#AWP18 Featured Presenter Q&A with Molly Brodak
AWP | December 2017
Event Title: Writing Place, People, and Culture: Nonfiction at its Finest, Sponsored by Grove Atlantic Press and Rain Taxi Review of Books
Description: Join award-winning and critically-acclaimed writers Bob Shacochis (Kingdoms in the Air), Kao Kalia Yang (The Song Poet), and Molly Brodak (Bandit: A Daughter's Memoir) as they discuss crafting nonfiction narratives across myriad forms. From journalism to memoir to travel writing, all three authors explore the challenges of mining one’s past and present, and the joys and difficulties of bringing place, culture, and people to vibrant life on the page. Moderated by Eric Lorberer, editor of Rain Taxi Review of Books.
Participants: Bob Shacochis, Kao Kalia Yang, Molly Brodak
Location: Ballroom C, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
Date & Time: Friday, March 9, 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Q: What are some of the conference events or book fair exhibitors you look forward to seeing?
A: I think we as writers are eager to talk about how to write our way through our current political moment at the same time that we write about our private lives—and how these connect. A panel like "(Ad)dressing the Wound: Writing about the Traumatic Event with Truth and Sensitivity" will be interesting and useful to many.
Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
A: I highly recommend Chelsea Martin's Caca Dolce: Essays from a Lowbrow Life,which is hilarious and amazing.
Q: What are a writer’s main responsibilities in this particular cultural moment?
A: A writer's main responsibility in this moment is, as it always is in every moment, to be committed to the truth of being.
Q: Has public funding for the arts made a difference in your life and career as a writer?
A: Public arts funding has made a huge difference in my life as someone who has received fellowships--dedicated space and time to write that I would not have otherwise been able to afford. It also has supported some of my favorite and most influential writers, so as a reader it is equally important to me.
Q: When AWP was found in 1967, there were a dozen creative writing programs, now there are approximately 1,800 undergraduate and graduate programs. What do you think has changed for readers and writers since creative writing became ascendant as an academic discipline?
A: I think creative writing becoming an academic discipline is both a blessing and a curse. I think creative writing belongs, to a certain extent, in the academy, so the more visibility and community in higher education, the better. On the other hand, it is and has been in danger of becoming too exclusive, elitist, and self-referential.
Q: If you could run into any author, contemporary or historical, at #AWP18, who would it be and what would you talk about?
A: I always wish I could run into Herman Melville.
Q: If you’ve been to Tampa before, what places do you recommend that our attendees should visit?
A: As I'm sure all AWP attendees know, Tampa is the undisputed capital of Death Metal in the USA. I'm looking forward to checking out what metal bands might be in town that weekend at the Orpheum or the Brass Mug.
Molly Brodak is the author of Bandit: A Daughter's Memoir and the poetry collection A Little Middle of the Night, winner of the 2009 Iowa Poetry Prize, along with three chapbooks of poetry.
(Photo Credit: Stephanie Dowda)