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.

  • Allen Gee

    Allen Gee

    Columbus, GA      Member Since: 2004

    “Editing is time consuming; I bring all of my attention to the editing process when working with a writer. You always have to strike the right balance, supporting the author with what they’ve intended to do, and not rewriting or commandeering a manuscript.”

    About: Allen Gee is the editor for both the multicultural imprint 2040 Books and the new imprint DLJ Books. He is also the D.L. Jordan Endowed Professor at Columbus State University and will direct the CSU Writers Conference. Author of the essay collection My Chinese America (SFWP), Gee has recently completed his novel The Iron Road and is currently working on James Alan McPherson's biography.


  • Gianna Russo

    Donna Kaz

    New York, NY      Member Since: 2012

    “Finding my voice as a writer took time. It is also an ongoing and never-ending quest. The voice I had yesterday will not necessarily be the voice I have tomorrow. So being true to myself and honest in my work is key for me.”

    About: Donna Kaz is a multigenre writer and feminist activist based in New York City. For her work creating activist art, she has received the Yoko Ono Courage Award for the Arts, the Skowhegan medal, and the Venus Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award. Her book, UN/MASKED: Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl on Tour (Skyhorse Publishing) was named best nonfiction prose book of 2017 by Devil’s Kitchen Literary Festival.


Previously in the Spotlight

  • Gianna Russo

    Gianna Russo

    Tampa, FL      Member Since: 2005

    “I ask students to think about what potters do: They throw a big, messy, unwieldy slab of clay on a wheel and then slowly start shaping it. ‘Lower your standards’ means be okay with that big slab of words. Don’t strive for perfection, just get the raw material on the page, get something down. Later you’ll start to shape. As Steve Martin said, ‘I think I did pretty well considering all I had when I started was a blank sheet of paper.’”


  • Jeff Sirkin

    Jeff Sirkin

    El Paso, Texas      Member Since: 2006

    “We want our students to have the opportunity not just to listen to and buy the books of the visiting poets, but to talk to them, see in the writers we invite a possibility for themselves, to see in poetry not just the creation of pretty objects, but a living form of communication, exchange, activism, and an ongoing conversation of which they are already a part.”


  • Ashley M. Jones

    Ashley M. Jones

    Birmingham, Alabama      Member Since: 2012

    “Since graduate school, I’ve made a point to surround myself with poets (and people) who are in the life-giving business. That means, poets who aren’t caught up in creating a flock of sheep who write exactly as they do. That means poets who are writing their authentic experience and who give space for others to do the same.”


  • Elizabeth Austin

    Elizabeth Austin

    Newtown, Pennsylvania      Member Since: 2015

    “Writing is odd: it’s just putting words down on a page essentially, trying to get them just right. If I can do that and use that to connect with another human being and pull them out of any isolation they might be experiencing, then that’s everything to me.”


  • Brian Kaufman

    Brian Kaufman

    Vancouver, Canada      Member Since: 2018

    “‘Balance’ is the key word, and I wish I were better at it… There is always something more you can do or try when trying to publicize and market the books. So, at some point I have to say, ok, enough, a bit of ‘me’ time now.”


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In the Spotlight highlights AWP members who are making exceptional contributions to the literary community.

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