to you know the new music. Speaking of Elder writers addressed just remember that in an early essay TS Eliot said that poetry should go to the music and he was thinking of the English musicals and like I bowed bill for inspiration for rhythms that's not going to go on. He wanted out his adult life for his whole career to write a musical comedy and I love the idea of his performance being put to
music and in records we have now of his saying his poems. We see sometimes that he practically sings them. And some of them are very adaptable to music and some will be put to music writers. I've heard their college professors complain that there is less serious writing in prose being done on campuses today because kids seem to want an instant product. They're so used to TV programs instant books or non books or maybe some of them been raised on comic books you know with a simple one line sort of thing that they're having problems getting enough to fill their literary magazines on some of the campuses. Which is rather sad. Maybe that may eventually lead to the fact that a lot of these magazines have died. I mean there may be a circle situation. Your main point may remain some of the commercial magazine. Yes the popular magazine market has been dwindling due to many
influences of course one of them is that TV which has captured so much of the advertising which is necessary to keep the popular general circulation magazine going. So those markets have many of them have fallen by the wayside. Cutting down the ultimate objective. And I don't think the kids actually realize this but this is part of the whole atmosphere I think in publishing today. But I think that to make a distinction between what's happening in campus literary magazines and the market I'm sure the market is still flooded with prose. Yes quite likely but I still think it's all part of a total picture of less written verbalization that reading is on the way out. But a better way of writing to me. You write bad prose. I mean it's harder to write bad prose and it is to write bad poetry. Some play more or less as it was that point that these professors that I was discussing this with the kids are not simply willing to sit down and
work hard to finish a project. They are able to knock off the lyrics for a song or something or a chant but they won't work to form a structured piece of writing structure structured or not I mean physically harder physically more exhausting to sit down and write a short attention span I think that we might be giving the impression that writers are always students or college students. Actually that's not so very often these days it's part of me retirement from the writer rather than being a teen is much more likely to be perhaps much more but is equally likely and in a hurry. Thinks he has more time the 18 year old thinks you have to have
50 40 years of the harried housewife syndrome of the woman who decides that she wants to become a writer maybe she had some talent when she was in college. Or this is a frustration frustrated ambition of hers to write. So when the children are taking their naps or maybe they're off to school she decides she will write a piece of prose or maybe a poem and hope to get it published and the trouble with so many of these is that there is lack of discipline and there's lack of a professional approach. So many people don't realize that writing is a very very serious and highly competitive profession and it takes a lot of Man and Woman hours to produce a saleable and publishing product. Those who do go out with a professional approach so you find your housewife and you find a person. Oh my goodness. Those who are going to be realistic about the
disappearance of money markets really doesn't affect them anyway. Their economic position is such that they're not working for a living. They're rapping to right and therefore a true $200 fine and even if magazines were still in existence they probably wouldn't know. In a way this is the situation for most of them. That's right. While that we deplore the demise of these large highly competitive magazines there are many many many smaller markets where the product of such people. The part time writer might find a home and I just counted in a couple of recent market lists and I found six new markets which might be potential objectives for the products of these people. There are little specialize now mind you most of these are specialized ladies circle is one whose coming into existence in the last two or three years when it was revived under new management it is
still taking pieces of the inspirational idea type. And then there's a magazine called Change and one called us and of course those are slanted toward these college people that we were talking about. But there are always magazines being born to take advantage of the trend of the times and this rebellion of this dissent and so forth has found has produced these two words. And then there's one student that's there's three that are in this particular category. And then there are these are specialized family house boating and motor home much because of boats and the families are taking to the road you know with their trailers and their motor home and then there's too slanted for people who are interested in music. The class list and music journal and these are specialized trade journals you know appeal to people whose interests are in that direction. Yes in a way this is just a rough example and I'm sure that
this information can be found from writers magazines but this is one of the things that a conference calls from coming down from various magazines of all sizes of circulation and what they're looking for. Two points so far that stand out fairly clearly that we're talking about an older generation of writers and we're talking about a younger generation of writers and I just wonder is it possible that the younger generation of writers. May or may not become as commercial in their motivations as as the older generation. Or would you agree that the older generation has had almost purely commercial motivations in this country at least those that relates to poets I think that is certainly true that they but the pit isn't as interested I think in markets and profit
as that I think going to be kind of a nice thing to be fair about it. He isn't interested because there's no possibility of that's right in my face. I think he wants his poems prepped. Yeah but he's more interested in making them I think than selling them. You know I think what I'm coming around to my eventual question is is the 18 to 25 year old writer of today going to become the 50 year old housewife writer of tomorrow. They seem to be able to communicate pretty well with among themselves. And is it conceivable that they the magazine as as we know it and have known it over several generations will no longer exist. Oh well there will always be a market. There will always be magazines wherever there are people who can read day we'll probably see them in various forms myriad forms. But it was mentioned whether or not these young people are as interested in writing for
money as my generation was. Well of course they're not. They don't they haven't faced the realities. Having to earn a living and it's it they can write for are they can write for self-expression whereas in my generation we were writing because we had to do I mean we were writing for self-expression. Number one that's the major major motive of anybody who is truly a writer he writes because he has to. But we're also trying to find a market that would pay us for our products because we needed the money. And these youngsters haven't come up against the realities of life yet. They will become more commercial as they get older. Dr. Johnson said only a blockage for anything right. Which makes the cultural contribution. Well it's impossible to say some people writing for money make a great call to cultural contribution. Maybe in spite of themselves. I think if Shakespeare were living today I'd be writing for television exactly what he was interested in and I don't think it's right for money.
