A Word from AWP's Chair

Kathleen Driskell

Dear AWP members and supporters, 

It is my honor to have been reelected to serve as the chair of AWP’s board of directors for 2020–21.  

Though we’ve been in a period of transition as the board and staff have adjusted to greater responsibilities, moving from an organization with an advisory board to one governed by a fiduciary board, and we continue to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant financial crisis, which hit the literary arts particularly hard, I’m confident we have the talented and dedicated staff, the expert and enthusiastic board members, both new and returning, and the deep tradition and mission focus for a bright future. As with most arts nonprofits, we have significant challenges to overcome in the next few years, but I believe great things are ahead for our membership.

As we look forward, one of my main goals is to help build a more inclusive organization, one that provides opportunities for meaningful participation for all members. I also promise to work hard to help AWP do a better job of telling our marvelous stories.

When one of our new board members recently observed that many of us seem to have grown up—at least professionally—with AWP, I couldn’t help remembering that I have attended nearly every annual conference since 1999 in Albany, New York. I arrived at that conference many years ago with the hope of finding a publisher for my first book of poems. I also hoped to gather support for my fledgling careers as an adjunct teacher of creative writing and executive director of a literary organization I had just founded in Kentucky. Each morning as I boarded a big yellow school bus that had come to pick us up at a Ramada Inn, tucked under a noisy highway overpass, I thought the whole conference, albeit modest in comparison with our conference today, was a marvel. I still do, but I’m also awed by all the other programs and resources our organization offers to constituents today.

I promise I’ll do all I can to build on the important legacy of AWP.

All best wishes for you and your work,

Kathleen DriskellSignature

Kathleen Driskell, MFA
Chair, AWP Board of Directors, 2020–21
Mid-Atlantic Regional Council Chair, 2018–22