October 18, 2011

A QUESTION: Jeff Sharlet on OccupyWriters.com


A "reference only" copy of David Graeber's book DEBT at the Occupy Wall Street library

Yesterday saw the launch of OccupyWriters.com, “an open letter of support by creative writers for Occupy Wall St and the Occupy movement around the world, signed by more than 1,000 writers,” including Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Lemony Snicket.

The letter was circulated by Jeff Sharlet and Kiera Feldman, with the support of n+1, Tin House, Guernica, Fiddleblack, and Bookforum.

Last night we asked  Sharlet, a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine and the author of The Family, about the campaign.

You told the New York Observer that  you thought someone else would circulate a letter to writers about Occupy Wall Street, but that this didn’t happen because “writers are lonely, selfish people and they don’t do this sort of thing.” Why do you think it’s important for writers to voice their support for the Occupy movement?

I hope writers will support the Occupy movement for the same reason I hope everybody will—it’s the most vibrant display of democratic imagination I’ve seen in my lifetime. And I think the fact that it’s defined by imagination rather than specific demands, by the countless stories of its participants rather than one master narrative, is especially appealing to those of us for whom creative imagination is central to our work. I have to suspect that those who are griping about lack of clarity are often the kind of people who prefer bullet points to novels and poems.

Kelly Burdick is the executive editor of Melville House.