R156. But That’s Not How It Was: Memoir Writers on Pushing Back Against Expected Narratives

AWP Bookfair Stage, Exhibit Halls D & E, Washington Convention Center, Level Two
Thursday, February 9, 2017
10:30 am to 11:45 am


When we’re writing about hot button topics such as sexual assault, domestic abuse, and poverty, there are often expectations about how the story should go. These common archetypes can be deeply held not just by general readers and publishing’s gatekeepers, but also by our inner selves. The writers on this panel share strategies for sorting out how society thinks we ought to have responded to trauma from how we actually did, and when and how to resist the pressure to conform to an expected line.



Zoe Zolbrod is the author of the memoir The Telling and the novel Currency. She is the coeditor of the Sunday Rumpus and her essays have appeared in the Rumpus, the Nervous Breakdown, Salon, Stir Journal, and elsewhere.

Alice Anderson's first poetry collection Human Nature won the NYU Prize and the Great Lakes Colleges Associations Best First Book Prize. Her second collection is The Watermark. A memoir, Some Bright Morning, I'll Fly Away, is forthcoming.

Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A Memoir, Hollywood Notebook, and Bruja. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Hazlitt, the Nervous Breakdown, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, the Rumpus, and other journals.

Laurie Cannady’s Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul was named one of the best nonfiction books by black authors in 2015 by The Root. A Kirkus review describes Crave as a "bold, honest, and courageous memoir." Foreword Reviews announced Crave as a finalist in the Indiefab 2015 Book of the Year competition.

Lynn Hall is the author of the forthcoming memoir, Caged Eyes: An Air Force Cadet's Story of Rape and Resilience. Her writing has appeared in numerous academic publications, literary magazines, and newspapers. She's a veteran, a public speaker, and an anti-rape activist.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center