Early Career—at Middle Age? Poets Publishing First Books at 40+

Terrace Suite I, Summit Building, Seattle Convention Center, Level 4
Thursday, March 9, 2023
1:45 pm to 3:00 pm


So, you didn’t win the Yale Younger Poets Prize after all. Did 35, then 40, even 50 pass you by—and still you have not published your first full-length book? It is far from impossible to begin a writing career in middle age. Panelists will discuss the paths they took to publication and offer strategies for keeping the faith through the dry spells—and for using experience to one’s advantage. They will share their approaches to publishing first books and even winning book prizes in “midlife.”

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: Barnes.AWP_.Outline_.2023_.pdf



Wendy Barnes currently serves as Artist in Residence at the University of Central Oklahoma. She is the author of Landscape with Bloodfeud (2022), winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry from UMass Press. She received a 2022 fellowship in prose from the New Jersey Council on the Arts.

Xavier Cavazos is the author of Barbarian at the Gate, selected as part of the PSA's New American Poets Chapbook Series. A senior poetry editor for Poetry Northwest, Cavazos' third collection of poetry, The Devil's Workshop, is forthcoming from Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 2023.

Shelley Wong is the author of As She Appears (YesYes Books, 2022), winner of the 2019 Pamet River Prize. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Kundiman and MacDowell. She is an affiliate artist at Headlands Center of the Arts and lives in San Francisco.

Joel Dias-Porter was the 1998 and 1999 Heads Up Haiku Slam Champ, he has been published in; Time, Poetry, Mead, The Offending Adam, Best American Poetry 2014, Callalloo, Ploughshares, Antioch Review, and Red Brick Review. His first book is Ideas of Improvisation. He lives in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Sarah Browning is cofounder and for ten years was executive director of Split This Rock. Author of Killing Summer and Whiskey in the Garden of Eden, she received an MFA in poetry and creative nonfiction from Rutgers Camden in 2021 and is a recipient of the Lillian E. Smith Writer-in-Service Award.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center