#AWP16 Featured Presenter Q&A with D.A Powell & Marilyn Nelson

AWP | February 2016

Event Title: A Reading & Conversation with Rigoberto González, Marilyn Nelson, & D.A. Powell, Sponsored by the Poetry Society of America
Description: Three acclaimed contemporary poets Rigoberto González (PSA Shelley Memorial Award, 2011), Marilyn Nelson (PSA Frost Medalist 2014), and D.A. Powell (PSA Shelley Memorial Award, 2015) will read from their work.  The reading will be followed by a conversation moderated by PSA Executive Director Alice Quinn.
Participants: Rigoberto González, Marilyn Nelson, Alice Quinn, and D.A Powell
Date & Time: Friday April 1, 2016, 3:00pm – 4:15pm

Q: What are some of the conference events (besides your own) and/or bookfair exhibitors you are most excited to see?
Powell: R280A. “What Makes an MFA Program LGBTQ-Friendly?” No one should ever feel that there's not still work to be done to make our learning environment supportive and welcoming to all students. USF does a great job of supporting sexual and gender diversity, but even so, I think it's important to listen to ways we can better serve students and to hear what's working in other programs. There's always room to grow.

Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
Powell: The Quran, the Bible, Book of Hours by Kevin Young, and Grace Jones' I'll Never Write My Memoirs.
Nelson: Ruth Uzeki: A Tale for the Time Being, Hayan Charara: Something Sinister (Carnegie-Mellon), Dylan Thomas: A Child's Christmas in Wales, Robin Coste Lewis: Voyage of the Sable Venus, Kwame Alexander: The Crossover. Books by Jason Reynolds.

Q: Given how much time writers spend alone to practice their craft, what do you think are the advantages of creating the large community that exists at the AWP conference? 
Powell: We get to have pizza together, which is nice.
Nelson: Frankly, as something of a hermit, I dread the AWP Conference and have to be dragged there (luckily, my friend Pamela usually goes with me and forces me to attend events), but in retrospect I'm always glad I saw so many people I like.

Q: What question that you’ve never been asked before would you like to ask yourself? And how would you answer that question?
Powell: Q: Can I come back to that one? A: Of course you can.

Q: Outside of the conference, what about Los Angeles are you looking forward to? Are there any Los Angeles activities you would recommend to conference attendees? 
Powell: I think a bunch of us are gonna sneak off to Knott's Berry Farm!
Nelson: I've never done the usual tourist things in LA, so I might do some of them: Hollywood, La Brea Tar Pits, The Getty Museum, homes of the stars...


D.A. PowellD.A. Powell is the author of five poetry collections, including Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. A longtime resident of California, Powell attended Sonoma State University and the University of Iowa. He has taught at both institutions, as well as Harvard University, Columbia University, Stanford University, and Davidson College. Repast: Tea, Lunch, and Cocktails, a reissue of Powell’s first three collections, was recently published. He teaches at the University of San Francisco.

Marilyn NelsonMarilyn Nelson, a three-time National Book Award finalist and the recipient of the 2012 Frost Medal, is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets as well as Poet-in-Residence of the American Poets Corner at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Her most recently published books are My Seneca Village and American Ace. (Photo credit: Derek Dudek)

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