#AWP18 Featured Presenter Q&A with Jamie Quatro
AWP | November 2017
Event Title: A Reading and Conversation with Jamie Quatro and Karen Tei Yamashita, Sponsored by Grove Atlantic and Coffee House Press
Description: Critically acclaimed authors Karen Tei Yamashita and Jamie Quatro will read from their work and join in conversation with Steph Opitz. Quatro’s collection I Want to Show You More was a finalist for the LA Times Art Seidenbaum Award, the Georgia Townsend Fiction Prize, and the NBCC John Leonard Prize. Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of I Hotel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the California Book Award and the American Book Award.
Participants: Jamie Quatro and Karen Tei Yamashita
Location: Ballroom C, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
Date & Time: Saturday, March 10, 3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Q: What are some of the conference events (besides your own) or book fair exhibitors you look forward to seeing?
A: I’m definitely going to show up for the poetry signings at the Oxford American exhibit — Kaveh Akbar and Rebecca Gayle Howell, two of my favorites. I enjoy visiting journal editors I’ve worked with, so I’m looking forward to making the rounds at the book fair. I can’t wait to hear Lauren Groff and Nathan Englander in conversation, and I won’t miss Virgil Suarez or George Saunders. As for panels, “Writing from Privilege: Who can Write What and Why” is timely and important. I also hope to make “From Stanza to Paragraph: Poets who Write Prose.” And—hello— “Yoga for Writers”?! I’m so down.
Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
A: I just finished Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering. It’s one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read. I also read Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life and was captivated—tenderness, loss, loneliness. And I’m slowly, deliciously making my way through Natasha Trethewey’s guest-edited Best American Poetry 2017. Mary Jo Bang’s “Admission” is an absolute show-stopper, as is Allison Cobb’s “I Forgive You.”
Q: What are a writer’s main responsibilities in this particular cultural moment?
A: To stay awake and bear witness. To fight for freedom of the press. To financially support organizations like PEN, who are on the front lines protecting freedom of expression. To vote.
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: The stakes are higher. So many books, so many writers. It’s increasingly important to ask— of myself, and of the books I read— why is this book important? Why is it necessary in the world?
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'd love to sit down with George Saunders and drink tea and talk about Tibetan Buddhism.
Q: If you’ve been to Tampa before, what places do you recommend that our attendees should visit?
A: I’ve never been, but my husband is a huge hockey fan and is coming along this year — he's going to watch the Lightning play the Canadiens on Saturday. But the game’s during my panel, so I’m actually not recommending this activity.
Jamie Quatro’s debut collection, I Want to Show You More, was a New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, Indie Next pick, O, The Oprah Magazine summer reading pick, and New York Times Editors’ Choice. Named a Top Ten Book of 2013 by Dwight Garner in the New York Times and a Favorite Book of 2013 by James Wood in The New Yorker, the collection was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Georgia Townsend Fiction Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize. She is the recipient of a 2017 Pushcart Prize. Quatro’s debut novel, Fire Sermon, publishes in January 2018.
(Photo Credit: McKenna Quatro)