#AWP16 Featured Presenter Q&A with Leslie Jamison

AWP | January 2016

#AWP16 Featured Presenter Q&A with Leslie Jamison

Event Title: A Reading and Conversation with Geoff Dyer, Leslie Jamison, and Maggie Nelson, Sponsored by Graywolf Press
Description: Join three remarkable writers whose works challenge and invigorate new nonfiction with wit, empathy, intelligence, and style. Geoff Dyer received the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism for Otherwise Known as the Human Condition. Leslie Jamison is the author of the essay collection The Empathy Exams, a New York Times best seller. Maggie Nelson is the award-winning author of the innovative works The Argonauts and The Red Parts. Introduced by Graywolf publisher Fiona McCrae.
Participants: Geoff Dyer, Leslie Jamison, Fiona McCre, and Maggie Nelson
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?
A: “The Violence of the Page, Stories to Live: Joan Didion and Today's Essayists.” So many more. I'm always excited for the Graywolf Booth. This year they'll have their reissue of Maggie Nelson's The Red Parts—the first book of hers I ever read, and one I loved so much.

Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
A: Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, Susana Moreira Marques' Now and at the Hour of Our Deaths, CD Wright's One Big Self.

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? 
A: I love meeting people face-to-face that I have corresponded with—or admired—from afar, editors and writers alike. Getting to hug someone whose words you love (with their permission!) is truly wonderful. I also love hearing peoples' voices. I will never forget the power of hearing Mary Szybist read for the first time. I recommend stealing time away from the conference with people you already love, or want to know better—making pockets of intimacy inside the larger commotion. One year I went to the Seattle Aquarium with a dear friend of mine who is a poet; its otters are now seared in memory.

Q: What question that you’ve never been asked before would you like to ask yourself? And how would you answer that question?
A: Q: What is the first book you ever wrote? A: It was called “Hamsters Start to Play.” I was six, and it was my attempt to set my caged hamster free.

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? 
A: Well, I'm from Los Angeles, so what can I say? I love running on the beach early in the morning, feeling the size of the coast and the sky. I love the Museum of Jurassic Technology, in Culver City, and eating lunch at the Hare Krishna Center nearby. I love Wi—a Korean spa on Olympic with a salt room and a clay room, kids reading comic books on the massive heated floor, and all the noodles you could want. I love walking around the reservoir in Silverlake. Mainly I love sitting in my mom's backyard and hearing about her day, but I want to keep that space to myself. It's a magical city. I hope people enjoy it. The Last Bookstore is pretty amazing—right in downtown on Spring Street.


Leslie JamisonLeslie Jamison is the author of the acclaimed essay collection The Empathy Exams, which received the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list. She is also the author of a novel, The Gin Closet, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Prize. She is a regular columnist for the New York Times Book Review and teaches in the School of the Arts Writing Program at Columbia University. (Photo credit: Colleen Kinder)

No Comments