Leslie Bull: poet, performance artist, filmmaker

Leaving Antioch

by Leslie Bull

September 30, 2003

Dear Antioch Los Angeles,

Upon your promise of a full refund of my tuition I withdraw from your MFA program with heavy heart and jaded sensibility.

the goal of english departments should be to abolish themselves

you guys may always win
but it will never make your art great.
i think you are afraid of becoming obsolete
and this is why you keep such tight controls.
not that it is at all difficult in the land of ass kissers
most students follow willingly.

--leslie bull 8/03

I withdraw from your program sadly.
For three months I have engaged myself fully and with the best of intentions, for example:
increasing diversity, making art, and encouraging student participation.
At this point I feel completely shut-down.
I respect you for two things. First, for accepting me into the program based on a sample of my real writing (although I would encourage you to think about what that meant), and second for refunding my tuition when I requested it.
I feel angry and depressed that Antioch would rather refund my tuition than accommodate an all day student run open mic or showcase the work of homeless class people.
I do not feel welcome in your program.

problems with english department:

1) they believe there is a grighth way to write and furthermore that they can define it. this standard of writing is strictly enforced and leads to the assimilation and silencing of voices.
2) they exist to pander to mainstream publishing (which is no better or more elevated than television) with its white and/or middle class audience. potential understanding and enjoyment for this audience is used as a measure of a writingfs worth and students are encouraged to change their writing in order to reach this audience.
3) a drastic and grotesque overrepresentation of dominant groups (especially white and/or middle class) occurs within positions of power and overall, and hostility, ignoring, shutting out, and trivializing are some of the tactics used to keep dominants in power.
4) the purpose of english department and mainstream publishing is the making of written history and the making of money for dominants which is why dominants keep such tight controls and written history can be such a one-sided affair filled with omissions, lies, and distortions.

i call for:
*power sharing and student control of education.
*a massive restructuring of the boundaries around what ggoodh english and worthwhile writing is.
*a major movement to promote silenced voices and preserve unrecorded histories in peoplefs own words in an environment of equality.
*a recognition of writing for survival as a high art form.
*honoring art for arts sake equally with writing as money maker, because all writing is not art and much great art does not make money.


Leslie Bull

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