The entire weekend of activities was fantastic, due in part to the natural beauty of the Adirondacks (the conference took place at the Minnowbrook Conference Center which is gorgeous) and to all of the interesting literary people from throughout New York state who attended.
“New Leaders in Literature” was the focus of this conference, and the keynote speaker was Victoria J. Saunders, a consultant who does a lot with organizational transitions.
Being relatively young at a brand-new organization, Executive Director transitions isn’t really something I spend a lot of time thinking about. That said, I was the victim of so-called “Founder Syndrome,” so all of these discussions were pretty intriguing.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but the there were a couple of things that stood out that I found quite interesting. First off, it seems that all transitions are rocky. No matter how well planned, organizations always seem to run into some trouble, such as hiring the wrong replacement Executive Director, aving board issues, etc. Obviously, for the betterment of nonprofit organizations, it’s of great importance to focus on these issues and to figure out how best to transition from one ED to the next. Otherwise you end up with Paris Review scenarios, with Brigid Hughes being replaced months after stepping in after George Plimpton’s passing.
But that situation is what resonated most for me . . . So many nonprofits focus on longevity, literary legacies, how to transition to a new director with the same vision and fire, etc., but what is often overlooked is the way that some nonprofits spawn new, culturally important organizations. . . . A sort of “external transitioning” for lack of a better term.
For instance, Seven Stories has been a breeding ground for developing great new organizations. Jill Schoolman was working at Seven Stories when she started Archipelago Books, Violaine Huisman was doing foreign rights when she started her own literary agency. And I believe that Franctious Press is being headed up by Seven Stories employee(s).
Dan Simon deserves a lot of praise for encouraging and cultivating a new generation of literary leaders, and I’m sure that when the time comes, Seven Stories will be able to continue. But that may not be true for all organizations, and although this is hard to accept, for some, maybe they don’t need to continue beyond their original founder/director. As long as new literary leaders are being developed, starting new presses/organizations/events/initiatives and passionately promoting literature, I think things will be OK.
What I took away from this weekend is that in addition to looking for an adequate replacement, directors of admirable nonprofit organizations should focus on inspiring individuals to start new things. In other words, it’s worthwhile to broaden one’s focus to doing things that are good for the field as a whole in addition to focusing on what’s good for “my organization.”
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .
Like any good potboiler worth its salt, Fuminori Nakamura’s The Gun wastes no time setting up its premise: “Last night, I found a gun. Or you could say I stole it, I’m not really sure. I’ve never seen something so. . .
Heiner Resseck, the protagonist in Monika Held’s thought-provoking, first novel, This Place Holds No Fear, intentionally re-lives his past every hour of every day. His memories are his treasures, more dear than the present or future. What wonderful past eclipses. . .
If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Perception is reality.” To Björn, the office worker who narrates Jonas Karlsson’s novel The Room, the reality is simple: there’s a door near the bathroom that leads. . .
I recently listened to Three Percent Podcast #99, which had guest speaker Julia Berner-Tobin from Feminist Press. In addition to the usual amusement of finally hearing both sides of the podcast (normally I just hear parts of Chad’s side. . .
Let’s not deceive ourselves, man is nothing very special. In fact, there are so many of us that our governments don’t know what to do with us at all. Six billion humans on the planet and only six or seven. . .
“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“And this—what. . .
Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .
In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:
When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .