AWP’s completely virtual 2021 Conference & Bookfair (March 3–7) hosted over 6,000 attendees, 250 events, and 300 exhibitors

March 9, 2021


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For the first time ever, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ annual conference and bookfair took place entirely in the virtual space. The largest literary event in North America featured both live and prerecorded events. Participants were able to chat with each other during the panels, view a directory of attendees, and arrange meetings with old and new friends. Dedicated bookfair hours on Thursday and Friday were followed by a Saturday Community Bookfair featuring small presses, journals, and literary organizations. Live caucuses and discussion groups brought attendees together in real time. The live portion of the conference closed on March 7, but registered attendees will still have access to conference content on demand until April 3. Registration purchases will remain open through this time.

A screen capture of Joy Harjo during the #AWP21 keynote address.The #AWP21 keynote address from Joy Harjo was absolutely stunning as she mesmerized and inspired the audience with a blend of poetry and jazz music. A clip of her performance can be viewed on YouTube along with the full featured events “NBCC Presents: Edwidge Danticat and Sarah M. Broom on Finding Home” and “Legacy Conversations: C.S. Giscombe and Nathaniel Mackey from Cave Canem.”

AWP awarded nearly 100 attendees with free conference registrations this year thanks to many generous donations to the AWP Community Scholarship Program. Additional resources provided during #AWP21 included the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University presents Beyond Sunrise: Traveling Stanzas, which invited attendees to contribute poems and reflections on our pandemic year. Pen Parentis provided writer-parent resources which included online literary games and popular children’s books read aloud by Pen Parentis authors.

For those who weren't able to attend all of the conference, this incredible programming will remain available on demand until April 3. The 2021 AWP Conference & Bookfair solidified AWP's entry into and growing presence within the virtual event space. In May of 2020, AWP launched Virtual AWP, year-round programming that includes a Virtual Book Club, Conversations with Writers, and a Virtual Pedagogy series. Future in-person conferences will have a virtual component, and it’s safe to say that AWP’s digital presence is here to stay.

We encourage teachers to explore the wealth of pedagogical content available on the conference platform through April 3. AWP plans to make teachable resources from the conference available for institutional and individual AWP members this summer.

View the full press release in our Press Room.


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