rather than creative work, promisenonly to do documentaries, even if theynmight have a dash of poetry. And sonon. The truth is that a grant appHcationnis not a proposal for reality; it is, asna proposal for a grant, a fiction thatnmust, first of all, succeed within thenconventions of grant-getting before itncan generate the flow of funds thatnwill, happily, allow the applicant tonaccommodate that fiction to reality.nA final truth to remember is that allnawards should come to you as a surprise.nDon’t ever expect to be funded;ndon’t ever make job (or marriage ornwhatever) decisions dependent uponnthe expectation of a grant, for if younmake this mistake, the result can onlynbe disappointment.nAre competitions fair?nIn comparison to elections in thenU.S., probably not. With respect tonother selection procedures in thisncountry, some are more fair than others.nThe rule to remember is thatnfunding agencies differ from eachnother, with different mandates, differentnprocedures, different tolerances,nand even different secrets, which maynnot be immediately evident. For instance,nwhile an individual NEA fellowshipnis simply a cash reward to annartist-applicant, a residency award isnsomething else. For the latter, thenselection committee is generally composednof people connected to the hostingninstitution who are looking not justnto reward good work but to selectnindividuals whose company theynwould enjoy. To win a residency fromnthe DAAD Berliner Kunstlerprogramm,nsay, is more like being chosenna visiting lecturer at a university or annart museum.nHow honest are the funding agencies?nSome are more honest than others.nThe truest rule is that administratorsnget away with what they are allowed tonget away with. And if they get awaynwith murder, as some do, the principalnfault lies first with its trustees (“thenCouncil”) and then with the failure ofnour watchdogs to cry foul. For instance,nthe major scandal at the NEAnnow is that the chairman exercises, farnmore frequentiy than his predecessors,nhis power to veto grants previouslynapproved by NEA departmental panels.nWhen I asked the NEA’s pressnoffice for a list of the chairman’s victims,nthe reply was that the NEA, inncontrast to NYSCA, never identifiednrejected applications. They addednthat, “In order for vetoing to happen,nthere must be an error of fact ornprocess.” However, the examplesnknown to me had in common the factsnthat they were liberal do-gooding operationsndonating literary magazines tonprisoners and that both had been previouslynfunded by the NEA. Theynmight not have deserved funding, butnpolitical censorship is as unpleasant onnthe right as on the left.nEveryone involved knows about thisnscandal but is, in truth, scared to gonpublic about it for fear of the chairman’snwrath, which is to say his vetoingngrants to them that would otherwisenbe awarded. (Believe me, as thenrecent recipient of NEA grants, as wellnas an applicant for more, I thoughtntwice about revealing this.) WhennGrace Glueck mentioned this recurringnvetoing in the New York Times (10nNovember 1985), she failed to notenthat it might be considered objectionable.nThe fear is that, until this abusenof administrative power is exposed asnthe moral and procedural affront that itnis, all grants approved by NEA panelsnare vulnerable to the chairman’s veto.nMy own feeling is that this makes thenNEA chairman, elected by nobody, ancultural czar on the Soviet model andnthus makes me wonder why a putativenReaganite should be behaving like annantidemocratic Communist. If thenHouse Un-American Activities Committeenstill exists, it might question hisnBulgarian tastes.nThe recurring scandal at NYSCA isnanother kind of administrative abuse:nIn presenting applications to panels,nadministrators are said to lie aboutnapplicants they disfavor, in order tonprejudice panels against rewardingnthem. (And it follows that such lyingnwould be unnecessary, if the applicantnhad no chance at all.) And whennNYSCA administrators are caughtnlying, as they sometimes are, and thenevidence of their lying is presented tonthe so-called Appeals Panel (which isnitself a scandal), the initial negativenjudgment is always sustained. Let mentell a complicated story. A few yearsnago, a small press connected to menapplied for a grant to do a book editednby the photography critic Mr. A.D.nColeman. A visual arts staffer who hadna vendetta against Coleman reportednto the NYSCA selection panel thatnColeman had not fulfilled a grant henreceived two years before through anothernorganization. In fact, however,nnot only was this grant just severalnmonths old (and thus not yet due to bencompleted) but also by the time thenstaffer reported on its status to thenpanel, her information was at leastnthree months old and the earlier Colemannproject was complete, except fornthe printing. She influenced the panel’snnegative decision and then its votenby making prejudicial misinformationnavailable to the voters. These lies werenreported to me, curiously, by anothernNYSCA staffer who was, like the panelists,nconned into believing them asntruth! When the evidence of staff lyingnwas presented to the NYSCA AppealsnPanel, we were refused. The lamentablentruth is that at many agencies, staffnlying (and staff vendettas) is treated as ansort of subsidiary benefit of the job.nHow accountable are these culturalnfunders?nPOETRY OURNALnEdited by Jane Greer. Traditional poetic conventions used in vigorous,ncompelling new works. Heartening manifesto for SASE. $3.50/sample.nPlains Poetry Journal, P.O. Box 2337, Bismarck, ND 58502nnnAPRIL 1987/37n