This list of accepted events for the 2015 AWP Conference & Bookfair in Minneapolis is tentative as we wait to receive confirmation from all event organizers and participants. We are also working to ensure that each participant does not sit on more than two events, only one of which may be a reading. The final conference schedule will be posted in October at awpwriter.org.
The list is separated by panel discussions (pg. 2), pedagogy events (pg. 51), and readings (pg.62). Within these categories, events are alphabetized by title. Event titles and descriptions have not been edited for grammar or content. AWP believes in freedom of expression and open debate, and the views and opinions expressed in these event titles and descriptions may not necessarily reflect the views of AWP’s staff, board of trustees, or members. For an explanation of the scoring and selection process, download our 2015 Event Proposal Handbook.
AWP’s conference subcommittee worked hard to shape a diverse schedule for #AWP15 creating the best possible balance among genres, presenters, and topics. Every year there are a number of high quality events that have to be left off the schedule due to space considerations. Although the pool of submissions was highly competitive, we did our best to ensure that the conference belongs to AWP’s numerous and varied constituencies. From 1,300 proposals, we tentatively accepted 550 events representing 1,900 panelists.Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com with any questions you may have about this list. For more information about the 2015 AWP Conference & Bookfair, including information about hotels and travel, featured presenters, and the bookfair, please visit the conference section of our website.
#AWP15 Keynote Address by Karen Russell, Sponsored by Concordia College. (Karen Russell)
Karen Russell’s novel, Swamplandia!, was chosen by The New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Books of 2011,” was long-listed for The Orange Prize, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is also the author of the celebrated short-story collections, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin and the MacArthur Foundation, she has been featured in the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list, was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, and received the “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation.
#AWP16 Los Angeles Conference & Bookfair Forum.
Join the AWP 2016 conference chair, and AWP staff, for an open forum to discuss topics of interest and relevance to AWP’s upcoming conference in Los Angeles.
2014/2015 Writers’ Conferences & Centers Meeting.
An opportunity for members of Writers’ Conferences & Centers to meet one another, and the staff of AWP to discuss issues pertinent to building a strong community of WC&C programs.
50 Years of Denver Quarterly: A Conversation. (Lindsey Drager, Julia Cohen, Andrea Rexilius, Karla Kelsey)
Denver Quarterly celebrates fifty consecutive years of publication in 2015. On this panel, former and current editors reflect on their experiences while on the masthead, consider how the journal’s aesthetic and mission has evolved, and examine the current state of innovative literature both on the pages of DQ and beyond.
A Fable for Horror. (Joyelle McSweeney, Raul Zurita, Valerie Mejer, Daniel Borzutzky, Anna Deeny)
How do poets of Chile, South Korea, and Uruguay imagine historical horror? A panel of internationally renowned poets and translators from Mexico, Chile, and the U.S. will explore how domination, power, dictatorships, torture, and massacres are imagined through fables of animals, insects, and flowers in the poetry of Marosa di Giorgio, Raul Zurita, Kim Hyesoon, and Valerie Mejer.
A Few Good Mentors: How to Cultivate A Literary Life With a Mentor. (Libby Flores, Tom Grimes, Ethan Rutherford, Jennifer Steil, Lilliam Rivera)
Most aspiring writers dream about having a successful author drop into their life, and recognize their talent. This panel will explore the importance of mentorship by looking at the experience within the MFA structure, nontraditional writing pairings, and nonprofit writing fellowships. We will ask what can be gained in the relationship between the more established writers and emerging writer? Leave with pedagogical approaches to mentoring, how to bring mentorship into your writing life.
A More Deliberate (and Desperate) Life: How to Write and Publish a Book while Teaching Five Classes. (Ryan Stone, Katheryn Kysar, Kris Bigalk, Thomas Montgomery Fate, John Reimringer)
A likely teaching job for a newly-minted MFA is at a community college. But how does one teach five classes per term (more if an adjunct), serve on committees, engage in scholarship, and find time to write and publish a book of poems, a novel, or a memoir? This panel of mid-western Community College faculty will discuss how they negotiate a life of writing while adhering to academic
responsibilities and reflect on how they were able to write and publish their recent books amid the chaos.
A Room of One's Own, Plus Others: Writers' Shared Spaces and Communities. (Susan Ito, Ethan Watters, Christine Hyung-Oak Lee, Anika Fajardo, Bethany Hegedus)
Writers crave solitude, yet they need community. Members of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto, New York Writers' Room, Austin’s Writing Barn, and the Loft in Minneapolis believe that creativity flourishes in an atmosphere of mutual support. Panelists will discuss benefits and challenges of the shared writers’ space: you’re alone, yet together--brainstorming titles, sharing critiques and motivating each other. The panel will share ideas for creating a shared writing space in your own community.
A Thread Through the Labyrinth: Learning and Teaching Plot. (Lynne Barrett, Joy Castro, Lauren Grodstein, Daniel Wallace)
Too much plot? None at all? Writers well-trained in other aspects of writing fiction are often confused and daunted by plot, lost in its maze of possibilities. Panelists will share their experiences learning how stronger plot invention enhances character, structure, and meaning in novels and short stories, and will suggest approaches to teaching how to perceive, discuss, and evaluate plotting. We’ll offer charts, maps, and other techniques for devising and envisioning a plot’s twists and turns.
A Tribute to Alice Munro. (Matthew Pitt, Amber Dermont, Mark Poirier, Michelle Wildgen)
This panel celebrates Alice Munro as a quintessential Midwestern writer, albeit one whose Midwest lies north of the U.P. From unassuming openings to unembellished prose, from bucolic settings to characters’ taciturn behavior or seemingly clear-cut aims, the Nobel winner’s stories both embody and overturn Midwestern tropes. Panelists may examine specific works in the oeuvre, or delineated techniques Munro has deployed—with startling precision, and to voluptuous effect—throughout her career.
A Tribute to Charles Baxter. (Matthew Pitt, Michael Byers, Valerie Laken, Porter Shreve, Joan Silber)
This panel celebrates Charles Baxter’s prolific, multi-faceted, enduring career. For over three decades, Baxter has produced signal achievements in short fiction, novels, poetry, and provocative criticism and craft essays, challenging the stale and shopworn in modern letters. He has also cemented a reputation as an esteemed and beloved mentor. This assemblage of peers, colleagues and former students will offer testaments to Baxter’s tremendous contributions and influence on and off-page.
A Tribute to Gerald Vizenor. (Heid Erdrich, Gerald Vizenor, Kimberly Blaeser, Gordon Henry, Margaret Noodin)
Anishinaabe writers will read selections from Gerald Vizenor’s vast body of work and reflect on how this elder statesman of Anishinaabe literature influenced and supported their own work. Vizenor’s political writing, nationalist poetry, and history-steeped novels will be represented in this tribute, fittingly held in his homeland of Minnesota. Panelists will reflect on Vizenor’s role as a mentor and teacher who enabled generations of Native writers to find their voice.
A Tribute to Jane Kenyon. (Amy Cannon, Tree Swenson, Paul Breslin, Marie Howe, Joyce Peseroff)
Almost 20 years after Jane Kenyon’s untimely passing, her influence remains widely felt and her work widely appreciated. Kenyon's voice as an influential translator of Akhmatova; as a poet of place and the natural world (first in Michigan and then in rural New Hampshire); as a spiritual poet and a poet of depression persists and remains pertinent. This panel is a celebration of Kenyon’s influence into the present, and will include readings of and reflection on her life and work.
A Tribute to Jay Meek. (William Stobb, Anna Meek, Thom Tammaro, Jane Varley, Yahya Frederickson)
In his esteemed career, Jay Meek published eight acclaimed books, edited three anthologies including the Pushcart, and received Guggenheim, Bush, and NEA grants. After serving on the creative writing faculty at the University of North Dakota, Meek retired to Minneapolis, where he died in 2007. As avant-garde styles claim critical attention, a focused poetry that achieves depth through discerning, sustained consciousness becomes a rarity. This panel celebrates a crucial voice in American poetry.
A Tribute to Jim Perlman and Holy Cow! Press. (Lynette Reini-Grandell, JP White, Jim Perlman, Roberta Hill, Roseann Lloyd)
Holy Cow! Press has published authors in single-authored collections and themed anthologies for thirty-five years. Thought it originated in Iowa, Holy Cow!, now long located in Minnesota, has shaped literary production in the Midwest and nationwide. Four panelists from diverse backgrounds and genres discuss working with Jim as an editor and the significance of his press. Jim Perlman responds and all participate in Q&A. Readers value his beautiful books of literary and cultural significance.
A Tribute to John Engman. (Jim Heynen, Carrie Mesrobian, William Reichard, Tim Kahl, Ethna McKiernan)
John Engman was a poet who resided in the Twin Cities and taught at several institutions in Southeast Minnesota. Before his death in 1996 due to an aneurysm, Engman's poems and teaching impacted a variety of writers. An intergenerational panel of poets, fiction writers, and non-fiction writers will discuss and celebrate his poems, how his life and mentorship have influenced their own work, and how his contributions to the literature of work mark him as the patron saint of adjunct instructors.
A Tribute to Joy Harjo and Linda Hogan. (Pamela Uschuk, Luis Alberto Urrea, Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan)
Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts presents A Literary Tribute to Joy Harjo and Linda Hogan. Guest Editors, Luis Alberto Urrea and Pam Uschuk will read prose and poetry honoring Harjo and Hogan in Cutthroat's 2015 special print edition. Harjo and Hogan will read selections from new work. Muskoge Creek, Harjo won a 2014 American Book Award & The Pen West Award for her memoir CRAZY BRAVE. Chickasaw, Hogan writes across genres. Her novel, Mean Spirit, was short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize.
A Tribute to Thomas McGrath. (Mike Hazard, John Bradley, Michael Dennis Browne, Ray Gonzalez, Joshua Weiner)
This panel will honor the memory of Thomas McGrath and how his work has remained a influence in the Midwest and throughout the U.S. McGrath lived and taught in North Dakota and Minnesota. Panelists will include John Bradley, editor of an anthology on McGrath, Joshua Weiner who interviewed him, Mike Hazard who made a film on him, Michael Dennis Browne, a former colleague, and editor Ray Gonzalez. Each panelist will speak on aspects of his career and read some of their favorite McGrath poems.
about a truth that didn’t believe in death: Honoring Juan Gelman. (Victor Rodriguez Nunez, Katherine Hedeen, Eduardo Chirinos, Lisa Rose Bradford, Ignacio Infante)
This panel honors Juan Gelman (Argentina), the most read and influential Spanish-language poet of our times, who died in early 2014. He published more than 30 books of poetry and won countless awards. And he continues to be the ideal of a poet mindful of his ties to nature and society, who makes every effort to join the political and aesthetic avant-gardes — art and life. The panel will bring together his translators into English and scholars of his poetry for a discussion of his work.
Adaptation. (Shawn Otto, Thomas Pope)
A panel whose members have a dozen film adaptations between them talk about the process: what filmmakers look for, the differences between novels and films, and the business side of how movies do and don't get made. Is there something a novelist can do to improve the chances of selling movie rights? What sorts of novels make good and bad movies? Should you try adapting your novel for film? Should you take the money and run? How does the narrative structure of film differ from novels?
An Arts Degree for Journalists?: The Nonfiction MFA as an Incubator for Reportage. (Lucas Mann, Kerry Howley, Jen Percy, Inara Verzemnieks)
While "to-MFA-or-not-to-MFA" is a constant conversation among novelists, the divide between graduate school and the working world may be even starker for nonfiction writers. Journalists are often seen as outside the academy, where memoirs rule. But is it time for a shift in how we see the nonfiction MFA? Panelists will discuss the multifaceted potential of the nonfiction MFA, and how writers can use the funding, time, and intellectual support found in graduate school to hone longform reportage.
And the Award Goes To: Who Benefits from an Awards Program? (Alayne Hopkins, Pete Hautman, Wang Ping, Chris Fischbach, John Reimringer)
What impact does a state awards program have on the career of a writer? How can these programs serve as a platform for readers to discover local writers? These questions and more will be discussed by Minnesota Book Award winners, some who have also served as judges for other book awards, and include a perspective from a literary press. Panelists will consider the role of subjectivity in the review process, the value of literary prizes, and the place of competition in the writing community.
Arab American/Canadian Editing and Publishing: Journals and Anthologies as Tools in Community Development. (Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Kathryn Haddad, Hayan Charara, Lisa Suhair Majaj, Trish Salah)
Arab American/Canadian publishing builds stronger activist, artistic, and scholarly communities. Queer, trans, womanist, and progressive North African/West Asian editors will discuss the production and maintenance of Arab, Indigenous, queer/trans, womanist, and multicultural journals and anthologies. Collaboratively producing diverse texts, panelists will discuss navigating economic, logistical, and institutional challenges, while centering issues of culture, politics, aesthetics, and diversity.
Art School Writing Faculty Caucus Meeting. (Amy Lemmon, Grant Hier, Caroline Goodwin, Joshua Butts, Monica Bilson)
Annual meeting of art school faculty members to discuss pedagogy, programming, administration, and best practices particular to Art School writing classes and programs.
AWP Program Directors Plenary Assembly.
All AWP program directors should attend and represent their programs. The Executive Director of AWP will report on AWP’s new projects and on important statistics and academic trends that pertain to creative writing programs and to writers who teach. A discussion with the AWP board’s Regional Representative will follow. The plenary assembly will be followed by regional breakout sessions.
Being Poet Laureate: City Laureates on Civics, Outreach, and Public Poetry. (Laurie Ann Guerrero, Diane Raptosh, Sarah Busse, Kathleen Cerveny, Thom Caraway)
Increasingly, cities are instituting Poet Laureate positions to help raise the public profile of the arts. Several new and established poets laureate, representing Boise, Madison, Cleveland Heights, San Antonio, and Spokane, explore the programs and activities each is doing in their city. Panelists will also discuss the responsibilities of the civic poet, the challenges laureates face in their respective places, and opportunities the positions afford to poets across the country.
Best Practices for Submitting an AWP Panel Proposal.
Come join AWP conference committee members and staff for a best practices discussion about submitting a panel proposal for the #AWP16 Conference & Bookfair in Los Angeles. Discussion will include an overview of the proposal system and tips for submitting a more effective proposal.
Beyond Gourmet Dinners: Food Writers of Outreach and Engagement. (Mary Swander, Alice Julier, Darra Goldstein, Ava Chin, Adam Wright)
Food writing is about capturing the uniqueness of civilization, about agriculture, ecology, culture, religion, war, and race. These writers will discuss their efforts to fight inequality and how they have found ways to use food to promote tolerance and diversity, from working with rural refugee immigrant farmers, to conducting urban foraging workshops, to teaching underprivileged children.
Birthing the Same Baby Twice: Or, Adaptations as the Fifth Genre. (Peter Grandbois, Betty Shamieh, John Rowell, Alan Heathcock)
We talk a lot about what it means to write an original work of art, but precious little about adapting a work of art, and less still about the trials and tribulations of adapting one’s own work of art to another genre. The writers on this panel argue that this often overlooked process of rebirth is not only an artistically satisfying experience but can result in a work so radically different from the original that adaptations might be considered “The Fifth Genre.”
Border Crossings. (Eric Freeze, Thom Conroy, Shane Book, Angie Farrow)
The literary marketplace can be vastly different in other countries, with their own recognizable periodicals and presses. How does one build a platform in other countries? These poets, fiction, and nonfiction writers explain how they’ve been able to successfully maintain a presence in the US and markets like Canada, New Zealand, Europe, and elsewhere.
Breaking Stereotypes. (Judy Wilson, Susan Power, Stephen Graham Jones, Gordon Henry, Steve Pacheco)
Flowing through southwest Minnesota is the Yellow Medicine River where the Dakota came together to dig the yellow root of a plant used for medicinal purposes. Such is the spirit of Yellow Medicine Review in providing a platform for Indigenous perspectives, in part to make possible the healing of an old but open wound: the persistent stereotyping of Indigenous peoples. Four distinguished contributors of the journal come together to discuss how writers can counter and replace such stereotypes.
Building a Creative Writing Community at the Community College. (John Hoppenthaler, Ilyse Kusnetz, Daniel Stanford, Susan Cohen, Al Maginnes)
That so many writers now find work at the CC level presents with an extraordinary opportunity to nurture creative writing in places where it has been largely ignored. Touching on economics, practicality, course and program creation, reading series, thinking outside the box, community outreach, and more, five writers with significant experience concerning these matters will provide insight for those who hope to better serve their students by raising creative writing’s profile at their school.
Building Communities: How to Develop Partnerships and Collaborations. (Sarah Gambito, Francisco Aragon, Elmaz Abinader, Cornelius Eady, Joan Kane)
This panel gathers representatives of five organizations that serve writers of color: Cave Canem, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Kundiman, Letras Latinas, and Voices of Our Nation. We will discuss best practices and possibilities for collaboration--across organizations; with residencies, presses, literary journals, and university affiliations; between founders and fellows; and beyond. Panelists will discuss how partnerships provide opportunity for sustainability, growth, and inspiration.
But I Need My Day Job: Creating a Kick-Ass Writing Education in Your Own Community. (BK Loren, Erika Krouse, Carolyn Daughters, Carrie Mesrobian, Jennifer Dodgson)
Not everyone can pursue a writing degree or feels finished with their education once they have one. This panel brings students and teachers from The Loft and Lighthouse Writers together to discuss models of writing education in community-based centers. Many writing careers have blossomed from such centers--book deals, national awards, & more. We'll talk about how the programs work, how they can be replicated, and how efforts like these can help people make writing a lasting part of their lives.
But seriously … Is it time for more humor in environmental writing? (Ana Maria Spagna, Melissa Hart, Jennifer Sahn, David Gessner)
What’s so funny about nature? Plenty. Picture the banana slug’s undulating trail of neurotoxic slime or the sage grouse’s spiky-tailed mating dance. Too often environmental writing is considered humorless, but whether you write about hiking in a pink-plastic tiara, risking Cuban jail-time in pursuit of an osprey, or protesting Keystone XL from your coal-heated home, there’s room for irony, surprise, even slapstick comedy. Who knows? Laughter may just help save the planet.
Characters As Large As Life: A User’s Manual. (CJ Hribal, Golda Goldbloom, Peter Turchi, Liam Callanan)
We all know them: characters that chew up scenes, that make novels and stories unforgettable, that—oddly enough—often reveal best what it means to be human by being outsized, drawn large, almost more than human. We call them larger-than-life, but are they really? Why are we so drawn to these characters, and what’s their effect on narrative? Four award-winning fiction writers will present on how and why authors use such characters by looking at works of fiction they love.
Charles Wright at 80: A Celebration of Poetry and Teaching. (Lisa Russ Spaar, Mary Szybist, Dave Lucas, John Casteen)
Four students of Charles Wright reflect on his influence on three generations of poets, and read selected poems that have proven durable and instructive in their own writing and pedagogy. Wright's presence as a teaching practitioner is remarkable because he taught so energetically while holding the pace and discipline of his own poetic practice. Few other teaching poets have so clearly modeled the principles he laid out for his students and composed such a remarkable body of work.
Chekhov’s Gun: How to Make Surprise Suspenseful. (John Fried, Karen Dwyer, Elyssa East, Irina Reyn, Ivan Rodden)
The Russian author’s principle – that if a gun is seen in the first act it’d better go off by the third – famously speaks to the idea that every narrative element should be there for a purpose, but also to the necessity for surprise. So why is surprise such a challenge to employ effectively? Writers working in different narrative forms – novel, short story, play, memoir – consider the definition of surprise, how to incorporate it in your work, and how to approach the subject in the classroom.
CLMP/SPD Annual Publisher Meeting. (Trisha Low, Jeffrey Lependorf, Brent Cunningham, Ted Dodson, Laura Moriarty)
The staffs of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) and Small Press Distribution (SPD) discuss issues facing publishers, organizational goals and upcoming programs. Both new and long-standing members, as well as those contemplating joining either organization, should plan to attend.
Comics Confessional: the Allure of the Graphic Memoir. (Jim Miller, Jeffrey S. Chapman, Justin Hall, Nicole Oquendo)
While superheroes clearly still dominate the American comic book landscape, extraordinary graphic memoirs have fueled the rise of the literary graphic novel: Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, David Small’s Stitches, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Why are comics such a compelling medium for autobiographical or confessional literature? This panel will examine how the visual medium provides authors tools ideally suited for creating powerful, charged autobiographical literature.
Coming of Age: Choosing to Write the Young Adult and Middle Grade Novel. (Sheila O'Connor, M. Evelina Galang, Tommy Hays, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Nicole Helget)
Novelists have long been interested in conflicts of the young, and many novelists are choosing to write for both adults and younger readers. What are the challenges of moving between two audiences? Does the age of the intended reader, middle grade or young adult, limit the novelist’s ambition or craft? Are there craft demands unique to each audience? Five writers that have published novels for both adults and young people will share the lessons learned from writing for a second audience.
Corporeal Complexities: Examining the Variant Body in Narrative. (Sherri Hoffman, Loretta McCormick, Kellie Wells, Peggy Shinner, Noria Jablonski)
Too often the disabled or variant body is reduced to a narrative device used to explain or dismiss bad behavior, imbue a character with pathos or to reinforce class, social or economic stereotypes. This panel challenges the idea of these "other" bodies as simple narrative tropes. Instead, we seek to map both internal and external spaces that contemporary writers create and subvert by examining disability, illness, or altered bodies in their work.
Create & Connect: Making the Most of Your Writing Residency. (Colleen Coyne, Kathleen Ossip, Sam Gould, Sally Franson, Amy Wheeler)
The gift of time and space: residency programs offer coveted opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, community building, and sustained attention to your own work. How can you best prepare for them? What challenges might you face? In what ways can residencies enrich your writing and your life, sometimes unexpectedly? Panelists share their experiences applying to, attending, and running such programs as Hedgebrook, Yaddo, Ragdale, the Anderson Center, and the Trainwreck Residency.
Creating Literary Community from the Margin in the Middle. (Christine Gelineau, Carlyle Brown, Neil Shepard, Allison Joseph, M.L Liebler)
Overcoming what can sometimes feel like the invisibility of your location by building vibrant and sustaining connections even when you’re geographically distant from the acknowledged centers of American literary culture, from writers who have done exactly that by founding community centers, theaters, literary magazines, arts centers, online opportunities, and more. What works, what to watch out for, and how to maintain a balance that will sustain your own writing life.
Culturally Responsive Craft. (Sanderia Smith, Adrienne Perry, Cole Lavaiais, Rion Scott)
Each fellow of Kimbilio Center for African American Writers will present one specific craft idea and discuss how seeing the idea through a culturally specific lens can be both useful and necessary in opening up the lens rather than shutting it down. In addition, each fellow will discuss their own development as writers and how and where this lens has been important and where it has been missing.
Designing The Word. (Joshua Unikel, Jordan Bass, Franklin Vandiver, John Gialanella)
If “the medium is the message” like Marshall McLuhan wrote, then how is the design of literary magazines contributing to contemporary writing? What can design aesthetics add to our experience as readers? Editors/designers from McSweeney’s, Seneca Review, Triple Canopy, and Sonora Review discuss graphic design, literary magazines, and the history of innovative design. Each will discuss his journal’s aesthetic and his own while also addressing the benefits and potentials of designing in the 2010s.
Detours of Intention: Travel Writing, Privilege, and Perspective. (Tom Fate, Sandi Wisenberg, Michele Morano, Mary Swander, Tim Bascom)
"Travelers don't know where they're going. Tourists don't know where they've been," writes Paul Theroux. Tourists look; travelers see, conscious of their perspective. Which is why many writers who travel are concerned less with destinations than with the journey itself, less with being an accidental tourist than with being an intentional detourist. This panel of writers will explore the problems and promise of this kind of travel and of writing from the perspective of a privileged outsider.
Developing Community Creative Writing Programs for Underserved Youth. (Jennifer Minniti- Shippey, Garrett Bryant, Jen Lagedrost, Maya Washington, Alan Berks)
Panelists from diverse community outreach organizations share best practices for developing and maintaining youth writing programs. From launching a new program, to leveraging funding, to connecting with underserved communities, to the writing exercises themselves, these dedicated writer-educators will help you navigate the waters of community-based creative writing programs. Panelists will share success stories, challenges, and work created by program participants; prepare to be inspired.
Digging for Story: Research, Fieldwork and Accuracy in Creative Writing. (Maggie Messitt, Kristyn Jo Benedyk, Bronwen Dickey, Kristen Millares Young, Sheri Booker)
Fieldwork, immersion, interviews, & archival research: Are these tools limited to journalism, or should other writers dig deeper for the sake of truth and accuracy? This panel brings together writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, & screenplays to discuss the importance of getting it right in their writing process. We will explore ways to integrate these tools into coursework, and debate our methods and the ethics around our search for emotional, cultural, historical, and geographical accuracy.
Digital Strategy as Mission Statement: Three Models. (Tyler Meier, Jen Benka, Suzanne Nossel)
This panel will feature three leading literary institutions in conversation about their digital strategies, and look at the efforts of each across their platforms as an expression of their respective mission statements. We'll explore websites, social media and email efforts, and digital publications/collections. We'll speak to how an integrated approach to digital strategy works to cultivate and engage audience and encourage broader, multifaceted participation across screen sizes and devices.
Disappearance and Forgetting—Geeshie Wiley and Last Kind Words Blues, Sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. (Robert Polito, Greil Marcus)
In 1930 a blues singer and guitarist named Geeshie Wiley recorded a song that opened up the deepest crevices of the American imagination. Then she fell off the map. While recent research has, for the first time, tracked the outlines of her life, she remains in the mist—and in this talk, the song writes the singer's adventures in the long years after she once spoke in public to describe life as she knew it. A conversation with Poetry Foundation President Robert Polito follows.
Diversifying the Literary World. (Bojan Louis, Tanaya Winder, Laura Hope-Gill, Lisa Lucas, Jynne Martin)
VIDA and others have shown the lack of gender parity in the literary world. These panelists—the publicist of Riverhead Books; the editors and publishers of Guernica, As/Us, and Waxwing; and the director of Asheville Wordfest—describe how they've increased representation of women, as well as diversity beyond the gender binary to include race, ethnicity, indigenous tribe, class, sexuality, age, education, ability, language, religion, etc., and how others can get involved in the work left to do.
DIY Small Press Publishing. (Joe Pan, Chris Tonelli, Tony Mancus, Mark Cugini, Sampson Starkweather)
As the literary and publishing landscapes transform, and the writing population expands, small presses and independent houses proliferate and flourish. But what goes into the creation of a small press? This panel of rising small publishers will discuss the ins and outs of starting up your own press, handling questions concerning nonprofit and for-profit ventures, printer choices and printing costs, marketing strategies, open submission policies and contests, and more.
Do You Believe In Magic? Truth and Illusion in Creative Nonfiction. (Krista Bremer, Sy Safransky, Stephen Elliott, Patricia Foster, Lee Martin)
Editors and writers discuss how tempting it is to wave a magic wand and substitute truthiness for truth, or alter disagreeable facts for the sake of a narrative arc, or conjure up dialogue spoken years earlier, or turn up the emotional volume on an event that wasn’t that dramatic. Do facts get in the way of a good story or do they make it more honest and complicated -- more like this mysterious life, which is bigger than any of our stories?
Documenting Disaster Across Genres. (Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Nicole Cooley, Diane Glancy, Carter Sickles)
Emerging and established writers who work in poetry, fiction and drama discuss projects that investigate industrial disasters, environmental crises, and assaults on human communities. We explore the role of literature to challenge official histories and represent marginalized experience. We probe the tension between aesthetic values and political and social commitment as we share our research and writing methods and describe our experiences in the field and literary studio.
Ecotone at Ten: A Reading and Conversation. (David Gessner, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Anna Lena Phillips, Emily Louise Smith)
Ecotone was founded in 2005 with a mission to reimagine place—to move beyond the safe, hushed tones of some nature writing and find new ways to engage with our environment. An ecotone is a transition zone between communities, and the award-winning writing published in the magazine inhabits those liminal spaces of danger and opportunity. Staff and contributors will celebrate Ecotone’s first ten years, and contemplate what it means to be a magazine of place in the current literary landscape.
Elegy in a Rainbow: The Art and Example of Gwendolyn Brooks. (David Baker, Carl Phillips, Stanley Plumly, Meghan O'Rourke)
Where does poetry live? Gwendolyn Brooks provides a rich example of a poet whose work resides in—spanning and uniting—many communities, from neighborhood to academy, close family to global audience. Four poet-critics look at her life and poetry to better understand her capability with diverse methods: classical and idiomatic, bluesy and formal, personal and political, critically fearless yet equally welcoming, a poet at home in both the oral and inscribed dimensions of her vivid poetry.
Europa Editions Turns Ten - An Indie Publishing Success Story. (Michael Reynolds, Chantel Acevedo, Laurie Hertzel, Emily Forland, Hans Weyandt)
Since 2005, Europa has earned a reputation for excellence and played an important role in the indie publishing renaissance. Panelists discuss current publishing landscape and the role of independent publishers. What makes publishing with an indie press different? How do indie publishers develop and use their brands to benefit authors? How do indie publishers work together and why? What does the Europa story say about book industry today? Is an indie publisher the right choice for your book?
Ex Libris Salvaging Poetic Dialog by Collaboration. (D E Zuccone, Fran Sanders, Gerald Cedillo, Leslie Ullman, Cyrus Cassells)
Houston's Public Poetry EX LIBRIS brings poets from the US to discuss a poet of their choice in a live on-line discussion. Using the auspices of the Houston Public Library, social media and local participants, each month EX LIBRIS posts a personal essay and discussion topics prior to the discussion, participants can be anywhere they have access to Facebook. Selected poets discuss poets whose work may be neglected, under-appreciated or personally important in their growth. It's archived on site.
Experiments in Translation. (Erica Mena, John Cayley, Jen Hoefr, Molly Weigel, Don Mee Choi)
As translators, publishers of translation, and teachers of translation we’ll discuss the practical, artistic, and ethical implications of translating experimentally. Drawing on their own work, panelists explore what constitutes experimental translation, how literary experimentation differs from culture to culture, and how experimentation creates new possibilities for works in translation.
Extremophilia: defining a poetics of the extreme. (Beth Bachmann, Nick Flynn, Jamaal May, Tarfia Faizullah)
Cavers report experiencing a condition called 'the rapture,' the body's response to depth and darkness. The condition is similar to 'raptures of the deep' faced by scuba divers. One is marked by panic, the other by euphoria; one by earth, one by water. What happens when poets cave and dive into extreme states of war, torture, and allied acts of violence against self and other? We will read and discuss strategies for writing poems in response to violence, but also rapture, ecstasy, and true love.
Eye on the (Book) Prize: Submitting Short Story Collections to Contests. (Steven LaFond, E.J. Levy, Nathan Poole, Kate Milliken, Alden Jones)
Contests have become an essential avenue for short story writers aiming to publish a book. With hundreds of people vying for the prize, what can you do to make your story collection stand out? Recent winners of the New American Fiction Prize, Flannery O'Connor Award, Iowa Short Fiction Award, and McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction discuss their approach to writing, revising and compiling a winning submission and suggest what you can do to prepare your manuscript before sending it into the judges.
Facts & Fiction: The Role of Research in Writing. (Deb Vanasse, Molly Antopol, Will Chancellor, Suzanne Rindell, Brendan Jones)
How do you move from researching a topic to writing about it creatively? Five published novelists explore the ways in which writers build a vault of knowledge on a given subject, then make the leap to fiction. What is the balance between library research and lived experience? How to make history and facts interesting? Individual strategies for research will be investigated as writers discuss how exploration of a specific topic can lead to happy accidents and surprising story lines.
Fail Better: Successful Writers Talk About Failure. (M. Molly Backes, Roxane Gay, Megan Stielstra, Dean Bakopoulos, Rebecca Makkai)
Rejected stories, unfinished novels, bad reviews, poor sales, unmet expectations—failure is an unavoidable part of the writer’s life, and yet we rarely acknowledge it. In this lively and honest conversation, five writers will share their experiences and reflect on questions of success and failure. How do you define success for yourself when the literary world can feel like a zero-sum game? How does failure, by any measure, affect your work? And what does it mean to fail better?
Fascinated or Haunted: Why We Continue to Write and Rewrite Fairy Tales. (Sherryl Clark, Ron Koertge, Jack Zipes, Christine Hepperman)
Everyone from Einstein to Bettelheim says fairy tales are vital to children. Whether we believe their impact is deeply and psychologically empowering for the young, or just a good imaginative leaping off point for writers, we cannot deny their durability. This panel explores the reasons for writing a fairy-tale-based work, the transformations that happen, and delves into the writers’ own childhood experiences of this realm. What endures in our deepest imagination, and why?
Finding Voice: Authors Speak About Their Craft, Sponsored by Grove/Atlantic Press. (Bob Shacochis, Michael Thomas, Roxane Gay, John Freeman, Pablo Medina)
A panel featuring four incredible, diverse Grove voices: 2014 Pulitzer Prize finalist Bob Shacochis; IMPAC award-winner Michael Thomas; poet and novelist Pablo Medina; and cultural critic, essayist, and novelist, Roxane Gay. Together, these authors will discuss their writing processes and read from new and/or forthcoming work. The conversation will be moderated by author, literary critic and former Granta editor, John Freeman.
Flash Worldwide: A New Anthology, Flash Fiction International, from W.W. Norton. (Christopher Merrill, Shabnam Nadiya, Ethel Rohan, Randa Jarrar, Robert Shapard)
Flash is an international phenomenon. What can it offer U.S. writers, from the standpoint of their own writing, or their teaching of writing and literature? The panel’s writers discuss strategies, styles, and topics in world flash. What are the opportunities and rewards in translating flash, and for journals in publishing it? What does research reveal about the form of flash, in this new Norton anthology? The director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program moderates.
For All Who Leave Their Pens Weeping So Others May Write. (Sarah Browning, Celeste Mendoza, Vikas Menon, Tony Valenzuela, Nicole Sealey)
How do organizers and presenters of other writers keep our own creative lives alive? Leaders and staff of CantoMundo, Cave Canem, Kundiman, Lambda Literary Foundation, and Split This Rock discuss the challenges and joys of maintaining a writing life that's often fit in around the edges of demanding leadership roles within literary organizations. Are we writers? Are we administrators? We are both! We prove it to you by reading some of our own poems and memoir excerpts as part of the discussion.
Form and content in Native American Fiction: why art matters. (Erika Wurth, Toni Jensen, Natanya Pulley, Stephen Graham Jones)
This panel will address the way Native American fiction is much like American fiction, ranging wildly from experimental to traditional. Characterization, language and story change radically depending on form, which then affects content, often paramount in discussions surrounding Native Literature. The participants illustrate that range clearly, and will discuss how working within traditional lines or experimental, and every in-between, affects how their work is perceived as Native writers.