I think money can be a disciplining force because if you are running it the only way you write for money is write to be read. There's no way of separating if you're going to have readers. You're also going to have money if you're not interested in having a reading public. Then you may not produce anything worth reading. The very fact that you have to hold yourself to something that will get published on the case of poetry getting published doesn't mean making money but in the case of most other kind of writing it does. So I think the very fact that you have to direct it toward your readers rather than internally may make the necessity of writing for money good rather than for just fanning talk about a cultural contribution I assume he means that. How does this writing become something permanent in the language. That's right and something that Eliot would say changes the body of Western literature by its inclusion by its originality and the writer writing for money and thinking about a money market constantly is I
think in my plate too. Right things that pander to certain tastes to go back to that and. And if he doesn't make something permanent in the language it's because he's an extremely good writer and it and it transcends his immediate goal of may have writing something marketable. I think I know you will write your own kind of writing whether it's on a very low level a very high level. But the necessity he has of reaching an audience he will still write of high quality work. But it will be more outer directed than integrated I don't think you have to have a dollar sign in his mind but he has to have a readers. The Portent given really demands he feels of his audience. Yes. And then sometimes he will write something that will be a cultural contribution. You mention Shakespeare but we don't know what he be writing today but certainly he was writing to fulfill the demands of a paying audience in his time
writing for television. I would agree that it's worth somewhere says you should have money in your head but not in your heart. Many When money is in the heart. But perhaps not in the head as a play as a possibility or as as Peter's as a logical consequence of the very mechanics of communication they can better make even a tiny good or at least I think it's partly a proper professional approach. The artist who is also a professional. Right. The best that he can turn he would give a good job you know not compromise and he'll make it is beautiful and perfect as he knows how but he's sensible enough to know that there are certain limitations and there are certain requirements and he will subconsciously have these in mind so that you will not be writing purely for his own enjoyment but so that his product will reach a wider audience and
hopefully make him some money. You know it's been a dozen you know writing to get back to the writer's conference what I would tell you what I hope to be able to tell poets who submit things in regard to market is that some things are suitable for The New Yorker and some think they're suitable for poetry something suitable for Atlantic or Harper's and some for the radical little magazines. You see I don't mean that poets ignore markets they don't sell something that is eschatological or explicitly sexual to the New Yorker because they don't very often publish such a thing I would give writer's advice of that kind. Yeah that is a simple practical thing I think that my more important contribution to these writers if I can make one is to help them with their specific poems you know visual for example. Do you feel that there is a overemphasizing of sex in today's literature.
