A Word from AWP's Chair

David Haynes

It is my great honor to chair the Board of Trustees of AWP during our Golden Anniversary. We have reached this milestone only through the service of the many chairs and trustees who have lead the association over the past fifty years, and none of what we do or have done would have happened without the dedication of the hardworking staff. We are grateful for the generous support of our member programs, corporate sponsors, and the innumerable individual donors who over the years have helped us meet our mission to serve the makers, teachers, writers, and readers of contemporary writing.

The first fifty years have seen us grow from a small confab of program directors to an organization that represents 34,000 writers, teachers, and students, 550 college and university writing programs, and 150 writers’ conferences and centers. A broad cross section of the literary publishing world participates in the annual book fair and, increasingly, writers who do not have institutional affiliations find community at the annual conference and in other AWP programming. We are thrilled with the growing interest from international writers and writing programs…the umbrella keeps getting bigger.   

The next fifty years will highlight a markedly more diverse literary community. Through our newly emerging Inclusion Initiative, AWP looks forward to guiding the conversation as our members and member programs plan and execute necessary changes in curriculum, procedures, and climate that are most likely assure access and equity for all. The Board of Trustees has committed to the ongoing review of AWP’s processes and practices to make sure we are meeting the needs of our entire community.    

In the near term, the national literary community enters a period likely heralding critical challenges to the support for individual artists, to our invaluable small presses, and to the many organizations that support writing, literacy, and literature. Additionally, our friends and colleagues and loved ones find themselves under personal attack for who they are, for what they believe, and for how they choose to live their lives. As Toni Morrison reminds us: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

Let’s get busy.   

David Haynes
Chair, AWP Board of Trustees