Fostering Compassion: Lived experience informing fiction, fiction informing life. (Carolyn Kellogg, Summer Wood, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Susan Straight, Janet Fitch)
Virginia Woolf writes in her novel Orlando: We write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. How do we invite reality (ours and others’) to inform our fictional stories? Conversely, how can fiction compel readers to a place of transformed thinking, compassion, and activism? Panelists whose lived experiences with orphaned, neglected, and foster children speak about how experience and activism inspire their craft and how fiction can serve as an impetus for change.
Four Writers of Experimental Fiction Disagree. (Jeff Jackson, Kate Bernheimer, Susan Steinberg, Alan Michael Parker)
What is “experimental fiction”? Is there any value to the terminology, or merely the promise of obscurity? The four panelists here, all fiction writers, all of whom may have written “experimental fiction,” have been asked to prepare remarks in two ways: first, how they are in fact writers of experimental fiction; and second, how they are not in fact writers of experimental fiction. The results should provoke a lively Q-and-A.
From Page to Stage: How to engage with an audience. (Stacie Williams, Amber Tamblyn, Adam Wilson, Justin Taylor, Jessica Anya Blau)
Four authors discuss what they’ve learned from their time on the road. Sharing experiences from their most memorable events, whether reading to a crowd of 3 or 300, participating a nudist colony’s book club discussion, poetry readings, or a dramatic performance, these authors will reinforce the importance of having an engaging and personal experience regardless of audience size, venue, or awareness.
From Pushkin to Pussy Riot: Poetics and Politics of Translating Russian Poetry. (Philip Metres, Matvei Yankelevich, Ainsley Morse, Bela Shayevich, Alex Cigale)
This panel proposes to explore and reveal the complex work of translating Russian poetry against the backdrop of the incipient “Cold War 2.0.” Poets and Translators Alex Cigale, Philip Metres, Ainsley Morse, Bela Shayevich, and Matvei Yankelevich will read selections from new books authored by modern Russian poets such as Daniil Kharms, Vsevolod Nekrasov, Lev Rubinstein, among others, and talk about the poetics and politics of translating Russian poetry in the age of Pussy Riot and Putin.
From Rent Parties to Kickstarter: Toward a Democratic Patronage of Poetry. (Rita Mae Reese, Jill McDonough, Millicent Accardi, Colleen Roberston Abel, Mary Meriam)
Have you seen your poems on blogs or pillows sold on Etsy but weren’t even consulted or paid for its use? Would you like to receive payment for your poetry? Do you have a special project that needs funding? This panel will identify avenues of support for poets that make potential readers more aware of and invested in poetry as a living art form. We will explore the concept of the gift economy, aggregated sites for donations, crowdsourcing, rent parties and more.
From the Ground Up: Creating and Sustaining Literary Centers That Thrive. (Beth Schoeppler, Michael Khandelwal, Gregg Wilhelm, Chris Dombrowski)
Potential literary centers can take a lesson from journalists when planning for success: they need to know the who, what, where, why and how of their prospective centers in order to start smart and truly fit the needs and capacity of their communities. In this interactive panel, representatives of established centers will share the considerations that shaped their founding, what they’ve learned in the process, and how these questions continue to be useful in creating long term success.
From Zero to One: First Books and What We Wish We’d Known. (Karen Skolfield, Kristin Bock, Douglas Bauer, Ayshia Stephenson, Amy Dryansky)
Of special interest to writers hoping to or about to publish a first book. We’ll discuss the happy but often bewildering aftermath of acceptance: book design, publicity, the vulnerability of being newly published, post-publication contests, and second and beyond books. We’ll also talk about pre-publication editing and researching presses and contests. Panelists include poets and prose writers in various stages of their careers. Discussion will be audience driven – bring your questions!
FUSE Caucus (Forum of Undergraduate Student Editors). (Catherine Dent, Rebecca Godwin, Reed Wilson, MIchael Cocchiarale, Amy Persichetti)
Calling all undergraduate students and faculty mentors engaged in editing and publishing literary journals, literary websites, chapbooks, and more. At the annual FUSE caucus, we discuss challenges and issues related to the world of undergraduate literary publishing, editing, and writing. Organizational updates are followed by an open discussion in which faculty and students separate into two groups. This year’s focus is "What's the Big Idea? Do These Young Voices Matter?"
Genre 2.0: Game-Based Learning and Creative Writing. (Long Chu, Rick Brennan, Brian Alspach)
Game-based learning fuels student engagement in the 21st century. Video gaming, coding, game design, and technology form a sort of genre 2.0 for the art of storytelling. As writers and educators who depend on the craft of creative writing, can we embrace such a technologically-advanced generation of young thinkers and help them evolve into writers? Panelists will discuss how this new world order of storytelling has impacted and engaged young writers.
Geography of Nowhere: Suburban Landscape as Stage and Character in Young Adult/Children's Literature. (Geoff Herbach, Janet Fox, Kari Anne Holt, Joy Preble, Nikki Loftin)
Contemporary young adult/children’s fiction is largely set in ordinary, often suburban landscapes. Characters experience love, loss and growth amid the mundane world of sprawling shopping malls, high school football fields, and chain restaurants. Five published authors discuss the extraordinary nature of the everyday in crafting young adult/children’s literature.
Get Ready to Rumble: Where Art & Activism Meet. (Allison Hedge Coke, Travis Nichols, Sarah Fox, Kao Kalia Yang, Anne Waldman)
What are literary concerns & how do they guide a writer’s life? Is all art/literary art, to some degree, political by nature? What does an active/artistic life look like? Four writer-activists present duality in their interfacing work, with assertion of autonomy (the right & ability to create), involvement in community (the fulcrum where work is realized) & negotiations in protecting autonomy of others, rights of a larger community, while working the front line with literary sensibility.
Getting an MFA in Creative Writing After 35: Advice for Students, Faculty and Programs. (Shannon Reed, Jennifer Bannan, Jamey Jones, Lee Hancock, Nancy Jainchill)
Returning to school to earn an MFA in Creative Writing as a fully-fledged adult isn’t for the faint of heart, but we’re here to show that it can be deeply rewarding.
The five people on this panel all earned their MFAs in Creative Writing when we were over 35. We’ll share our triumphs and challenges while doing so, and share our best advice for prospective older students, as well as the faculty and program directors who want to welcome them.
Growing a Creative Writing Program: New Seeds and Strategies. (Heather Bryant, Claire Hero, Lea Graham, Randall Horton, Deborah Poe)
Panelists reflect on approaches to growing a creative writing program, from course rotation to co-curricular programs, student-run literary magazines, book arts, and digital media in the creative writing classroom. Panelists explore strategies for linking art and action through service learning and campus poetry and prose readings on contemporary issues. This panel includes current program directors and faculty who have contributed to growing programs in New Zealand and the US.
Hello, Is It Me You're Looking For? Finding your Audience Through Social Media. (Benjamin Samuel, Lincoln Michel, Rachel Fershleiser, Julie Buntin)
Social media gurus reveal the nitty-gritty of developing a consistent, engaging voice across platforms by sharing actual tweets, posts, blasts and subject lines that have gotten the word out and grown audiences.
Historical Fiction & Fictional History. (Joseph Schuster, Joan Silber, K. L. Cook, Charissa Menefee)
Some of our most celebrated contemporary fiction and drama centers on historical narratives, including recent work by Edward P. Jones, E. L. Doctorow, Hillary Mantell, Tony Kushner, Lynn Nottage, and Paul Harding, among many others. In this panel, we will explore why the past continues to exert such a powerful pull on writers, the opportunities and challenges that writing about history poses, and narrative strategies and techniques for dealing imaginatively with historical events and figures.
How to Begin After “The End”: Publishing Pros on Turning Your Manuscript into a Book. (Katie Cortese, Steve Woodward, Esther Porter, Kate Gale, Dawn Frederick)
Through trial and error, many literary writers with persistence and talent become adept at placing poems, stories, and essays in individual journals throughout the year. Once a long project is finished, however, the path to publication is not always clear, especially if the work is anything besides prose with an obvious commercial appeal. The editors and agent on this panel will offer practical advice for literary writers whose novels, memoirs, and collections are ready to meet the world.
How To Build and Sustain a Writing Center in the Digital Age. (Christopher Castellani, Eve Bridburg, Whitney Scharer, Sonya Larson)
In this session, the leadership of Grub Street, one of the country's most influential and innovative writing centers, will share the core tenets and guiding principles that have informed our programming, development and strategic decisions over the past 17 years. We will focus on the need for centers to prepare writers for the 21st century's particular challenges and opportunities while maintaining a strong pedagogical vision.
How to Craft True-to-Life Queer YA characters--Writing Beyond Stereotypes. (Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Molly Beth Griffin, Lauren Myracle, Judi Marcin)
Creating LGBTQ characters for a YA audience can be daunting. Many writers have limited experience with queer subject matter yet seek inclusivity. So where does one begin when crafting a young LGBTQ character? These YA authors will provide concrete methods for avoiding tropes, writing beyond stereotypes and improving queer character veracity. This panel will give writers the tools needed to enhance the diversity within their work.
How to Survive as an Independent Literary Organization in an Age of University Monopolies. (Richard Newman, Tanner Curl, Maribeth Batcha, Gianna Jacobson)
How does one start up or sustain a literary organization without university funding? Why are independent literary organizations vital to the literary landscape? december, One Story, River Styx, and The Loft Literary Center will discuss founding an organization, funding projects, building community relationships, and sustaining a non-profit’s viability.
How to Write and Sell a Nonfiction Book Proposal. (Betsy Amster, Leigh Ann Hirschman, Rolph Blythe, Robin Hemley, Andy Levy)
If you’ve got a strong book idea, you may be able to sell it to a publisher on the basis of a book proposal, a lively and detailed explanation designed to win over jaded editors. In this discussion, publishing professionals and nonfiction authors describe the elements of persuasive proposals and what agents and editors are looking for. You’ll learn how to define your audience, sharpen your pitch, define your place on the shelf, and match your message to the right publishing houses.
How We Survived Genocide: Queer Indigenous Men's Writing. (Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Max Wolf Valerio, Matthew R. K. Haynes-Kekahuna, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, David Keali'i)
Furthering Indigenous, womanist, and queer literary traditions of color, queer Native men are creating art detailing the struggles and beautiful survival of multiple sovereign territories. Transgender and same-gender-loving writers and editors from the Américas and Pacific will discuss how Indigenous interpenetrating bodies -- terrestrial, cultural, physical -- figure in their work. How the land and lovers are woven together, families and futures, the surviving of genocide, intimately linked.
How Writers of Color are Transforming the Literary Landscape. (Allen Gee, Ruben Martinez, Mikayla Avila Vila, Anna Kaye, Sean Hill)
This panel speaks to the different identities minority writers might inhabit at various stages of a successful career: MFA student; emerging editor; visiting or tenured professor; advocating or highly engaged writer. How do we view or take on pressing contemporary issues, such as pigeonholing, dismantling the notion of the ethnic writing ghetto, being lone sought out representatives, creating publishing venues, finding solidarity, and most importantly, how do we maintain ourselves as writers?
How Writing Programs Can Meaningfully Utilize Social Media in an Age of Branding, Oversaturation, and Decreasing Admissions. (Robert Stevens, Robyn Jodlowski, Kinsley Stocum, Terry L. Kennedy)
This panel will discuss different ways that writing programs and journals can use social media to recruit, advocate, teach, and promote literary citizenship. We'll discuss our experiences and best practices for established and emerging digital mediums (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). In an age of "branding," oversaturation, and decreasing admissions, how can programs and editors use social media meaningfully? This panel will provide practical advice, as well as thoughts on the digital future.
Hypertext: Bookish Writing for a Digital Age. (Susannah Schouweiler, Halimah Marcus, Dustin Luke Nelson, Jamie Millard, David Doody)
Panelists will speak to the interplay of medium and message as lit mag fare and literary journalism migrate from print to web-based platforms. We’ll highlight new forms of online storytelling and innovations in meaningful reader engagement in this new wave of bookish writing, marked by an increasingly interdisciplinary way of writing and publishing inclined toward more inclusive critical conversations and contributions by “professional” journalists and critics, writers and readers alike.
I Can Change, I Can Change: Transformation on the Page. (Kima Jones, Benjamin Percy, Edan Lepucki, Samantha Dunn, Chris L. Terry)
"I can almost always tell immediately that what I’m looking at is a moment of transition in someone’s life." The moment that Russell Banks is describing can be vital to a story. Some would argue that it's the reason readers turn the page. This panel will explore the question: how does a writer discover that moment of transition? From James Joyce's epiphany, to the questions of character desire and conflict, how did these authors find that illuminated moment of change?
If You Build it, They Will Come: Community Libraries for Poetry. (Lorna Dawes, Lee Briccetti, Katherine Litwin, Charlene Spearen, Marianne Kunkel)
Building poetry libraries from the ground up—four big thinkers will share their tips for starting and maintaining community libraries specifically for poetry. Through the examples of an inner-city library, a series of libraries across Africa, an online library, and the Poetry Foundation Library, these library administrators will demonstrate how digital technology, donations, volunteerism, and solid organizational skills can create a thriving community library where before there was only a dream.
Image Is Everything: Literary Magazines on Design. (Emily Smith, Cheston Knapp, Jodee Stanley, Brigid Hughes, Roger Hodge)
Ecotone, Ninth Letter, the Oxford American, A Public Space, and Tin House—magazines that differ in editorial mission, but not ambition—explore the varied ways they express their sensibilities through compelling design. From strategies for finding reputable printers and art resources to approaches to covers, panelists will discuss how they translate the writing in their pages visually, and how they convey a distinct print aesthetic across their websites, blogs, and social media, even in events.
Imaginary readers: Who are we writing for? (Kathleen Alcala, Donna Miscolta, Carmen T Bernier - Grand, Maria de Lourdes Victoria)
When a writer finishes a book, she might imagine a reader much like herself – a bilingual, U.S. born Latina, with memories from her immigrant parents. In reality, her readers might be monolingual, Anglo-American women with romantic images of Mexico as a vacation destination. How do we negotiate between imaginary readers and who really buys our books? In this panel four Latina novelists will describe their assumed audiences and compare them with the realities of market research.
In the Middle of Everything: Independent Publishing in the Midwest. (Naomi Huffman, Ben Tanzer, Tim Kinsella, Jeffrey Gleaves)
"New York!" he said. "That's not a place, it's a dream," writes Ralph Ellison in Invisible Man. New York may be a dream for many writers, but it's certainly not the only dream. Over the last decade, countless small presses and journals, literary reading series, and independent bookstores have cropped up in minor Midwestern cities. "In the Middle of Everything" will discuss what's going on in Midwestern America to make it one of the most vibrant places to be a writer and celebrate literature.
Independent Bookselling: Opportunities for Authors. (Dennis Johnson, Tom Bielenberg, Mary Magers, Martin Schmutterer)
As bookstore chains disappear and independent bookstores become even more
important, what should writers and authors know about working with booksellers? This panel from Minneapolis-area bookstores—Micawber's Books, Magers & Quinn, and Common Good Books—will discuss how writers can work with independent booksellers to market a book. Topics will include author events, store placement, joint promotion, and how to spread the word to the book-buying public.
Independent Presses and the Author-Editor Relationship. (Edward Falco, Alyson Hagy, Katie Dublinski, Greg Michalson)
What is the nature of the author-editor relationship in independent presses, and is that relationship different in commercial presses? How does the business model of an independent press affect the collaborative work of writing and publishing? Writers and editors from Graywolf Press and Unbridled Books will discuss their experiences working together, and explore what is unique about publishing with and working for an independent press versus a commercial press.
Indigenous-Aboriginal American Writers Caucus. (Linda Rodriguez, Tanaya Winder, Marcie Rendon, Sy Hoahwah, Jim Northrup)
Indigenous writers & scholars participate fluidly in AWP, teaching & directing affiliated programs, or working as independent writers/scholars, &/or in language revitalization & community programming. Annually imparting field-related craft, pedagogy, celebrations and concerns as understood by Indigenous-Native writers from the Americas and surrounding island nations is necessary. AWP Conferences began representative caucus discussions 2010-2014. Essential program development continues in 2015.
Inked: Author, Editor, Agent. (Chris Jones, Eric Smith, Dawn Frederick, Meredith Rich)
How do authors, editors, and agents best work together? How do you settle differences of opinion in the revision process? The Loft Literary Center will moderate a panel discussion between the author, agent, and editor of INKED (Bloomsbury Spark, 2014). The case study idea will expand to the broader publishing themes of what exactly each role contributes to the process and how a writer can identify when they’re ready to seek representation or find a publisher.
Intersecting Cultures: The Joys and Challenges of Writing the Tribe. (Daiva Markelis, Bayo Ojikutu, Achy Obejas, M. Evelina Galang, Helene Aylon)
The five writers on this panel reflect a wide range of ethnic, geographic, linguistic, and religious backgrounds. They will explore the joys and challenges of writing about their subcultures--their tribes--groups that often intersect and overlap, raising complicated questions about terms such as diversity, diaspora, exile, homeland, insider and outsider.
Intimate Communities: How to Form and Keep a Writing Group That Works. (Daisy Hernandez, Minal Hajratwala, Katayoon Zandvakili, Kristin Naca, Lorraine Lopez)
While writing groups are often seen as pit stops on the way to the MFA or as a post-MFA transition experience, they can be challenging to create and sustain. Five authors in poetry, fiction and nonfiction share practical strategies for forming an in-person or online group, dividing time wisely, and critiquing fairly. They discuss how groups were essential in drafting, revising, and publishing their books, and how to create a stellar mini-community even if you live far from a literary epicenter.
Into the Editor's Mind: the Art of Publication. (Tim Liardet, Jill Bialosky, Jeffrey Levine, Barbara Fischer, Briony Bax)
What criteria do editors most employ when accepting poems for a journal, and manuscripts for a new collection? Is there a science to it? What variables are involved? One late lamented editor claimed to sit reading submissions always with a cat snoozing on his lap. Could this be a metaphor for the easy power of an editor? What is the nature of that power? Four poetry editors, three American, one English, will contemplate these questions and others in an attempt to frame the art of publication.
It's Sad When Batman Needs a Cane: Disability in the Mainstream Marketplace. (Katie Hae Leo, John Lee Clark, Leslye Orr, Christine Stark, Kevin Kling)
The marginalization of deaf and disabled voices in mainstream literature reflects a pervasive American ideal that is rooted in “able-bodied” norms and fueled by consumerism. A diverse panel of disabled writers will discuss and share their work, which spans poetry, nonfiction, plays, and children’s literature. We will ask questions like, “Why must disability narratives be uplifting?” and “Can disabled characters be sexy?” and “Why couldn’t the guy in Avatar ride his wheelchair to Pandora?”
K-12 Educator Caucus. (Monika Cassel, David Griffith, Scott Gould)
Meeting of K-12 writer-educators to share best practices and strategies for building and maintaining writing series and programs in schools, and to discuss challenges of teaching creative writing in the K-12 setting. All K-12 educators or those interested in K-12 education welcome.
Keeping Our Small Boat Afloat: A Tribute to Robert Bly, Sponsored by Blue Flower Arts. (Tom Verner, Tony Hoagland, Marie Howe, Jill Bialosky)
A tribute to honor and celebrate the life and literary work of groundbreaking poet, writer, translator, storyteller, and cultural critic Robert Bly. Bly has changed the American literary landscape with pioneering translations of Neruda, Transtromer, Machado, Hafez, and Rilke. His own poetry permeates the space between the conscious and unconscious, and finds rich meaning in mythology. An icon of American letters, Bly's many awards include the Frost Medal. He's lived in Minnesota for 80+ years.
Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction: Who We Are and What We're About. (Rion Scott, Amina Gautier, Angie Chatman, Renee Simms, Nicole Martinez)
Fellows and faculty from the recently founded Kimbilio Center for African-American Fiction discuss their mission, how Kimbilio moved from that mission to reality, and offer multiple strategies for creating purposeful community for fiction writers of color. Panelists will also discuss the way Kimbilio and similar organizations can work to disrupt traditional workshop paradigms, provide community and solidarity, and make space for questions of identity in any writer’s life and art.
King Kong vs. Godzilla: The Art of Revision in Fiction and Nonfiction. (Michele Morano, John Griswold, LeAnne Howe, Sarah Dohrmann, Philip Graham)
What differing techniques of revision are used by writers of fiction or nonfiction, and what artistic boundaries are crossed by writers who work in both genres? What borders can be found between memory and imagination in the writing process, and how are those decisions influenced by a publishing climate that sometimes blurs the differences between the two genres? Five writers, three who write in both genres, discuss the varying approaches they employ when revising, remembering, and inventing.
Labor of Love: How Literary Organizations Promote Diversity. (Bonnie Rose Marcus, Terry Blackhawk, Rich Villar, Sarah Gambito, Regie Cabico)
Directors of four literary organizations, Acentos, (Bronx) InsideOut Literary Arts (Detroit), Kundiman (NYC), and Capturing Fire (D.C.) discuss how the work they do contributes to the larger literary conversation by including otherwise marginalized voices. These organizations offer exemplary models to the field on how to promote diversity within the literary community. Writers, as well as administrators, each panelist brings a passionate approach to the work they do in their communities.
Latina/o Poets as Publishers: A CantoMundo Roundtable. (Deborah Paredez, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Juan Morales, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Casandra Lopez)
How are Latina/o poets occupying and transforming the roles of publishers and editors today? This panel convenes CantoMundo founders and fellows to discuss their work as publishers of small presses, editors of literary magazines and blogs, and founders of new media platforms. Our roundtable conversation explores the particular challenges, visions, and contributions of Latina/o publishers and editors.
Let Us (Not) Teach You a Lesson: A Pleiades Writers’ Symposium on Moral Fiction. (Phong Nguyen, Bayard Godsave, Christine Sneed, Seth Brady Tucker, Michael Kardos)
Much of the response to John Gardner’s On Moral Fiction has been in the form of backlash, but fiction writers, whether they like it or not, are often confronted with questions of morality. How does a writer grapple with morality in a relativistic universe? How to engage with moral questions without being preachy? This panel of editors, teachers and fiction writers explores some ways that fiction writers might address morality when they can no longer necessarily trust moral absolutes.
LGBTQ Caucus. (Matthew Haynes, Brittany Tonstad, Amee Schmidt)
The LGBTQ caucus is for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer to network and discuss common issues/challenges. These concerns are related to gender fluidity and identity while teaching and writing professionally along with leading a literary and socially responsible life. We share interests, publications and projects in order to strengthen visibility and importance to AWP, along with addressing our social/creative significance to academic/literary communities.
Libraries Influence Readers, Writers and Communities. (Margaret Simon, Ellen de Saint Phalle)
Don't just dream of your book on the library shelf - make sure it circulates! Most writers begin as readers in the library, and today, libraries are doing much of what publishers used to do for their authors -and more. Meet professionals from three libraries: Bronxville Library (NY), Shaker Library (OH) and the Hennepin County Library (MN) and learn about their successful programming for authors and poets. You’ll discover libraries are all they’re stacked up to be and more!
Life After the MFA: Extra/ordinary Career Paths for Writers. (Cecily Sailer, Giuseppe Taurino, Zayne Turner, Erin Kottke, Charlie Scott)
Many MFA-holders seek university teaching positions or aspire to survive on book royalties, but there’s much more to do with one’s graduate degree. In this panel, four writers will discuss their journeys from graduate programs to meaningful careers outside the tenure-track, from leadership roles in literary/arts nonprofits to the publishing world to classrooms outside the university setting.
Literary Awards and Prizes: Help or Hindrance? (Paul Morris, Alexander Chee, Martha Cooley, Mitchell Jackson, Alexi Zentner)
Literary awards and prizes excite regular interest; writers, editors, publishers, and readers all pay attention to them. What roles do awards and prizes play in our literary culture? Who judges them, and for what constituencies? How are individual writers and groups of writers helped or hindered by them? What role can and should money play? Several writers who have judged or received literary awards and prizes will discuss the pros, cons, implications, and complications.
Literary Centers 2.0: Four Upstarts Share Their Stories. (Susannah Felts, Angela Palm, Matt Nelson, Peter Biello, Meg Reid)
How do fledgling literary centers get off the ground, and how can they stay aloft and draw members into the flock? Innovative new organizations with diverse approaches to programming are popping up around the country, inspired in part by the success of established centers like The Loft and Grub Street. Representatives from four literary centers with different models will discuss savvy strategies and lessons learned from the trenches while building writing centers for diverse populations.
Literary Citizenship: Incessant Self-Promo or Virtuous Duty? (David Griffith, Richard Nash, Austin Kleon, Julie Buntin, Cathy Day)
As publishers keep marketing budgets at historic lows and writers take to social media by the thousands to promote their work and that of others, “literary citizenship” has become a hotly debated and divisive topic. This panel of writers, editors, and publishers will discuss why literary citizenship is crucial not only for the growth of individual careers or organizations, but perhaps more importantly, for promoting literacy and the literary arts in a culture that is increasingly televisual.
Literary Citizenship: It’s Not About You. (Lori A May, Kamy Wicoff, Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Joe Ponepinto, Susan Tekulve)
Literary Citizenship is about building strength in community. Regardless of genre, geography, finances, or publication experience, there are ample ways to engage with others, foster local and national communities, and support our cultural ecosystem. Panelists discuss how to support and create opportunities for the benefit of others, including the development of reading series’ and online communities, working with non-profit organizations, book reviewing, mentoring underserved writers, and more.
Literary Production and the Gift Economy. (Lisa Bowden, Kate Gale, Monica Casper, Trace Peterson)
Editors, publishers, writers, and other culture-makers explore the often thorny topic of operating within, and against, the forces of both the market and gift economies at once. How can writers/artists and arts presenters want to work with each other given the touchy cultural playing field where reading fees and literary citizenship are suspect, buying from big boxes online is cheap and easy, reviewers review who they know, and the economic reality of sustaining literary indies requires heroics?
Literary Publishing in the 21st Century. (Travis Kurowski, Daniel Slager, Jane Friedman, Emily Smith, Gerald Howard)
In 1980, Bill Henderson assembled The Art of Literary Publishing, an anthology that defined the challenges publishers would face for the next thirty years. In recognition of the seismic change in the industry over the past decade, Literary Publishing in the 21st Century brings together a diverse group of publishing professionals to explore challenges the next thirty years may hold. This panel assembles four contributors to the anthology to explain how publishing will thrive in the 21st century.
Literary Startups. (Erin Hoover, Toby Barlow, Paul Martone, Eric Obenauf, Melinda Wilson)
How are writers working to shape literary culture and their communities? This panel gathers founders of new nonprofit or for-profit literary organizations from across the country to discuss why and where they decided to begin their projects. Whether it all started with a unique publishing idea, the will to support other writers, or seeing the need for new discussion forums, these writers-on-a-mission will share how they were able to transform good ideas into practical agents for change.
Literature On Air. (Marianne Kunkel, Jeff Brown, Don Share, Michael Nye, Paul Reyes)
The panel will explore innovative ways in which the literary arts have achieved renewed life through various broadcast media, including video, vimeos, and the exciting rise in literary podcasts. Editors of Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review, and PBS NewsHour will discuss strategies, challenges, and opportunities that come with creating on-air media platforms for the literary arts and what these productions mean for their vision for their pages.
Litercial: Authors, Agents, Reviewers Discuss the Mashup of Commercial and Literary Fiction. (Courtney Santo, Rebecca Makkai, Alexandra Machinist, Lee Griffith, Anton Disclafani)
Why is “commercial” a dirty word in writing programs and “literary” one in the publishing industry? Given that many of the world’s most beloved books have achieved critical and commercial success, shouldn’t authors try to learn how to straddle the line between commercial and literary? Authors, whose work is litercial and publishing professionals discuss the stigmas attached to each of these categories and explore ways in which writers, faculty and students can address these issues in workshop.
Locating Digital Storytelling in the Undergraduate Creative Writing Curriculum. (Lolita Hernandez, Alexander Weinstein, Brian Short, Laura Thomas)
As writing opportunities in digital media proliferate for graduates, many undergraduate creative writing programs are building digital storytelling courses into the curriculum. This panel of university faculty will examine how electronic media is impacting the teaching of creative writing. We’ll discuss how teaching students to write for digital audiences differs from the approach to print media storytelling; the benefits and challenges of incorporating digital storytelling into a creative writing curriculum; and whether the shift to digital media is changing the nature of the stories we tell.
Low-Residency MFA Director's Caucus. (Sean Nevin, Wayne Ude)
This is a regular annual meeting of the directors of low-residency MFA Programs, providing a forum for discussions on program development and pedagogy particular to the low-residency model. All low-residency directors are welcome to attend and vote.
Making Diversity Happen: Editors Can Change the Literary Landscape. (Lee Hope, Martha Nichols, Danielle Georges, Andrew Lam, Leesa Cross-Smith)
Many literary editors now acknowledge the lack of diversity in the writers they publish. Yet the debate often turns into female and minority authors blaming the editing “guys”—and editors, male and female, wringing their hands but offering few solutions. This panel will focus on what editors and writers need to do to make diversity happen, be it networking outside their comfort zones, hiring editors of color, or running online social media campaigns to promote a truly diverse literary world.
Mentor/Mentee: Paying It Forward. (Julie Schumacher, Charles Baxter, Ray Gonzalez, Edward McPherson, Yuko Taniguchi)
The teaching of writing involves close attention to the writer - to his/her process, foibles and development - as well as the work. What sort of mentoring should a student writer expect, and an adviser provide? Is mentoring purely professional/artistic, or is there a personal component? Faculty mentors debate these questions with former students who went on to become mentors themselves. How is mentoring paid forward? What do former mentees hope to bring to the next generation?
Mentoring Matters. (Katherine Rowlands, Katherine Lanpher, Kathleen Vellenga, Jennifer Dodgson, Kelly Norman Ellis)
Nobody starts out well-connected, sought after and juggling multiple offers for books, teaching gigs or freelance assignments. It happens by building connections, a reputation and a list of ideas for the next great project. And none of that comes to pass without a mentor - or multiple mentors - to help guide, coach and support you. Our panel taps into the wisdom of a poet, a novelist, a journalist, an editor and a writing coach to discuss why mentoring matters, how to find one and how to be one.
MFA? Check. Now How Do I Keep Writing? Practical Information for Post-MFA Writing Life. (Melanie McNair, Cynthia Gehrig, Sharon Dynak, Amaud Johnson, Paul Lisicky)
How do you keep the momentum going in your work when the realities of student loan payments set in? Join us for a solution-focused discussion about the hustle of post-MFA life. Panelists representing a grant-awarding foundation, a fellowship designed to nurture the first book, and a residency program will join a graduating MFA student and a professional writer and teacher to discuss the available strategies for closing the gap between commencement and your first book.
Midwest Region: AWP Program Directors’ Breakout Session.
If you are a program director of an AWP member creative writing program in the following states you should attend this session: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. This regional breakout session will begin immediately upon the conclusion of the Program Directors Plenary Meeting, so we recommend that you attend the Plenary Meeting first. Your regional representative on the AWP Board of Directors will conduct this meeting.
Milkweed Editions' 35th Anniversary Panel: Publishing Transformative Literature. (Daniel Slager, Dan Beachy-Quick, Joni Tevis, Jody Gladding, Amy Leach)
For the majority of its thirty-five-year history, Milkweed Editions’ mission statement has included the word “transformative.” This panel features our Publisher and four artists from our list exploring—through a mixture of conversation and reading—how this adjective applies to their work, their experience working with Milkweed, and the larger question of the roles and responsibilities of art, the artist, and arts organizations in the world.
Mixed Media: Collaborations Beyond the Book. (Caroline Casey, Sarah Schultz, Scott Pollock, Shanai Matteson)
Literary events have moved outside the bookstore, but who says they can't move outside the book too? The American Swedish Institute, The Walker Art Center, and Works Progress have collaborated with Coffee House Press to create meta translations, films, serialized e-novellas, public reading rooms, cheek-kissing demonstrations, potluck suppers, and more, all to the end of putting writers in the community and in conversation with other artists. How do you keep any art form vital? You make it new.
Mixing and Matching Languages for Narrative Riches. (Denise Low, DaMaris Hill, Xanath Caraza, Ruben Quesada)
All writers encounter diverse, coded vocabularies. Here, panelists discuss use of Nahuatl, Spanish, Cherokee, and African American terms in English-language writings. What techniques weave translation into a single text? What stories require languages other than standard English? Published writers of African American, Costa Rican-Los Angelino, Mexican Indigenous, and Midwest mixed-blood Indigenous heritage share ideas.
Money! Sex! Politics! negotiating gender bias to get what you want as a writer and as an academic. (Marcela Sulak, Hoa Nguyen, Cate Marvin, Danielle Pafunda, Cynthia Roth)
This panel will focus on common sense ways to avoid pitfalls of gender bias as a writer and in academia, and to implement effective tactics for sensitizing our colleagues to gender-based patterns that harm us all. We how we draw on resources from the fields of systems dynamics, business management, and diplomacy women to help identify gender bias and eliminate it. Panelists include Women in the Literary Arts members, heads of writing programs, adjunct instructors, editors, poets, writers.
More Than A Family Affair: Using Family History in Creative Nonfiction. (Jeremy Jones, Bonnie Rough, James McKean, June Melby)
We all have those oft-repeated stories of larger-than-life uncles and of the courtship of great-grandparents and of closeted skeletons in the old homeplace. But how do we take these passed-around stories and move them beyond family reunions? How do we determine what is the stuff of literary nonfiction and what is best relegated to family history? Panelists whose books come from presses large and small discuss effective techniques for collecting and crafting—and publishing—family lore.
More Than Luck: How Publishers Select Literary Manuscripts. (Ann Filemyr, Denise Low, Kate Gale, Susan Gardner)
All presses look for quality in manuscripts. What other criteria make a difference in the selection process? Book editors from diverse presses — Red Hen, Red Mountain, and Mammoth Publications (American Indian) — discuss the possible impacts of niche, contests, marketability, length, topic, and author support, among other considerations. A behind-the-scenes look at how to increase chances of getting a book published and understanding what is needed to go from manuscript to book.
Moving into the Future, One Step at a Time: Serial Literature in the Digital Age. (Kate Carito, Drew Arnold, Yael Goldstein Love, Richard Nash)
Serial literature, the staple of working writers like Charles Dickens, has been revived by advances in technology. Editors of e-publishing outfits discuss the revival of the serial, how it affects the reading experience, and what this emerging market means for writers. Discussion includes analysis of technological advances that make serial publishing feasible for a publisher, how/if writers are adapting style to fit the form, and how serials reach untraditional audiences.
Music in Prose: Crafting the Lyric Sentence. (Pearl Abraham, Hanna Pylväinen, V.V. Ganeshananthan, Stephanie Grant, Will Byrne)
Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. This panel celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. Panelists perform close readings of great favorite sentences, discussing breath and rhythm, pauses and stops, and then on to the rhetorical strategies at work, the use of repetition, inversion, interruption, afterthought, pile- up, aside, and more.
Navigating the Waters of Authentic Voice in YA Native Fiction. (Debbie Reese, Eric Gansworth, Cynthia Leitich Smith)
Books by Native writers offer something unique that most non-Native writers don’t have: access to a lived experience as a Native person. This identity shapes and informs the stories they choose to tell. Without deep connections, non-Native writers often recycle problems that characterize the body of literature about Native people. This dialog, with Nambe, Onondaga, Mvskoke and Norsk panelists, will focus on choices writers make in telling stories that embody the depth and breadth of Native life.
Nerd Novels: Exploring Worlds of Knowledge in Fiction. (Natalie Roxburgh, Susan M. Gaines, Jean Hegland, Michael Byers)
In recent decades, an increasing number of novelists have looked to science and scholarship for their subjects. We discuss the challenges and payoffs of working with such rich but demanding material. How do we bring obscure realms of knowledge such as chemistry, climate science, literary criticism, astronomy, or economics to life in fiction? How can we teach readers what they need to know to understand our stories while keeping them engaged with characters who are, essentially, nerds?
New Fontiers: Paving Space for Emerging Talent Off the Conventional Page. (Celia Johnson, Amanda Bullock, Sarah Bowlin, Michelle Brower, Meredith Kaffel)
Agents, editors, and publishers are discovering new voices off the conventional page, in creative communities both on- and offline. These communities are forged through innovative concepts, such as a storytelling extravaganza on Twitter, a bookish showdown in a lively setting, or literary speed dating with agents and writers at a popular bookstore. Five publishing pros discuss how these new frontiers in publishing lead to the discovery of new talent and help foster emerging careers.
New Trends in Literary Publishing. (Jeffrey Lependorf, Fiona McCrae, Deena Drewis, Nathan Rostron, Jon Fine)
Get the latest on the greatest issues facing literary publishing from a panel of individuals shaping the industry.
Northeast Region: AWP Program Directors’ Breakout Session.
If you are a program director of an AWP member creative writing program in the following states you should attend this session: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. This regional breakout session will begin immediately upon the conclusion of the Program Directors Plenary Meeting, so we recommend that you attend the Plenary Meeting first. Your regional representative on the AWP Board of Directors will conduct this meeting.
Object and Subject: The Illustrated Book. (Lincoln Michel, John Woods, Quintan Wikswo, Brad Zellar)
“Bring back the illustrated book!” the New Yorker pled last year. We aim to comply. Three writers of illustrated novels and story collections examine the hows and whys of illustration versus graphic novel or comic, and the place of pictures in literary fiction. What does a picture add? How does it shape a narrative? Abstraction versus representation, photo versus drawing, and text versus image all ask the same question—how can we best tell this particular story?
Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora, 40th Anniversary Roundtable. (Afaa Michael Weaver, Kwame Dawes, Sheila Smith-McKoy, Jonah Mixon-Webster, Duriel E. Harris)
Founded at SUNY Fredonia by Alvin Aubert in 1975 and recognized by the NEA as one of the premier journals dedicated to Africa and African Diaspora Literatures, Obsidian is marking its 40th anniversary in continuous publication. To celebrate, editors emeritus join current editors in an intergenerational dialogue to address critical issues facing today’s Black literary artists and the pivotal role of the author-editor in shaping the terrain of Black literary publishing in ‘post-racial’ America.
Opting out of the Pyramid Scheme: In Praise of Teaching High School. (Anne-Marie Oomen, Scott Goulde, Kim Henderson, Margaret Funkhouser, Monika Cassell)
In a pyramid scheme-like job market where hundreds of newly-minted MFAs vie for poorly paid adjunct positions and no-pay internships at nonprofits, there is astonishingly very little discussion around teaching high school. A panel of writer/educators from the top arts high schools in the country discuss the huge upside to teaching writing outside of the Academy, from the impact on the future of literary culture, to the ways that early exposure creates a healthy, lasting relationship to writing.
Other People's Privacy: Secondary Characters in Nonfiction. (Debra Monroe, Bob Shacochis, Emily Fox Gordon, Robin Hemley, Marcia Aldrich)
We volunteer to tell our secrets in public, but our secondary characters do not. In fact, our secondary characters likely think of themselves as people, not characters, not secondary either. Discussion about how to depict these characters who populate our essays and memoirs--how to reveal their circumstances in a way that's candid yet fair; how to depict their flaws and complicity while also making these characters morally nuanced--will explore ethical dilemmas and craft issues at the same time.
Pacific West Region: AWP Program Directors’ Breakout Session.
If you are a program director of an AWP member creative writing program in the following states you should attend this session: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. This regional breakout session will begin immediately upon the conclusion of the Program Directors Plenary Meeting, so we recommend that you attend the Plenary Meeting first. Your regional representative on the AWP Board of Directors will conduct this meeting.
Periodically Speaking: How to Bring Lit Mags Into the Classroom. (Julie Buntin, Jen Acker, Martha Cooley, Minna Proctor, Rebecca Chace)
Actively integrating lit mags into course curricula while providing opportunities for one-on-one interaction between lit mag publishers and creative writers promotes a new generation of active readers and productive members of the literary community. Professors and lit mag editor/publishers discuss their experiences bringing lit mags into the core of their teaching.
Photographic Memory, Why all Memoirists Tell Imperfect Truths. (Ann Hood, Helen Peppe, David Mura, Suzanne Strempek-Shea)
We always hear memoirists talk about truth and the importance of telling it, but memories are, in part, determined by how we perceive the world, which is defined by who we are at that moment in place and time. In this presentation we will discuss the importance of family and individuality, and we will view photographs that illustrate the impossibility of being able to tell a perfect truth based on personal memory, and we will discuss the difference between complete honesty and incomplete truth.
Pinning Editors Down: Lit Mag Fiction Editors Define What Works. (Beth Staples, Aja Gabel, Emily Nemens, Jennifer Acker, Timston Johnston)
Many literary magazines claim to seek "the best" writing, so it can be difficult—short of reading them all—to know where to submit. In a discussion for both writers and editors, editors of fiction from Ecotone, Gulf Coast, Passages North, the Southern Review and the Common will define their editorial aesthetic. Using examples of published work, they'll discuss how and how quickly they recognize a successful story, and what they believe compelling fiction does in the hearts and minds of readers.
Podcasting: New Opportunities in Dramatic Writing. (Christine Borne, Justin Glanville)
Intrigued by TV writing, but don’t want to move to LA? Why not develop your own podcast series? Podcasts are more popular than ever, require minimal financial investment, and are easy to distribute. Using our supernatural comedy-drama series, Munchen, Minnesota, as an example, we’ll discuss coming up with an idea, how to apply the basics of TV writing to your podcast script, beat sheets, character arcs, and season arcs, and how to cast, record and market your series.
Poetic Labor: The Paradoxes of Making (It) Work. (Catherine Wagner, Rodrigo Toscano, Duriel Harris, Marie Buck)
When is poetic activity poetic labor? When is it something other than labor? How does participation in the field of poetry - its production and distribution - invoke, resist, and realize contemporary labor structures? How are conferences, as nodes for professionalization and community, positioned in these dynamics? Can poem and poet respond positively to cultures around labor while remaining critical? In roundtable format to provoke discussion, our panel asks how poets get to work.
Poets Paying the Bills: Balancing Your Writing and Moneymaking. (Rachel Simon, Chloe Yelena Miller, Hila Ratzabi, Shradha Shah, Mary Austin Speaker)
“Poetry” is often synonymous with “poverty.” How do we afford groceries and other necessities? Panelists from diverse professional backgrounds will discuss how they balance their paying jobs (emergency room doctor, freelance editor, adjunct professor, poetry press editor, online instructor, and book designer) with their writing practice and families. Two panelists have small children at home.
Preserving Literary History: Archiving Milwaukee’s Woodland Pattern. (Susan Barribeau, Anne Kingsbury, Lisa Hollenbach, Oliver Bendorf, Karl Gartung)
How do you preserve the history of a bookstore? What about a bookstore that is also a gallery, non-profit, urban neighborhood community center, and literary landmark? Panelists will discuss how thirty years of history from Milwaukee’s Woodland Pattern Book Center, including business records, correspondence with writers and artists, manuscripts, broadsides, audio recordings, and more, will be cataloged, preserved, and made available to the public through UW-Madison Libraries.
Principled Protest in Academia: The National Significance of the University of Houston Sit-In. (Ashley Wurzbacher, Kay Cosgrove, Jameelah Lang, Robert Boswell, Kevin Prufer)
In 2013 graduate students and faculty in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program staged a sit-in and other collective actions to protest teaching stipends that had not been increased in at least twenty years. Their efforts received national attention and resulted in a raise of over 55 percent. This panel will provide student, faculty, and administrative perspectives on the sit-in and will discuss its national implications at a time when funding for the arts is at an all-time low.
Promotion as Art: Thinking Beyond the Book Trailer. (Mitchell Douglas, David Flores, Ellen Hagan, Monica Hand, Parneshia Jones)
En route to a National Book Award win, Nikky Finney promoted Head Off & Split with a series of short films by David Flores. More than book trailers, these thoughtful vignettes revealed the person behind the poems: a voice of witness speaking candidly from the places that birthed the project. This panel gathers five poets with Flores to discuss their unique collaborations with the filmmaker, the need for more innovative book promotion, and what happens when spreading the word becomes art.
Publishing Sucks, Even When You Are Good At It. (Jill McDonough, Kimberly Johnson, Bob Shacochis, Major Jackson, Jay Hopler)
Four successful, published, prize-winning poets from all over the country bare all. We will share our publishing anxieties, grudges, and horror stories; our awkward bookfair shynesses; our lists of the places that haven’t ever taken a poem. Not one. Even though we keep sending them our very. best. work. We’ll offer insights and strategies that *have* worked, too, and offer plenty of time for Q&A and sympathy with audience members’ own publishing troubles.
Publishing Translations: The Small Press. (Sal Robinson, Matvei Yankelevich, Jim Kates, Cole Swensen, Kendall Storey)
Publishers and editors at small presses will discuss the role of small presses in publishing translations. We'll discuss practical considerations like finding translations and rights; editorial strategies; and the role of small presses in introducing important new works to an English readership.
Qu'est-ce Que C'est "Publish"? How Publishers and Translators Work Together. (Jeffrey Lependorf, Susan Harris, Chad Post, Daniel Slager, Jason Grunebaum)
Effective publication of literature in translation requires a dynamic partnering of translator and publisher. Publishers and translators discuss how they work together, who does what, what comes first, and what roles they play jointly. This event is co-sponsored by ALTA, the American Literary Translators Association.
Queer/Feminist/of Color Presses on the Imperative to Publish. (T. Jackie Cuevas, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Sara A. Ramírez, Lisa C. Moore, Kim Tran)
Queer/feminist/of color presses defy the imperative of mainstream publishing by looking to our communities, instead of market trends, for guidance on who, what, why, and how we publish. In an unprecedented gathering, publishers from RedBone, Evelyn Street, Third Woman, and Kórima Press will gather to speak to the vision and processes that guide our work to document and create artifacts in a world where our people’s voices are published at inanely lower numbers than white and/or straight authors.
Race in YA Lit: Writing Ourselves, Writing the Other:. (Swati Avasthi, Justina Ireland, Matt de la Pena, Varian Johnson)
We all know the importance of seeing yourself in a book. But in children’s literature, where it is diversity is crucial, characters of color (CoCs) are few and far between. This panel will address common questions that arise when writing CoCs: Do I have the authority to tell this story? How do I avoid tokenism? Can I write outside my race authentically? Can I represent my own race? Four diverse authors will discuss the unique challenges and strategies for writing CoCs and navigating the market.
Re: searching - Or: Don't Write What You Know. (Josh Bernstein, Jill Essbaum, Ben Stroud, Tiana Kahakauwila, Stephan Eirik Clark)
With the exception of Show Don’t Tell, Write What You Know may be the most common writing advice. But this advice doesn’t need to result in autobiographical fiction. It should be a call to research, so that you can know more and fill your writing with what you’ve learned. The panelists will explore ways that research has enhanced their short stories and novels, including writing that is based on historical events, connected to their own life experiences, or entirely remade in their imagination.
Recent Trends in Creative Nonfiction. (Janet Heller, Laura Julier, Matthew Gavin Frank, Hila Ratzabi, Kim Wyatt)
Five editors and writers of creative nonfiction discuss recent trends in creative nonfiction, including the larger role of creative nonfiction in literary journals, different types of CNF, hybrid forms combining different genres that have emerged from CNF, and the importance of CNF in English and Creative Writing programs. Panelists will also share advice to writers about contests and about publishing CNF.
Rejection: How to Cope With It, How to Grow From It. (John Hill, Phillip Lopate, Dinah Lenney, Heidi Durrow, Sheena Cook)
I am proposing a panel discussion on the subject, “Rejection: How to Cope With It, How to Grow From It.” My panelists will include two widely publshed essayists (Phillip Lopate and Dinah Lenney), and two fiction writers (Heidi Durrow and Sheena Cook). We will examine the panelists experiences of having their submissions rejected, and their strategies for continuing to submit in the face of that.
Rejection! Everything You Always Wanted to Know (But Were Afraid to Ask). (Jill Bialosky, Rob Spillman, Melissa Stein, MB Caschetta)
Top editors from W. W. Norton, Poetry magazine, and Tin House join emerging writers (including a literary-rejection blog author) to dish about topics such as exactly how submissions are evaluated, what it’s like to rebuff so many labors of love, the mysterious hierarchy of rejection slips, whether and how the best work really gets published, tips to avoid surefire rejection—and how to maintain faith in your work and your voice even when rejections keep piling up. Audience questions encouraged!
Representing Responsibly: The Challenges of Writing Diversity for Kids and Teens. (Sona Charaipotra, I. W. Gregorio, Sarah Benwell, Bryce Leung, Renee Ahdieh)
How do you change the (very white) face of children's literature? Through great storytelling. Because if there's one thing kids and teens hate, it's a lecture. The writers here are integrating issues of race, class, sexuality, gender and/or ability, while still emphasizing the import of narrative. This discussion will center on how to include diverse elements while putting the focus squarely on quality storytelling -- making diversity part of the picture without making it the big picture.
Scaling: When Literary Organizations “Globalize”. (Chris Cohen, Gerald Richards, Paul Morris, Chad Kampe)
PEN American Center and 826 National join together to discuss scaling: specifically, the challenges and benefits of nationwide—and worldwide—reach, and two different models that a non-profit literary org. can take as it both opens and maintains multiple chapters. 826 was founded in 2002; the PEN American Center has been around for 90 years. Joined by the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, currently in the 826 Chapter Development process.
(Screen)play: Positioning Screenwriting in the Creative Writing Deptartment. (David Shaerf, Juliet Giglio, Jeffrey Wray, Angela Ferraiolo)
This panel will be a discussion of the pedagogy of screenwriting and its burgeoning position in the academy. As writing for film gains a more established presence within creative writing programs and the literary arts, this panel aims to discuss the issues involved in finding the pedagogical balance of allographic, dramatic writing in relation to the autographic nature of the poetry and prose workshop setting.
Second Acts: Creative Writing As A Second Career. (Jacqueline Luckett, Bridgett Davis, Bethanne Patrick, Evie Shockley, Talisha Shelley)
Even though mainstream publishing loves an ingenue, everyone doesn't find herself as a writer as soon as she finishes college. This panel represents the voices of creative writers who came to the profession of creative writing or the teaching of creative writing after flourishing careers in law, film making, broadcasting and marketing. This group of writers will discuss the benefits and challenges of finding your voice when you have already found yourself a life.
Self-Publishing Primer: How to Become Your Own Publisher. (Patti Frazee, Gordon Thomas, Ellen Krug, Joe Lusso)
The new world of self-publishing has left many authors scratching their heads. It’s like being asked to build a house when you don’t even have a toolbox. Where to begin? This panel of authors, publishing consultants, and editors will address the joys and pitfalls of becoming an indie author, and will give every writer the tools to venture forth into this brave new world. Practical information will be presented to help you explore the options and start to build a publishing foundation.
Short fiction—writing it, acquiring it, selling it. (Elisabeth Schmitz, Josh Weil, Jamie Quatro, Rob Spillman, Michael Knight)
Editors and short story writers discuss the renaissance of short fiction, the risks and benefits of publishing it, and the marketplace in which it sells. Why has the short story been stigmatized as an “unsellable” prose form and how are writers and editors proving this otherwise? How has short fiction changed the literary landscape over the ages? And why is the short story important to you?
Slow Publishers in the Fast Lane. (Brent Cunningham, Matvei Yankelevich, Lisa Pearson, Danielle Dutton)
Independent publishers who value a non-commercial aesthetic of crafted bookmaking, editorial collaboration, and a cooperative approach to artistic production face unique challenges. Either they stand apart from the commercial industry and risk limiting their readership, or they find ways to exist in two worlds. This panel brings together innovative publishers whose unique publishing models work to cultivate an ethos of attention and care while navigating a fast commercial culture.
Slush Pile Standouts: Thoughts from the Editor’s Desk. (Julie Wakeman-Linn, Mark Drew, Cara Blue Adams, Erin Hoover, J.W. Wang)
The slush pile acceptance rate at a typical literary journal is less than 1%, and frequently the editors do not read past the first page. What do editors look for, and what can writers do to give their submissions a greater chance of success? How much effect do cover letters have? This panel offers thoughts, comments, and suggestions from the editors’ point of view: what catches our attention, what are some common pitfalls, and what we love to see, and what a “dream submission” may look like.
Small is the New Big: Working With Independent Presses to Build a Literary Career. (Michelle Brower, Ben George, Anitra Budd, Ethan Nosowsky, Erin Harris)
Publishing with a small/academic press can be a key strategy to build an author’s writing platform and credentials. This panel will discuss: When is it the right time to publish with a small press? What are the benefits of publishing with a small press? What are the potential challenges? How does working with a small press affect an author’s writing career? Four panelists from all walks of publishing will discuss these questions and elaborate on ways to maximize the small press experience.
Small Press, Not Small Reach: Marketing Your Small Press Fictions. (Joshua Isard, Courtney Mauk, Nina McConigley, Christopher Merkner)
An awesome small press has reached out to you and said, Yes, let us make this fiction of yours into a book together, and you couldn't be more thrilled—and more uncertain. You know you won't have a tour on their dime, there are no dimes, but what will be your role in marketing your small press work of fiction? This panel addresses the use of social media, guerrilla campaigns, independent bookstores, interpersonal connections, and library systems in marketing and sharing your small press fiction.
So Bad They’re Good: Writing the Unsympathetic Protagonist. (Josh Weil, Mike Harvkey, Susan Steinberg, Tom Franklin, Skip Horack)
Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, Morrison's Sula, J.M. Coetzee’s David Lurie, Claire Messud’s Nora Eldridge: some of literature’s most memorable protagonists are also the most difficult to like. On this panel we’ll discuss what draws us to off-putting characters, what makes them compelling to a reader, what problems they pose for a writer, how we embrace them or work around them. We’ll tackle both the nuts and bolts of craft and the deeper questions of the roles of morality and empathy in fiction.
So You Think You Can Adjunct: Teaching and Writing During a Labor Crisis. (Gina Barnard, Lesley Stampleman, Liz Demi Green, Jennifer Derilo)
Four writers with diverse backgrounds speak to life as adjunct instructors. Society is waking up to what academia has known for decades: adjuncts experience a grossly unfair, two-tiered system that harms faculty and students. And what happens to the writer and the teacher? These panelists discuss balancing these roles, especially in a world that is not kind to either. But they offer some hope: teaching inspires their writing and unionization holds real promise for artists and educators alike.
So you’re a writer. (Sha na na na, sha na na na na na) Get a job! (Beth Concepcion, L.P. Griffith, James Lough, Jonathan Segura)
What job am I going to get with my degree? Administrators hear that question and often answer, “Teaching.” But not all writers want to teach. For those who do, full-time positions are dwindling. Fortunately, there are more creative job opportunities than ever before for talented writers. This panel discussion will show poets, storytellers and essayists how to earn a paycheck by channeling their expertise into careers such as reviewing, copywriting, news, social media and promotional writing.
Southeast Region: AWP Program Directors’ Breakout Session.
If you are a program director of an AWP member creative writing program in the following states you should attend this session: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. This regional breakout session will begin immediately upon the conclusion of the Program Directors Plenary Meeting, so we recommend that you attend the Plenary Meeting first. Your regional representative on the AWP Board of Directors will conduct this meeting.
Square Pegs in Round Holes: New Challenges in Administrating Low-Residency MFA Programs in Traditional Academic Contexts. (Ann Neelon, Philip F. Deaver, Xi Xu, Michael Kobre, Richard Duggin)
Although low-residency MFA programs helped to launch the distance-learning model so pervasive in higher education today, they still struggle for recognition and definition on campus. Institutional misunderstanding—in particular, failure to distinguish low-residency programs from exclusively online programs—has proven especially problematic in the current climate of economic crisis. In this panel, low-residency directors will explore these significant, new challenges.
Start a WITS Program at Your University. (Amy Swauger, Terry Ann Thaxton, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Frances Payne Adler, Terry Blackhawk)
Built around Terry Ann Thaxton’s new guide, Creative Writing in the Community, this session offers models for university writing programs to serve their local communities by placing students at area schools and other community sites to teach writing. Panelists will discuss how their campus-based programs provide students with real-world experience to prepare them for life after the MFA while also fostering connections between the university and local institutions.
Stepping off the Porch: How Historic Homes Create Literary Communities. (Lisa Higgs, Evan Stoddard, Rachel Pardo, Tracy Tucker)
A writer’s home. Where she sat. The window he peered through. The historic homes of America’s great writers dot our country’s roadways. But how do these historic homes continue to contribute to the communities around them? Panelists working with or attempting to establish a literary historic space will discuss strategies to build community while preserving and extending America’s literary heritage within the walls of some of literature’s most celebrated real estate.
Straight Talk: What the MFA Promises and What it Delivers. (Martin Lee, Sonja Livingston, Carter Sickels, Claire Vaye Watkins, Karen Salyer McElmurray)
A 2013 Poets and Writers index says that full-time teaching positions at the university level are available, on average, for well less than one percent of creative writing program graduates. This roundtable will discuss expectations and realities of why we enter creative programs in the first place and our futures afterwards. How can programs be more forthcoming about these realities and what actions can faculty take? What does risk really mean when you choose the path of the MFA?
Substance as Style: What Noir Writing Can Teach Us about Literary Form. (Tanya Whiton, Eric May, Jeffery Hess, Sarah Cortez, Mike Miner)
As a genre, noir fiction explores flawed protagonists, individuals attempting to negotiate a corrupt society, and propulsive, plot-driven language that embraces the vernacular. What can this very American literary form teach fiction writers about nuance in character development, innovative approaches to building tension in a narrative, and the ways setting impacts plot? Four authors whose writing exemplifies the stylistic and substantive possibilities of noir literature discuss their work.
Sweeping the Steps of the Temple: On Writing a First Book. (Arna Bontemps Hemenway, Jamie Quatro, Laura van den Berg, Julia Fierro, Nickolas Butler)
If you want the god to appear, Dean Young once wrote to an aspiring writer working on his first book, you have to sweep the steps of the temple a whole lot. Five writers who published their first novels or collections to acclaim reflect on how those books came to be, as well as the best practices and understandings for those working on their own first manuscripts. Topics will range from personal experiences to practical advice, from perseverance to publishing, and the avenues in between.
Symbiosis: Poets/Editors. (John Rosenwald, Michael Broek, Leeya Mehta, Lee Sharkey, Ocean Vuong)
Over its long history, Beloit Poetry Journal editors have worked with poets ranging from Anne Sexton to Sherman Alexie to A. E. Stallings on revising poems before publication. Intense mutual engagement with texts can lead to more fully realized poems; both poet and editors hone their skills and sensibilities in the process. Three gifted poets relatively new to publication join the editors of the BPJ to discuss collaborations that led to the journal’s acceptance of their significant new work.
Teaching Translated Texts in the Writing Program. (Nadia Kalman, Geoffrey Brock, Elizabeth Harris, Douglas Unger, Russell Valentino)
Creative writing programs incorporate the reading and study of literature, but often focus on English-language writers. Four writing professors, all of whom translate, talk about teaching international literature in their programs. Panelists discuss the use of various works and writers and their respective literary traditions; consider pedagogical approaches to language, style, narrative conventions, and subjects; and reveal how their own work as writer/translators informs their teaching.
Teaching Without a Net: Resources for Teachers of Non-traditional Communities. (Jennifer Jean, Jill McDonough, Fred Marchant, Kathleen Ryan, Julie Batten)
Poetry workshops have long been taught outside academia to unique and non-traditional communities such as: military veterans, prison populations, sex-trafficking survivors, and folks struggling with homelessness. Teachers and activists in these communities will discuss their work and the need to create a clearinghouse or resource website for people doing similar work. During a generous Q & A segment, audience members will be encouraged to offer suggestions in creating the best possible website.
Tech and the Center: How Literary Centers Can Leverage Technology on Behalf of Mission and Operations. (Gregg Wilhelm, Michael Henry, Beth Schoeppler, Andrew Proctor)
Representatives of nonprofit literary centers discuss how technology—from on-line classes and e-commerce to social media and donor management—plays a key role in executing their organizations’ missions and sustaining their operations. Topics include advantages to leverage and pitfalls to avoid in regard to technology, plus the sorts of resources (human and financial) required to implement a strategic technology plan.
Teen Sex in Fiction for Adults. (Pamela Erens, Gina Frangello, Anna March, Kiese Laymon, Rob Spillman)
Teen sex in literary fiction is often treated as pathological: feral, exploitative, maladjusted. In fact, teen sexual activity is developmentally normal, and ripe for more nuanced treatment. Five novelists, editors, and critics will discuss our experiences in writing and reading about teen sexuality, and suggest ways to grapple successfully with this controversial material. An extensive bibliography and practical materials will be distributed.
Telling Stories About Your Hometown. (Rene Steinke, Eric May, David Grand, Elizabeth Gaffney, Chris Rice)
Five authors discuss the challenges in writing fiction based in one's hometown (whether home is a small town or a city). How do you embrace or avoid nostalgia? How do you fictionalize facts without losing authenticity of place? How do you use a specific landscape to create the alternate hometown of your imagination? What are the implications of writing in the tradition of Sherwood Anderson, Carson McCullers, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Are some hometowns better suited to fiction than others?
Telling True Stories: New Directions in Longform Journalism. (Kathryn Miles, Murray Carpenter, Charlie Homans, Paige Williams)
From high-adventure travel stories to stylized narratives of the mundane, longform journalism offers a particularly rich and nuanced form of contemporary storytelling: one in which immersive research, strong voice, and innovative organization turn truth into art. In this panel, writers, editors, and scholars on the subject will talk about best practices, opportunities within the field, and how emerging media are making this genre more salient than ever.
Tender Buttons Press 25th Anniversary Digital Re-Launch. (Lee Ann Brown, Anne Waldman, Bernadette Mayer, Julie Patton, Katy Bohinc)
Tender Buttons Press is a leader in avant-garde poetry publishing. Twenty five years ago the press began with Bernadette Mayer's Sonnets in Lee Ann Brown's apartment. Design was by hand, distribution by person, marketing by mouth and the cost was "FREE". In 2014 the press re-launched on a digital platform with print-on-demand, and an aim to give 50% of sales direct to artists. A discussion on changing possibilities of independent poetry publishing through shifts in community and technology.
The Art of Fact: Writing Nonfiction for Children and Teens. (Carrie Pomeroy, Joyce Sidman, Tracy Nelson Maurer, Mary Losure, Ann Matzke)
Juvenile nonfiction writers are increasingly breaking free from convention and exploring new ways to convey facts and true stories. They’re experimenting with poetry and character-driven narrative. They’re creating innovative back matter to enhance their books’ educational value. So how does a writer craft a nonfiction book that’s informative and a joy for kids to read? In this panel, five writers share their approaches to sparking young readers’ curiosity and keeping readers engaged.
The Art Of Literary Editing. (Brigid Hughes, Elisabeth Schmitz, Ethan Nosowsky, Jeffery Renard Allen, Michael Thomas)
Every writer has to start somewhere, but the world of literary journals & publishing houses can often seem opaque. This panel brings together a diverse group of editors & writers to discuss the publication process & the editor-author dynamic. Speakers include IMPAC Award-winning author Michael Thomas & acclaimed novelist & poet Jeffery Renard Allen, plus their editors Elisabeth Schmitz (Vice President & Editorial Director at Grove Atlantic) and Ethan Nosowsky (Graywolf Press Editorial Director).
The Art of the Encounter: Structuring Short Fiction. (Arna Bontemps Hemenway, Caitlin Horrocks, Rebecca Makkai, Chinelo Okparanta, Molly Antopol)
Short stories are demanding in their precise elusiveness. While novels should be the journey into the coal mine, we are told, stories must be the multi-faceted jewel awaiting discovery. Not a long friendship, but a haunting encounter. In this panel, five writers who’ve found success from The New Yorker to Best American Short Stories discuss how to create, utilize, and refine short story structure to this end, especially at the stages of premise, conception, revision, and reader experience.
The Book as Object. (Mary Austin Speaker, Jen Bervin, Nancy Kuhl, Matvei Yankelevich, MC Hyland)
A book artist, a scholar, a designer, a curator and a publisher will weigh in on the field of book production in the wake of significant changes in technology. Some questions we will explore: How has the field of book making been affected by radically increased access to the means of production? How has access to the means of production changed the face of self-publishing? What are the economic consequences of being labeled "poet" vs "artist"? How does a book become regarded as an art object?
The Book Problem: Innovative Programs for Writers of Long Projects. (Andrea Dupree, Chris Castellani, Erika Krouse, Michelle Hoover, William Haywood Henderson)
Typically, writers of book-length projects receive workshop feedback on chapters from instructors and peers, a process that works for some, but traps others in a cycle of endlessly revising small sections, never getting the full draft. Two innovative programs, Grub Street’s Novel Incubator and Lighthouse Writers’ The Book Project, have developed ways of supporting authors in getting their full works drafted and refined. Lessons learned and processes to be replicated will be forthcoming.
The Business of Publishing Your First Novel: Author and Publisher Perspectives. (Dennis Johnson, Jeremy Bushnell, Christopher Boucher, Dylan Hicks, Sarah Stonich)
Melville House co-publisher and co-founder Dennis Johnson will lead a practical discussion of the publishing process with four authors in various stages of their publishing careers. Topics will include: agents, contracts, editing, big-house vs. independent publishers, publicity, marketing, social-networking, and the changing role of the author.
The Challenge & Attraction of The Young Essayist. (Lucas Mann, Brian Oliu, Kristen Radtke, David LeGault)
In Phillip Lopate’s introduction to The Art of the Personal Essay, he writes it is hard to think of anyone who made a mark on the personal essay form in his or her youth. There are numerous arguments against the young essayist: can one write about life without first experiencing it? Can one write with authority from a place of uncertainty? Panelists will consider these questions and provide their own perspectives concerning successful nonfiction from the young writer’s perspective.
The Challenges of Translating and Publishing Asian Literature. (Sharon May, Michelle Yeh, Andrew Schelling, Frank Stewart)
Drawing on decades of experience, four American translators of Asian literature will describe how they have worked across cultural and linguistic barriers in translating poems and stories from such languages as Khmer, Sanskrit, Japanese, and Chinese. They will describe the challenges of translation and their efforts to get this work into publication.
The Creative Writer as an Agent of Change. (Mary Rechner, Renee Watson, Tina Cane, Monica Prince, Casey Fuller)
Many writers believe that reading and writing changed their lives. To what extent is it possible or perhaps even ethical to foster change in the teaching arena? Panelists will share experiences that gave rise to moments when personal or political change became possible, and discuss whether, though they become invested in the communities they live in and serve, it is desirable to remain free of any one set of personal or professional expectations or conventions.
The Ethics of Book Reviewing. (Eric Lorberer, Stephen Burt, Carolyn Kellogg, Brian Evenson, Rusty Morrison)
The ethical boundaries of book reviewing in an age when everyone has "friended" everyone else can be fuzzy. How do we define, avoid, or accept "conflict of interest" as methodologies and technologies change? This panel, made up of authors, reviewers, and small press publishers, will grapple with the dilemmas of the current world of book reviewing, discuss ways out of the coterie vs. "objective" binary, and hash out some ideas to make reviewing more transparent, honest, and useful in the future.
The Flash Fiction Marketplace: What Editors Are Looking For. (Tom Hazuka, Kim Chinquee, Meg Tuite, Lex Williford)
Since 1992, when the Flash Fiction anthology gave the genre a catchy name that stuck, flash fiction’s popularity has soared with both writers and readers. Numerous popular anthologies have followed, along with many flash fiction books by individual writers, and a vibrant online publishing scene including journals devoted exclusively to the form. Four well-known writers and editors discuss flash fiction from creation to publication, with particular emphasis on what makes editors say “yes.”
The Full-Time Professorship: From Application to Hire to Continuing Life as a Writer. (Michael Darcher, Brianna Pike, John Bell, Steve Wolfe, Annie Nguyen)
Your writing life could be brighter if you could share ideas with colleagues and find space to look at others' writing critically. A full-time salary teaching what you love isn't bad either! Listen to hiring committee veterans demystify the hiring process at community colleges and discuss how to make MFA credentials stand out. Panelists will share insights on how and why candidates are chosen and what to do to land a professorship. They will also discuss how being full time can foster writing.
The Growth of the Comprehensive Writing Major: A Report from Western Lake Superior. (Jayson Iwen, Cynthia Belmont, David Beard, Jamie White-Farnham)
Undergraduate writing majors in three Western Lake Superior institutions pair creativity and professional writing skills in programs that contribute to the growing field of independent writing majors. Representing various stages of program development – from year one to well-established – this panel speaks to program developers in a range of institutional circumstances by offering snapshots of the process, resources, and goals of comprehensive writing majors at three diverse institutions.
The Hybrid Book: Publishing Poetry and Art Together. (Allison Campbell, Henry Israeli, Lisa Pearson, Bianca Stone, Ben Fama)
When text and visual art enter into conversation with each other, a different type of book is born. How to publish and market collaborative projects that elude genre boundaries is tricky, whether you are the poet or artist behind the work or the editor who looks to support it. Editors who publish work outside the labels of poetry or art will discuss the joys and terrors, opportunities and obstacles of publishing books where text and image are dependent upon their relationship with each other.
The Legacy of Joyce Carol Oates: Learning from a Master. (Kristiana Kahakauwila, Boris Fishman, Whitney Terrell, Pinckney Benedict, Julie Sarkissian)
Joyce Carol Oates-- National Book Award winner, PEN/Malamud Award Recipient, and author of more than 50 novels as well as numerous short story collections, plays, and poetry-- is one of the most revered and prolific writers of our era. This year, as she retires from more than four decades of teaching, former students gather to discuss her work, her pedagogy, the writing and craft practices she imparted, and her long-lasting influence within and beyond the academy.
The Literary City: Cultivating a Place for Literature in Communities. (Michael Henry, Andrea Dupree, Eve Bridburg, Chris Jones)
Major literary cities like Boston, Minneapolis, and Denver have been making a case that independent literary centers are as vital to a community as museums, theatres, symphonies, and ballets. How do they make the case, and what are the benefits to towns and cities? Directors from The Loft, Grub Street, and Lighthouse Writers Workshop will talk about how their centers started, how they improve communities, and what others can do to cultivate their own literary towns and spaces.
The Little Magazine in America: Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? (Jeffrey Lependorf, Don Share, Ian Morris, Jane Friedman)
A diversity of literary magazine experts discuss and debate the sometimes secret history and roles of "the little magazine" in America. Where do literary magazines seem to be headed now? What other routes might they take?
The Long and the Short of It: Five Debut Authors Divulge How They Got Their Short Fiction Collections Published, Buzzed, Reviewed, and Read. (Laura Maylene Walter, Vanessa Blakeslee, Melinda Moustakis, Miroslav Penkov, Josh Rolnick)
Five first-time authors discuss the process of bringing their debut short story collections to life. This session will examine the process of compiling a collection, exploring publication avenues, developing publicity plans, generating buzz, securing reviews, connecting with readers, and more. Panelists will discuss what they did right and what they could have done better to offer a comprehensive view of what it takes to successfully publish a short story collection in today’s market.
The Long-Term Author-and-Editor Working Relationship. (Stephen Corey, Judith Kitchen, Anne Goldman, Richard Jackson, Marjorie Sandor)
A career literary magazine editor and four writers from different genres discuss how their working relationships began and developed: an essayist, a short-story writer, a poet, and a reviewer share the pluses and minuses of their manuscript dealings with this editor during regular professional contacts lasting fifteen to thirty years; the editor will then give his perspective; and finally the five, as they have before, will work out in conversation the best/final version of their communal tale.
The Making of Originals: Translation as a Form of Editing. (Susan Harris, Karen Emmerich, Bill Johnston, Valzhyna Mort, Rowan Ricardo Phillips)
When is translation a form of editing? For various reasons—multiple versions of texts, different standards in editing, needs of publishers—translators often find themselves in the position of revising and shaping the original text. Four translators discuss their experiences in rewriting and editing, collaborating with authors, and establishing definitive texts, and suggest approaches to producing a “new original.”
The Midwest as an Imaginary Landscape. (Eric Goodman, Jim Heynen, Christopher Coake, Gina Frangello, Bates Jody)
What does it mean imaginatively to writer and reader if a work of fiction is set in the Midwest as opposed to say, NY or LA? Do readers bring different expectations? Is Midwestern fiction dissed by NY publishers and reviewers? If so, is there anything to be done? Finally, is there a single Midwestern trope, a locus to escape, or has it also become a setting to escape to? Five writers, natives and immigrants, who feature the Midwest in their wide-ranging fictions, will deliver the regional goods.
The Other Track: MFAs In The Book Business. (Craig Teicher, Jeff Shotts, Jynne Martin, Caroline Casey, Leslie Shipman)
It’s often said that MFA grads do one of two things to earn money: teach writing or work in the book business. Much has been said about MFAs who teach, but writers also fill the ranks of publishing houses and other book biz institutions. This panel will focus on how writers become publishing professionals--editors, publicists, arts administrators, reviewers--and look at the ways their degrees and writerly have shaped their careers and how they do their jobs. Sponsored by Publishers Weekly.
The Poetic Art of Maxine Kumin. (Deborah Brown, Robin Becker, Richard Jackson, Hilda Raz, Carole Oles)
This panel celebrates the art that Maxine Kumin developed and honed during fifty years of writing poetry. While the participants knew Kumin as teacher, mentor, friend or a combination of these, the panel focuses on her poetic technique. We discuss how her poetry changed and flourished over time, and what we can learn from her rich body of work, as well as from her enduring passion for the practice of poetry. Maxine Kumin’s last book of poems, And Short the Season, appeared posthumously in 2014.
The Poetry of Translation. (Peter Conners, Bruce Weigl, Nikola Madzirov, Ana Osan, Piotr Florczyk)
BOA Editions’s award-winning Lannan Translations Selection Series presents four translators from four different countries discussing the challenges, revelations, and importance of translating contemporary poetry for U.S. readers. Panelists discuss their recent translations from Macedonia, Vietnam, Poland, and Spain. Topics include selecting poets to translate, autonomy versus collaboration, bridging cultural differences while honoring the original language, and translation as an art form.
The Process of Publishing Historical Fiction. (Marie Hathaway, Paula Munier, Susan Breen, Kim van Alkemade)
This panel holistically addresses the process of researching, writing, selling, publishing and promoting historical fiction. An author describes creative approaches to conducting historical research; a Talcott Notch Literary Services agent discusses the market; an Algonkian Writers Conference workshop leader tells what makes a pitch effective; a graduate of Emerson’s Publishing and Writing program explains how archives and libraries inspired the promotional plan for launching the author’s novel.
The Relationship of a Lifetime: Agent/Author Collaboration Through Each Stage of the Publishing Process. (Rebecca Podos, Brittany Cavallaro, Margaret Riley King, Chloe Benjamin, Lana Popovic)
Two agents and two authors—each in different career stages and working in genres from literary fiction to YA—discuss how this central relationship changes over both the course of a book and the course of a career. Topics include the beginning of a book’s life—the offer of representation, revision and submissions to editors—and the role an agent plays after it sells, from coordinating film and foreign rights to publicity, mentorship and beyond.
The Rise of the Chapbook. (Rebecca Hazelton, Jeffrey Levine, Kit Frick, Katherine Sullivan, Jamaal May)
Chapbooks, which date back to the 16th century, are enjoying a revival as online publishing and social networks connect far-flung writing communities. Once cheaply produced ephemera, the chapbook today is a product of quality printing methods and editorial care. This panel of independent presses will explore the place of chapbooks in the contemporary literary landscape, discuss the challenges of selecting them, and consider what chapbooks offer that can’t be found elsewhere.
The Rise of the Independent Publicist. (Angela Pneuman, Michelle Blankenship, Jesmyn Ward, Amy Fisher, Peggy Shinner)
Emerging fiction and nonfiction writers and an independent publicist discuss working with diverse publishing venues to pursue optimal media coverage. Panel topics include ways to take full advantage of your own PR consultant, who can create and execute original media strategies or supplement existing in-house publicity efforts.
The Sky Isn’t Falling: Publishing and Entrepreneurship. (Chris Fischbach, Richard Nash, Eric Obenauf, Lisa Lucas)
Believe it or not, there are publishers bullish about the future. Coffee House, Guernica, Red Lemonade, and Two Dollar Radio are thinking differently about how they connect writers and readers, responding to not only a changing industry, but to the changing ways readers want to experience texts. By thinking entrepreneurially, they are moving beyond what a traditional publisher does by engaging visual artists, making films, working in multiple platforms, creating writers' residencies, and more.
The Uncanny Reader: the Art of Unease in the Short Story Form. (Marjorie Sandor, Karen Russell, Kate Bernheimer, Steve Stern, Kelly Link)
From the unsettling to the (possibly) supernatural, the uncanny dissolves the borders between the familiar and the unknown, offering writers and readers a way to explore our increasingly unstable sense of self, home, and planet. Four contributors and the editor of a new anthology, The Uncanny Reader, discuss the influence of great uncanny writers on their own work. What new light might the uncanny, with all its weird habits—shed on the creative process and the art of teaching literature?
The UP and U: Publishing Fiction at a University Press. (Mike Levine, Ladette Randolph, MaryKatherine Callaway, MIchael Griffith)
For the writer of literary fiction, whether it’s your first book or your fifth, university presses can be a perfect home, offering a willingness to take risks and the kind of personalized attention that are now rare at commercial houses. This panel, featuring university press editors and authors, will talk about why you might consider this route for your manuscript, how to choose a press and what makes it choose you, and why a seven-figure advance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The Voyage of Graphic Literary Forms. (Mercedes Gilliom, Edward Gauvin, Erica Mena, Tomasz Kaczynski, Diana Arterian)
Four panelists who work at the intersection of graphic literature and translation discuss the challenges and benefits of transporting graphic literary forms from one language and culture to another. These writers, artists, and translators with backgrounds in comics creation, translation, editing, and publishing come together to share their experiences in reaching new audiences and markets for this expanding element in the creative writing landscape.
The Writing on the Wall: Poetry for Public Places. (Kate Brennan, Alice Quinn, Marcus Young, Michele Kotler, David Hassler)
Poetry can ignite one’s everyday experience with moments of insight or joy. In cities across America, public places are becoming the canvas for poets, with words appearing on city walls, sidewalks, trains, and parks. How does poetry transform communities? How can you foster a literary destination? Panelists will discuss traditional and guerrilla methods to make the written word more accessible, exploring placemaking principles for the arts driving economic and community development.
There Be Monsters: Poets Navigating the World of Novel Writing. (Ken Rumble, Mark Wallace, Kathryn Pringle, Sina Queyras, Joyelle McSweeney)
To many poets, the world of novel writing may seem as if, as was written on old maps, “there be monsters.” Yet there is a vibrant history and contemporary practice of poet novelists; poets such as Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, Renee Gladman, and Tao Lin have all written exceptional novels. The panel participants, all poets, will discuss their experiences charting the seas of novel writing: the commitment to write a novel, differences and crossover between forms, and publishing the results.
This is Not a Blog: Crafting Serial Creative Nonfiction for the Web. (Jim Warner, Matt Sailor, Tabitha Blankenbiller, Marlon James, Mary Breaden)
Online litmags have carved a new space for serialized creative nonfiction. More literary than a blog, more personal than a column, the essay series allows writers to explore complex subjects at length, from pop culture, to personal struggles, to identity politics. Five writers of ongoing creative nonfiction series for online outlets will discuss the challenges of crafting such projects. Topics will include developing a topic, balancing variation between installments, and maintaining momentum.
Time & Structure in the Novel. (Sarah Strickley, Dean Bakopoulos, Bret Anthony Johnston, Michael Knight)
How does a writer decide how much time a novel should cover? How does the organization of time affect suspense and tension? What’s the relationship between a flashback-heavy structure and a narrator’s psychology? If a story is told backward, how does that affect its meaning? Participants will investigate various solutions to problems of time and the dramatic implications of those solutions, describing what they’ve learned through struggles with their own novels’ structure and chronology.
Translation Across Borders. (Karla Cordero, Piotr Florczyk, Mariela Griffor, Ilya Kaminsky)
Poetry International presents translators from Polish, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Russian who will discuss the challenges translation encounters at border land locations as diverse languages come together. How do MFA programs along bordered regions confront translation? What responsibilities do space and environment play in the translation processes? What strategies do bilingual communities utilize to make translation an organic experience? Join us in redefining translation without borders.
Translation as a Love Affair: International Perspectives on Creative Process. (Hélène Cardona, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Willis Barnstone, Martha Collins, Donald Revell)
Did you ever fall in love with a book? So much that you felt the need to translate it?
Working with Chinese, Hebrew, Greek, Korean, Latin, French, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese, this panel's poets, translators and scholars discuss their roles as intermediaries, technicians, magicians and alchemists working between languages to create inspired texts spanning cultural differences, geographic distances, and time. More than extending the life of original works, they make possible their renewal.
Translation as Pure Writing II: Poetry. (Russell Valentino, Forrest Gander, Diana Thow, Idra Novey)
Asked whether he was worried his Spanish might be inadequate to translate Garcia Marquez into English, Gregory Rabassa famously quipped that the real question was whether his English was good enough. This panel follows last year’s on prose translations by turning to poetry and exploring the pleasures and virtues of translation as pure poetry writing, where the writers are not distracted by what sort of form to to employ, where to place a scene, or how in the world to end or begin.
Translator’s Tether: How Much Can You Tug? (Nancy Naomi Carlson, Barbara Goldberg, Roger Greenwald, Ron Salutsky, Adam Sorkin)
How do translators stretch beyond the literal level of the original text? Is there some boundary past which translators cannot stray? This panel of poets and scholars, translating from such languages as Danish, French, Hebrew, Norwegian, Romanian, Spanish and Danish, explores philosophies about these boundary questions. Strategies are provided for creating inspired English texts that take semantic risks to reflect a contemporary sensibility.
Tribute to Flyway founding editor Steve Pett. (Erin Schmiel, Steve Pett, Chris Wiewiora, Cristina Eisenberg, Todd Davis)
Celebrating its 20th year of publication, Flyway Journal of Writing and Environment's Tribute Panel highlights founding editor Steve Pett's creativity and dedication to this journal. We have gathered past contributors and former editors to honor Steve and discuss Flyway's exemplary tradition of multi-genre environmental art and writing through readings and discussion of Flyway's evolution and adaptation through out the years.
Two-Year College Caucus. (Ryan Stone, Vicky Hunt, Marianne Botos, Sharon Coleman, Mary Lannon)
Do you teach at, wish to teach at, or attend a two-year college? The Two-Year College Caucus offers faculty and students of two-year institutions an opportunity to discuss pedagogical and institutional issues. Join us at the annual meeting for this unique networking opportunity. Pedagogy, job searches, and best practice at the two-year college will be discussed along with other issues relevant to current two-year college instructors and students.
U and I: Incorporating Famous Folks as Metaphor in Memoir. (Dinty W Moore, Sue William Silverman, Elena Passarello, Michael Martone)
Four memoirists discuss the possibilities, pitfalls, giddy pleasures, and pesky legal problems that can arise from using celebrities as context and metaphor in creative nonfiction. Though the idea goes back to The Divine Comedy, and Dante’s version of Virgil, the negotiation between truth and fantasy can be much trickier in nonfiction. The panelists will discuss incorporating figures such as Pat Boone, Richard Nixon, Dan Quayle, and Prince as “characters” in their nonfiction books and essays.
Undergraduate Literary Magazines: Who Needs 'Em? (Carrie Shipers, emily m. danforth, Kelly Grey Carlisle, Audrey Colombe, Steven Wingate)
Given the widespread decrease in support for the arts, the undergraduate literary magazine may seem expendable. This panel will discuss how to defend them as a valuable site of student learning, how to garner financial and other support for them, and how to make the case that advising them is a valuable form of institutional service. Panelists also will present various models for how undergraduate magazines might exist on a campus, ranging from as a club to as a two-semester for-credit course.
Undergraduate Program Design at the Two Year College and Beyond: Four Models. (Kris Bigalk, BJ Ward, Maria Brandt, Jennifer Millitello)
Two-year college programs in creative writing are becoming a common student gateway into BA/BFA programs. Panelists, all of whom founded and sustain different types of creative writing programs at community colleges, will share tips and techniques on how to grow programs with innovative pedagogy, develop partnerships with four-year institutions and community organizations, and tailor program design and approach to the unique populations and missions of community colleges of varying size/scope.
Union: Singapore's 50th Anniversary Reflected through American Literature. (Ravi Shankar, Alvin Pang, Jee Leong Koh, Krishna Udayasankar, Isa Kamari)Singapore celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence in 2015, and the occasion allows us to look into its rich cultural history through the work of its leading poets, who reciprocally look towards America to evolve a poetics. What happens when the idioms of the Black Mountain School filter through the vernacular of the Malay Peninsula? Or when the polyglot country’s regional poets are translated into English? Five poets & editors discuss their own work in light of this cross-cultural union.
Voices from Abroad: Writing Between Languages. (Snezana Zabic, Ranjan Adiga, Tryfon Tolides, Craig Perez)
Our panel will engage in a conversation about growing up bilingual and writing in English as a second, or third language. The panelists will explore their aesthetic choices and implications of conveying in English the experiences of non-English speaking cultures. The discussion will revolve around questions of craft and criticism including translation, non-western narrative traditions, language inventiveness, and marketing as well as the moral impetus in representing foreign cultures.
West Region: AWP Program Directors’ Breakout Session.
If you are a program director of an AWP member creative writing program in the following states you should attend this session: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. This regional breakout session will begin immediately upon the conclusion of the Program Directors Plenary Meeting, so we recommend that you attend the Plenary Meeting first. Your regional representative on the AWP Board of Directors will conduct this meeting.
What Are You Going to Do With That? Writers Side-Stepping the Adjunct Trap. (Erin Keane, Dan Bernitt, Daniel Bowman, Stacy Barton, Parneshia Jones)
Most MFA graduates will not collect their diplomas and step into tenure-track professorships. Every year, hundreds step onto the overworked, underpaid adjunct track. The poets and playwrights on this panel will share how they have forged sustainable careers in entertainment, media, publishing, marketing and corporate training instead, while maintaining their identities as writers. To teach or not to teach is not the only question. We live in a world of words - how can you get paid for yours?
What We Hate: Editorial Dos and Don'ts. (Emerson Blake, Cheston Knapp, Patrick Thomas, Andrew Leland, Jennifer Sahn)
You won’t find this in the FAQ. Get it straight from the source. Six distinguished magazine and book editors speak candidly about what they love and loathe and everything in between. What do editors really want from writers? What do they absolutely not want? If you’re positively sure you know the answers to these questions, then don’t come to this panel featuring editors from McSweeney's, Milkweed Editions, Tin House, and Orion
When I'm With You I'm at Two Places at Once: How to Serve Multiple Audiences as a Nonprofit Publisher. (Jeffrey Lependorf, Jeffrey Lependorf)
Nonprofit literary publishers must serve multiple audiences, from different kinds of readers, to their boards, to their funders, all of whom don't necessarily want the same things. Through this hands-on workshop, learn how to consider audience segments and develop an effective value proposition to achieve maximum success for each.
Where the White Things Are: Diversifying Literary Magazines. (Jessica Piazza, Neelanjana Banerjee, Don Share, Snezana Zabic, Joshua Bernstein)
Are American literary magazines still the bastions of white, upper-class males? Do they privilege dominant aesthetics and styles? The editors of five journals, ranging from the new to the established, discuss the sorts of challenges they face in finding new voices, from those of women and minorities to prisoners and renegade stylists. They also ask why diversity matters in publishing and what it tangibly means for the writers, the magazines, and the communities affected by the work.
Why Reviewing Matters: Diversity in Reviews. (Alyse Bensel, Robin Becker, Randon Billings Noble, Camille-Yvette Welsch)
The VIDA count continues to show gender disparity in book reviewers and authors reviewed. This panel of book review editors and reviewers will discuss their efforts and offer practical strategies to combat this gender gap and lack of diversity by examining title and reviewer selection as well as when, where, and how reviews are published. New and seasoned reviewers will have the opportunity to engage in a discussion about how to select titles and work with publications to promote inclusivity.
Wild v. Into the Wild: X and Y Chromosomes in Travel Writing. (Kelly Kathleen Ferguson, Brian Kevin, Frank Bures, Eva Holland)
Why don't more women appear in Best American Travel Writing? Why don't more men write best selling narratives about their transformative personal experience? How does gender affect expectations in travel writing? A co-ed panel of immersion memoirists and travel writers consider how gender affects their ability to publish and reader expectations of their work.
Witty, Wry, (W)holes: The Legacy of Cynthia Macdonald. (Elline Lipkin, Leslie Adrienne Miller, Martha Serpas, Patty Seyburn, Mira Rosenthal)
Former students of Cynthia Macdonald will read her work, discuss its themes, and address her ongoing influence in their writing and teaching. Currently 86 years old, Macdonald published six books with Knopf, received three NEA grants, a Guggenheim, and was a board member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. Macdonald founded one of the first creative writing programs (at the University of Houston) where she taught for over 20 years. Her mentorship and life's work will be celebrated.
Women Editors of Independent Publishing. (Jac Jemc, Kristen Radtke, Naomi Huffman, Mairead Case, Holly Amos)
Every year the VIDA count inspires a passionate discourse about gender diversity in publishing. But after the news dies down, the people who continue the conversation are the editors who face the decision of who to publish every day. Four female editors will discuss the challenges they encounter as women in a male-dominated industry, discuss the work of their favorite women writers, and celebrate the publications doing what they can to establish gender equality in publishing.
Women in publishing: the business of publishing as a woman today. (Sabina Murray, Elisabeth Schmitz, Fiona McCrae, Emily Raboteau, Ru Freeman)
A discussion between women editors, authors, and academics on gender-bias and female ghettoization in the culture of publishing. Each panelist will discuss their personal experience of gender in the publishing world and the landscape of buying, editing, and publishing as a woman. Is publishing still the male-dominated domain it started out as? How have things such as the VIDA count impacted the visibility of women in literature? How difficult is it to avoid the “chick lit” category?
Women Writing Darkness: Villains, Violence, and Unhappy Endings. (Michelle Hoover, Allison Amend, Sabina Murray, Sheri Joseph, Kate Racculia)
Editors tend to pressure female writers to put on a friendly face: create redemptive endings and likable characters, restrain or avoid violence. Readers echo these pressures, particularly female readers--the Women's Fiction effect. Though male writers are often applauded for grittiness, women must tone down the realities they wish to represent or even alter them. What are the causes of these limitations? How might women circumvent them? And why should they even want to?
Women's Caucus. (Susan Resnick, Katherine Rowlands, Vanessa Ramos, Amy King)
Women writers are moving closer to publishing equality, but we haven't arrived yet. This roundtable discussion addresses what women in our industry can do to remedy inequities in publishing and reviewing, with a particular focus on networking strategies. Speakers include leaders from VIDA, originators of The Count, The Loft Literary Center, and JAWS, a women's journalism collaborative. The AWP women's caucus aims to eliminate the ongoing imbalance in the publishing world.
Word Meets Image: The Video Essay. (Ned Stuckey-French, Eula Biss, Kristen Radtke, Claudia Rankine, John Lucas)
New technologies (iPhones, editing software, YouTube, etc.) have made possible a new literary form – the video essay. This panel will investigate the video essay, including its relationship to other genres (e.g., print essays, graphic memoirs, film, documentaries, etc.), the relationship of text to image, video essays in the classroom, collaboration, curating essays for online magazines, developing scripts, editing, and the use of animation, sound, found footage, titles and other techniques.
WrICE: a cross-cultural collaborative residency model for writers. (Bonnie Sunstein, Francesca Rendle-Short, Alvin Pang, David Carlin, Bernice Chauly)
WrICE (the Writers Immersion Cultural Exchange program) is an alternative and promising prototype for quickly building connections between writers across borders to transform literary and cultural perspectives and build up cultural understanding and collaboration. This panel including Australian and Asian alumni will discuss the WrICE model: how it has developed and how it works; its value as an immersive experience for writers; and how it speaks towards more such work in the global future.
Writer's Hit the Streets: Teaching Creative Writing in the Community. (Rachel Moritz, Jonathan Lurie, Yuko Taniguchi, Zoë Bird, Jennifer Bowen Hicks)
What are the possibilities of bringing creative writing classes to nontraditional students: prison inmates, cancer patients, older adults in assisted living, or teens in rehab? This panel reflects the teaching and organizing of four innovative Minnesota programs that function outside of academic institutional support. Panelists will discuss how to start a community-based program, find funding and develop curriculum, as well as the rewards and challenges of this work.
Writers of Color Moving Beyond the Boundaries of Our Communities: A VONA/Voices Writers Panel. (Elmaz Abinader, David Mura, Tara Betts, Frank Wilderson)
The VONA/Voices workshop fosters dialogues and learning between writers of color from different communities. This panel/reading will examine how such interactions are shifting our sense of the canon, complicating our histories and identities, exposing blinds spots within our communities, and connecting our writing to the contexts of global literature and politics. In the process, we will be mapping a course for American literature in the 21st Century.
Writing About Animals (Non-human and Human). (Katharine Beutner, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Susan Orlean, Ken Foster, Miriam Bird Greenberg)
Writers of nonfiction, poetry, and fiction will discuss how we depict non-human animals in our work, and what writing about animals requires -- explorations of ethics, of animal sensibility, of human and non-human emotion. Beyond the philosophical questions, we’ll also address practical craft considerations. How does one craft an animal voice or describe the trajectory of an animal life? What does it mean to write about animals in the age of animal personhood lawsuits and Horse Ebooks?
Writing About Tragedies Without Destroying Your Subjects — or Yourself. (Tara McKelvey, Nick Flynn, Stephen Elliott, Ada Calhoun)
How do we write about human misery without becoming miserable ourselves? The panelists, who have written about terrorism, torture, imprisonment and other causes of extreme suffering, discuss how to conduct high-stress interviews, and how to tell tough stories with minimal psychic injury to self and story subject.
Writing Atrocity: The Novel and Memoir of Political Witness. (Jocelyn Bartkevicius, Bob Shacochis, Patricia Hampl, Glen Retief, Dan Reiter)
It’s been said that Americans can’t write political fiction and that all memoir is navel grazing. Yet recent political turmoil (that echoes WWII) inspire some prose writers to bear witness to a world largely ignored in the news. Novelists and memoirists discuss the rewards and challenges of writing about atrocity--war, assassination, and other brutalities. How can we balance art and politics, research and imagination, to create compelling narratives and multidimensional characters?
Writing Biography for Young Readers: Creating the Gallery of the Good and Great. (Tracy Nelson Maurer, Phyllis Root, Leda Schubert, Jacqueline Briggs Martin)
Those who write nonfiction for children are often drawn to the stories of real people. We work to translate the facts of actual lives into works that will captivate our audience. This panel of award-winning writers considers the issues of writing biography: choosing the subject, knowing the audience, conducting research, framing and structuring the stories, and using appropriate fictional techniques.
Writing Well Yet Writing to Sell: The Art of The Literary Page-Turner. (Carla Buckley, Rebecca Johns, Mark Wisniewski, Laura McHugh, Tim Johnston)
Writers of literary fiction spend years earning the praise and acceptance of journals and small presses, yet are rejected by advance-paying NYC houses because their work doesn't compel readers to buy. Five accomplished authors at various stages of their careers share advice, insights, and lessons they've learned about the divide between literary and commercial fiction, and how they've straddled it with books that not only earn praise, but also wider audiences—and the income to keep on writing.
Writing with Media: Poets, Printers, and Programmers. (Kevin McFadden, Todd Boss, Katherine McNamara, Lisa Pearson, Steve Woodall)
The art of the book in the digital age is the art of collaboration. Writer, poet, printer, programmer, filmmaker, animator, composer, publisher: all play vital roles in new media, widening the role of authorship. This panel of writers who are also editors-printers-filmmakers-programmers-publishers demonstrates, on screen and on the page, the emergence of the book as a total work of art, from text to voice, photo, scan, and video, forming a unified expression where codex meets multimedia.
YA and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction: What's at Stake? (Heather Bouwman, Pete Hautman, Laura Ruby, Justina Ireland, Anne Ursu)
The world of speculative fiction for kid and teen readers is diverse and deep. This moderated panel, composed of middle grade and young adult fantasy and science fiction authors, will discuss the special craft and genre concerns of MG and YA speculative fiction and the direction(s) they see the field headed.
YA Meets the Real: Young Adult Fiction and Nonfiction that Takes on the World (Marina Budhos, Kekla Magoon, Marc Aronson, Elizabeth Partridge)
Most think the current boom in young adult is fantasy/dystopian series. Yet there's a flourishing world of ya fiction and nonfiction that grapples with the real--social issues, biography, history. Hear from ya authors about how they create compelling fiction and nonfiction on serious themes. How to invite the young reader into a subject they may not care about? What's the role of narrative literary techniques in nonfiction? How to illuminate issues in fiction without sounding didactic?
Yes, Writing Is a Job: People Who Get Paid To Write. (Joy Lanzendorfer, Marcia Simmons, Nora Maynard, Ken Weaver)
Believe it or not, it’s possible to make a living writing. Four working writers from diverse backgrounds will talk about how they make ends meet through article writing, blogging, nonfiction books, and other projects. We’ll discuss how we get work, the financial realities of the publishing world, and our struggle to balance writing for money with creative endeavors that are closer to our hearts (but harder on our pocketbooks).
You CAN Judge a Journal by Its Cover: Editors on Cover Art. (David Lynn, Quincy Troupe, Kirby Johnson, Kwame Dawes)
Four editors of leading literary journals discuss the aesthetic and impact factors that go into matching the literary arts with wonderful cover art. Through the examples of the journals’ most successful covers, this panel will address finding artists for covers, considering design costs, weighing the politics of certain images, and more. Finally, the editors will share their reasons for thinking seriously and boldly about cover art and what impact these images have on editorial material within.
Young Adult and New Adult Content: Developing Themes of Substance for Readers. (Ann Angel, Ricki Thompson, Ann Matzke, Kekla Magoon)
Within Children's Writing, middle grade and young adult genres are well-defined. What about the New Adult label? This genre was developed to delineate markets, but authors who write New Adult and YA genres consciously work to develop themes that bring substantive and high quality experiences to readers. Writers on this panel will consider how NA and YA themes can move beyond expected issues of sexuality and independence to include family relationships, cultural, and world-issue perspectives.
Young Adults, New Adults, and the Women Who Write Them: Navigating the Politics of Gender and Genre in Young Adult Literature. (Nova Ren Suma, Sheila O'Connor, Laurel Snyder, Lynn Melnick, Marian Crotty)
From S.E. Hinton to J.K. Rowling, YA literature is one of the few literary genres dominated by female writers. Success within this genre, however, has not always afforded its writers a place in literary conversations or academic institutions. This panel of authors and editors will discuss the gendered politics that inform the reception of YA literature, the importance of including YA writers in literary conversations, and the strategies by which these writers can advocate for their work.
A Lifetime of Experience in One Hour: The Art of the Craft Talk. (Zack Rogow, Wilton Barnhardt, Sena Jeter Naslund, Wesley Brown)
With the rise of low-residency programs and writing institutes, craft talks have become an important medium to inspire and to transmit methods to the next generation of writers. Experienced faculty members from low-residency programs discuss their ideas on what makes a compelling craft talk. How do you generate a theme or question? What techniques, aids, or tools help in presentation? How do you create a talk that is dynamic and useful to students and stays with them in their lives as writers?
Byte by Byte: Teaching Creative Writing Online. (Cass Dalglish, Wendy Call, Athena Kildegaard, Kate Kysar, LouAnn Muhm)
Five writers – who teach online in a public university, a community college AFA, an arts nonprofit, and in private BFA and MFA low-residency programs – offer a candid and guided tour of the online creative writing classroom. Stops on the circuit: cleaning out the correspondence course feel; using technology for web-based fine arts studios and readers’ salons; maintaining trust, establishing community, setting boundaries; and nourishing creativity and improvisation. Ample audience engagement.
Can You Learn From This? : Merging Creative Writing and Composition. (Daniel Biegelson, Richard Meier, Kaethe Schwehn, Luke Rolfes, Diana Joseph)
Why do we make a distinction between creative and expository writing? How do we come to terms with ideas such as audience awareness, main idea, defense of choices, truth in fiction, ethics, and writerly intention? If we teach a memoir in a comp class and a creative writing class, are we doing something different? Why don’t we write poems in a comp class? Panelists will discuss these real and blurred boundaries, as well as the benefits, drawbacks and social implications of these distinctions.
Character Is Action. (Stephanie Grant, Bruce Machart, Sergio Troncoso, Hanna Pylvainen, Matt Batt)
Apprentice writers often find plot the most challenging aspect of story making. To avoid sentimentality, they eschew action, preferring characters who refuse to act. Panelists will consider how dynamic description – whereby character interiority compels action – offers writers an essential tool for story making. By illuminating the differences between action and activity, dynamic description and static clutter, panelists hope to unpack Fitzgerald's pity observation: character is action.
Civic Engagement through Creative Writing: Adding Social Justice to the Syllabus. (Joyce Peseroff, Steven Cramer, Janet Hurley, Lewis Feuer, Mariya Deykute)
Writing is empowerment, both for the writer and for the community in which the writer is embedded. Instructors can broaden the creative writing curriculum by including civic engagement goals and outcomes in the syllabus of undergraduate and graduate classes. Examples from two Intro to Creative Writing classes taught at UMass Boston and from the interdisciplinary component of Lesley University’s MFA Program will be featured, and will include ideas for collaborating with community partners.
Composing and Critiquing in Color: Students and Teachers on Feedback. (Maria Vera Tata, Hamoun Khalili Hosseinabad, Rebecca Fortes, Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes, Iris Mora)
Feedback is notoriously unpredictable and when writers of color present their work, many classmates donʹt even know how to speak about the racial/cultural issues present. Frustration and anger may arise, leading them to seek feedback from mentors of color, oftentimes their former instructors. Three generations of writers -- three undergraduates, an MFA TA, and teacher -- discuss the sensitivity desired to fully articulate the importance of culture and diversity in evaluating student writing.
Computers in my Classes: A Pedagogy Round-Table on Workshopping (with) the Digital. (Julie Lein, Amaranth Borsuk, Robert Glick, Matthew Kirkpatrick, Nick Montfort)
From entire courses devoted to building collaborative, computational, and interactive literature to traditional workshops that incorporate apps, tools, or games only briefly, computers offer writer-teachers many opportunities beyond Internet research and social media. How might we make the most of the Digital in our classes? In this exploratory session with extended Q&A, panelists share approaches and discuss challenges, including questions about evaluation and varying technical expertise.
Creating Effective Online Workshops. (John Larison, Melissa Febos, Syreeta McFadden, Daniel Chacon, Frank Montesonti)
Join four seasoned online instructors and administrators as they explore the best practices of web-based creative writing pedagogy. How do we create a welcoming community within our online workshops? How do ensure—and assess—academic rigor within the online creative writing classroom? How can we hybridize the traditional classroom with the online environment to maximize student success?
Creative Writing as Job Training. (Simone Zelitch, Mary Kay Jennings, Geoffrey Herbach, Ryan Stone, Cary Waterman)
Politicians now call for increased funding for colleges that serve working class students, but emphasize courses and programs tied to workforce development. This heightens the tension between vocational training and academics at two-year colleges, and even BA and MFA programs are asked to justify their role in creating future workers. Where do instructors fit into this scenario? Can we move beyond corporate rhetoric and demonstrate that Creative Writing is a marketable 21st century skill?
Creative Writing in the Digital Age. (Joseph Rein, Douglas Dechow, Janelle Adsit, Trent Hergenrader, Michael Clark)
Digital technology has a profound and ever-increasing impact on creative writing; however, this impact is often overlooked in the traditional creative writing classroom. This panel addresses creative solutions to utilizing technology in traditional and hybrid genres, from digital poetics to social media to game theory. The panelists discuss traditional, hybrid, and online-only classrooms, and how instructors can integrate digital tools to enhance creativity both in process and product.
Cuentame Algo: Latino Oral Histories and Emerging Writers. (Rebecca Fortes, Adriana Castaño, Natalia Baqueiro, Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés)
Creative writing students were presented with the opportunity to conduct Oral History/Literacy Narratives of Latinos and several interviewed family members. Three undergraduates, children of Cuban, Colombian or Mexican immigrants, found the experience culturally evocative and creatively inspiring. Students share the pride, sympathy and wholeness gained and also comment on how the interviews influenced their writing. Their instructor will moderate and discuss the assignment’s purpose and goals.
Dialogue Arts Project: Live Literature & the Reinvention of Diversity Education. (Carlos Andres Gomez, Samantha Thornhill, Aaron Samuels, Adam Falkner)
The Dialogue Arts Project (DAP) is a pioneering new initiative in education that utilizes creative writing and performance as tools for generating difficult dialogue across lines of social identity, conflict and difference. This interactive panel and workshop leads participants through the stages of a typical DAP experience – including performances by award-winning poets, interactive exercises for writing and dialogue, and a closing discussion around implementation of the DAP approach.
Doing Time and Writing Time: Teaching Writing Behind Prison Walls. (Rachel Simon, Gretchen Primack, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Randall Horton)
“Do you feel safe teaching in prison?” Teaching this marginalized population rewards those willing to be subjected to the aggressive oversight and invasive searches required. Professors of writing in jails and prisons (from minimum to maximum security) will advise how to gain entry into this typeof teaching and discuss classroom strategies for encouraging writing students in the dehumanizing, intellectually harsh environment of incarceration.
Essaying as Event. (Roxanne Power, C.S. Giscombe, Rachel Levitsky, Elizabeth Robinson, Kristen Krouse)
Thoreau said essayists should be like saunterers. 'Writing prose that gives up completion for process...never intending to arrive,' in Renee Gladman's words, helps retain the kinesis of writing-as-event while drafting. How can essaying be an event beyond mere representation of it? Emphasizing digression, play, and genre interventions, five writer-teachers present strategies to resist static forms through recombinant approaches to teaching creative non-fiction and lyric and cross-genre essays.
Experiments in Educations: Nontraditional MFA Programs. (Arielle Greenberg, Emily Carr, Anna Moschovakis, Claudia Keelan, Rachel Levitsky)
The MFA in Creative Writing is a known quantity and new programs spring up every day: the time is right for radical takes on the traditional model. Faculty from four of our most innovative MFAs--at Pratt, Bard, UNLV, and OSU-Cascades—talk about what it means to build holistic alternatives in graduate education. From democratic processes to field work to global travel, these MFAs are pioneering new frontiers in literary community, social engagement, and programmatic sustainability.
From Gothic Ghosts to Gogol's Nose: 19th-Century Fiction in the 21st-Century Workshop. (Peter Grimes, Darrin Doyle, Jason Ockert, Kelcey Parker, Hillary Stringer)
Many fiction workshops show a contemporary bias in their selection of published models for study, yet 19th-century fiction, traditionally reserved for literature classes, provides rich insights for today's apprentice writers. Panelists will share specific lessons on how reading 19th-century authors from a writer’s perspective can help students appreciate and revitalize age-old literary strategies. Authors to be discussed include Jane Austen, Nikolai Gogol, and Edgar Allan Poe.
From the Thickets of Translation: How and Why We Should Teach Contemporary World Literature in the Creative Writing Classroom. (Jia Oak Baker, Ravi Shankar, Forrest Gander, Wayne Miller, Carolyne Wright)
In the 21st century, any conversation about literature must expand beyond the Western tradition, reflecting the globalization intensifying around us. But the MFA classroom is often limited to the same few canonical examples of international writers. Join editors from highly acclaimed anthologies of contemporary world literature as they discuss pedagogical strategies and the necessity for enlarging the perspective used in classrooms today by infusing new voices into the conversation.
Grading Student Poetry: Pros and Cons. (David Galef, Alan Michael Parker, Erica Dawson, David Wright)
A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education was titled, “Can We Really Grade Poetry?” It outlined the arguments both for and against grading student material in poetry workshops, but the issue is far from resolved. This panel, composed of creative writing instructors with opinions in both directions, should raise a lot of real concerns and lead workshop teachers to rethink how they assess student work.
How I Taught Then, How I Teach Now. (Joseph Scapellato, Claire Watkins, Derek Palacio, Cathy Day, Matt Bell)
When experience forces us to challenge the assumptions that underpin our teaching philosophies, how do we sensibly revise our syllabi, course element by course element? In this panel, five teachers of writing share what they grew into knowing. They’ll describe how an active awareness of their changing assumptions changed their courses for the better. Practical before-and-after examples of course materials promise to make this panel useful for beginners and veterans alike.
How to Teach Literary Magazines in the Classroom and Why. (Rachel May, Jenn Scheck-Kahn, Christina Thompson, Michael Nye, Morgan Frank)
For new writers, the rich community of literary magazines is an invaluable resource of inspiration, education, and publication, and yet such writers know very little about this vast and varied living literature that’s dependent on their readership for survival. From our teacher panelists, learn three ways to integrate literary magazines into university writing and publishing classes, and take our applicable tips and tricks home to your classroom.
I Know This is You: What Happens When Student Writing Reveals Too much. (Luke Rolfes, Christie Hodgen, Bronson Lemer, Diana Joseph, Richard Sonnenmoser)
Teachers often receive nonfiction thinly disguised as stories or poems. Sometimes the skeleton closet swings open, and words and paragraphs spill out – a cathartic overflowing, a painful regret, an admission of guilt, a secret that has never seen the light of day. How do instructors handle these sudden outbursts of truth without jeopardizing the dignity of the writer or the workshop’s integrity? What obligation do teachers have when the workshop ends and the revelation still sits on the table?
Is all this writing really any good for us: a discussion of how texting, tweeing and emailing impact the creative voice. (Fred Leebron, Rob Spillman, Andrew Levy, Catherine Campbell, Grace Groover)
This wide-ranging presentation will discuss how all the other writing creative writers do ultimately affects their voice; it will also discuss how it impacts their audience. Does the fact that we write so much every day now actually help us become better creative writers, or does it harm us? Does the fact that our readers now write and read so much every day have an impact, too, on our craft, both in terms of the writer's ability to hold an audience and in terms of what readers want?
Microaggressions in the Workshop. (Ginger Ko, Xin Tian Koh, Grace Liew, Alisha Karabinus, Randall Tyrone)
How should we respond to microaggressions and outright aggression in the creative writing workshop? How should we, as students and workshop leaders, pay attention to the intersectionality of writing, while avoiding essentialist interpretations of stance or experience? This panel discusses how to avoid assumptions, and how to question problematic subject matter and craft choices. We propose ways in which outnumbered voices can productively break consensus to allow for diverse perspectives.
Morphing from 2D to 3D: Teaching Multimodal Creative Writing. (Silas Hansen, Matt McBride, Tessa Mellas, Sarah Myers, Ruth Williams)
Text in lines on a page: a singular mode. Lines become ruts, the page a rectilinear bore. Composition studies busted beyond the 2D text. They compose in sound and sculpture, memes and vlogs. We’re following them into the third dimension. Panelists share extra-textual CW assignments. Students photograph their fiction, push plays off-stage, bake literary responses into cakes, cross CNF with social media, take to the streets with guerilla poems. Students embody texts and texts expand off-page.
Narrative Medicine: Applications Across Settings. (Owen Lewis, Nellie Hermann, Catherine Rogers, Rishi Goyal, Rita Charon)
Narrative Medicine is a discipline of writing that seeks to capture the experience of patients and healers. In its application to a variety of settings where sickness and healing occur, it promotes critical self and other reflection. Basic theory and teaching approaches will be explored, and their applications of narrative to medical students, medical house staffs, medical ward personnel, patients, and the training of graduate level writer/trainers. All genres of writing represented.
Non-Violence in the Creative Writing Workshop. (Fred Marchant, Maxine Hong Kingston, Becca Lachman, Kim Stafford, Brian Turner)
Toxic critique often wounds writers. How might some principles of non-violent engagement transform the creative writing workshop? What happens when writers listen well? How can deeply receptive listening—to texts and to writers—kindle dialogue about new work? Despite diversity of perspectives, how do we seek common ground as writers helping writers? The panelists will explore these and related questions about how non-violent ethics can be profoundly practical in the creative writing workshop.
Outside/In: Why I Choose to Teach in a Prison. (August Tarrier, Lisa Sewell, John Blake)
Bodies outside the wall, bodies inside the wall—we have a common humanity, and teaching in a prison offers vital opportunities to be a witness to others’ humanity. We contend that poems and stories offer salvation, and are a means to grant humanity to all people. Stories are a vital conduit between those inside and outside, and can be instrumental in helping those inside find a way to thrive. Our panel will share excerpts from the powerful stories our inside students have shared with us.
Overcoming the Challenges of Workshopping Book-Length Narratives. (Lex Williford, Michael Martone, Valerie Miner, José de Piérola)
By focusing on the short story or narrative essay in isolation from the larger context of the book, graduate fiction and nonfiction workshops too often don’t prepare students to write their MFA theses, publishable book-length narratives—novels or memoirs, novels in stories or collections of stories or essays. This panel will consider a few varieties of the narrative book and a few innovations for helping students focus on both the part and the whole in workshops for the book-length narrative.
Performance Poetry: A Pedagogical Guide to Social Activism in the Classroom. (Karla Cordero, Darren Samakosky, Rachel Gellman, Joe Limer, Anthony Blacksher)
This session will present five teachers, diverse in background and poetics who will discuss the use of performance poetry as a tool to develop student voice. From high school to college level, educators are examining voice as a metaphor for power in writing. Rhetorical power through poetic exercise, in turn, can allow students to reclaim their voice, identity, and belonging in society. How can poetry confront class in the classroom? Join us in a dialogue about poetry, race, and social change.
Practical Approaches to Teaching Creative Writing in Urban Public Schools: What Works? (Mary Anna Evans, Tim Lynch, John Henry Scott, Christopher Cervelloni, Gerard Breitenbeck)
As a project of the Rutgers-Camden Office of Civic Engagement, university students ranging from undergraduates to experienced classroom teachers studied the history of the troubled school system in Camden, NJ, received training in teaching creative writing to urban youth, and completed a teaching practicum in local public schools. Panelists will share practical pedagogical and digital media strategies that are transferable to other universities interested in developing similar civic projects.
Preparing Students of Color for the MFA: Advice, Reflections and Methodologies. (Tonya Hegamin, Joanna Sit, Farrah Qidwai, Jonathan Katz)
Writers of various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds discuss their experience in MFA programs as students and teachers of creative writing. The panel will share their experiences, discuss coping mechanisms and insights they learned about themselves as writers and finally how those experiences influence their teaching pedagogy.
Quickies: Ten-, Twenty-, and Thirty-Minute Writing Activities for the Classroom. (David James Poissant, Melinda Moustakis, Katherine Zlabek, Michelle Burke, Heather Hamilton)
Ever wish you spent more time in the creative writing classroom actually writing? In this panel, teachers will share in-class writing activities they’ve successfully used to inspire on-the-spot creativity. Whether it’s doing Mad Libs to teach Aristotle or using cooking terminology to write a poem about something other than soup, each of these activities is sure to spice up the classroom. As a bonus, panelists will also share how they’ve adapted activities for job market teaching demonstrations.
Racing Creative Writing: Pedagogy and Practice. (Metta Sama, Rae Paris, Tracie Morris, Raquel Goodison)
This panel of four Black women will address our concerns in teaching race and ethnicity in creative writing workshops. We’ll consider the ways we navigate (hyper)visibility and erasure, honor our aesthetics, encourage students to identify their own poetics/aesthetics, and support students in examining the ways their racial identity(ies) impact their writing. We’ll delve into our responsibilities and challenges as teachers, writers, and artists in remixing/dismantling the White gaze.
Reaching Out / Breaking Through: Introducing New Writing in the Undergraduate Classroom. (Jared Stanley, Sandra Lim, Stephanie Vanderslice, Alex Lemon)
How do undergraduate teachers make contemporary writing accessible to students who are new to its particular joys and rigors? Our panelists will explore pedagogical techniques, best practices, and our students’ varied experiences with contemporary writing. What works best? What approaches have failed? The panelists are a diverse group who work in various genres, teach in public and private institutions and approach the subject from both Literature and Creative Writing perspectives.
Reimagining the Author: Pedagogies of Collaboration, Chance, and New Media in Poetry Workshops. (Timothy Bradford, Susan Briante, Joseph Harrington, Cheryl Pallant, Grant Jenkins)
Collaboration, digitization, automation, and conceptualization are just some of the ways traditional notions of authorship can be reimagined in the classroom. Panelists will discuss how rethinking these notions can unlock students' creativity and critical thinking about their own writing, and they will share lesson plans geared toward helping community, undergraduate, and graduate students generate innovative work and practice new methods they can later apply in more traditional assignments.
Second Sight: Teaching Revision Skills in the Workshop. (Bruce Beasley, A. J. Verdelle, Peter Selgin, Kat Finch, Rachel Yoder)
The teaching of specific revision skills often gets scant time in workshops, overshadowed by the process of critiquing first drafts. Authors of poetry, fiction, plays, nonfiction, and craft books, ranging from an MFA student to an editor of a journal devoted wholly to revision, discuss strategies for teaching revision techniques effectively in workshop. Handouts include unsuccessful first drafts of famous literary works and the revisions that got them from alpha to omega.
Striving For Balance Between Language and Prejudice in Teaching Writing. (Alexander Chee, Danielle Evans, Christine Lee, Jennine Crucet, Victor LaValle)
Writers and creative writing instructors discuss teaching strategies for addressing sexist/homophobic/racist work in the classroom. What opportunities exist when encountered with such work? How does one dismantle pejorative workshop commentary that promotes marginalization while maintaining open dialogue? The diverse panel will explore topics of artistic integrity around the author/narrator/character convergence, as well as provide pedagogical tools to address classroom prejudice head on.
Teaching Artists Teaching Artists. (Miah Arnold, Raj Mankad, Landon Godfrey, Chelsie Ruiz Buckley, Claire Helakoski)
Creative writing’s pedagogical kinship to composition is oft considered, less so is our relationship to architecture, music, drama, dance, and the visual arts. We observed, interviewed, and harangued professors in these arts to discover: the teaching givens; what artists must know and produce to graduate; how work is created, presented, graded, and critiqued. Our discoveries offer thought-provoking possibilities that challenge and invigorate the norms of the creative writing workshop.
Teaching Experimentation: The Freedom in Constraints. (Ryan Clark, Virginia Bell, Shailen Mishra, Michelle Naka Pierce)
Creative writing teachers often advise students to experiment with their drafts to discover new narrative and lyric possibilities. But how might students engage in this experimentation? Writing constraints posed by Oulipo, cut-up, erasure, same language translation, and bricolage not only act as generative devices, but make the writing process more deliberate and open-ended. This in turn facilitates a heightened understanding of craft, ethical sensibility, and critical awareness in the writer.
Teaching Fiction in a Golden Age of Television. (Marian Crotty, Mark Winegardner, Tom Franklin, Alissa Nutting)
In an era of streaming content and Breaking Bad, our fiction students enter the classroom as sophisticated consumers of visual storytelling. When students draw upon TV/movies for their fiction, however, they often mimic the aspects of these genres least applicable to short fiction while ignoring elements that can dramatically improve their writing.This panel will discuss the techniques fiction writers can borrow from TV/movies and the unique challenges/rewards of teaching in a golden age of TV.
Teaching Graphic Memoir. (Elizabeth Cohen, Mimi Pond, NIcole Georges)
Panel discussion with audience Q&A on the topic of the graphic memoir as a teaching tool for college undergraduates and graduate students. Participants will each give a ten minute presentation of their graphic memoir work and ways they’ve used the genre pedagogically to teach writing skills such as point of view, description, handling time and sequence and character development. There will be an instructive exercise at the end.
Teaching in Prisons/Prisons in Teaching. (jessica kinnison, cody leutgens, jonny blevins, marc nieson, sarah shotland)
Panel discusses alternate venues for teaching creative writing, featuring educators from Words Without Walls, a partnership between Chatham University's MFA program and a Pittsburgh prison, jail, and halfway house. Dialogue focuses on developing site-specific curriculum and creative writing pedagogy. Learn how to initiate, nurture, and greet programmatic challenges, and how the experience often launches writers toward wider engagement with educational justice among their literary citizenship.
Teaching: The Life of Poetry and Muriel Rukeyser. (Tim Seibles, Jen Benka, Jan Freeman, D Nurkse, Renee Olander)
This panel of five poets explores and discusses approaches to teaching poetry using Muriel Rukeyser's 1949 classic The Life of Poetry as a foundational text. Dimensions of our discussion include attending to the fear of poetry, writing and reading poetry in times political conflict, and the practical uses of poetry. As teachers, publishers, and practitioners of poetry, we address how to incorporate The Life of Poetry -- including its radical assertions and wide-ranging interrogation of public life -- into workshops and other courses.
Thank You for the Surgery. (Megan Levad, Peter Ho Davies, Pimone Triplett, V. V. Ganeshananthan, Jeffrey Schultz)
When Higginson eviscerated Dickinson’s poems she responded by thanking him for the surgery, and noting that it was not so painful as she’d supposed. However, many creative writing instructors feel they must avoid offering rigorous criticism, or risk gaining a reputation for sadism. But does pain serve a purpose in the revision process? In this panel, writers with diverging teaching philosophies will discuss what the writing workshop stands to gain—or lose—from stinging appraisals.
The Pedagogical Push: Post-Graduation Transition to Being an Adjunct. (Elliott Freeman, Katharine Johnsen, Christine Utz, Marina Blitshteyn, Rachel Kennedy)
Emerging writers striving to master craft at the same time they are teaching it have some serious questions: How do emerging writers transition into adjunct positions after graduation? What about those who don’t want the hassle of hustling? This group of emerging writers, recent graduates, teaching assistants, and adjuncts will discuss strategies for maintaining an active writing life while managing the stressful juggle of jobs, both adjunct and otherwise, following graduate school.
The Pedagogy of Publishing: The Unique Benefits of Editing and Publishing with Undergraduate Writers. (Lucas Southworth, Andrew Farkas, Elizabeth Wade, David Welch)
Undergraduate writers must hone their critical eyes, practice care with language, and learn to enter larger writing communities. Engaging them in editing and publishing teaches all three within a rewarding framework of real-word experience. This panel offers the pedagogical benefits of working with students on a range of publications: campus and national, web and print, professional and DIY. It also introduces pitfalls instructors might face and poses advice on how to anticipate and solve them.
The Sonnet: Not Just for Men in Tights. (Anna Evans, Marilyn Nelson, Allison Joseph, Maryann Corbett, Nasir Sakandar)
Contemporary sonnet is not a contradiction in terms. This timeless and versatile form can single handedly deliver your creative writing workshop, literature classroom, or even your composition classroom from villainous mindsets like narcissism, nihilism, and flabby writing. Our panelists, who are writers, teachers, and admirers of the sonnet old and new, will share strategies and insights so you can harness its superpowers to help your students.
Ut Cinéma Poesis: Using Film in Poetry Workshops. (James Pate, Sandra Lim, Lisa Fishman, Arda Collins, James Shea)
Pasolini wrote poetry. Frank O’Hara made a film. Poetry and film have long found inspiration in one another. This panel of five poets explores ways to use film (Bergman, Eisenstein, Maya Deren, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Trecartin) in poetry workshops. How can film lead to writing exercises and discussions about poetic form, image, repetition, sound, and juxtaposition? We also address new, evolving technologies, such as iMovie and the iPhone, and consider how they might be used in a poetry class.
Weird Science: Strategies to Encourage Innovative Writing in the Workshop. (Andrew Altschul, Lucy Corin, Eric Puchner, Melanie Rae Thon, Deb Olin Unferth)
Most writing teachers hope their students will produce exciting, original work that takes risks with language, structure, and form. But the modern writing workshop sometimes seems designed to produce "workshop stories": competent studies in conventional realism, rather than work that breaks with tradition, subverts trends, seeks the new. Join five writers of unconventional fiction as they discuss their teaching methods and efforts to articulate a more imaginative workshop aesthetic.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Talent. (Nance Van Winckel, Patricia Henley, Natasha Saje, Xu Xi, Amy McCann)
Five writing teachers with a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and community teaching experience discuss the concept of talent. Joyce Carol Oates says it exists only in the work. But what happens as that work develops--or not? And how can teachers of writing identify and nurture gifts in their students while at the same time fostering the idea that excellent writing and/or talent are not the only things necessary for success?
What's Love Got to Do With It? (Catherine Bush, Padma Viswanathan, Adam Sol, Jericho Brown)
What’s the role of passion in selecting literary works for the writing classroom? Many humanities academics argue for objectivity when teaching literature, suggesting that whether you like a text shouldn’t affect whether you can teach it. Two novelists and two poets with varied teaching backgrounds debate the uses of affinity in teaching published work to emerging writers. If we dare not speak of love, how do we acknowledge subjectivity and convey to our students that this work matters?
What’s Wrong with Genre? Writing and Teaching Along the Literary Margins. (Holly M. Wendt, Joann Richardson, Susan V. Meyers, Michael Sheehan, Kris Saknussemm)
This interdisciplinary panel features five writers and editors whose work and experience addresses creating high-concept fiction—from pirates to robots, crime rings to circus lore—with a literary aim. Each panelist will provide a short rhetorical and practical framework that focuses on crafting these voices before reading from his/her own representative work. Panelists will offer examples and ideas for teaching collegiate/adult writers who have an interest in genre and hybrid literary fiction.
When Words Collide – how creative writing programs address popular fiction. (David Bishop, Barbara Duffey, Nicole Peeler, Vicki Stiefel)
Popular fiction and creative writing prorams have long been worlds apart on both sides of the Atlantic. But what happens when students on such programs aspire to write popular fiction? This panel will discuss the challenges and opportunities of working with genre writing in an academic context, with speakers drawn from programs that tend to eschew popular fiction and those that embrace it.
Where We Begin to Revise the Poem. (Keetje Kuipers, Erica Dawson, James Harms, John Hoppenthaler, Peter Campion)
This panel will provide very specific revision strategies for use in the poetry workshop. Revision at the level of the word, the line, the sentence, and the stanza will be highlighted. Each panelist will provide three favorite points of revision, with each point contributing toward an understanding of the sort of shaping and negotiation that goes beyond mere editing, the sort that students ought to be engaged in as they prepare their portfolios and continue on in a life of poetry making.
Who Are We in the Creative Writing Classroom?: Interventions in the Craft vs. Context Fight. (Julie Babcock, Megan Levad, Mairead Byrne, Lizzie Hutton, Francine Harris)
College students come to the classroom individually situated in complex environments and ideologies that affect how and what they write, yet many creative writing courses ignore this messy (and invigorating) reality. In this panel, five writers and teachers of creative writing, discuss the troubling ramifications of ignoring personal context and provide diverse options for merging craft-based creative writing instruction with contextual exploration.
Words for the Wounded: Helping Special Populations Heal Through Writing. (Autumn Stephens, Gail Kretchmer, Karin Miller, Jennifer Cross, Caryn Mirriam-Goldeberg)
Healing writing occurs when an individual employs expressive or creative writing to describe and come to terms with devastating life events. In this potentially transformational session, five seasoned healing writing teachers and facilitators discuss their best strategies for engaging adult special populations (such as prisoners, terminally ill patients, war veterans, and abuse survivors) in telling their unique stories through narrative prose, fiction, and poetry.
Workshopping the World: Teaching Creative Writing Outside Academia. (Christopher Koslowski, Julia Velasco, Justin Brouckaert, Kathy Zlabek, Erin Elizabeth Smith)
Is your workshop in a rut? All too often, the design of university creative writing courses defaults to a tried-and-true standard, failing to reflect the creativity of its participants. Panelists with experience teaching creative writing in prisons, writer's retreats, enrichment centers, elementary schools, and ESL courses abroad will discuss what the university workshop can learn from their techniques in catering instruction to diverse audiences.
Writers Write, No Matter What: The Role of the Writing Prompt in the (Elementary to Post-Graduate) Classroom and Beyond. (Wendy Call, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Sarah Gambito, Anastacia Tolbert)
Writers of poetry, fiction, essay and memoir will share favorite writing prompts. Each panelist—representing Cave Canem, Kundiman, or Macondo—will offer specific pedagogical strategies and learning outcomes for their writing prompts. Audience members will add a favorite writing prompt to a collective basket and later receive the entire collection via email. We will begin and end this generative session with writing exercises that build upon each other and offer an extensive bibliography.
Writing as Therapy for War: Developing Stories and Poems with Witnesses and Soldiers. (Amira Pierce, Daniel Buckman, Olivia Cerrone, Elana Bell, Maurice Decaul)
We know that the current climate of war is unprecedented, but we haven't gone deep enough in understanding the experiences of the people who are living in and with the storm that is the heart of it. This panel creates a conversation about empowering veteran soldiers and war witnesses to tell their stories in creative ways. Five leaders of writing communities tied to present conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East discuss pedagogical concerns and practices and read workshop selections.
Writing is Rewriting: Teaching Revision in the Creative Writing Workshop. (Debra Monroe, Charlotte Gullick, Doug Dorst, Joe Hoppe, Mary Helen Specht)
Creative writing students love to write; so why, then, is it often like pulling teeth to get them to revise? Drawing on their experiences teaching graduate, undergraduate, and nontraditional students, the writer-professors on this panel will discuss why students are resistant to revision and offer classroom-tested strategies and assignments that can help students revise everything from structure to language, fiction to poetry.
100 Years Since "Spoon River Anthology": A Tribute to Edgar Lee Masters. (Douglas Unger, Herbert K. Russell, Willis Barnstone, Lee Briccetti, Matt Rasmussen)
"Spoon River Anthology" was the most popular book of American poetry of the early 20th century. For its 100th anniversary, biographer Herbert K. Russell, poets Willis Barnestone and Matt Rasmussen, and Lee Briccetti, of Poet's House, present the influences on Anderson, Wilder, Lewis, Lowell, Sexton, Berryman and others until now; and novelist Doug Unger shares a discovered memoir about the poet's difficult later years and American awareness of a need for grants to support poets and writers.
20 Years of Diversity: The University of Arizona Press Celebrates the Camino del Sol Literary Series. (Ray Gonzalez, Julie Sophia Paegle, J. Michael Martinez, Edwin Torres)
Since 1994, The University of Arizona Press has published new and established voices in Latino letters in its award-winning Camino del Sol literary series. In two decades, Camino del Sol has cultivated an admirable and sizeable list of distinguished contemporary authors, including those who’ve earned accolades from the National Book Critics Circle, the Before Columbus Foundation, and the PEN American Center. Camino del Sol founder will join writers to present brief readings.
2013 National Poetry Series Selections: A Reading. (Jeffrey Schultz, Simeon Berry, Thomas Dooley, Sara Eliza Johnson, Rose McLarney)
For 35 years the National Poetry Series has worked to recognize and promote excellence in contemporary American poetry. Each year, the Series works with five presses and five distinguished judges to select striking works from both emerging and established poets, without privileging any single aesthetic camp or place-based school. This reading will feature the poets selected for the 2013 Series, a group that represents a wide range of approaches to contemporary poetic practice.
50 Shades of Chinese: Writing Into and Out of Stereotypes. (Ed Lin, Catherine Liu, Nicholas Wong, Brian Castro, Gerald Maa)
Recent interest in Chinese writers often fails to recognize the unique ways in which they have chosen to perform Chinese-ness beyond ethnic identification. How, in a society preoccupied with geo-political posturing, do you invent an anti-nationalistic identity as a complex set of representations that resist exoticization? Join four writers of Chinese descent as they discuss the ways in which their writings answer back to cultural presumptions about identity and what one can articulate about it.
A Reading and Conversation with Ana Menéndez and Dani Shapiro. (Ana Menéndez, Dani Shapiro)
Ana Menéndez, author of Adios, Happy Homeland! and The Last War, and Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion: A Memoir and Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, will present readings of their award-winning work, followed by a moderated discussion.
A Reading and Conversation with Sallie Tisdale and Janet Sternburg Hosted by Hawthorne Books. (Sallie Tisdale, Scott Nadelson, Janet Sternburg)
Sallie Tisdale, author of Women of the Way and Talk Dirty to Me and Janet Sternburg, author of Optic Nerve and White Matter will present readings from their upcoming Hawthorne titles, followed by a moderated discussion.
A Reading and Conversation with Tomasz Różycki. (Tomasz Różycki, Mira Rosenthal, Bill Johnston, Major Jackson)
A bilingual reading by Tomasz Różycki, one of Poland’s most acclaimed younger poets, and his award-winning translators, Mira Rosenthal and Bill Johnston, followed by a conversation on formal innovation, translation, and poetry in the new world experience. Known for his fiercely exacting poems that investigate history alongside contemporary global reality, Różycki is the preeminent inheritor of the poetic tradition of Czeslaw Milosz and Adam Zagajewski. Major Jackson will moderate.
A Reading by LSU Press Poets. (Alice Friman, Anya Silver, Kelly Cherry, Claudia Emerson, David Kirby)
LSU Press has been at the forefront of university-press publishing for seventy-nine years. This reading showcases five poets reading from the most recent of their LSU books—five poets whose exciting work not only celebrates the many successful years of this press but also affirms its commitment to publishing the finest of poetry.
A Reading by the 2013 AWP Award Series Winners. (Matthew Burriesci, Sarah Gorham, Kirsten Kaschock, Carla Panciera)
A reading featuring the 2013 AWP Award Series winners Matthew Burriesci, Sarah Gorham, Kirsten Kaschock, and Carla Panciera.
A Reading Celebrating Ascent Magazine’s 40th Anniversary. (Jessica Treadway, Peter Chilson, Benjamin Hollars, Katharine Coles, Bret Lott)
Founded by Dan Curley in 1975 at the University of Illinois, Ascent magazine moved to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota in 1996. Lauded as “simply and unobtrusively one of the best,” described as one of the roots of American literature, Ascent continues to find and publish the best writing from new as well as established writers. Five writers who represent the breadth of Ascent’s vision read from their fiction, poetry and essays.
A Reading Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of The Southern Review. (Jessica Faust, Michael Knight, David St. John, Anna Journey, Bonnie Jo Campbell)
Four writers whose works have appeared in The Southern Review at various stages of their careers read in celebration of the journal’s storied past and ever-evolving future. After the reading, which will include poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, the panelists will discuss what they believe the journal has meant to the literary landscape and their writing lives.
Academy of American Poets Presents Carolyn Forché and Kevin Young. (Jennifer Benka, Carolyn Forché, Kevin Young)
The Academy of American Poets presents a reading by award-winning poets Carolyn Forché and Kevin Young who will read from their respective works. Forché is the 2013 recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement. Kevin Young is the recipient of a 2012 American Book Award and is a National Book Award finalist. Jennifer Benka, Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, will introduce the readers.
Action Books First Decade: An International Reading. (Johannes Goransson, Don Mee Choi, Valerie Mejer, Raul Zurita, Daniel Borzutzky)
For ten years, the midwest press Action Books has been ardently advocating for international writing, publishing both US-based and global authors in translation and serving as a raucous agitator for translation in the process. This event celebrates Action Books with readings by five authors of international renown-- Chile's Raul Zurita and Mexico's Valerie Mejer, assisted by US-Chilean poet Daniel Borzutzky, & US-Korean poet Don Mee Choi reading the works of Kim Hyesoon. Discussion will follow.
Almost 20 Years of Making Stuff Up: A Fiction Reading/Celebration by University of Minnesota Alumni. (Ethan Rutherford, Matt Burgess, Amanda Coplin, Liana Liu, Susan Meyers)
The University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) MFA program, now 18 years young, is happily situated in one the most vibrant literary and arts environments in the US. Come listen to and celebrate the work of a few of the program’s distinguished fiction alumni, now writing and teaching across the country. Panelists will read from a diverse array of work, including short stories, hard-boiled noir, young adult fiction, and novels-in-progress. Q and A to follow.
Alternative Fuel Sources: Powering the Non-narrative Essay. (Joni Tevis, Ander Monson, Lia Purpura, Amy Leach, Brenda Miller)
When story is not the main concern, what keeps us reading? How can voice, structure, or research provide a pressurizing frame--and a pleasing shape--for nonfiction material? We will explore these questions through readings that rely on elements other than narrative for forward momentum, in the tradition of the idea-driven essays of Montaigne, Shonagon, and others. Essayists who have published nonfiction that depends on something other than narrative will read from and discuss their work.
America by Train: Riding and Writing the Rails. (Kristiana Kahakauwila, Jessica Gross, Vanessa Blakeslee, Kai Carlson-Wee, Anders Carlson-Wee)
Since the 1800’s, writers have described America from the frame of the train window and found that the rhythm of the tracks inspires their work. With the debut of the first Amtrak Residency for Writers, the train is enjoying a writerly renaissance. These panelists-- including those involved with the Amtrak Residency and others who have hopped trains-- will read work based in the movement, music, and changing landscapes particular to riding America’s trains, subways, metros, and other rails.
América invertida: a poet to poet translation model for a bilingual anthology. (Jesse Lee Kercheval, Catherine Jagoe, Laura Cesarco Eglin, Lauren Shapiro, Seth Michelson)
Uruguay, with a population of a mere 3.3 million, has produced a disproportionate number of fine poets, a tradition that continues today. But this poetry remains under translated. América invertida is a project that paired Uruguayan poets under 40 with an American poet/ translator. The resulting anthology will be published by the University of New Mexico Press, but the connections formed between poet and translator are as important, opening the possibility of further translation and exchange.
An FC2 Reading. (Matthew Roberson, Jessica Richardson, Greg Howard, Ryan MacDonald, Elisabeth Sheffield)
FC2 is not just one of the few experimental presses around but is one of the most prestigious and long-lived literary presses in America. Our publications have created an ongoing, diverse conversation about what constitutes the innovative. Our authors include, among others, Samuel Delany, Leslie Scalapino, Raymond Federman, Brian Evenson, Melanie Rae Thon, Lance Olsen, and Diane Williams. This event will offer authors of our latest books a chance to give short readings and answer questions.
Arab-American Writers: A Reading & Discussion. (Randa Jarrar, Elmaz Abinader, Philip Metres, Hayan Charara, Kathryn Haddad)
Five award-winning writers- Elmaz Abinader, Hayan Charara, Kathryn Haddad, Randa Jarrar, and Philip Metres- discuss the politics and practicalities of writing while Arab. What responsibilities, if any, do Arab-American writers of fiction, poetry, essays, and plays hold post-Arab-Spring? Presenters will explore Arab-American perspectives in post-colonial and academic contexts and activist communities, and discuss how Arab-American writing can embrace an honest and complex version of identity.
Argonaut, Citizen, Empathy, Inoculation: New Nonfiction. (Eula Biss, Leslie Jamison, Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine)
New nonfiction and the essay are reaching new aesthetic heights and receiving unprecedented readership in the next generations after Didion and Sontag. These four award-winning writers are at the forefront of new nonfiction writing. They will discuss the role of the first person, lyric innovation, and the essayist as citizen, as well as their own recent works confronting queer identity, race, empathy, and vaccination. Introduced by Fiona McCrae, publisher of Graywolf Press.
Ars Poetica, Ex Machina: On Race, Gender, and Machine Translation. (Karen An-hwei Lee, Arlene Kim, Prageeta Sharma, Margaret Rhee, Tung-Hui Hu)
In our age of post-mechanical reproduction, what is machine translation? On this panel, innovative poets will discuss their creation of experimental translations using digital technology. While the flaws of machine translation are multifarious, those limitations offer potential for language experiments like back-translation, recombination, or code-switching within contexts of race and gender. The panel will include short readings of exemplary works
¡Ay Papi! Reconstructing a Contemporary Three-Dimensional View of Latino Erotica. (Maria Vasquez Boyd, Gabriela Lemmons, Jose Faus, Miguel M. Morales)
Who can resist a sexy Latina or a Lusty Latino? This sensual reading by the Latino Writers Collective explores the sexual realities and stereotypes of Latinos as spicy or exotic. It dissolves misconceptions surrounding erotica as pornography. And it focuses on the moment when these constructs converge at the literary crossroads. Panelists also examine and deconstruct tropes across the spectrum of sexuality, class, and gender to reconstruct a contemporary three dimensional view of Latino erotica.
B Words: A Celebration of Bold, Bossy, Bitchy, Ballsy Women Poets and The Body Politic. (Julie Kane, Patricia Smith, Jan Beatty, Laura Madeline Wiseman, Grace Bauer)
This panel of wild women writers will read and discuss their own outspoken, no-holds-barred poems and celebrate the groundbreaking work of other women poets -- Ai, Coleman, Rich, Sexton, Wakoski, and others -- who led the way in revealing what Carolyn Kizer called "the world's best kept secret: merely the private lives of one-half of humanity, " and releasing what Audre Lorde called "the fountains of our power."
Best New Poets: A 10th Anniversary Reading. (Jazzy Danziger, Eduardo C. Corral, Sandra Beasley, Zach Savich, Natalie Diaz)
Since 2005, the annual Best New Poets anthology has provided recognition and encouragement to emerging writers who have yet to publish a full-length collection. Past contributors will read from their work to celebrate the anthology’s 10th anniversary and the success many poets have found after appearing in its pages.
Between Oblivion and The Blockbuster: What's a Literary Novel To Do? (Tim Johnston, Jill McCorkle, Bill Roorbach, Lauren Grodstein, Brock Clarke)
At a time when the literary novel seems all but doomed, five accomplished authors have found safe haven with an indie house that publishes just 20 new titles a year. Now, at vastly different moments in their careers—some quite impressively along, others just debuting—these Algonquin Books authors gather to tell stories of the paths that led each of them to this common publishing experience, and to discuss what they've learned about a literary landscape that might not be so bleak after all.
Between the Sheets: a Hyphen Magazine Reading on Asian American Sex & Sexuality. (Karissa Chen, Patrick Rosal, Eugenia Leigh, Ed Lin, Tina Bartolome)
The submissive geisha, the gawky computer nerd, the seductive dragon lady. Popular culture is dominated with caricatures of Asian Americans as hypersexual or asexual beings. But Asian American sexuality is more diverse, nuanced, and titillating than these stereotypes allow. Four writers previously published in Hyphen magazine will read their takes on sex and sexuality, breaking apart the notion that Asian Americans are one-dimensional when it comes to getting down and dirty between the sheets.
Beyond Lake Wobegon: Minnesota Writers of Color. (David Mura, Marie Lee, Ed Bok Lee, Alexs Pate, Susan Power)
This reading/panel addresses the question: How does a culture change its portrait of itself? Minnesota writers of color explore a very different cultural landscape than the common clichéd images of the state. These writers of color examine the lives not only of their own communities but the complex interactions between communities of color. Stemming from the struggles of our communities, a strong activism also characterizes writers of color here.
Blood Will Out: Putting Violence on the Page. (Richard Bausch, Ed Falco, Melissa Stein, Cate Marvin, Roger Reeves)
What makes violence so compelling a subject? How do we reconcile writing gorgeously about unspeakable things? When should we employ grisly details, and when would restraint have more emotional impact? What right do we have to write about violence we haven’t experienced ourselves? How can we do justice to the consequences and complexities of violence? Five award-winning prose writers and poets explore the allure and perils of violence both physical and psychological.
Boston Review 40th Anniversary Poetry Reading. (Rickey Laurentiis, Carmen Giménez Smith, Robyn Schiff, John Koethe, Susan Wheeler)
Gathering five outstanding poets whose work has appeared in Boston Review’s pages in the course of its 40-year history, this reading features performances of poetic work that draw on diverse aesthetics and influences. A celebration of the rigor and range of Boston Review’s contributors, the event showcases the eclectic vitality of contemporary poetry. Poetry editors Timothy Donnelly and BK Fischer will make brief opening remarks, and copies of the current issue will be offered to all who attend.
Brave and New: A Dark Noise Reading. (Danez Smith, Fatimah Asghar, Aaron Samuels, Franny Choi, Jamila Woods)
Dark Noise is a multiracial, interdisciplinary collective of six artists under the age of 26, heralded as some of the most exciting emerging voices in poetry. Drawing from both spoken word and formal backgrounds, this collective troubles the line between literature and performance. This dynamic reading will not only showcase collaborative poetry but also discuss strategies for collective-building and give us all a reason to shout on a cold Minnesota morning.
Bravery and Bearing Witness: The Power of Vulnerability in Nonfiction. (Sarah Wells, Bonnie Rough, Kate Hopper, Marilyn Bousquin, Brenda Miller)
Reader response to scenarios where a writer has made herself vulnerable on the page often manifests itself as “Wow, you’re brave!” The writer, however, may not feel anything close to brave. Is it bravery we’re feeling when we tell our stories? Do we need courage to bear witness? Is it enough to share a personal story, or is there more at stake in the writing process? Panelists will speak to the power of vulnerability and necessity of craft in writing to transform the self and the culture.
Breaking the Body: Women Writers Reconfiguring Creative Nonfiction Forms. (Melissa Febos, Elissa Washuta, Lidia Yuknavitch, Joy Harjo, Sarah Dohrman)
Within the evolution of creative nonfiction lie specific challenges for women writers breaking traditional forms—through the writing process, publication, and reception. Craft is often overlooked when a woman’s writing includes personal elements, especially of body and sexuality. Four writers with distinctly varied styles discuss scrupulously crafting innovative work, and then navigating its reception in a culture with still rigid conceptions of form, its limits, and who can break them.
Building on Thirty Five Years: New and Upcoming Poetry from Milkweed Editions. (Patrick Thomas, Parneshia Jones, Sally Keith, Sara Eliza Johnson, Melissa Kwasny)
Of the more than three hundred books milkweed has published in the past 35 years, more than a third have been collections or anthologies of poetry. Ranging from translations by Robert Bly, Alexis Levitin, and Martha Collins to poetry from Marilyn Chin, Sean Hill, and Eric Pankey, the list has constantly evolved along with the press itself. This poetry reading looks into the future of that evolution by featuring four current and upcoming poets on our list.
Can Literary Quarterlies Save Travel Writing? (Evan Balkan, Pamela Petro, Sally Shivnan, Jim Benning, Thomas Swick)
Fine narrative travel writing rarely appears in travel magazines; the stories included annually in The Best American Travel Writing anthology typically come from general interest magazines and literary quarterlies. Unlike travel magazines, where the focus is on consumer information, and the tone is set by advertisers, quarterlies provide a place for leisurely, contemplative, objective – even critical – writing. Panelists will talk about their experiences writing for both types of publications.
Catholic Writers: At the Crossroads of Faith and Craft. (Orlando Menes, Daniel Tobin, Valerie Sayers, Janet McCann, Sarah Cortez)
A reading and discusion featuring prominent poets, essayists, and fiction writers (from diverse cultural origins) who are dedicated to exploring how their Catholic upbringing and faith have impacted their craft, in particular how they negotiate those many fissures between the secular and the religious. How do they, as Catholics, evoke or represent the sacred, how they delve into the mysteries of faith, in a world so dominated by materiality and technology, so oppressed by poverty and tyranny?
Celan and Language: Cross Cultural Greatness. (Pierre Joris, David Young, Lee Upton, Shane McCrae)
This panel holds Celan as a paradigm of cross-cultural greatness. Celan spoke and wrote many languages and, at the same time, scrutinized the very nature of language, exemplifying its strengths and challenging its weaknesses. Marick Press brings to this reading and panel discussion poets, translators and commentators that have personally contributed to our understanding of a Romanian, Jewish poet that arguably achieved the high point of his poetry in the German language.
Confronting Our Fears: Turning Adversity into Art. (Jo Scott-Coe, Michael Steinberg, Renee D'Aoust, Richard Hoffman, Meredith Hall)
Seasoned memoirists know that writing about our personal misfortunes, fears, and demons can produce rich, even urgent, writing. But that's only true when we use those hardships and struggles not simply for confession or disclosure but as raw materials for creating literary works. Citing their own and others' work, five writer-teachers will offer strategies designed to show aspiring memoirists how to transform frightening, disturbing experiences into artfully crafted, shared human narratives.
Contemplation in a World of Action: Thomas Merton in the 21st Century. (Fenton Johnson, Dianne Aprile, Marie Howe, Maurice Manning, Carl Phillips)
Reading and writing are inherently contemplative practices. 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, the most influential writer on Western spirituality of the 20th century. This panel of five writers will discuss Merton’s influence on our writing, teaching, and lives, as well as the place of contemplation in a world of action (the title is Merton’s). We will focus on the role and influence of contemplative practice in our writing and teaching.
Contemporary Vietnamese American Poetry, 40 Years After the War. (Cathy Linh Che, Ocean Vuong, Bao Phi, Paul Tran, Hieu Minh Nguyen)
2015 commemorates forty years since the end of the Vietnam War--but its aftereffects can still be felt today. Five Vietnamese American poets will perform recently published work and will lead a conversation on the war and its legacies. Beyond that, the poets will discuss ways that their many identities inform their writing--as survivors of sexual violence, as individuals who identify as LGBTQ, as parents, and as writers with imaginative imperatives.
Cream City Review Celebrates Returning the Gift Native American Writers! (Kimberly Blaeser, Janet McAdams, Margaret Noodin, Laura Tohe, B. William Bearhart)
In 1992, 500 years after Columbus, more than 300 Native American writers gathered at the first Returning the Gift Festival, bringing together more Native writers than at any other point in history. cream city review celebrated the legacy of this now annual gathering with a special issue entitled “Returning the Gift: Indigenous Futures.” Please join us for our Gathering of Words with a poetry and fiction reading from emerging and established Native American writers published in this issue.
Daughters of Baba Yaga: The Eastern European Woman Poet in the United States. (Larissa Shmailo, Katia Kapovich, Anne Pluto, Gloria Mindock, Irina Mashinski)
Women immigrant and first-generation poets will read poetry of the Eastern European experience, symbolized by Baba Yaga, the ferocious and powerful witch who lives in a hut on chicken legs. Russia, Ukraine, and other origins will be represented. Poetry themes will include magic, animals, adapting the immigrant experience to the language of the new country, and how politics, including the Cold War and the occupation of the Ukraine, inform the Slavic female poets' work in the United States.
Digital Poets and Nature: A Reading. (Carol Dorf, JP Howard, Athena Kildegaard, Randall Horton, Ellen McGrath Smith)
Nature is one of the most enduring themes in poetry, especially in a world that faces environmental threats. Yet technology isn't always the enemy of nature. Amid a debate that often leans on nostalgia for a pre-tech era, this reading celebrates both the natural world and creative uses of technology. Poets from the online magazine Talking Writing will read from their work, draw connections between a love of the wild and virtual life, and invite the audience to join this evolving conversation.
Discovering The Diverse Voices In Blue Lyra Review. (Matthew Silverman, Lucille Lang Day, EJ Koh, Ken Lamberton, Tim Tomlinson)
The Poetry Editor and 4 contributors to Blue Lyra Review, an online and print journal founded in 2012, will read their work. Coming from CA, S. Korea, NY, AZ and GA, writing in the fields in poetry, fiction, translation and nonfiction, they exemplify the journal’s mission to feature writers from ethnically, culturally, and geographically diverse backgrounds, paying special homage to Jewish writers and other underrepresented communities. BLR has published more than 200 writers and growing.
Diversity & Community: A Midwestern Poetics to Move Us Forward. (Wendy Vardaman, Margaret Rozga, Brenda Cárdenas, Kimberly Blaeser, Fabu Carter)
Five poet-educator-critic-editor-activists discuss practical strategies to create inclusive, dynamic poetry communities. Focusing on local realities and revealing regional complexity, we present counter-narratives that our work emerges from and generates: historical, economic, geopolitical, multilingual, multicultural, artistic. Recognizing a range of aesthetic possibilities for poetry and poetic activism, we examine common goals: equity, access to social and artistic spaces, meaningful lives.
Dorothy, a publishing project: Anniversary Reading. (Danielle Dutton, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Amina Cain, Joanna Ruocco, Suzanne Scanlon)
Dorothy, a publishing project set out in 2010 to publish works of fiction by women, pairing books from different aesthetic traditions to highlight the variety of narrative art being produced by contemporary women writers. 2015 marks Dorothy's fifth year and tenth title: time to step back and consider how the project has taken shape and to celebrate its books and authors. Dorothy's founder will talk about the project, while its authors will read from and discuss their work.
Echo Locution: Aural / Environment / Body / Poetics. (David Miller, James Belflower, E. Tracy Grinnell, Maryam Parhizkar)
Locating echoes of musical composition in a diverse range of musically-grounded writing practices, this panel articulates sites of affinity between poetry, music, somatic and environmental concerns. Through a survey of writing by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Akilah Oliver, Joan Retallack, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Leslie Scalapino, panelists explore experiments with sound and composition in connection to poetic praxis, thereby informing our understanding of ourselves and our environment.
Echoes of Displacement: Sound in Poetries of Diaspora. (Chris Santiago, Shane McCrae, Barbara Jane Reyes, Abdi Phenomenal Farah, Yvonne Garrett)
This panel will look at various sonic techniques found in diasporic literature. Writers of Irish, Asian, and African diasporas will discuss how sound manifests as utterances, soundscapes, traces of lost languages, word play, and music in their own and others’ work, often as a consequence of displacement from a homeland or mother tongue. The panel will suggest ways of producing new works in this vein and, moving forward, will investigate practical approaches to diasporic writing in the classroom.
Echoes Without Saying: Coach House Books Celebrates Fifty Years. (Ken Babstock, Christian Bök, Susan Holbrook, Jeramy Dodds, Sina Queyras)
From its charming old home on bpNichol Lane in Toronto, Coach House Books has been publishing innovative and important poetry for fifty years. Award-winning poets Ken Babstock, Christian Bök, Jeramy Dodds, Susan Holbrook and Sina Queyras read from their acclaimed Coach House books to help us celebrate this milestone anniversary.
Editors as Writers: a Normal School Reading and Discussion. (Steven Church, Joe Bonomo, Randa Jarrar, Matt Roberts, Sophie Beck)
Five Editors or Staff Writers (Three Founding Editors, Fiction Editor, and a Contributing Editor/Columnist) from the critically acclaimed literary magazine, The Normal School, will read a short selection of their own creative work and answer questions regarding process, form, and technique as well as about how editing and working for the magazine enhances and or detracts from their own writing. Discussion may focus on the challenges and rewards of juggling the roles of editor and writer.
Editors to Follow: Tweeting for Lit Mags. (Kate Moulton, Kent Shaw, Justin Alvarez, Miriam Cook, Sophie Rosenblum)
Filled with writers, Twitter is an optimal place for literary journals to gain interest from readers, but when you’re the voice behind a literary journal, how do you know whom to follow or how often to tweet? This panel of tweeters from Better Magazine, Indiana Review, NANO Fiction, The Paris Review, and Ploughshares will discuss the ways in which literary journals use Twitter accounts to promote authors and gain subscribers while also sharing the rewards and regrets of having an account.
Ekphrasis Goes Prose. (J'Lyn Chapman, Danielle Dutton, Lucy Ives, Amina Cain)
While ekphrasis often seems the province of poetry, interest in W.G. Sebald’s use of photographs in his fiction—inspiring novelists such as Aleksandar Hemon and Teju Cole—points to a growing recognition of ekphrastic strategies that open possibilities in prose narratives. Four panelists discuss wide-ranging prose ekphrastic projects, from fiction that enlivens paintings to illustrated novels to the appropriation of visual art techniques.
Embracing the Unlikeable: How To Write and Teach Unsympathetic Characters. (Christopher Castellani, Heidi Pitlor, Maud Casey, Alix Ohlin)
Fiction rises or falls on the believability of its characters. Recently, media attention has been paid to whether those characters have to be "likeable," and what role, if any, the "unlikeable" sort should play in stories and novels. In this panel, four authors explore what this demand for likeability really means for writers of literary fiction, examine the craft of creating complex but compelling characters, and explore how to teach students confused by misleading publishing trends.
Ethno-Representations of War and Violence. (Nomi Stone, Tarfia Faizullah, Jehanne Dubrow, Solmaz Sharif, Carolyn Forche)
Drawing on Carolyn Forche’s notion of a third space of the social, which bridges the personal and political, we interrogate and enlarge methodologies, languages, and source-worlds in writing poetry about war/violence. We engage poems drawn from interviews of Bangladeshi victims of wartime rape; of Iraq War refugees who reenact war in US pre-deployment simulations; and of Jews in Honduras after the Holocaust, as well as poems that re-imagine the Department of Defense’s security dictionary.
Everyday Oddities: Natural Fact and the Lyric Essay. (Joni Tevis, Christopher Cokinos, Brian Oliu, Chelsea Biondolillo, Colin Rafferty)
What happens when the lyric essay, a form that embraces the fragmented and enigmatic, attempts to engage with the hard facts of the natural and historic worlds? In this round-table discussion, five essayists discuss how their research has expanded their understanding of the genre's potential, how they've maintained the lyric essay's experimental bent while remaining fact-checkable, and how they've written essays that merge the slipperiness of personal experience and the hard truth of fact.
Everything I Know about Poetry I Learned from Li Po and Tu Fu: The Influence of Classical Chinese Poetry. (John Bradley, Sam Hamill, George Kalamaras, Ken Letko)
Once, Li Po was stepping over a puddle, and a wood splinter fell from his shoe sole into the water, making ripples that will be felt at this AWP Conference. These ripples, in fact, have formed Modernist poetry. Join the conversation so you can practice splitting firewood by moonlight.
Experimental Lyric. (Erica Mena, Cole Swensen, Eleni Sikelianos)
What are the possibilities of the lyric in experimental/innovative poetry? What exactly do we mean by 'lyric' anyway? Is the lyric essentially lost to personal feelings, or are is there a poetic mode we can call the lyric that expands beyond a personal subjectivity? These poets discuss the potential for lyric as a poetic mode, as a site of innovation, and as an expansion of the possibilities of experimental/innovative writing, exploring how the lyric informs their work and the work of others
Exploring the Contours of Flash Fiction: From Six Words to 1,000 Words. (Meg Pokrass, Larry Smith, Pamela Painter, Grant Faulkner, Sophie Rosenblum)
Flash fiction, initially defined as a story that filled two pages of a literary journal, has now spawned a variety of different forms that challenge the ways stories can be told. While stories are built primarily with text, flash emphasizes the gaps in and around a story in ways longer stories don’t. This reading features writers who have focused on specific flash forms, from 6-word memoirs to 100-word stories to the flash saga of 1,000 words.
Far Out: Travel as Research for Fiction and Poetry. (Josh Weil, Beth Ann Fennelly, Maud Casey, Peter Mountford)
On this panel we'll discuss the ways that traveling as writers of fiction and poetry changed our work—how we write, what we write, and why. We’ll describe the importance to each of our projects of acquiring direct sensory information for our scenes, the methods of research, the dangers research poses to the creative process, and opportunities — from fellowships to residencies to using non-fiction assignments — for poets and fiction writers who travel for their work.
Fashioning a Text: Discovering Form and Shape in Literary Nonfiction. (Michael Steinberg, Rebecca McClanahan, Michael Downs, Elyssa East, Pat Madden)
Structure in nonfiction is often regarded as tandem or secondary to other concerns (voice, content, subject matter). Five writer/teachers--essayists, memoirists and journalists--maintain that “fashioning a text,” that is, discovering a work's shape, is central to the drafting process. Citing theirs and others' work, panelists will discuss the essential connection between their material and the forms they choose. In addition, they'll explain when and how they decided what those forms would be.
Feminist Press presents: Ana Castillo and Bridgett Davis. (Elizabeth Koke, Bridgett Davis, Ana Castillo)
2015 marks the 45th anniversary of Feminist Press, the longest-running feminist publisher in the world. To celebrate, two outstanding Feminist Press authors will read from their most recent novels. Following the reading the authors will take questions about the work, their processes, and their experience working with a non-profit independent feminist publisher.
Festival of Language: A Celebration of Seven Years of Arts, Artists, Innovation, and Inclusion. (Jane L. Carman Carman, Ricardo Cortez Cruz, Jenny Ferguson, Jeff Grieneisen, Ewa Chrusciel)
Premiering in 2009 as an offsite event with a dozen readers and participants, the Festival of Language is a celebration of art dedicated to innovation and inclusion. The Festival has grown to reach well over 300 participants and attendees a year. This flash reading across genres is a celebration and sampling of those artists that make the Festival of Language a continued and growing success. The reading will be followed by a short reading eXperiment that invites audience participation.
Finney, Hayes, Wentworth & Pineda: Palmetto Poetry Series. (Marjory Wentworth, Nikky Finney, Jon Pineda, Terrance Hayes)
National Book Award-winning poets Nikky Finney and Terrance Hayes, South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth, and Milkweed National Fiction Prize-winning writer and poet Jon Pineda will read together in recognition of the return of the Palmetto Poetry Series. Published by the University of South Carolina Press and edited by Finney, the Palmetto Poetry Series celebrates the diverse voices and wellspring of talent found among South Carolina poets, as represented by this quartet of writers.
Flat Lands and Open Waters: Reading Hybridity into the Midwest. (Nickole Brown, Re'Lynn Hansen, Madelon Sprengnether, Alison Townsend, Rochelle Hurt)
The paradigm of form has shifted to include hybrid works such as the poem novella, the lyric essay, the prose poem, and flash nonfiction. How do the challenges and rewards of living in the flatlands yield to a fluidity and hybridity in writing? These Midwestern authors, all published by White Pine Press Marie Alexander series featuring prose poem and hybrid forms, will read work and discuss the confluence of aesthetics between living/writing from the midlands and having an openness to form.
Flyover Fiction Series 10th Anniversary Reading. (Kristen Elias Rowley, Erin Flanagan, Robert Vivian, Ladette Randolph, Pamela Carter Joern)
For ten years, the University of Nebraska Press’s Flyover Fiction Series has published novels and story collections set on the Great Plains, a region located in the center of the country and referred to either sentimentally as the Heartland or dismissively as flyover country. Four authors will read from their books in the series, followed by a discussion of what it means to be a Midwestern writer.
For Their Own Purposes: The Craft of Intertextuality. (Christian Gerard, Katharine Coles, Dexter Booth, Michael Mejia, Nicole Walker)
When Eliot said "Good writers borrow, great writers steal," he was acknowledging what we all know: every written work talks to and from other writings. Some writers engage other texts explicitly, as in erasures or centos; some work more slyly. In their poems, novels, and essays, the writers on this panel play joyfully in and with the words of others. They will discuss their techniques and various challenges (including copyright issues) and pleasures of bringing their thefts into the open.
Formed Landscapes: Four Writers on the North. (Jensen Beach, Steve Himmer, Lisa Coultey, Jeff Parker)
This reading presents the north as geographic spaces upon which cultural, political, and historical identities have been and continue to be projected. Just as the west and the south have long been used as genre classifications, the north provides a distinct landscape that remains as yet under-explored in contemporary literature. This reading will feature four writers, each working in a different genre, reading from work that explores the varied geographies of the north.
Four Weddings and an Inauguration: The Occasional Poem. (Liz Ahl, Richard Blanco, CM Burroughs, Rita Dove, Ann Hudson)
Your sister asks you to write a poem for her wedding. Your president asks you to write a poem for his inauguration. How might your work in response to requests of such seemingly different weight or scope be somewhat similar with respect to audience, performance, and aesthetic? Why have certain poems endured beyond the occasions for which they were written? This panel, featuring an editor, an inaugural poet, and a former poet laureate, examines the occasional poem from a variety of perspectives.
From Poverty to Poetry. (dawn lonsinger, Afaa Michael Weaver, Eduardo Corral, Jane Wong, Rachel McKibbens)
What sounds and silences emerge from poverty? Does poetry rise up out of poverty like a phoenix from the ashes? Poets from working class backgrounds will discuss how growing up poor has shaped their journey toward poetry, how it shades their relationship to language, how it influences their poetics, and how it effects the way they interface with the literary world. Poets will discuss the relationship between class and poetry and explore what it means to write with class consciousness in mind.
Gerald Stern: A Garland of Essays. (Michael Waters, Judith Vollmer, Alicia Ostriker, Michael Broek, Mihaela Moscaliuc)
This panel will provide critical insight into the work of one of America’s most prominent, vibrant, and idiosyncratic contemporary poets: Gerald Stern, the 2014 recipient of the Frost Medal. The author of seventeen collections of poetry and three collections of essays, Stern has established himself as a distinctive voice that is accessible and sophisticated, gregarious and visionary. This panel will celebrate Stern, who turns 90 in February 2015, by turning attention to his craft and extraordinary body of work, including the forthcoming collection, Divine Nothingness (W.W. Norton, 2014). The panelists, all poet-critics, are contributors to a collection of critical essays on Stern’s work (Trinity University Press, 2015); the presentations will focus on the singularity of Stern's voice, his place in the American tradition, and on Stern's craft.
God Made Flyover States: Writing the Rural Midwest. (Atwell Mary Stewart, Matthew Fluharty, Anne-Marie Oomen, Mardi Jo Link, Jeremiah Chamberlin)
The Midwest occupies a richly complicated terrain within the American literary imagination. Though home to some of our most distinguished writers, it is better known for endless cornfields, tornados, and funny accents than for literary greatness. How do writers deeply invested in the culture of this overlooked region honor its past while negotiating ingrained stereotypes? This panel will offer a series of perspectives and creative practices as diverse as the contemporary rural Midwest.
Grass, Water, and the Mythic Quest for America. (Virginia Gilbert, Laura Tohe, Judith Sornberger, Mary Stillwell, Barbara Robins)
From the 1830s through 1869, 400,000 pioneers followed the Oregon Trail to new homes and adventures in the West and Midwest, enduring hardships along the way, and causing hardships for the native peoples already living there. What impact did this vast migration have on the land, the peoples and their ancestral roots, on their writings, and on their hopes and dreams? Panelists representing a broad spectrum of views will present works discussing both the settling and the unsettling of this land.
Graywolf Poetry Reading. (Mary Jo Bang, Katie Ford, Matthea Harvey, Nick Flynn)
For over forty years, Minneapolis-based independent publisher Graywolf Press has supported poetry known for aesthetic range and cultural outreach. In recent years, the Press has built an extraordinary list of award-winning contemporary poets. Four of those poets will offer readings from new, exciting work recently published by Graywolf. Introduced by executive editor Jeff Shotts.
Graywolf Press and Kundiman Present Poets Vijay Seshadri and Arthur Sze. (Tina Chang, Arthur Sze, Vijay Seshadri)
This featured event will highlight two of this country’s most respected poets. Vijay Seshadri is the most recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the first Asian American poet to have received that honor. Arthur Sze is one of the most renowned poets of the last thirty years. Together, this is sure to be a remarkable poetry reading, and a marvelous way to promote and discuss poetry by Asian American writers. Introduced and moderated by poet Tina Chang.
Graywolf Press Reading. (Tony Hoagland, Jeffery Renard Allen, Margaret Lazarus Dean, Mark Doten, Ander Monson)
Minneapolis is home to Graywolf Press, one of the leading independent publishers in the country. For more than forty years, Graywolf has published award-winning poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and reached audiences locally, nationally, and internationally. Five remarkable authors across three genres will read from their recent Graywolf books—meditating on the end of the Space Shuttle program to narrating musical genius “Blind Tom” to advocating for “Twenty Poems That Could Save America.”
Great River Review 40th Anniversary Celebration. (Michael Waters, Marilyn Nelson, Kimiko Hahn, David St. John, Mihaela Moscaliuc)
A poetry reading celebrating 40 years of publication of Minnesota's oldest continuously published literary journal.
Growing Up in a Magical Space: Magical Realism in Contemporary Young Adult/Children's Literature. (Laura Ruby, Janet Fox, Joy Preble, Nikki Loftin, Nova Ren Suma)
Magical realism is a genre in which magical elements occur naturally in a realistic environment - much as they do in childhood. As the popularity of dystopian fiction wanes in young adult/children's literature, other genres take its place, including a blend of the contemporary and the fantastic: magical realism. Five published authors discuss the unique place of magical realism in young adult/children’s literature, and share their reasons and methods for working in this underrepresented genre.
Hands Dipped in Ink: On ASL, Writing, and Identities. (Raymond Luczak, Pia Taavila-Borsheim, Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, T. K. Dalton)
What’s the difference between “deaf” and “Deaf”? Quite huge, actually. American Sign Language is not “English on the hands,” so writers who use ASL to communicate must deal with the confluence of the complexities of ASL and its Deaf culture, and the demands of English and its hearing culture when sharing one’s own work in print. Growing up with Deaf parents and the cultural expectations of the signing community will also be explored. Being a bilingual writer means writing will be twice the fun!
Hick Lit: Women Writing from the Circumference. (Diane Seuss, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Adrian Blevins)
This panel will feature a reading by fiction writer Bonnie Jo Campbell and poets Adrian Blevins and Diane Seuss followed by a discussion of writing that emerges from rural spaces. Issues to be addressed include how pastoral literature can reach beyond provincialism and nostalgia, how stories of working class lives can befuddle and even explode stereotypes, and how hick spaces can become transgressive outposts for the literary imagination.
History, Speculation and Invention in Long Form Fiction. (Christopher Robinson, Jan Elizabeth Watson, Gavin Kovite, Jaquira Diaz, Melissa Falcon Field)
Panelists will explore the use of literary mosaics to interlace fiction and reality in order to transform stories of suicide, war, poverty and murder, divulging the tensions between history, speculation, and pure invention. Writers will address different methodologies of narrative form and discuss how research can both energize and betray readership when developing protagonists who share histories and incorporate insider perspectives to reveal less universal truths through long form fiction.
Hurston/Wright Foundation's 25th Anniversary Reading. (Marita Golden, Tayari Jones, Ravi Howard, Patricia Smith, Abdul Ali)
This reading will bring together writers who have taught in or are alumni of Hurston/Wright Writing Workshops or writers who have won Hurston/Wright Legacy awards, and whose lives and writing careers have been positively impacted by the work of the Foundation. To celebrate Hurston/Wright’s 25th anniversary each reader will offer a brief reading and appreciation of Hurston/Wright.
Hybridity as Origin: Writing from Multiracial Experience. (Rosebud Ben-Oni, Marie Mockett, Alyss Dixson, Wendy Babiak, Aaron Samuels)
What are the defining origins of multiracial writers? How do they construct their own voices beyond borders of race, ethnicity and gender? Can the writer represent an authentic voice of her or his cultural heritages? This panel will explore how multiracial writers evolve their origins, and are not solely defined by them. We will discuss in particular how each breaks down and recreates histories by examining the various migrations, assimilation and beliefs that shape the creative self.
I Am We As You Are Me: Exploring Pronouns In Experimental Poetry. (Elizabeth Robinson, Ramsay Breslin, Laura Mullen, j/j hastain, Jai Arun Ravine)
We live in a fast-paced world, in which our language is evolving as quickly as our technologies. Identity too has taken on a more fluid character. If, as Czeslaw Milosz writes, the purpose of poetry is to remind us / how difficult it is to remain just one person, how might we talk about the history of multiple selves as expressed through pronouns in contemporary experimental poetry? What can shifts in pronoun usage tell us about the people we believe we are becoming?
Imagistic: Flash Fiction and the Visual. (Carole Burns, Richard Gwyn, Paul Edwards, joanna scott, Susie Wild)
This reading features ekphrastic stories from Imagistic, a UK-based project in which writers respond to artworks with new flash fictions -- a translation from the language of image into the language of words. Some images provide a clear narrative hook, a sense of place, a moment in time or an action interrupted. Others are more obscure - through a glass darkly. Writers from the UK and US will read their stories with images projected. Followed by q-and-a with curators, artists and writers.
In Residence at Isle Royale National Park. (Marianne Boruch, Glenn Freeman, Keith Taylor, Kevin McKelvey)
Panelists will read their poetry influenced and inspired by serving as artists-in-residence at Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. The panelists will also discuss their experiences as artists-in-residence at the park. Information on how to apply to this and other artists-in-residence programs offered by the National Park Service, as well as other writing residences with an environmental focus, will be shared.
Indigenous Voices North to South: a Reading of Picture Books, YA Fiction and Poetry. (Debbie Reese, Eric Gansworth, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Joan Kane, Debby Dahl Edwardson)
This reading celebrates indigenous based literature from Alaska to Texas with authors who write picture books, young adult and adult fiction and poetry. Writers include Whiting Writers’ Award winning poet Joan Kane (Inupiat), NYT bestselling children's writer Cynthia Lietech Smith (Mvskoke), American Book Award winning multi-genre writer/artist Eric Gansworth (Onondago) and National Book Award Finalist and young adult writer Debby Dahl Edwardson (Alaskan).
Inscriptions for Air: Race, Identity, and Relation. (Wesley Rothman, Tess Taylor, Martha Collins, Sean Hill, Jon Tribble)
In memory of Jake Adam York, and in the spirit of witness, this panel continues a longstanding conversation concerning race and relation. In his posthumously published book, York paraphrases poet Edouard Glissant’s idea: in relation, self and other approach each other as equals, as citizens of a moment in which time and place may be reframed. Panelists will include the audience in a discussion about relation, history’s record, and striving for social and self-awareness in poetry and beyond.
It's a Crime to Skip This Panel. (Michael Kardos, Joy Castro, Chris Abani, Christopher Coake, Lori Rader-Day)
Five novelists with distinct approaches to crime fiction will discuss how and why they came to the genre, and will address such topics as generating suspense, controlling pacing, writing violence, breaking genre expectations, and establishing a distinct voice. Must-read recommendations and a Q & A will round out the session, and then all the lights will suddenly cut out and you’ll hear a scream and not everyone will be as innocent as they appear.
James Wright in Minneapolis. (Chard deNiord, Jonathan Blunk, Anne Wright, Erik Storlie)
This event will examine the formative years James Wright spent in Minnesota from1957 to1964 while teaching at the U. of Minnesota and writing St. Judas and The Branch Will Not Break. The panel discussion will focus on the aesthetic and personal upheavals Wright experienced during this time that led to his break with formal verse, his literary friendship with Robert Bly, the end of his first marriage, his first translation projects, his "Minneapolis" poems, and the evolution of his poem "Hook."
Law and Disorder: A Reading. (Amy Locklin, Shabnam Nadiya, Tim Bascom, Dorothy Black Crow, Andrew Bourelle)
Four writers will read stories from the newly published anthology Law and Disorder. Unlike stories told in popular television series like Law and Order, wherein the narratives impose order within a legal framework, these stories are concerned with disorder in the aftermath of crimes. Authors from a variety of backgrounds will read stories that address the shunning of a rape victim in India, a kidnapping in Africa, a murder on a Lakota reservation, and vigilante justice in the American West.
Let The Body Speak: Sex in Literary Nonfiction. (Devin Latham, Peter Selgin, Barrie Jean Borich, Sean Ironman)
What happens when nonfiction writers bare their bodies on the page, unveil their naked truths, and write their sexual experiences? Can sex narrate the human body, speak the body’s language? Can nonfiction writers craft sex to achieve intimacy? The distinct nonfiction relationship between author, narrator, and reader can raise and purify the body’s voice. This panel will discuss the role sex plays in nonfiction and the effect sex has on the narrator/reader relationship.
Let’s Not Start From Scratch: How to Talk About Race in Poetry. (Jason Schneiderman, Laura McCullough, Timothy Leyrson, Rickey Laurentiis, Ada Limon)
Why does a discussion of the sonnet assume common knowledge, but a discussion of race in poetry always seems to be starting from scratch? How can we create shared bodies of knowledge regarding race, difference, and ethnicity so that conversations will turn on intellect, experience, and analysis, rather than accusation and defense? What tools do poets need for thinking about race that are larger than the self? Five poets present their vision for creating a foundation for productive conversation.
Letters from the Snow Belt: Writing in the Land of Blizzards and Cabin Fever. (Kirk Wisland, Dave Mondy, Chrissy Kolaya, Natalie Vestin, Matthew Frank)
The Upper Midwest is the land of cold, snowy winters. But is this a blessing or a curse? Are the short, dark, frigid winter days a good fit for the writer plying their craft? Is Cabin Fever a key ingredient in the creative spark of prose and poetry? Join us to hear writers from Minnesota and the snowbound Upper Peninsula of Michigan read their work and explore the virtues of a writing life lived tunneling through snowdrifts.
Like a Virgin: Short Story Writers Read from their First Books. (Claire Vaye Watkins, Molly Antopol, Ethan Rutherford, Ben Stroud, David James Poissant)
Five award-winning writers prove that the short story is not dead and that fiction writers' first books need not be novels. Join us for a reading in celebration of these young writers’ highly regarded debuts.
Literary Arts Institute 18th Anniversary Reading. (Mark Conway, Anne Carson, Marie Howe, Claudia Rankine, Kim Anno)
To celebrate a dozen and half years of serving rural audiences in Central Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro, this reading features three writers who have helped create and extend the reach of the LAI through their own luminous work. One writer will read from the newest book printed in the LAI’s book arts studio and reflect with the book artist on the collaborative process of combining text and image.
Literature and Hip Hop, Sponsored by Rain Taxi Review of Books. (Adrian Matejka, Dessa Darling, P.O.S. none, Kevin Beacham)
Arguments abound over whether rap is or isn't poetry, with some arguing for its literary merit and others saying it shouldn't have to smuggle itself into the critical conversation tucked in the dust jacket of another genre. This group of acclaimed practitioners of hip hop and poetry alike, including Kevin Beacham, Dessa, POS, and Adrian Matejka, will showcase hip hop lyrics and poems and debate about the spaces where literature and hip hop converge.
Literature As Visual Art: A Conversation On Collaboration. (Kate Shuknecht, Deborah Keenan, Regula Russelle, Jean Larson, Charles Jones)
Book arts, art books, broadsides, collage, sculpture. These are but some of the ways literature and visual art collide. With writers, publishers, and artists utilizing a variety of texts and images, this panel explores a world of collaborative possibilities. From fine press limited editions to small press multiples, from traditional letterpress to evolving 3-D forms, from paper and ink to found media, we discuss not just the gorgeous array of made objects, but the community around them.
Live Storytelling Without A Net. (Tien Nguyen, Kate Bailey, Loren Niemi, Ward Rubrecht, Taylor Tower)
Take memoir off the page! The popularity of The Moth demonstrates an audience need for live, spoken literature. Minneapolis is home to several storytelling events which present this crowd-pleasing form. The panel will showcase the Twin Cities’ top storytellers as they transform memoir into a theatrical experience. Performing without the safety net of paper, these seasoned storytellers will connect oral storytelling with the immediacy of the modern memoir. Performance followed by an audience Q&A.
Long vs. Short: Nonfiction Storytelling in the Digital Age. (Martha Nichols, Alan Davis, Kelly Sundberg, Mai Neng Moua, Richard Hoffman)
Flash writing lends itself to online reading in quick bursts. But what gets lost when essays and other kinds of nonfiction storytelling are limited by word count? This diverse panel of editors and writers will focus on the pros and cons of flash nonfiction. Some like it long, others like it short, and all will address whether it's okay to say goodbye to the traditional essay. Join the provocative debate about what's happening to literary nonfiction in digital formats—and why it matters.
Make It New(s): Ted Kooser, Jeffrey Brown, and Connie Wanek in Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Copper Canyon Press. (Ted Kooser, Jeffrey Brown, Connie Wanek)
Pulitzer prize-winner Ted Kooser, PBS correspondent Jeffrey Brown, and Minnesota poet Connie Wanek are masters of narrative, image, and metaphor. Through their poetry they bring forth Ezra Pound’s famous statements: “Make it new” and “Poetry is news that stays news.” This reading and conversation is that rare arch from kitchen-window views to global news, from activities as common as sharing a sandwich and canoeing a remote lake to witnessing and reporting events that grip everyone’s attention.
Mapping New Territories: Diasporic Writers from Regions of Conflict. (Maura Snell, Ken Chen, Kazim Ali, Tina Chang)
In last few years, we've seen a rise in global conflicts (The protests in Cairo during Arab Spring & self-immolation of Tibetan monks in China). Diasporic writers, such as Asian & Arab American writers, have had a profound & conflicted response to what's happening in their places of origin. Our panel features four notable writers discussing what “territory” might be, both literally & metaphorically, & what role their work plays in engaging with social & political dynamics across the world
Melancholy and the Literary Uses of Sadness. (Jeff Porter, David Lazar, Bernard Cooper, Catherine Taylor, Alyce Miller)
There is nothing wrong, philosophically speaking, with happiness—it’s just not interesting. That it should in fact be insipid—or so our favorite books suggest—is partly the work of melancholy, the art of sadness. Melancholia has enjoyed a distinguished history from Albrecht Durer to W.G. Sebald. It has long been the artistic malaise of choice, embraced by darkly dressed brooding men and women. How writers use melancholy to transfigure their restlessness and sorrow is the subject of this panel.
Mining the Gap: Trauma, Memory, and Reimagined Pasts. (Elizabeth Kadetsky, Elyssa East, Jessica Handler, Denise Grollmus, Rebecca McLanahan)
The past is not fixed but subject to change. What haunts us may not be the past itself, but the unresolved secrets of our ancestors. Grief, trauma, and nostalgia can reshape our memories, erasing fragments or creating insistent, nonlinear repetitions. Five authors--of memoir, researched memoir, and narrative journalism--discuss their stylistic choices in portraying traumas and secrets handed down through families and cultures, the grief of others and themselves, and other distortions of memory.
Minneapolis Publishers Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press, and Milkweed Editions Present Poets Linda Hogan, Eric Pankey, and Mary Szybist. (Rob Casper, Linda Hogan, Eric Pankey, Mary Szybist)
Minneapolis is known in the literary world as home to Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press, and Milkweed Editions, three of the best independent publishers in the country. They are long respected for their commitment to poetry. To highlight that commitment, Coffee House, Graywolf, and Milkweed are proud to present a reading by award-winning poets Linda Hogan, Eric Pankey, and Mary Szybist. Each will read from their work, and then will be in conversation, introduced and moderated by Rob Casper.
Mr. Capote's Nonfiction Novel: A Fiftieth Anniversary Retrospective of In Cold Blood. (Kelly Grey Carlisle, Ned Stuckey-French, Joe Mackall, Bob Cowser, Dinah Lenney)
2015 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the serial publication of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, a seminal work in the genre we now recognize as creative nonfiction. Writers, editors, and critics assess the book’s legacy, as well as the aesthetic and moral issues it raises. How did nonfiction writing change as a result of the book? In what ways does the book continue to influence contemporary writers? How has the experience of reading it changed since its first publication?
Narrative Expectations in the Personal Essay. (Bruce Ballenger, Jennifer Sinor, Lad Tobin, David Giffels)
All writers of narrative--fiction or nonfiction--begin with two decisions: What to put in and what to leave out, and how to order the material that stays. Typically, in nonfiction we discuss narrative structure much like fiction writers do, invoking some variation of the "narrative arc." But this is an inadequate model, especially for the personal essay, because the "tension" that drives reader expectations is different. How, then, should we talk about the structure of personal essays?
Narrative, Lyric, Hybrid: Crafting Essay Collections into Books. (Renee D'Aoust, Rebecca McClanahan, Patrick Madden, Phillip Lopate, Michael Steinberg)
Lately, we've seen a resurgence in essay collections ranging from traditional to experimental. Whatever form—narrative, lyric, hybrid—the challenge is to organize separately written essays into a well-crafted book. Choices vary: collect essays individually, link them thematically, and/or frame them within a historical tradition. Citing their own and others' work, five writer-teachers will explain the influences and decisions that helped them find the right shape for their collections.
National Book Critics Circle Celebrates NBCC Award Winning Writers. (Jane Ciabattari, Alice McDermott, Anthony Marra)
Two National Book Critics Circle Award Winners--Alice McDermott, a finalist for the 2013 fiction award, and Anthony Marra, winner of the NBCC's inaugural John Leonard Award for first book--read from their work for 20 minutes each and discuss the challenges of writing novels--especially first novels--in a 30-minute moderated conversation with critic Jane Ciabattari. NBCC Vice President/Online [NBCC President 2008-2011]
Neglected American Masters. (James Allen Hall, Jericho Brown, Paisley Rekdal, Yona Harvey, Richard Siken)
This panel spotlights the poet's poet whom we did not encounter in our formal educations or who has slipped under the radar of anthologies or prizes, but whose work is undeniably masterful. Examples might be Gwendolyn Brooks, Muriel Rukeyser, Bob Kaufman, Laura Riding Jackson, Lorine Niedecker, Audre Lorde, and Robert Hayden--among others. The panel analyzes notions of poetic mastery, the politics of neglect, and the ways in which teaching is a kind of canon-making.
Neither here nor there: Third Culture Writers and Writing. (David Carlin, Xu Xi, Michelle Aung Thin, Mieke Eerkens)
Third Culture Kids are the offspring of parents from different cultural backgrounds who live transcultural and transnational lives. This session discusses the notion of the Third Culture Writer: writers whose work emerges out of the personal experience of culturally and geographically hybrid perspectives. Hear firsthand as a panel of variously hyphenated Asian, Australian, American and European Third Culture Writers reflect on how they creatively negotiate being globalised on a human scale.
New Directions in Nonfiction: The Normal School’s Midwestern Essayists. (Kirk Wisland, Natalie Vestin, Matthew Frank, Karen Hays)
Best American Essays Editor Robert Atwan calls The Normal School “indispensable for anyone interested in discovering new directions in the contemporary essay.” Running the gamut from eclectic and experimental to traditional essay and memoir, TNS publishes more than two-dozen nonfiction pieces each year. Contributors from Minnesota and the Upper Midwest will read and discuss process, craft, and form, while exploring the contemporary essay and considering how the Midwest factors into their work.
New Poetry from the Midwest. (Okla Elliott, Lee Roripaugh, Kathy Fagan, John Gallaher, Rita Reese)
The editors and final judge of the 2014 edition of New Poetry from the Midwest and poets in the anthology will read poems included and discuss the issues peculiar to writing and publishing in the Midwest. Poems read will be by those present and others in the anthology but not on the panel. All of the panelists are poets and publishers of poetry in various states in the Midwest. We will therefore speak to both the production and selection of poetry in the region.
New Translations from Socially Engaged French and Francophone Writing. (Andrew Zawacki, Cole Swensen, Julie Carr, Eleni Sikelianos)
Four translators read and discuss socially conscious Francophone writing from Morocco and France. The work of Moroccan novelist Mohamed Leftah is all but banned in his country due to its open treatment of homosexuality. Feminist essayist and playwright Leslie Kaplan wrote L’exces - L’usine after laboring in factories. A psychoanalyst, Sebastien Smirou explores the inner life of animals in a verse bestiary. In photos and lyric prose, Suzanne Doppelt investigates the spectral, spectacular world.
No Country for Good Old Boys: The Remaking of the Masculine in Contemporary American Fiction. (Siobhan Fallon, Alan Heathcock, Ben Percy, Shann Ray, Kim Barnes)
Five authors of fiction will offer examples of "the masculine" at work. Fury and listlessness, a shifting of gender roles, the metrosexual urban landscape and the blue-collar crucible of today's characters is revealed as the authors provide ideas and guidance on pitfalls to be avoided, risks to be taken, and what post-masculine writing has to offer its readers. The authors speak to how the masculine informs the ways they cast male and female characters (masculinity not being gender specific).
No Shame: Sex Scenes by Women, About Women. (Debra Monroe, Elissa Schappell, Melissa Pritchard, Julia Fierro, Gina Frangello)
Writing about sex from a female point of view is uniquely difficult if the author hopes not to participate in her character’s objectification. Word choice is hard too: words for female anatomy are distractingly taboo or clinical, while words for male anatomy lost their shock-value decades ago. Written badly, female sex scenes elicit titillation or disapproval. Written well, they make characters and readers complexly human. Five women writers will discuss writing about sex with candor and nuance.
North of North of the Heart of the Country: North Dakota’s Bioregional Imagination. (Peter Grimes, Taylor Brorby, Heidi Czerwiec, Debra Marquart, Brenda Marshall)
Does the climate and culture, geology and history of a place imprint itself on authors? Until recently, North Dakota was the least-visited state in the union. Now the site of the largest oil find in North American history, the state is influx and booming. As the ground shifts, its writers respond. This panel celebrates the bioregional imagination of writers who hail from the Red River Valley, the wind-beaten plains of wheat and flax, and the shadowy buttes and badlands of oil country.
Novels in Verse: a vital gateway into poetry for young readers. (Sherryl Clark, Ron Koertge, Helen Frost, Mariko Nagai)
Children and teens globally have more access to poetry than ever yet are reading and engaging with it less and less, in the classroom and at home. How can we nurture a new generation of readers and writers of poetry? Through more publications? Better resources for teachers?
This international panel of children’s and YA writers will discuss the state of poetry for young readers in their countries and how verse novels provide important first experiences of poetry. Short readings will be included.
Old Friends Who've Never Met: Five Poets and Some Poems. (John Reinhard, Tami Haaland, Diane Jarvenpa, John Rezmerski, John Terry)
Since 2006, nine poets from Minnesota, Alaska, Montana, Iowa, and Missouri, have committed to sharing new work with each other through a monthly newsletter that runs September-May each year. Though many of these writers have never met, they each take a turn as editor and distributor within the group, and everyone commits to one poem per month, no matter what. In this panel, five members come together to finally share voices and read selections from their work.
Old School Slam. (Laura Moran, Dawn Leas)
AWP welcomes students to return to the roots of Slam! Open mic, special guests and then undergraduate and graduate students partake in a hardcore-break-your-heart-strut-out-the-good-stuff slam competition. Students are welcome to sign up to participate on Thursday and Friday at the Wilkes University/Etruscan Press booth and read original pieces (three minutes or less with no props) at the Slam later that night. Sponsors: Wilkes University and Etruscan Press.
Oracles and Appetites: Three Decades of the FIELD Poetry Prize. (David Young, Mark Neely, Angie Estes, Jon Loomis, Mary Ann Samyn)
For almost half a century, FIELD and Oberlin College Press have been publishing some of the most influential voices in contemporary poetry. In 1997 they began awarding the FIELD Poetry Prize to superlative books by both new and established authors. This reading by prizewinners from the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s will showcase the aesthetic diversity of this influential series. David Young, a founding editor at the press, will moderate and discuss the selection process.
Out of Denmark: Danish Novelists and Their Work. (Kyle Semmel, Naja Marie Aidt, Simon Fruelund, Martin Aitken, Kim Leine)
Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Blixen, Peter Høeg—all Danes whose work has received worldwide acclaim. But what about Danish literature today? Who are its emerging stars? In recent years, there has been a resurgence of Danish authors translated into English. Our panel of Danish novelists and translators reads from their work and discusses how it fits (or does not fit) into the topography of domestic and international literary landscapes.
Outside the Frame: Writing for Documentary Film. (Jodie Childers, Dan Messina)
Writing for documentary film involves the contradictory impulses of control and surrender: it is about constructing and capturing, producing and discovering. The panelists will discuss how filmmakers identify cinematic characters, follow story lines and use the hybrid nature of the medium, as well as the complications of working with human subjects; often, what is most significant is the story outside the frame, the narratives that happen in the act of making that transform the final product.
Page Meets Stage Tenth Anniversary Showdown hosted by Taylor Mali. (Taylor Mali, Mahogany Browne, Nikola Madzirov, Richard Blanco, Bao Phi)
Academic poets can’t read, and slam poets can’t write; for 10 years, the Page Meets Stage reading series in NYC has been refuting that tired claim. Taylor Mali returns to AWP for the fourth year in a row with a new combination of poets—ostensibly two each from page and stage—who will answer one another, poem for poem, in an ongoing effort to prove, as Horace said over 2,000 years ago, that the poetry most deserving of our approbation is that which can delight and instruct at the same time.
Persea Books 40th Anniversary Reading. (Patrick Rosal, Michael White, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Alexandra Teague, Matthew Vollmer)
Persea Books has persevered and prospered over the past forty years, publishing essential works by Oscar Hijuelos, Nazim Hikmet, Marie Howe, Thylias Moss, Gary Soto, Lisa Russ Spaar, and hundreds of other wonderful writers. The press remains a family business, and its authors constitute a family in their own right. This reading gathers together five of them from various genres (essay, fiction, memoir, poetry) to showcase Persea's breadth of voices and dedication to literary publishing.
Persimmon Tree Poets Read. (Wendy Barker, Chana Bloch, Tori Derricotte, Sandra M. Gilbert, Alicia Ostriker)
A reading by poets featured in past issues of Persimmon Tree: An Online Journal of the Arts for Women Over Sixty, a magazine that has showcased many of the most significant women poets of our era. The founding poetry editor and current poetry editor will also briefly review the history and direction of this highly successful journal that now reaches 12,000 unique readers each month from across the globe.
Pintura/Palabra: Writers Respond to Art. (Francisco Aragón, Fred Arroyo, Blas Falconer, Maria Melendez Kelson, Emma Trelles)
"Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art." Four writers reflect upon this touring show, how it has spurred new work: a self-directed, four-day, ekphrastic retreat at the exhibit’s opening; taking part in, then leading, a poetry workshop at the exhibit’s first two stops; engaging solely with the show’s catalogue; designing a prose workshop for an upcoming venue. Panelists will also read new ekphrastic work while displaying images from this seminal show, slated to tour the U.S. into 2017.
Pitt Poetry Series Reading. (Beth Bachmann, Ross Gay, Dore Kiesselbach, Sarah Rose Nordgren, David Roderick)
Throughout its history, the Pitt Poetry Series has provided a voice for the diversity that is American poetry, representing poets from many backgrounds without allegiance to any one school or style. Five new poets will read work recently published as part of the series.
Plot IS Character, Character IS Plot. (Jewell Parker Rhodes, William Konigsberg, Varian Johnson, Nova Ren Suma)
Plot tests characters and forces them to make choices that define them. Plot provides characters with the things they are hard-wired to repeat and avoid, driven by physical, social and emotional motivation. Successful authors of young adult and middle grade fiction explore how plot can deepen your characters as they tackle issues pertaining to social justices, diversity, environmental issues, cultural trends, and upheavals.
Poetics Theater: A Textual and Theatrical Performance and Discussion. (Kaveh Bassiri, Rodrigo Toscano, Joyelle McSweeney, Magus Magnus, Patrick Durgin)
For centuries, major poets also have been playwrights. Modernist poets continued the tradition, exploring the possibilities of theater and its elements. More recently, by experimenting with language in physical, personal and social bodies, a new generation of poets has been writing a hybrid Poetics Theater, that, like Prose Poem, challenges the conventional notions and the expected boundaries of poems and plays. Join us for a unique reading and discussion of Poetics Theater.
Poetry & Disability. (Don Share, John Lee Clark, Jim Ferris, Jillian Weise, Jennifer Bartlett)
In 2014, Poetry magazine published an exchange among four contemporary poets on the subject of poetry and disability. The exchange addresses what it means to write disability, ableism in the literary world, issues and experiences with publishing and accessibility, and questions concerning disability, form, and embodiment. This panel discussion will continue the conversation begun in the exchange and will welcome participation of the audience through a Q&A.
Poetry and the New Black Masculinity, Part 2. (Kevin Simmonds, Danez Smith, Tim Seibles, Pages Matam)
The work of contemporary black male poets reflects assertions and disruptions often missing from mainstream black male representation. As a continuation of the seminal panel at Split This Rock (STR) Poetry Festival 2014, five noted black male poets—at various stages in their careers and representing a wide range of genre-defiant aesthetic and performative practices—reconvene to discuss themes and conventions emanating from their own social, artistic, and political narratives.
Poetry in the Program Era. (Darin Ciccotelli, Jessica Piazza, Kent Shaw, Susan Somers-Willett, Glenn Shaheen)
In his 2009 book The Program Era, Mark McGurl reads postwar American fiction by way of its origins in the creative writing classroom. In doing so, he finds that familiar lessons of craft ("show-don't-tell") and originality ("find your voice") can have far-reaching aesthetic consequences. Can the same be said about poetry? This panel will explore how creative writing pedagogy has impacted recent poets, noting how elliptical, formalist and slam poetries have fared in this new academic era.
Poetry of the Plains, High Desert, and Prairie. (Megan Kaminski, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Prageeta Sharma, Linda Russo, Robert Wrigley)
Five poets writing on the margins of today’s urban poetic centers read from works that explore the unique geography, people, culture, and ecology of the host conference region. Exploring a place that is often neglected, these poets bring the regional and local into a larger conversation. The panel diversifies and challenges the idea of the centers of contemporary american poetry, of the American Poetry Map that seems overwhelmingly defined by urban centers or the coasts.
Pop Goes the Headline: Crafting the Popular in Literary Fiction. (Toni Jensen, Ito Romo, Dave Housley, Andrew Brininstool)
Working with very current material from popular culture to current events has its own set of challenges and rewards. A diverse set of publishing writers and editors will discuss best practices for using and critiquing pop culture and current events in fiction. We'll consider issues of craft, such as form, use of language and voice when working to capture contemporary phenomena. The four writers will give tips on working the line between the now and the long-lasting.
Puzzle and Mystery: Orchestrating the Known and the Unknown. (Peter Turchi, Steven Schwartz, Robert Boswell, Lan Samantha Chang)
Every story, novel, and poem strikes a balance not just between what's included and what's omitted, but between what is known—by the characters, by the narrator, and by the writer—and what is unknown, even unknowable. Effective choices regarding inclusion and presentation can create productive tension and realistic complexity; less effective ones can result in vagueness, obscurity, and unhelpful opacity. This panel will discuss examples from longer and shorter works.
Queer Lyricism: Vulnerability and Risk in Lyric Forms. (Kathleen Livingston, Kate Carroll deGutes, Julie Marie Wade)
As lyric essayists who do queer work, we often wonder whether lyric essays, being a somewhat marginal genre, extend themselves more readily to marginal people or those working with subjects that are especially vulnerable, volatile, controversial, risky. Three writers will read work on sexuality and explore issues of vulnerability and risk in lyric forms. How do we curate our material, know when enough is enough?
Queer Poetics in a Transnational World: Craft, Politics, and Publishing. (Andrew Leong, Kazim Ali, Minal Hajratwala, Nicholas Wong)
How does access to multiple languages and cultures inform a queer poetics? What are the politics of writing in post-colonial societies that are unsafe for queer-identified artists? How do these multiple identities affect access to publishing? Why is it crucial for these voices to be heard both globally and in America? Join poets and translators from Hong Kong, India, and the US as we discuss issues of queerness, cultural displacement, and the mapping of selves across a shifting world.
Queridos: A Reading by Gay Latinos. (Ruben Quesada, Francisco X. Alarcón, Benjamin Garcia, Miguel M. Morales, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano)
Queridos: A Reading by Gay Latinos. (Francisco X. Alarcon, Benjamin Garcia, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Miguel M. Morales, Ruben Quesada) This poetry reading will present a group of openly gay (queer) Latino poets at various stages in their careers. These authors, who come from around the country—brought together through creativity and community—will share a variety of original poems inspired by and/or against their identity as gay (queer) Latinos.
Race, History and the Body: Social Acts of Writing. (Aimee Suzara, Debra Busman, Heid Erdrich, Matthew Shenoda, Raina Leon)
The body has been both metaphor and literal site of contestation: the gazed upon, exhibited, racialized, gendered other. How do writers make social acts of resistance, mapping the histories of our bodies? How do we respond to the epidermalization of inferiority (Fanon) instilled by wars, colonization and conquest? Diverse writers discuss multi-genre work as documentarians and cartographers, as ceremonial archaeologists digging the bones of our histories, returning them to sacred.
Readings from Every Father’s Daughter, a new anthology of personal essays by women about their fathers. (Phillip Lopate, Joyce Maynard, Ann Hood, Jayne Anne Phillips, Jill McCorkle)
Some of this century’s finest women writers from all over the country will read from Every Father’s Daughter, a new anthology of personal essays by diverse women about their fathers. Every Father's Daughter is being published at AWP 2015 on the occasion of McPherson & Company's 41st anniversary.
Recent Novels by Fiction Faculty, Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA. (Rene Steinke, David Grand, Jeff Allen, Thomas E. Kennedy)
Award-winning fiction faculty from Fairleigh Dickinson University's MFA read from their recent novels: Mount Terminus, Song of the Shank, Friendswood, and Beneath the Neon Egg.
RED INK--a re-launch reading. (Melissa Michal, Simon Ortiz, Natanya Sturgill-Pulley, LeAnne Howe, Franci Washburn)
Sherman Alexie has asked,” Where are all the new American Indian fiction writers?” Prize-winning fiction authors and a new generation of writers answer the question by reading together and showcasing a variety of work. Under new management with Simon Ortiz, RED INK celebrates the achievements of American Indigenous writers across the generations by weaving together the words of these writers, and linking their influences to the emerging work of future generations.
Remixing Creative Nonfiction. (Ana Holguin, Kathleen Livingston, Amy Schleunes, Jonathan Ritz)
As nonfiction writers and editors, we are interested in translating essays into alternative forms--videos, podcasts, performances, zines. Four essayists associated with Fourth Genre will read and display examples of creative nonfiction remixes, considering how and why we re-mediate our nonfiction work. What are our writing and editing processes like? How do the technologies we choose change our purposes and audiences?
Resisting Borders: Two Latin American Poets in the U.S.. (Katherine Hedeen, Victor Rodriguez Nunez, Eduardo Chirinos, Janet McAdams)
This panel discusses the work of Víctor Rodríguez Núñez (Cuba) and Eduardo Chirinos (Peru), two of the most outstanding poets in Latin America today. Members of a generation who immigrated to the U.S. but still write in their native Spanish, they challenge the borders of what has typically been defined as American literature. The poets as well as scholars and translators will focus on how the American experience and English have reshaped this work. A brief bilingual reading is featured.
Revising the Personal Essay. (Penny Guisinger, Sven Birkerts, Sarah Einstein, Alexis Paige)
You’ve written your essay. Maybe a second reader has taken a look. It needs work, but how do you face those pages again? And again? And again after that? How do you know when you’re revising toward something good and not away from something terrible? Which darlings do you nurture and which do you kill? When is the piece done? This panel will provide concrete tips, examples from manuscripts, and questions to guide you and your red pen through the daunting steps of revising a personal narrative.
Revisionist Mythmaking in the Borderlands. (Katherine Hoerth, Celina Villagarcia, Robin Scofield, Rossy Evelin Lima Padilla, Shannon Hardwick)
Gloria Anzaldua wrote “I want the freedom to carve and chisel my own face, to staunch the bleeding with ashes, to fashion my own gods…” and it is in this spirit that these writers from the borderlands continue to create, to chisel a narrative that rings truer to their often silenced voices. This reading features border women writers who engage in revisionist mythmaking to reclaim the stories that construct cultural identity, including mythologies, folklore, fairy tales, and Biblical stories.
Revisiting "Embracing the Verb of It: Black Poets Innovating". (Ruth Ellen Kocher, Duriel Harris, Douglas Kearney, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram)
The 2012 AWP Panel Embracing the Verb of It: Black Poets Innovating (or Innovative?) was a standing-room-only event which captured a critical moment of evolution for experimental black poetics. This panel revisits the project of locating Black experimentation within the context of both innovation and a lyric tradition as homage to poets like Russell Atkins, Ed Roberson, Harryette Mullen, and Claudia Rankine. Writers will read and discuss the work of innovative lyricism.
Revisiting Highway 61. (Mark Conway, Major Jackson, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Nick Flynn)
Fifty-five years after Minnesota’s native son Bob Dylan came down from the Iron Range on Highway 61, four poets respond to his pervasive influence. They’ll read their own work and explore how it reflects and deflects powerful elements in Dylan including Blake, the blues, the Bible and the North Country.
River Styx 40th Anniversary Reading. (Richard Newaman, Joan Murray, Cornelius Eady, Kim Addonizio, Andrew Mozina)
Join us as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of River Styx, one of the oldest and most prominent independent literary organizations in the Midwest and regular contributor to Best American Poetry and Pushcart anthologies. Award-winning writers previously featured in River Styx magazine and its reading series will present their poetry and fiction. Moderator, River Styx editor Richard Newman, will briefly discuss the history and future of River Styx.
Robert Bly and The Minnesota Writers' Publishing House. (Cary Waterman, Louis Jenkins, Kate Green, Tom Hennen)
The Minnesota Writers’ Publishing House, started by Robert Bly in 1972, was modeled on the Swedish Writers’ Publishing House to shift power in publishing and give writers more influence. The first seven published chapbooks were selected and edited by Bly. Poets Louis Jenkins, Cary Waterman, Tom Hennen and Kate Green will discuss their experiences with the House and Bly’s influence and read from their chapbooks and those of Tom McGrath, Keith Gunderson, Franklin Brainard and Jenne Andrews.
Rock and Prose: Musician/Fiction Writers Reflect at the Crossroads. (Steven Ostrowski, Steve Yarbrough, Lynne Barrett, Joe Clifford)
This panel explores some of the ways that being a fiction writer and musician influence the creation of new work in each genre. Topics include the following: how musical considerations influence prose writing; how being a prose writer informs work done as a musician; the use of musicians and musical elements in prose works; prose elements—characterization, narrative arc, motif—used in music. After initial comments, panelists will read and/or perform a piece of original work. Q & A will follow.
Rocking the Reel: New Hibernia Review Presents ACIS Poets. (James Silas Rogers, Nathalie F. Anderson, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Daniel Tobin, Eamonn Wall)
New Hibernia Review, a multidisciplinary journal of Irish Studies based at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, presents a reading by poets from the American Conference for Irish Studies. Drawing on historical research, mythic sources, and personal observation, these writers – whether Irish or American by birth – explore in their work the complexities of contemporary Irish-American identities and interactions.
Secrets, Shame and Memoir: Women Writers on What It Takes To Tell the Truth about Our Lives. (Janice Gary, Karen McElmurray, Lisa D. Chavez, Rosemary Daniell, Sonja Livingston)
Memoir requires that a writer be as honest as possible. But this can be especially difficult for women, who carry a legacy of being belittled, blamed and not believed. Because we have been taught that telling our truths is shameful and risky, we've been tempted to censor ourselves, holding back from telling the stories that most need to be told. Hear how the writers on this panel found the courage to write openly and powerfully about their lives, despite all.
Slamming Down the Academy’s Door. (Xavier Cavazos, Ava Chin, Bob Holman, Patricia Smith, Crystal Williams)
What happens when slam poets jump the stage and enter the classroom? These lauded poets, including a National Book Award winner and a Nuyorican slam champion, discuss the ways that “slam” has influenced them and their work as academics, deans, and researchers today. From writing about race and Katrina, to eating wildly, this five-member panel of diverse writer-academics will talk about how they transitioned from performance poets to the positions they currently hold in the academy today.
Social Media Secrets for Authors. (Meghan Ward, Alison Singh Gee, Isaac Fitzgerald, Joshua Mohr, Brooke Warner)
Building an author platform is more than a numbers game. Any author active on social media knows that 10,000 Twitter followers do not equal 10,000 book sales. But you can increase your number of “true fans”—those followers who will buy everything you publish—by following a few simple secrets. Panelists will discuss how they use quality, consistency, authenticity, and reciprocity on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to engage their readers in conversation and convert followers into friends.
Song of a Jade Flute: Chinese Poetry in Translation. (Karen Lee, Afaa Weaver, Chun Ye, Wang Ping)
On this panel, several poet-translators discuss their methods of translating poetry from Chinese into English. Original poems range from classical Chinese texts through the contemporary era, including those by Chinese poets of diverse political backgrounds and aesthetic movements. The panel will include readings of original poems accompanied by their English translations.
Southern Indiana Review 20th Anniversary Reading. (Marcus Wicker, Robert Wrigley, Patricia Smith, Michael Waters, Ron Mitchell)
The Southern Indiana Review, one of the Midwest’s most prominent literary journals, celebrates its twentieth anniversary with a poetry reading by acclaimed contributors Roger Reeves, Patricia Smith, Michael Waters, (Poetry Editor) Marcus Wicker, and Robert Wrigley.
Speculating Darkly: A Poetry Reading. (Bianca Spriggs, Keith Wilson, Kenyatta Rogers, Ladan Osman)
Taking its title and spirit from a series of essays written by poet Roger Reeves (published on the Poetry Foundation's "Harriet the Blog"), and subsequent reading series curated by poet and visual artist Krista Franklin, "Speculating Darkly, or The Folk Surreal Future," is a poetry reading that features some of the Midwest's emerging African Diaspora writers who focus on the Black Fantastic, the Grotesque, the Afro-Surreal, the Gothic, the speculative and science-fiction.
Split/Selves: Performing Poetics, Politics, and Identity. (Neelanjana Banerjee, Chiwan Choi, Nicholas Wong, Samantha Chanse, D'Lo D'Lo)
In this cross-genre panel, we ask four internationally renowned queer, mixed race, transgender, and immigrant poets and theater artists: What constitutes the self in poetry and performance? How can that self be communicated to an audience? How do poetry and performance inform each other on both the printed page and stage. This panel will feature mini-performances and a discussion about how performance and poetry can work together to convey the truth of complex identities in a modern world.
Starry Island: New Writing from Singapore. (Frank Stewart, Jeremy Tiang, Jee Leong Koh, Amanda Lee Koe, Jason Lundberg)
MANOA JOURNAL has been publishing new Asian literature since 1989. Its summer 2014 volume, STARRY ISLAND, features essays, poetry, and fiction from Singapore. Moderated by MANOA JOURNAL's editor, this panel will feature English-speaking Singaporean contributors to the issue: a poet, a fiction writer, an essayist, and a translator. They will read their work and talk about new Singaporean literature being written in the country's three languages.
StoryQuarterly's 40th Anniversary Celebration. (Melanie McNair, Rae Bryant, Peter Orner, Victoria Redel, T Geronimo Johnson)
Founded in 1975, StoryQuarterly has been publishing emerging and established writers for 40 years. Originally an independent quarterly based in Illinois, its contributors’ work has been selected for inclusion in the annual collections The Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize: The Best of the Small Presses, and The Best American Non-Required Reading. The journal's home is now Rutgers University-Camden, where Paul Lisicky is the editor. Today's reading features four SQ authors.
Stranger Than Fiction: Personal Essay in the Age of the Internet. (Naomi Huffman, Ben Tanzer, Megan Stielstra, Kevin Sampsell, Jamie Iredell)
What does it mean to write a personal essay in the age of the internet? And how do we decide what is truth when we as writers are expected to tangle with the pressure to create public personas? The personal essayists on this panel will discuss how they maneuver through these challenges – building brand, navigating social media, defining creative nonfiction, and yes, finding the truth in our writing, when the truth is filtered through the endless platforms that comprise our lives today.
T.C. Boyle, Ron Carlson, and Susan Straight: Rewriting the West, Sponsored by Red Hen Press. (Kate Gale, Ron Carlson, Susan Straight, T.C. Boyle)
Celebrated authors Ron Carlson, Susan Straight, and T.C. Boyle present vastly different vistas of the American West, from the peaks and plateaus of the mountainous interior, to the endless variety of life in Central and Southern California, to the streets and alleys of Rio Seco, fictional seat of the Inland Empire. They will read from their work and discuss the importance of place in their writing. Moderated by Kate Gale, managing editor of Red Hen Press.
Tackling Tragedy in Young Adult With Different Mediums. (Lilliam Rivera, Cecil Castellucci, Meg Medina, Swati Avasthi, Matt de la Pena)
How can children’s writers approach tragedy in an original way without succumbing to cliché? Five young adult authors discuss structural choices in tackling traumatic events (bullying, death, natural disasters) while giving examples of ways these applications break boundaries and add perspective in articulating story. Through graphic novels to pulling story straight from the headlines to writing about disasters, participants discuss one another’s work and choices that have inspired theirs.
Taking On Reality: Memoir, Current Events, and Bringing the Self to a Broader World. (W. Scott Olsen, Melanie Hoffert, Alan Bjerga, Roxana Saberi)
Three award-winning nonfiction writers talk about how they use personal experience and personal voice in their reporting and storytelling to connect with readers and forward social change. From issues of gender and sexuality to international food distribution to issues of imprisonment and freedom in Iran, these writers will engage in a discussion about how they use personal narrative as an integral part of their craft to make a connection between readers and social issues.
Talking Volumes: Minnesota Public Radio’s Kerri Miller in Conversation with Charles Baxter and Louise Erdrich, Sponsored by The Loft Literary Center. (Kerri Miller, Charles Baxter, Louise Erdrich)
Louise Erdrich and Charles Baxter, two of Minnesota’s most esteemed writers, join MPR host Kerri Miller for a special edition of the award-winning author series, Talking Volumes. Louise Erdrich and Charles Baxter will discuss their writing, read selections of their work, and answer questions. Live music produced by Aby Wolf accompanies the show. Talking Volumes, now in its 15th year, is a partnership of Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune, in collaboration with The Loft Literary Center.
Tapping A Vein: Reading the I-35 Corridor. (Constance Squires, Doug Dorst, Christie Anne Hodgen, Julie Schumacher, K.L. Cook)
From Duluth, Minnesota to the Mexican/American border at Laredo, Texas, Interstate 35 runs through the heart of the country, a rich vein of history and culture that connects the Rio Grande to Lake Superior by way of Tornado Alley and the Corn Belt. Proving that literary culture thrives in “the flyover states,” this panel brings together fiction writers from writing programs along the I-35 corridor, showcasing the rich variety of voices writing fiction in and about the middle of the country.
Telling Our New War Stories: Witness and Imagination across Literary Genres. (Benjamin Busch, Phil Klay, Siobhan Fallon, Brian Turner, Katey Schultz)
It has been argued that credibility requires direct witness, that true war stories can only be told by those who have been there. The fact is that stories from Iraq and Afghanistan are arriving in all literary genres and from multiple perspectives, some using imagination to create equal truths. These 5 authors, writing through short fiction, essay, poetry, memoir and nonfiction, will discuss how the fragmentary nature of the war narrative can be written from inside or outside the uniform.
Tender Moments: The role of tenderness in men’s narratives. (Allen Braden, Kevin Clark, Lee Martin, Dinty Moore, Jill McCabe Johnson)
We bear the sole, relentless tenderness, Pablo Neruda wrote in his Sonetas de Amor. How do concepts such as tenderness, compassion, nurturing, and affection fit in contemporary men's writing? What roles do vulnerability and tenderness play in men's personal narratives? Join the conversation as the series editor and four contributors to the anthology Being: What Makes a Man, discuss the role of tenderness in masculine narratives in a world that frequently tells men to Man Up! and Be a Man!
The Art of the Art of Writing. (Stacey D'Erasmo, Charles Baxter, Carl Phillips)
There is an art to writing about the art of writing. Three highly esteemed writers and teachers will discuss the current state of critical writing about craft, and how they approach writing about the art of fiction and the art of poetry through their contributions to The Art of series, a line of books that examines singular issues facing the contemporary writer. Discussion among the panelists will extend to further conversation with the audience.
The Beloit Poetry Journal: Celebrating 65 Years of Discovering New Talent. (Lee Sharkey, Eduardo C. Corral, Jenny Johnson, Douglas Kearney, Ocean Vuong)
The Beloit Poetry Journal, the little journal with a long history of discovering gifted writers, celebrates 65 years of quarterly publication with a brief discussion of how our editorial process has contributed to these discoveries and a reading by four young poets whose work has already begun to reshape the poetic landscape and reflects the inventive range of the poetry the BPJ publishes: Eduardo C. Corral, Jenny Johnson, Douglas Kearney, and Ocean Vuong,
The Big No: Taboo and Black Sexuality in Contemporary American Poetry. (Kyle Dargan, Kima Jones, Chet'la Sebree, Kevin Simmonds, Lamar Wilson)
Historically, African-American artists’ depictions of sexuality have conformed to or been forced to confront what scholar Evelyn Higginbotham refers to as the politics of respectability. This panel will examine how contemporary African-American poets, though clearly writing on the other side of the sexual revolution, continue to wrestle with the ways in which their work troubles the political divisions between honest, expansive sexual expression and the idea of social respectability.
The Bigness of the Small Poem. (Sandra Marchetti, Sara Henning, Vandana Khanna, Erin Elizabeth Smith)
Women poets are often told they write small poems regarding domestic issues or emotions. Female writers are seen as failures in taking on universal themes such as war or other contemporary issues. However, poems written by and concerning women’s voices (be them traditional, progressive, or other) are vital to our poetic conversation. Panelists will discuss favorite small poems they have written, those of other women poets, and how traditionally female themes in poetry are relevant and changing.
The Bildungsroman in Fact and Fiction. (Joe Wilkins, Emily Danforth, Dean Bakopoulos, Kelly Grey Carlisle, Luis Alberto Urrea)
Generations ago, writers telling their stories of youthful formation most often did so in fiction. The past few decades, however, have witnessed the rise of the coming-of-age memoir. So, a writer seeking to pen a bildungsroman today now has these two choices. Why might one choose fiction over nonfiction? Or vice versa? What are the strengths and limitations of either genre? Five writers—two novelists, two memoirists, and one novelist and memoirist—read and discuss.
The Bump-and-Grind of Meaning: Intuition and Formal Play in Hybrid Non-fiction. (William Stobb, Jenny Boully, Matthew Frank, Elena Passarello, Caleb Curtiss)
A thoroughly exploratory Creative Non-fiction tests the parameters of form and fact, talks back to narrative swagger, bumps-and-grinds with logic. In hybrid essays, flashes of intuition and textual play brighten the corners of conventional meaning. Instead of defending claims, hybrid essays invite readers to an interpretive funhouse where they may be delighted, dismayed, refreshed. Recent contributors to Passages North discuss innovative works with the magazine’s hybrid category editor.
The City and the Writer: In Focus Minneapolis & Palestine. (Najwan Darwish, Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Gretchen Marquette, Dr. Leslie Adrienne Miller, Nathalie Handal)
The City and the Writer is a vibrant, wide-ranging forum that explores cities through the writing of local authors. The series has featured writers from around the globe. Join Palestinian & Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press writers for the first cross-city exchange, where they will be having a cross-disciplinary conversation on how urban life creates imaginative spaces, architecture and literature consider human scale and interaction, how they've translated their cities and words create cities.
The Essay Blinks: Multimedia Writers on Crafting the Visual Essay. (Mark Ehling, Kristen Radtke, Amaranth Borsuk, Sarah Minor, Eric LeMay)
As literary publishing adjusts to the presence of both small-scale presses and web-based magazines, more publishers are adapting to and even selecting for writing that experiments visually. But what makes a multimedia essay? And what makes a good one? Specifically, which techniques render multimedia elements inextricable from rather than extraneous to a text? On this panel, four writers focus on the craft of visual texts and address how ancient essay forms are thriving in the newest media.
The Everlasting Now: 35 years of Gavea-Brown Publications at Brown University. (Luis Goncalves, Amy Sayre Baptista, Carlo Matos, PaulA Neves, Millicent Borges Accardi)
Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
These words, by Portuguese-American poet Emma Lazarus, engraved on the Statue of Liberty have become emblematic with the immigrant experience. The Gávea-Brown Book of Portuguese-American Poetry contains work by Portuguese-American writers including Frank Gaspar, Thomas Braga, Nancy Vieira Couto, Sam Pereira. This 35th anniversary reading features Portuguese-American poets reading work about immigration and culture.
The Fate of The Poet: Shuttling Between Solitude & Engagement. (Rigoberto Gonzalez, David Biespiel, Wendy Willis, Lia Purpura)
Four poets representing varied cultural, aesthetic and geographic compass points address important concerns for writers seeking to engage both the primacy of the individual imagination and the civic and political urgencies of our time, unfurling at incredible speed. This panel aims to help writers gain a clearer understanding of the complementary and competing pressures on writers who struggle to maintain fealty to both individual sensibilities and the demands of global citizenship.
The Influence of Black Mountain College. (Burt Kimmelman, Lee Ann Brown, Vincent Katz, Cecil Giscombe, Martha King)
The panel will explore experimental Black Mountain College’s legacy today in terms of history, malleability of language, open forms, hybridity, and radical content by discussing work by Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, John Wieners, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan, Fielding Dawson et. al. and that of writers today who wrestle with gender, identity politics, the role of a writer in society, and the ability to embody political and aesthetic positions beyond the personal.
The Meridel Le Sueur Essay: Sixteen Years of Water~Stone Review. (Mary Rockcastle, Linda Hogan, Cheryl Strayed, Lidia Yuknavitch, Honor Moore)
Fall 2014 marks the 16th anniversary of the annual Meridel Le Sueur Essay in Water~Stone Review. A Minnesota journalist, fiction writer, essayist, and poet, Meridel Le Sueur’s work paid witness to the central economic, political, ecological, and social realities of the century. She wrote that the writer must go “all the way, with full belief, into the darkness.” Four award-winning writers will read from their essays: Cheryl Strayed, Lidia Yuknavitch, Honor Moore, and Linda Hogan.
The Past is a Place: Former Minnesotans Remember. (Maria Damon, Cheryl Strayed, Barrie Jean Borich, Amitava Kumar)
The writers on this panel have all lived in, loved and left Minnesota. If Faulkner’s premise that the past is not dead means anything it is that our memories both make us and find form in what we write in the present. Remembering is difficult; so is forgetting. Each panelist will write from a visit to a Minnesota site fraught with memories. These experimental nonfiction reports will launch the panel’s broader considerations of nonfiction and the challenge of evoking the past as a place.
The Past Is The Present. (Brigid Hughes, Maud Casey, Melissa Pritchard, Elizabeth Gaffney)
If history repeats itself, perhaps there is more to historical fiction than costume drama. Three acclaimed novelists who have written about the past discuss why it matters, and the ways in which so-called historical fiction is relevant today. They will offer an insight into navigating the thin line between fiction and fact, and imagination and memory, in the pursuit of an important story.
The Pink Tuxedos. (Carol Muske-Dukes, Rita Dove, Sophie Cabot Black)
Our singing group is called The Pink Tuxedos, including Rita Dove, Sophie Cabot Black and myself. The Pink Tuxedos performed as a special event (poetry) at AWP in Palm Springs in 2001, with Rita, myself, etc. Our performance consists of the three of us singing Great Poems (i.e. Donne's, "Batter My Heart, Three Person'd God to the tune of "One Summer Night" or Blake's "Mock On, Voltaire" to "The Book of Love", etc.) in our original musical arrangements, with backup by local Minnesota musicians.
The Poem as a Bodily Thing. (Todd Davis, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ross Gay, Dorianne Laux, Jan Beatty)
Poets write bodies into being in myriad manifestations: sick, sexual, growing, even dying bodies. And all of this is done while the artist herself resides within a body that leaves an indelible mark upon the work of making poems. How does the fact that hearts beat, lungs expand, fingers feel and tongues taste, affect our practices of this ancient, sensual art? This panel will discuss the role bodies play in composing their own poems, as well as in reading the work of other poets.
The Politics of Empathy: Writing Through Borrowed Eyes. (Lorraine Berry, Matthew Salesses, Prageeta Sharma, Tess Taylor, Aimee Phan)
When writers create characters nothing like themselves, it can inspire empathy. But authors often wrestle with their right to borrow another identity or feel confined to writing only about their own race, gender, or community. Asian Americans rarely get away with white protagonists; straight male authors shy away from gay characters. This diverse panel will consider what's at stake when you cross the identity line, whether white writers are guilty of appropriation, and other touchy topics.
The Research Behind the Writing. (Allen Gee, Laura Long, Mark O'Connor, Peter Selgin, Sue Eisenfeld)
Five writers describe the extent of their research and the work of incorporating their findings into creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. This panel illuminates how far methods of research can vary, from spending time at the Smithsonian Archives, the Ransom Center at UT Austin, or the Records Center at the Diocese of Pittsburgh, to hiring a professional genealogist, conducting interviews, examining ship manifestos, perusing old photographs, or sifting through dusty boxes in a basement.
The Resuscitation of Childhood: A WITS Reading. (Jeanine Walker, Jason Koo, Erin Malone, Emily Perez, Tiphanie Yanique)
For many writers, childhood is an invention, an imaginative construction of the past. For writers who teach in Writers in the Schools programs, the students remind us on a daily basis what childhood truly entails. Students and writers inspire one another in a symbiotic style. This panel celebrates childhood and the ways in which teaching young children can enhance your writing. Four writers who have taught in WITS programs will share work by a student and then read some of their own.
The Sentence and the Line: A Journey Meaning Makes. (Donald Morrill, Jenny Factor, Arielle Greenberg, Joe Jimenez)
This panel on craft examines how the rhetorical potency of the prose sentence intersects with the breathed-through measures of the poetic line, inscribing, as William Gass suggests, the "journey meaning makes." Using examples from multiple genres, each panelist will elucidate a different take on the line in contemporary literature (i.e., epigrammatic structures, turns, absence, uncertainty, authority, enjambment; how the line, says Mark Halliday "carve[s]...into the page.") Handouts given.
The Short Story Salon with A Public Space. (Jonathan Lee, Peter Orner, Danielle Evans, Keith Lee Morris)
Why does the short story continue to attract some of America’s most talented writers? What can it do that other forms can’t? Amidst what Leslie Kaufman in the New York Times recently called a “resurgence” for the short story, with digital developments offering new outlets for short fiction, & collections like George Saunders‘ Tenth Of December garnering huge acclaim, this event brings together three contemporary masters of the form to read from their work & debate what makes a great short story.
The State You’re In: A Reading by Minnesota Writers from Nodin Press. (Margaret Hasse, John Toren, Lori Sturdevant, Jim Gilbert, Michael Kiesow-Moore)
Since 1967, Minnesota’s Nodin Press has published more than two hundred books by established and emerging writers that deal with aspects of Minnesota and the surrounding region in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The reading will showcase how its people and natural wonders make Minnesota unique, featuring a diverse range of local poetry, essays, biography, and nature writing. We’ll ground you in the place AWP takes place. The reading will conclude with a drawing for a free volume from the press.
The Stepmother Tongue: Crossing Languages in CNF. (Julija Sukys, Ruth Behar, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Jennifer Zoble, Joanna Eleftheriou)
This panel convenes writers who work in and out of languages. All writing is, in some sense, a process of translation, but what happens when a writer literally moves between languages and cultures? What does it mean, for example, to write in English about an experience lived in Spanish, Russian, or Greek? Does it matter if a language is inherited or learned? How does the language change a writer's insider/outsider status when s/he goes abroad or returns home both literally and figuratively?
The Thinking Eye. (jennifer atkinson, Allison Funk, H.L. Hix, Jonathon Thompson, Lisa Williams)
The Thinking Eye: Gertrude Stein said “she liked looking out of windows in [art] museums more than looking out of windows anywhere else.” You catch yourself looking out with the same eye you open to look into the art—with what Paul Klee called “a thinking eye.” Ekphrastic poets look out by looking into and through art—their windows and lenses on the world. Panelists will speak of process and read poems written with a thinking eye, including work responding to art from Minneapolis venues.
The Ties That Bind: Writing from The Sun about Our Closest Relationships. (Krista Bremer, Sy Safransky, Jaquira Diaz, Marion Winik, Chris Dombrowski)
Love can make us want to hold and be held, and it can also make us want to flee. To write meaningfully about the people closest to us requires an open mind, a measure of detachment, and sometimes a suspension of blame. It’s risky to reveal the secrets that we share with our parents and partners, siblings and offspring, but it can also be liberating. Four writers read and discuss works published in The Sun that bravely explore the complexities of our most intimate relationships.
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But Your Speculations: The Use of Speculation and Other Imaginative Techniques in Creative Nonfiction. (Sean Prentiss, Nancer Ballard, Robin Hemley, Lia Purpura)
Judith Kitchen writes about speculation: “I know too much and too little simultaneously. I have the verification without the nuance. [...] I have history at my fingertips, but it’s a history without a tangled web of emotion.” This panel wrestles with Kitchen’s dilemma as it examines how and why creative nonfiction authors can use speculation, the fantastical, disparate perspective, and temperal vantage points to plumb the complexities and ambiguities of human experience.
This Poem Has Multiple Issues: Reimagining Political Poetry. (Kathryn Levy, Samiya Bashir, Sarah Browning, Mark Doty, Rowan Phillips)
Wikipedia’s entry for Political Poetry begins, This article has multiple issues. Precisely. Such lack of consensus could stem from the contentiousness of politics itself, but it might also be a product of conceptual neglect: when we think of a conventional political poem, what example springs to mind? And how current is it? This panel considers a diversity of approaches to the political poem—in its subject, poetics, or call to action—to update our understanding of its multiple issues.
Three New Voices at The Kenyon Review. (David Lynn, Jamaal May, Melinda Moustakis, Caitlin Horrocks)
The Kenyon Review is excited to introduce its two new Fellows, distinguished younger writers who will be in residence in Gambier, Ohio from 2014-2016. KR’s Fiction Editor, who is completing her second year in the post, will join them. All three will read from their award-winning poetry and prose. The Editor of The Kenyon Review will moderate a short discussion at the end focusing on questions of craft, seeking and obtaining writing fellowships, and an editor’s view of submissions.
Towards a New Identity: A Reading and Conversation with Lithuanian Poets of the Post-Soviet Era. (Rimas Uzgiris, Marius Burokas, Ilze Butkute, Giedre Kazlauskaite)
Three of the Lithuania’s best young poets and their translator will read from a new English-language anthology of Lithuanian poets born after 1970. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lithuanian writers were suddenly thrust into freedom, post-modernism and a Europe without borders. Free to leave aside the romantic roots of resistance (that nourished an older generation), young poets are re-inventing themselves, their tradition and their country through a diverse, exploratory poetics.
Translating Brazil. (Tiffany Higgins, Idra Novey, Ellen Dore Watson, Hilary Kaplan)
Opening with a short reading, this panel will take up questions of how to transmit aesthetics and culture in poetry from an enormous nation with a complex history of race and class. What challenges does the translator of contemporary Brazilian writing face? The panelists will address the "Braziilianness" of the works they translate, and the issues that arise in bringing it to English.
Translating Prosody. (Kaveh Bassiri, Geoffrey Brock, Sidney Wade, Pierre Joris, Jonathan Stalling)
Prosody comes from the Greek meaning song sung to music. Carrying over the music in verse is the most challenging aspect of translating poetry. Our panel of translators--working in languages with different prosodic traditions, from Italian and German to Turkish, Arabic and Chinese--will discuss the challenges and possibilities of translating prosody. We will consider the richness of the accentual meter as well as different techniques and experiments in translating sound, form, and rhythm.
Two Can Play That Game: Techniques for Composing Collaborative Poetry. (Carol Dorf, Nicelle Davis, Amy Lemmon, Neil de la Flor, Jonah Mixon-Webster)
Writing collaboratively leads to fresh creative ideas and often, thoroughly original work. This dynamic panel of collaborative poets offers a variety of models for writers who want to develop or deepen their own collaborative practices. In addition to practical techniques for working collaboratively with other poets and artists, panelists will address the creative benefits of collaboration, as well as the philosophical and political implications of work that belongs to more than one creator.
University of Minnesota Press 90th Anniversary. (Erik Anderson, Sarah Stonich, Kate Hopper, Karen Babine)
Founded in 1925, the University of Minnesota Press is among the most distinctive American university presses, with an international reputation for publishing boundary-breaking work. Since its inception the Press has also maintained a commitment to publishing important books on the people, culture, history, and natural environment of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Please join this group of regionally-based fiction and nonfiction writers in celebration of the Press’s ninety years of publishing.
Untaming Domestic Realism. (Carole Burns, Joanna Scott, C. J. Hribal, David Groff)
Virginia Woolf said books are judged important if they deal with war, and unimportant if they deal with “the feelings of women in a drawing room.” She then put the shell-shocked Septimus into Mrs. Dalloway. This question vexes contemporary writers and editors – how does one enlarge the scope of domestic realism so its universality shines through? Or does its power lie in the domestic? We analyze the techniques, subjects or themes used by contemporary writers to intensify domestic fiction.
Veils and Words: Poetry by Muslim Women, Sponsored by Poets House. (Mohja Kahf, Dunya Mikhail, Farzaneh Milani, Stephen Motika)
"Being a poet means being human," declared the great Iranian feminist poet Forugh Farrokhazed. Three leading Muslim American poet-scholars explore the complicated intersection of religion, gender, and political life through readings and discussion of their work and the work of the great female poets of their home countries—Iran, Iraq, and Syria—as a way to understand the evolutions and revolutions of the last 50 years.
Video Poems and Cross-Genre Collaboration: A Conversation and Screening with Louise Erdrich, Heid E. Erdrich, and Trevino Brings Plenty. (Jocelyn Hale, Trevino Brings Plenty, Louise Erdrich, Heid E. Erdrich Erdrich)
Heid E. Erdrich, Louise Erdrich, and Trevino Brings Plenty see collaboration across genre as hallmark of indigenous aesthetic and an emerging movement in American literature. All three poets will discuss collaborations such as book trailers and video poems, exploring the ways that these forms can inspire, respond to, and transcend an individual’s work. This panel will feature the premiere of their individual video poems and tell the story of collaboration that brought their poems to the screen.
Wesleyan University Press Poetry Reading. (Rae Armantrout, Sarah Blake, Fred Moten, Honorée Jeffers, Heather Christle)
A dynamic reading reflecting the breadth of Wesleyan University Press’s esteemed poetry series. These five poets represent diversity of age, race, aesthetics, and poetic voice, and are among the strongest voices in poetry today. Each engages their subject matter in distinct, unexpected ways through their use of language and imagery. Their work contemplates popular culture, history, ethics, race, and politics, as well as their personal experiences.
What Might Have Happened As Well: Using Historical Figures in Fiction, Drama and Poetry. (Rita Mae Reese, Valerie Martin, Kimberly Elkins, Maria Hummel, Randy Noojin)
Historical figures have long played a role in creative writing and now seem more popular than ever. How (and why) do you turn a historical figure into a character? What obligations do you have to that person and do those change if the character is related to you? How do we break free from the expected narrative? These award-winning writers, who have used figures ranging from Hank Williams to the disappeared crew of the Mary Celeste, share what they have learned along the way.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Crime: The Ethics of Writing the Perpetrator. (Kristine Ervin, Kathryn Paterson, Lacy Johnson, J. Mark Bertrand, Erika Wurth)
Monster? Human? Something in between? How do writers of crime narratives handle the complexities of representing a perpetrator? How do they navigate the lines between normalizing, glorifying, and vilifying? Nonfiction and fiction writers with diverse perspectives--victims, survivors, prison teachers, those who see criminals as human and those who don’t want to--will explore representation and language, punishment and justice, and the complicated ethics of writing the criminal.
When Poetry is About Something: Evaristo, Ostriker, and Weaver, Sponsored by the African Poetry Book Fund / Prairie Schooner. (Chris Abani, Alicia Ostriker, Afaa Michael Weaver, Bernardine Evaristo)
There's poetry, and then there's important and necessary poetry. Bernardine Evaristo, Alicia Ostriker, and Afaa Michael Weaver will read work that has emerged from an engaged and intensely felt awareness of the world around them—within their national borders and without. This work has earned them the respect of readers around the world. Following readings by Evaristo, Ostriker, and Weaver, there will be a conversation moderated by Nigerian poet and fiction writer Chris Abani.
Whiting Writers’ Award Winners: Three Decades, Four Poets, Sponsored by Cave Canem. (Alison Meyers, Thylias Moss, John Keene, Tyehimba Jess, Atsuro Riley)
Four poets read selections from their original work, including poems that earned them recognition as Whiting Writers’ Award winners. They represent three decades of award-giving based on accomplishment and promise, 1991-2012, and illustrate the diverse aesthetics and backgrounds sought and identified by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation in fulfilling its mission to support emerging writers at a critical juncture in their careers.
Who Can't Handle The Truth? Memoirs by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. (Ron Capps, Kayla Williams, Colin D. Halloran, Peter Molin)
In the aftermath of two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, returning veterans have begun to produce memoirs documenting and illuminating the wartime experience and its aftermath. This panel places three combat veterans and their memoirs front and center. The authors will read excerpts from the works and discuss the challenge of creating and publishing the works. Audience questions and comments on these and other memoirs from this period are welcomed.
Why Did You Write That? The Problem of Urgency. (Julie Sheehan, Susan Scarf Merrell, Marilyn Nelson, Whitney Gaines, Zachary Lazar)
Compelling. Taut. Inevitable. That gotta-read-it quality of urgency can doom a manuscript by its absence, no matter the genre. Writers like the panelists, who regularly read manuscripts as editors, reviewers or thesis advisors, can spot a lack of urgency a mile away—except, perhaps, in their own work. What makes urgency so hard to assess in oneself? Is there a litmus test? What helps wrestle it onto the page? And does too much of what gets published lack this enlivening, essential quality?
Wilkes University M.A./M.F.A. Creative Writing Program 10th Anniversary Reading. (J. Michael Lennon, Marlon James, Robert Mooney, Neil Shepard, Brian Fanelli)
In 2015, the Wilkes University M.A./M.F.A. Creative Writing Program is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. Moderated by Dr. J. Michael Lennon, program co-founder and faculty member, the event will celebrate this milestone by highlighting a sample of writing from the Wilkes writing community, including Marlon James, who lives and teaches in Minneapolis. Dr. Lennon will also speak briefly about where the program started and where it is today.
Women of Copper Canyon Press: A Reading and Discussion. (Tonaya Thompson, Brenda Shaughnessy, Deborah Landau, Natalie Diaz, Erin Belieu)
A reading and discussion by a group of female authors who have published with Copper Canyon Press over the past decade. Hear these acclaimed poets read new work and share their insight on writing, teaching, and crafting a book. Audiences will listen to a brief reading from the authors before they participate in a discussion with the Managing Editor of Copper Canyon.
Women Writers of the American West: Definitions & Readings. (Tamara Linse, Bonnie ZoBell, Paisley Rekdal, Kathy Fish, Pam Houston)
Five writers whose material couldn’t be more disparate. What they do have in common is they’re from the West, hailing from Wyoming and California, Utah and Colorado. Can we make generalizations about women’s experiences in a place so vast? Five female writers will present diverse visions of the contemporary American West by each giving a one-sentence definition and reading from her work.
Women Writing War. (Emily Tedrowe, Jehanne Dubrow, Helen Benedict, Siobhan Fallon, Katey Schultz)
Writing about her war-haunted novel Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf asks: Have I the power of conveying the true reality? Her question reflects many of the tensions in women’s war poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. How does gender disrupt conventional narratives of war? Do women tell different war stories? And how are issues of authority, credentials, and truth relevant to women currently writing about the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Won’t you come celebrate: a meditation on violence(s) in poetry. (Jamila Woods, Aaron Samuels, Franny Choi, Fatimah Asghar, Danez Smith)
Borrowing its name from the iconic Lucille Clifton poem, this panel will bring together poets to discuss how they deal with the portrayal and exploration of violence in their work. Urban violence, sexual violence, genocide, and other forms of traumatic conflict will be explored as source material and inspiration for poetry. These poets will present how these conflicts figure into their work and influence both the content and form.
Write for Your Life. (Susan Dingle, Terri Muuss, Julie Sheehan, Maggie Bloomfield)
Write for Your Life is a cross-genre reading/panel discussion on the therapeutic value of poetry, moderated by the director of a graduate writing program. Three poet/social workers briefly share their journeys of self-discovery through poetry, and explore the benefits of emotional mapping with participants through prompts and discussion, with a particular focus on the value of spoken word in working with workshop populations of all ages and contexts.
Writers and Advocates: Individual Activism and the Larger Creative Writing Vocation. (Christy Zink, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, Arielle Bernstein, Stacy Parker Le Melle)
Anna Karenina’s social entanglements make for enthralling fiction, but Tolstoy’s pages on end of socialist farming treatise can be a slog. Panelists discuss the richness and complication their own advocacy backgrounds bring to working in multiple genres, including fiction, creative nonfiction, journalism, and video essay. When does political conviction feed the work; when does a writer need to be wary of falling into polemic? How do we understand the role of public writing as creative act?
Writing in Response to War. (John Balaban, Brian Turner, Donald Anderson)
Dante says in De Vulgari Eloquentia that the "proper subjects of poetry are love, virtue, and war." In good writing, both in poetry and in prose, those topics can merge. John Balaban and Brian Turner, two award-winning poets who have also written prose memoirs about the wars in Vietnam and Iraq will read from their work and talk about how their poetry and prose responds to bewildering violence.While our American wars continue, our literary discussions on the topic are few.
Writing into the World: Memoir, History and Private Life. (Honor Moore, Carolyn Forche, Catina Bacote, Alysia Abbott, Brian Turner)
Memory drives memoir, but it can take writing to realize that while we thought we were just living, history was unfolding. Contemporary memoir has been ridiculed as MEmoir, but where would history be without the testimony of individuals, whose memories of “how it was” bring into focus, add nuance, even contradict received accounts? Even what seems private is subject to the dynamics of political, economic and cultural change. How do we bring the larger world into our autobiographical writing while retaining the intimacy of the personal voice and affirming the uniqueness of each life?
Writing Mental Difference: A Multigenre Panel. (Jorge Armenteros, Steven Cramer, Leslie McGrath, Suzanne Paola Antonetta)
The mind generates every word we write. We listen to the stream of words as it springs from thought and perception, and render them as literary art. But how do we write or mentor students from the perspective of those who lie outside the mental norm? Four diverse writers will discuss how minds different from the norm have influenced their work. Harnessing the inspirational force of neurodiverse perspectives, they will share their poems, prose, and perspectives of writing about mental difference.
Writing the Broken Body: A Reading. (Peggy Shumaker, Judith Barrington, Anne Caston, Cynthia Hogue, Eva Saulitis)
Most cultures glorify the perfect physique, the lithe and lively body. Transforming disability, disease, trauma and pain into art takes tremendous focus and skill. Come hear award-winning writers who demonstrate how the honest treatment of physical life is vital to a literature that includes all, whether or not they are fit and well. Each writer will read from relevant work and comment on the process of finding a form and voice for this difficult material.
Writing The World: Politics and the Creative Writer. (Tony Eprile, Christopher Merrill, Rachel Kadish, Andres Carlstein)
Writers who grapple with history, politics, and social change are recognized internationally as moral as well as artistic leaders. Yet societally-engaged writing comes with craft, personal, and professional challenges. We will explore such issues as the specific hurdles involved in presenting other countries to an American audience; the resistance to international writing in academia and in the publishing world; and the challenge of crossing lines of race or ethnicity on the page.
You. Yes, You. I'm Going to Write About You. Mom. (Marie Mockett, Joanna Smith Rakoff, Porochista Khakpour, Ellis Avery)
If all the world is a stage, then your Mom, your ex-husband, your best friend and even your teachers are fair game to become characters in your memoir. Right? Or maybe not? We are all writers of memoirs and have come up against the question of how ethical it is to write about people we know. Can a reader sense when a writer is lying? When a writer is just out for revenge? Does the truth always serve the story? Come listen to us talk about what we learned while writing our very different memoirs.
You've Been Telling Me You Were a Genius Since You Were 17: Five Writers Reel In Their Earliest (and Often Embarrassing) Efforts. (Libby Cudmore, Elizabeth Searle, Suzanne Strempek-Shea, Donna Minkowitz, Matthew Martin)
Before the novels, the memoirs, the scripts and the awards, there were the schoolyard love poems, the fanfiction and the Mead-notebook revenge fantasies involving the bully down the street and a shark. These early musings directly informed the writers we would become, and five brave authors will discuss and share their unedited, unfiltered first steps, culminating with a live performance of Elizabeth Searle's walkie-talkie radio drama, What A Way to Live.
Young Adult Literature and the Female Body. (Megan Atwood, Brandy Colbert, Christine Heppermann, Pete Hautman, Alexandra Duncan)
In this panel, we will discuss the ways in which young adult literature tackles the landscape of the teenage female body and brings to light the inherent cultural messages that are bucked or enforced through young adult fiction and poetry. The panel will encourage a dialogue about the ways in which current and past young adult literature trends across genres explore agency, sexuality, identity, and representations of the teen female body.