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a call to action for
the clarion writers workshop

by Eileen Gunn



Total so far: $3585
Goal: $5000
Donors: 171


In case you haven't heard, the Clarion Writer's Workshop has lost its funding from Michigan State University. (This is the original Clarion, not Clarion West in Seattle, which is supported by donations.) Dr. Lister Matheson, Director of the Workshop, has received word from the Interim President and Provost of MSU that the university, which has hosted Clarion for the past 30 years or so, will be unable to continue its support past the current workshop.

Many of the writers that you read on these pages are graduates of Clarion, as am I. Clarion was founded in 1968 by Robin Scott Wilson, Damon Knight, and Kate Wilhelm, and its bootcamp ambiance has helped many major SF writers sharpen their skills and shorten their learning curves.

Graduates include Octavia Butler, Bruce Sterling, Vonda McIntyre, Kim Stanley Robinson, Kelly Link, Cory Doctorow, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, James Patrick Kelly, Maureen McHugh, Leslie What, Ted Chiang, Richard Kadrey, George Alec Effinger, Lucius Shepard, Pat Murphy, Eileen Gunn, Nalo Hopkinson, Michaela Roessner, and many, many more.

Clarion's funding has been threatened in the past, and successfully defended. It may still be possible to save it if enough messages from writers and readers are received by the heads of the college. It is possible that an out-pouring of support for Clarion will encourage the MSU to reconsider this action. I encourage the readers of The Infinite Matrix to send an email to MSU's Interim President and Provost, Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon at, and the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Dr. Wendy K. Wilkins at Please copy any messages to

Please keep in mind that MSU is undoubtedly facing a serious financial crisis, and must allocate limited funds.

The window for action here is very narrow. I will keep readers of The Infinite Matrix up to date on what I know about the situation, and on any alternate plans for the workshop.


PS: As chairman of the Board of Directors for Clarion West, I wouldn't want you to think that Clarion West is sitting pretty in this time of budget cuts, layoffs, and disappearing grants. There isn't an arts organization — or an SF magazine <g>, or a small press — that doesn't need help right now. This is why Clarion needs to hold on to the funding it has, if MSU can be persuaded to retain it.



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Eileen Gunn is the editor and publisher of The Infinite Matrix. She also writes short stories, two of which have been nominated for the Hugo award. Her cryptic and hard-to-navigate personal site, Imaginary Friends, was a Cool Site of the Day way back in 1997.

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