#AWP17 Featured Presenter Q&A with Sarah Manguso

AWP | December 2016

Event Title: Minimalist, Maximalist, Memoirist: Sarah Manguso, Albert Goldbarth, Paul Lisicky, Sponsored by Graywolf Press
Description: What does it mean to contract, expand, and elucidate a line or a life in one's personal writing? Three remarkable and very different writers will read from their recent works, and then discuss these questions and how they approach the writing of nonfiction by coming to it through other forms and genres. Which one is the minimalist? Which one is the maximalist? Are any—or all—of them the memoirist? Introduced and moderated by Graywolf Press director and publisher Fiona McCrae.
Participants: Fiona McCrae, Sarah Manguso, Paul Lisicky, Albert Goldbarth
Location: Ballroom B, Washington Convention Center, Level Three
Date & Time: Saturday, February 11, 3:00 p.m.–4:15 p.m.

Q: What advice can you offer to writers who must navigate between the solitude of artistic work and our nation’s politics and culture at this moment?
A: I would advise all those who thought volunteering at the food bank and reading the real news and calling House representatives and signing petitions and voting was enough: It isn't enough. Listen more; risk more; assemble. That's the advice I wish I'd heard a year ago. I was too insulated by privilege to hear it. On the other hand, writers also need to be writing—to be bearing witness. How should I choose between writing and organizing? How can I best leverage my entitled position as a white American writer? I've been struggling with those questions. I look forward to meeting others in DC who don't have the advantage of asking such questions, and still others who have begun trying to answer them.

Q: If you’ve been to Washington, DC, what places do you recommend our attendees visit?
A: DC is a symbol-filled symbol. I was there most recently in 1993, when I was nineteen. I was so snowed by the ideals upon which our country was nominally founded that I got choked up at the Washington Monument. I understand more now about the terrible marginalia to that grand history I was in such thrall to. I'd recommend visiting all the symbolic sights and thinking hard about what's missing from their jingoistic narratives.


Sarah Manguso Sarah Manguso is the author of the book-length essays Ongoingness, The Guardians, and The Two Kinds of Decay; the story collection Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape; and the poetry collections Siste Viator and The Captain Lands in Paradise. Her honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize.

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