A plea for Clarion

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In response to the news that funding for the Clarion Workshop at Michigan State University has been discontinued.

Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 17:01:11 -0400 To: Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon (Interim President and Provost) and Dr. Wendy K. Wilkins (Dean of the College of Arts and Letters), Michigan State University From: William Shunn Subject: A plea for Clarion

Dear Drs. Simon and Wilkins:

As a graduate of MSU's Clarion Workshop, I'm writing to urge you not to withdraw support from this important writing program.

I attended Clarion in 1985, at the age of 17. More than half a lifetime later I can report that Clarion was the seminal experience in my education. Without early exposure to that intense, demanding, creative, supportive environment, I may never have made the leap to a professional writing career—or indeed, sampled firsthand the wider realm of ideas and worldviews that existed beyond the borders of the small Utah town where I grew up. I consider my summer at the Clarion Workshop a turning point both professionally and personally.

The friendships and collegial relations I established in six weeks at Clarion are still in force 18 years later. It was through Clarion that my first professional fiction sale came about, without that I would not now be a proud nominee for the Nebula Award, the highest award in science fiction. Clarion quite literally changed the course of my life.

But more importantly than what Clarion means to me personally is what Clarion means to the world of speculative literature, and indeed to the world as a whole. It was writers of science fiction who created the chilling visions of nuclear winter that have helped galvanize opposition to atomic weapons. It was writers of science fiction who first showed the way to the moon, and whose imaginations lead us beyond. As we race headlong through technological change after technological change, it is writers of science fiction who are shaping and giving life to the debate over such issues as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and the place of cyberspace in social commerce. Science fiction may have a reputation as juvenile literature, but at its best it is socially vital and indispensable—and the Clarion Workshop is in the business of producing the best practitioners of the form.

I'm not privy to the budget considerations that have put Clarion in jeopardy, but I do know that the investment in Clarion pays off more handsomely for us all than I can say. I hope you'll find a way to keep it alive, and I urge you with all my strength to do so.

William Shunn
Clarion Class of 1985

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/105669.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on July 2, 2003 5:03 PM.

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