Sunday, April 4, 2010
From Linda Beckman
I am a free-lance writer after having published academic books and articles as an English professor (plus an article on poverty in Alabama in Ramparts back in 1968 after my civil rights experience). Since retirement I have been doing local journalism, with plans to do something far more ambitious.
I returned to Gee’s Bend to research for a piece on what happened to the African American hamlet where the famous quilts come from, the ones that have been called ”modernist art” and been shown in nearly every art museum in the country. My essay is inappropriate for a blog or other on-line venues since it is 9,000 words. Many reader/friends like it a lot—but so far I haven’t been able to bring it out.
It is harder than ever to publish now because of the decline of print culture. There are fewer serious print magazines, and those that exist, such as Harper’s, the Atlantic, and Mother Jones now only take articles that are shorter than mine. This must be because of budget constraints and also the decline of people’s willingness to read longer articles.
Others, such as Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, which do publish lengthy pieces, almost always focus on celebrities: it’s the take-over of what Chris Hedges in his latest book calls the Empire of Illusion. I will find a place for my article about Gee’s Bend, but I had wanted maximum exposure since mine is about the heist of the Benders’s artistic heritage by an unscrupulous entrepreneur.