There is a certain uneasiness. We don't always understand each other. Sometimes it seems we don't want to understand each other. I'm talking here about the normal English Department, not the ones where the creative writing program is off by itself, doing its own thing in another building or at its own end of the hall, autonomous. In those departments writers and literature people often talk to each other without strain; there is mutual respect born of mutual ignorance. But in the department where they must work together every day, there is that uneasiness.
"I eat, drink, and sleep Tendril. It's my life," says George Murphy over coffee in the AWP offices in Norfolk. Murphy is here to talk about Tendril, the magazine that has grown from the orange cardboard-covered thirty-page first issue (Winter 1977–1978) to the identifiable grey covered 208 page issue number 17 (Winter 1984). He started Tendril on a whim. Tired of the materialistic Christmases around him, he decided to print a small book of his poetry as a gift for his family.
It seems to be something of the destiny of our strange kind that we are predisposed-unlike those whom Auden called "Our Silent Betters"-to justify our actions and endeavors on some sort of "Moral" (though the word so frequently becomes a euphemism for precisely its opposite) plane. Teachers of "Creative Writing" (or the sheer, uncensored cacophony that presently passes for such) might find themselves particularly needful of doing so these days, as they are frequently under attack-and no doubt at times rightfully-by their peers, their colleagues, their administrators and, yes, even their students for performing it badly.