In the Spotlight

Featuring AWP members who represent AWP’s mission to foster literary achievement, to advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and to serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing.


  • Emma Bolden

    Emma Bolden

    Alabaster, Alabama       Member Since: 2006

    “Now more than ever, it is crucial to support, celebrate, and promote works written, edited, and compiled by underrepresented and marginalized identities. Literature is, in my opinion, the clearest, most intimate representation of the human experience. I feel that it is the responsibility of the publishing industry in general—and small presses in particular—to uplift the voices of the full spectrum of human experience.”

    About: Emma Bolden is a poet and the author of House Is an Enigma (Southeast Missouri State University Press), medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press), and Maleficae (GenPop Books). The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, her work has appeared in The Norton Introduction to Literature, The Best American Poetry, and such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, New Madrid, TriQuarterly, Shenandoah, and the Greensboro Review. She serves as associate editor-in-chief for Tupelo Quarterly.

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  • Octavio Quintanilla

    Octavio Quintanilla

    San Antonio, TX      Member Since: 2016

    “Polish your craft. Spend time reading. Talking about what you read and about what you write. Publication will come and you’ll be happy you were not in a rush.”

    About: Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection, If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014) and the 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of San Antonio, TX.  His poetry, fiction, translations, and photography have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals such as Salamander, RHINO, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pilgrimage, Green Mountains Review, Southwestern American Literature, The Texas Observer, Existere: A Journal of Art & Literature, and elsewhere. He teaches literature and creative writing in the MA/MFA program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.

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Previously in the Spotlight


  • James McNulty

    James McNulty

    Austin, TX      Member Since: 2016

    “Read as much as you can, and when you do read, don’t just read for the content. Pay attention to the language, the paragraphs, the punctuation: the execution. Don’t write sentences just for their content; instead, look at a sentence as a piece of art that belongs to a larger work of art.”
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  • Julie Hensley

    Jenny Romero Llaguno

    Metro Manila, Philippines      Member Since: 2017

    “I read every book I could lay my hands on—literature from all over the world—found in the library, borrowed from friends, some I even bought, gifts from various suitors. I was definitely hooked, intoxicated with words.”
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  • Julie Hensley

    Julie Hensley

    Richmond, Kentucky      Member Since: 1999

    “Write what you want to read, and dwell in the work. Let the work sustain you until you find an audience.”
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  • Philip Kenney

    Philip Kenney

    Portland, Oregon       Member Since: 2018

    “What I loved about a writing practice from the beginning was that it asked me to be awake… Soon I noticed I was less preoccupied with my insecurities and more present with my experience of the moment and the enchantments of life.”
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  • Larissa Lai

    Larissa Lai

    Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    “In the life I dream of, students, colleagues, friends, and strangers would have a lot more freedom to engage their practices from the cores of their beings, without so much administration, so many hoops, exams, requirements, and most of all without so much competition. Both inside the academy and out, we would have very different forms of governance.”
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In the Spotlight highlights AWP members who are making exceptional contributions to the literary community. Help us honor these generous individuals by sending your nomination today!

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Spotlighted Members

View a complete list of In the Spotlight AWP members.