Virtual AWP Pedagogy: On Workshop Culture and Addressing Inflammatory Pieces

October 24, 2022

Panel participants Sean Bernard, Elena Passarello, Venita Blackburn, and Prageeta Sharma against a green background

Virtual AWP Pedagogy is back with another vivacious conversation sponsored by Bloomsbury Publishing! AWP board member and creative writing program director Sean Bernard unites with authors and professors Venita Blackburn, Elena Passarello, and Prageeta Sharma to discuss strategies, tips, and tricks for addressing inflammatory pieces during creative writing workshops. They explore what it takes to create a sense of community among their students, how to diffuse tricky situations, and relay their own personal anecdotes from the classroom.


The premiere of this Virtual AWP event will also include a live Q&A on YouTube on Thursday, November 3, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. ET. Register online to receive a reminder and a direct link to this free event and updates on future events. Registration is free, and you do not have to be a member of AWP to do so. However, to participate in the live Q&A, you must be signed in on YouTube.



Participant Bios:

Sean Bernard’s debut collection Desert sonorous, won the 2014 Juniper Prize, and his debut novel, Studies in the Hereafter, was published in 2015. He directs the Creative Writing program at the University of La Verne and edits the journal Prism Review. He serves on AWP’s Board of Directors and as Fiction Editor for Veliz Books, and he’s won grants and fellowships from groups including the University of Arizona Poetry Center, Poets & Writers, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  

Works by Venita Blackburn have appeared in The Atlantic,, Harper’s, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, and others. She received the Prairie Schooner book prize in fiction for her collected stories, Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, in 2017. She is the founder of the literary nonprofit Live, Write (, which provides free creative writing workshops for communities of color. Blackburn’s second collection of stories is How to Wrestle a Girl, 2021, finalist for a Lambda Literary Prize. She is an Associate Professor of creative writing at California State University, Fresno.

Elena Passarello directs the MFA Program at Oregon State University and served on the 2022 faculties of the Vermont College of Fine Arts and the Sewanee Writers Conference. The recipient of a Whiting Award for nonfiction, she is the author of two essay collections, Let Me Clear My Throat and Animals Strike Curious Poses, the latter of which has been translated into four languages. Her next book, The Elvis Lessons, is forthcoming from Penguin in 2025. You can hear her every week on the PRI radio program Live Wire!

Prageeta Sharma is the author of the poetry collections Grief Sequence (Wave Books, 2019), Undergloom (Fence Books, 2013), Infamous Landscapes (Fence Books, 2007), The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004), which won the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize, and Bliss to Fill (Subpress, 2000). She is the founder of Thinking Its Presence, an interdisciplinary conference on race, creative writing, and artistic and aesthetic practices. Her recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Best American Poetry 2022The New Republic, and Yale Review. She is the Henry G. Lee '37 Professor of English at Pomona College.

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