Pulling Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps…with an Ivy League Degree

A good label for Dagoberto Gilb? Try good.

Richard Howard, then poetry editor of the Paris Review, was claiming that the best writers rise to the top of the literary world naturally, and Gilb disagreed, saying no way. It’s the best-connected writers from the right backgrounds who rose to the top. Gilb’s PEN/Hemingway Award-winning story collection, “The Magic of Blood,” for instance, wasn’t published by a New York publishing house with untold millions of dollars at their disposal, but by the University of New Mexico Press.

–Eric Miles Williamson, “A good label for Dagoberto Gilb? Try good,” SF Chronicle: Insight, Sunday, March 2, 2008

Eric Miles Williamson wrote a fantastic essay on how the literary world (and society, in general) dispute the impact of an Ivy League degree on whether or not you’re recognized as an author. He goes even deeper to discuss how writers from communities-of-color are often relegated to a sub-class of writers, and never given credit for just being a good writer… He uses his insightful discussion with Dagoberto Gilb as a catalyst for further observation on the topic.

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