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.


  • Erika T. Wurth

    Erika T. Wurth

    Illinois/Colorado      Member Since:2012

    “As someone who has worked at a University with a large percentage of working class white, black and Latino/Indigenous students, I can say that some of them come ready-made, and all they need is for me to pull them in the right direction, show them there is one. Others, there’s a glimmer, but what they’ve needed all of their lives was a toolbox. I hand it to them, show them how to work on the car – and my god, if they don’t often blossom in ways that shock me.”

    About: Erika T. Wurth’s  publications include a novel,two collections of poetry and a collection of short stories. She teaches creative writing at Western Illinois University, has been a guest writer at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Boulevard, Drunken Boat, The Writer’s Chronicle, Waxwing and The Kenyon Review. She is Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee and was raised outside of Denver.

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  • Candace Wiley & Monifa Lemons

    Candace Wiley & Monifa Lemons

    Columbia, South Carolina       Members Since: 2016

    “The Watering Hole has been creating arts spaces for adults and youth since 2013, and now we want to do this in a permanent home—a Live Work Arts building… Imagine grabbing a coffee at The Watering Hole Lofts, hearing some poetry, seeing someone painting, and heading back to work. Or dropping the kids off at a collage class and sitting in on a poetry class in the next room, both classes taught by professional artists in residency. Or spending Saturday mornings doing yoga in the community garden.”

    About: Candace Wiley is a FAWC and Callaloo Fellow who writes in the mode of Afrofuturism and covers topics of black aliens, mutants, and mermaids. She has recently finished a Fulbright Fellowship in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, 2015, Prairie Schooner, pluck!, Jasper, The New Sound, Illuminations, Electronic Corpse, and Home is Where among others.

    About: Monifa Lemons, also recognized as SelahthePoet, began her poetic journey in Columbia, South Carolina in the late 1990s. Both Spoken Word Artist and Host at various venues for 18 years, she's now Co-Founder/Director of The Watering Hole Poetry Organization, which creates Harlem Renaissance spaces in the contemporary South. She also facilitates workshops on writing and intentional creation. Her work can be found in The African American Review and African Voices.

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Previously in the Spotlight


  • Dan Calhoun

    Dan Calhoun

    Lafayette, Louisiana      Member Since:2016

    “I also tell my undergrads that workshops aren’t the end all of writing. Don’t read all the critiques of your story (brutal and confusing). Don’t weigh everyone’s opinions equally (some people are horrible readers and some people are biased against certain genres). And if you experience a workshop from hell (I have), allow yourself a day or two to vent and steam and then brush it off and get back to work.”
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  • Fleda Brown

    Fleda Brown

    Traverse City, MI       Member Since: 1987

    “Maybe our detrimental habits can be untaught... I think what happens in an MFA program like the one I teach in is that the learning process can be sped up. The work can get better faster.”
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  • Craig Santos Perez

    Craig Santos Perez

    Honolulu, HI       Member Since: 2010

    “Write passionately every day. Read widely. Join a writing community. Travel. Attend literary events. Pay attention to the world.”
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  • Helene Cardona

    Hélène Cardona

    Santa Monica, CA       Member Since: 2005

    Featured: August 2017

    “Read voraciously, in as many genres as you can. Let yourself be inspired by all kinds of art. And live. I believe artists and writers become better with time.”
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  • David Mura

    David Mura

    Minneapolis, MN       Member Since: 2012

    Featured: July 2017

    “My advice for writer's block, borrowed from William Stafford: 'Lower your standards.' I recall one graduate of the Iowa MFA program praising an instructor who critiqued her work so severely she didn't write for two years. That to me is malpractice. You can't improve your writing by not writing.”
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