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.


  • Brenda Hillman

    Brenda Hillman

    Moraga, California      Member Since: 2012

    “The adrenalin of happily creating first versions/drafts can’t be confused with finishing work you think will last and you will be proud of. I often will return to a poem over and over because it is not yet in the zone of its initiating impulse, but rather has been the product of false pride.”

    About: Brenda Hillman is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Loose Sugar, Cascadia, Pieces of Air in the Epic, Practical Water, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, and her most recent book Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days. In 2016 she was named Academy of American Poets Chancellor and has also received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the William Carlos Williams Prize for poetry, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. Hillman teaches at St. Mary’s College where she is the Olivia C. Filippi Professor of Poetry; she is an activist for social and environmental justice.

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  • Theodore Wheeler

    Theodore Wheeler

    Omaha, Nebraska      Member Since: 2006

    “The idea is to start conversations about books and how literature fits into a modern person's life—and to do this in a specific way, in a specific place. There are always people drawn to see what titles we brought along on the cart. It's a challenge, a game, for them to be surprised by what titles we felt were appropriate for the venue and for them to suggest what we forgot.”

    About: Theodore Wheeler is the author of the novel Kings of Broken Things (Little A, 2017) and a collection of short fiction, Bad Faith (Queen's Ferry Press, 2016). His work has also appeared in The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, Narrative, Post Road, and Boulevard. A winner of the AWP Intro Journals Award and a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany, he currently teaches fiction writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and hosts a monthly literary pub quiz and author series at Pageturners Lounge. With his wife, Theodore owns Dundee Book Company, a pop-up bookstore housed on a cart made from rescued barn wood that began rolling to events around Omaha last summer.

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Previously in the Spotlight


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

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