“Could this obsessional looking at the human bring about the death of literature?…
Was it only a dream that Literature was once dangerous, that it had the power to awaken and change us? Surely it must be, become, dangerous now… Behold the mysterious, underserved beauty of the world."
Graver Goods is a non-profit literary organization based in service work and dedicated to the publication of groundbreaking writing. Designed by a small interdisciplinary group of authors, educators, and community leaders, this holistic initiative integrates a literary press, a forthcoming journal, and one of the country’s only independent creative writing programs.
Under the guidance of editor Bret Gladstone, Graver Goods Press is working to publish startling and permanent books about what it’s like to be alive in the world. We’re thrilled that our inaugural releases will be Joe Wenderoth’s genre-dissolving manifesto Agony: A Proposal, the second volume of Wenderoth’s celebrated epistolary novel Letters to Wendy’s, and a collection of critical essays commemorating the letters’ 25th Anniversary. We’re also proud to announce the forthcoming publication of Chris Erickson’s novella Henrytown—a contemporary American folk tale which plays on the page like the storytelling segment of an old-time radio variety show.
Launched during the pandemic, Impracticum offers its own carefully designed curriculum of graduate-level workshops and seminars taught by acclaimed authors. Once the necessary safety conditions are in place, students will be expected to meet weekly volunteer requirements at local helping organizations. Fulfilling our service requirement isn’t a form of payment for more affordable advanced writing courses offered outside traditional institutions. We see that work as a necessarily central and enlivening part of any vocational experience. Impracticum students are asked to approach composition as a daily working discipline, and to regard it as a way of sounding out their depth of immersion in something larger than themselves. “Writing is a concentrated form of thought,” Don DeLillo said. “I don’t know what I think about certain subjects, even today, until I sit down and try to write about them.” That’s the deeply physical practice we’re looking to encourage. As students explore all the different ways writers press feeling into form, we also want them alert to the tics and tremors of that animal Virginia Woolf felt trembling beneath language—“the body of the complete human being we have failed to be, and yet at the same time cannot forget.”
We think the simplest, most useful way to do this is by placing them in situations which demand their full human presence.
We’re not a military training program. We’re not a seminary school, or a working ranch, or a forest refuge. The courses we offer and the instructors who teach them are too diverse to be reduced to any particular working orthodoxy. But we are interested in creating that vocational environment—a program comprised of people who recognize that they’ve all committed to moving through something difficult and demanding together in order to refine a craft. We’re interested in the mutual respect, personal accountability, and quiet courage generated in settings like that. When students apply to Impracticum, they’re asking to be bound into a set of self-structuring obligations because they believe that challenge is important and enriching. They’re also willing to believe that there’s a certain joy and self-carriage to be discovered in simple labor. That it’s probably a fundamental mistake to segregate the process of becoming a better writer from the process of becoming a skillful carpenter, or an athlete, or a musician, or a longshore fisherman. This is a rigorous program designed for students looking to pursue writing as a serious practice. Unbeholden to larger institutional concerns, the curriculum is wholly focused on helping those people build and maintain the necessary disciplines which allow them to sustain themselves as artists.
"The good piece of writing," Joy Williams reminds us, "startles the reader back into life."
The writer doesn't write for the reader. He doesn't write for himself, either. He writes to serve ... something. Somethingness. The somethingness that is sheltered by the wings of nothingness—those exquisite, enveloping, protecting wings ... Hopelessly [the writer] writes in the hope that he might serve—not himself and not others but that great cold elemental grace that knows us.
Graver Goods is devoted to discovering, sustaining, and celebrating that kind of radically attentive work.