A Word from AWP’s President

Judith Baumel

OK, I said it. I own it. In a burst of enthusiasm, in front of four thousand writers gathered to hear the keynote of AWP’s 2013 conference, I declared that we run the world’s best literary party.

If you were there you know mine was a justified pride. Behind me on stage were a Guggenheim fellow and two Nobel Laureates in poetry waiting to start what would be a remarkably moving and free-ranging conversation. You can hear a podcast of Rosanna Warren, Seamus Heaney, and Derek Walcott in the AWP Podcast series. In the subsequent packed days we heard Jeanette Winterson, Augusten Burroughs, Cheryl Strayed, PoemJazz with Robert Pinsky and Stan Strickland, Amy Bloom, Richard Russo, Tom Perrotta, Alice Hoffman, Terrance Hayes and Jorie Graham. Videos of those events are available online. I hope you got a chance to enjoy these fine writers and some of the 550 other events on offer. And I surely hope you plan to join us in Seattle in 2014, where Annie Proulx will deliver the keynote address.

AWP is so much more than the gathering we host, and the gatherings you convene around it. More than the conversations that happen within panels and in the halls outside of the meeting rooms.  More than the many opportunities of our bookfair and the projects you develop from them. More than the happy accidental meetings and the long-awaited reunions.

AWP is the advocacy we do, the professional resources we provide our members, the young writers we identify and champion, the established writers we support and bring to the public, the many information clearinghouses we maintain. Our calendar is a list of international events for writers, deadlines for grants, awards, and calls for submissions. Our comprehensive directories of institutional and individual members are flexible enough to enable you to maintain your own professional profile and be assured that all others are up to date. Our Magazine & Media section includes our signature collection of handbooks and hallmarks of effective writing programs, how-to-articles on professional development, thoughtful literary and craft essays.

Above all, AWP is the community we form together.

What’s new?

We are increasing the size of our working committees by including non-board members in all of them. Please let me know if you are willing to serve the community by joining one of them.

We have created a new membership category for high schools and a new project to develop recommendations regarding the role of creative writing in K-12 education, considering in particular the Common Core Standards. Please let me know if you are willing to serve the community by joining the committee that is working on this.

We are strengthening our connections to all our constituencies, individual and institutional, including two-year colleges, BA/BFA degree programs, graduate programs of all kinds; to our existing caucuses: women’s, LGBT, indigenous writers. We invite you to develop new ones. Please let me know if you are willing to serve the community by joining the committee that is working on this.

We are bringing the Writers Chronicle into multiple platforms, continuing to keep the paper edition while publishing it fully on the web, including access to our extensive archive, and building apps for mobile devices. We are tying the curated content of the Chronicle and our annual conference to the Writer’s Circle, our informal online conversation. Please let me know if you are willing to serve the community by joining the committee that is working on this.

I and my fellow board members are proud to serve our community. We can’t do it alone. Please, roll up your sleeves and let me know that you are willing to serve, too. We’ve got lots of projects that could use you! We need your ideas, big and small. Email me today. I look forward to hearing from you.

Judith Baumel
President, AWP Board of Directors