No more than is every section of the overemphasizing sex in today's life. I think that I think this is true of literature generally one reflects the other. I don't think it's any greater in literature than outside of literature you know if it's an overemphasis though if it if it accurately holds a mirror to nature and to the time we live in and the sexual expression or sexual emphasis in society it's hard to say that it's then over emphasized in literature. I think it's greatly over down. I think it's gone beyond the bounds of good taste and good a good artistic product in many instances. Sometimes an emotional scene can be much more effective if less explicit. As we know with our generous laws of censorship and tolerance we now can read anything we like and read as salacious a novel as we like. Or are we going to ignore it. It's not
it's not eliminated from our bibliography of possibilities. Again the doctor meant if we could come back to your experience with with the younger people. It is the tendency the same in their product. I think that there is a growing emphasis on honesty and directness when the kids say tell it like it is they really mean it. And of course they're sometimes wrong so they so often don't understand how it is. But as far as they understand it they say it with more directness and courage and honesty than the kids of my generation at the same age. They are encouraged to defy the establishment and to see things wrong with it and they do it and they say it openly and boldly. And if obscenity is called for profanity or sexual then they talk about and they talk about broadly as I say they sometimes misunderstand but they're
they're more concerned with the truth than I think young people who are in my generation I admire them very much. I quite agree but I mean puzzling. How in our writer's conference we will have the transition from our one week in the Georgetown campus to our three weeks abroad since a part of the week's abroad will be turning back to Earl de ranters emphasizing the tradition we're going to have for example. We haven't really Manderson better here as I was a heavy smoker. Yes I want to know what you're bringing it in but I think we ought to identify that and as you conclude your writer's conference here at Georgetown you're going to take a three week yeah to set it up. Yes now there may not be some of the same. Our staff will be going. Not all of the same participants or students will be going to. So they're related but two different conferences the first week of August we're on the tourist town campus the
following three weeks of August taking up the entire month we should be abroad in Ireland England and Scotland ending in Edinburgh in the first week of the unbearable fast above and what we will be doing there and I've been trying to see his role as see how we relate to rights and sound we will be visiting literary places we'll be visiting the Bronte class and the Bronte sisters board for their Bible as poetry and prayers will be going to serratus God's state Abbotts bird which he made from his novels the weapon that was. Better Abbotsford and visiting Hardy's cottage and Jane Austen's and that sort of thing. But we had so we were paying deference to the great writers of the past. During lectures and Yeats Wordsworth Shakespeare Browning. But we also will be in touch with writers professional writers
in these countries were having panels with writers or having one in Dublin that may turn out to be a donnybrook which is a suburb of Dublin by the way. Yes I have a real life rarely but at our hands there is the issue of writing and other things are complex and we're going to speak with writers or in fact we're going out to a 12th century Abbey to meet writers and publishers in a way we're trying to I'm trying to add I think in my teaching and in the reddest I was home to a tradition and yet faced with Dr Flint so accurate sees as the new and compelling and the truth telling. Aspirations and ideas of the new generation. I hope one can hold on to that. That's my objective with me are you to check this statement isn't it possible to be frank and forthright and recognize the truth without seeking to feel epithets and
obscenities. This really disturbs me I don't see why the younger generation feels that this is so necessary. It depends on what truth they're trying to tell. And maybe the truth they're trying to tell impinges on the specifically on the use of those epithets which you call for free. Well it seems to me that still civilization demands a certain amount of civility and discipline in some of these ancient values which we're going to hope to find abroad I think it ought to ought to be re-emphasized. Otherwise well we'll lose our identity entirely. I don't believe that. I believe the young are forging a new identity and if they are occasionally excessive in the use of say what are conventionally called obscenities if they're occasionally excessive in the use of epithets. Perhaps it reflects only the new freedom people with new freedom are often excessive in their expression of
it. But it but it that people enjoy me in a rather good fashion but you're right we are we're at the end of our discussion I want to thank you very much for your lively discussion of authors and the Georgetown University Writers Conference I thanks to Dr. Riley Hughes founder and director of the Georgetown University writers conference to Patricia McGirr a novelist and mystery writer Marjorie Holmes a nonfiction writer and syndicated columnist and Doctor Roman fluent poet and assistant professor of English at Georgetown University. You have attended the weekly discussion program the George Stone university radio forum broadcaster which was transcribed in the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of historic Georgetown University in Washington D.C. next week you will hear discussed the house and campus disorders a staff report. A panel will consist of staff members of congressional committees.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Georgetown forum
Writers' conference
Producing Organization
Georgetown University
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-2v2ccw9z).
Episode Description
This program features a discussion with Dr. Wiley Hughes, founder and director of Georgetown University Writers Conference; Patricia McGurren, novelist; Marjorie Holmes, writer and columnist; and Dr. Roland Flint, Georgetown University.
Other Description
Moderated by Wallace Fanning, this series presents a panel of guests discussing a variety of topics. The radio series launched in 1946. It also later aired on WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C. These programs aired 1968-69.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Guest: Hughes, Wiley
Guest: McGurren, Patricia
Guest: Holmes, Marjorie, 1910-
Moderator: Fanning, Wallace
Producing Organization: Georgetown University
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-51-666 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:40
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Georgetown forum; Writers' conference,” 1969-06-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 11, 2022,
MLA: “Georgetown forum; Writers' conference.” 1969-06-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 11, 2022. <>.
APA: Georgetown forum; Writers' conference. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from