Impossible Balance: Re-Examining the Narrative about Writing and Parenting

Room 327, Summit Building, Seattle Convention Center, Level 3
Saturday, March 11, 2023
3:20 pm to 4:35 pm


This panel will explore the extraordinary challenges mothers and fathers face as writers. Authors will discuss lessons learned from parenting small children, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, and rethink outdated ideas about what constitutes a successful writing practice. Participants will weigh in on ways we can promote more empathetic and realistic dialogues about how to be engaged parents and still publish, promote, and care about the issues and ideas that inform our writing.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: AWP_Panel_Outline.pdf



John Messick is a writer, teacher, and parent from Soldotna, Alaska. His work has been in numerous publications, and has won the AWP Intro Journals prize. He teaches at Kenai Peninsula College, and is the parent of two children under age three. His debut book, Compass Lines, is forthcoming in 2023.

Keema Waterfield is the award-winning author of Inside Passage, a nomadic childhood memoir set along the wild coast of Southeast Alaska. Waterfield has written for the New York Times, WIRED, Brevity, Scary Mommy, INSIDER, and others. She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her husband and two children.

Sean Prentiss is the author of Finding Abbey: A Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave, coauthor of Nature and Environmental Writing: A Guide and Anthology, and author of Crosscut: Poems. He lives in northern Vermont.

Ukamaka Olisakwe's works have appeared in the New York Times, Granta, Longreads, The Rumpus, Catapult, Rattle, Waxwing, Jalada, Brittle Paper, Hunger Mountain, Sampsonia Way, and more. Her books include Eyes of a Goddess (2012) and Ogadinma (2020). She is currently working on her third book.

Rashaan Alexis Meneses teaches at Saint Mary’s College of California. With work featured in LitHub, Kartika Review, Puerto Del Sol, New Letters, and The Coachella Review, she’s received fellowships from Mineral School, Seventh Wave, MacDowell Colony, and The International Retreat for Writers.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center