I’m not suggesting that writers should lie about what they are trying to achieve in order to placate evaluators, not at all. I’m suggesting that they learn how to write about their work and convey these thoughts to evaluators by means of the project description.
Oh, and one thing that tends to burn my ass is the creation of binaries. For example, the idea that either you write project-based poetry, and that sucks, or you write random, unrelated poetry, and that’s excellent. Some work is perceived in book lengths and other in poem lengths. I don’t see one as having a higher quality than the other. It depends on the work.
For myself, my work is often project-based. I find trying to write random, unrelated poems difficult and forced more than I do with long poems or poem series. The long poem and the poem series are long standing traditions within the Canadian canon. When I am working on a series or a long poem, I still have to reject crap. I’m not going to force work into a project if it’s no good. That’s just standard writing procedure.
Furthermore, the idea that a writer should be able to receive public funding based on reputation alone irks me. I don’t believe in that. I think the funding should be based solely on the merits of the work itself, including the writer’s ability to provide a cohesive and coherent statement about her work.
Since we’re talking about reform to the grant application process, one change I would like to see is the elimination of the writer’s publication record in the application. Why? Because I think grants should be awarded based on the quality of the work and not based on some sense of entitlement based on what the writer has done before. I know many a talented writer with limited publication credentials because the status quo journals haven’t seen fit to publish innovative and unusual writing. The insistence on having to be published in recognizable paying publications leads to poetry homogeneity.
There is a case to be made for awarding money to those with proven records of having been paid for work and completed books. Even now, many grants award more money to established writers than to emerging writers; however, I still believe emerging writers should have access to funds to give them a chance to show what they can do, based, of course, on the quality of the work.
Finally, i should have linked to the post which I’m responding to, which was written by Zachariah Wells on his blog.