#AWP19 Featured Presenter Q&A with Luis Alberto Urrea

AWP | February 2019

Event Title: Swamps, Forests, & Borders: Literature of Place & Displace, Sponsored by Grove/Atlantic, Hugo House, and Seattle Arts & Lectures
Description: From the surreal swamps of Florida to the gothic woods of the upper Midwest to the fraught US-Mexico border, the American landscape has long fired up the imaginations of writers and readers. In this panel, renowned authors Emily Fridlund, Karen Russell, and Luis Alberto Urrea read from their work and discuss how they have been influenced by landscapes both external and internal, actual and invented, political and personal.
Participants: Emily Fridlund, Luis Alberto Urrea, Karen Russell
Location: Portland Ballroom 253-254, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2
Date & Time: Friday, March 29, 3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.


Q: What are some of the conference events or Bookfair exhibitors you look forward to seeing at AWP?
I love to walk the floor and connect with the editors and staffs of smaller presses and lit mags and I really enjoy solo author events.

Q: If you’ve been to an AWP before, what is your favorite conference memory?
Meeting poet Tom Sleigh in the middle of the street and yelling with joy about our shared high school years.

Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
Anything by Glen Erik Hamilton. Even Darkness Sings by Thomas H. Cook. Mary Oliver's Devotions.

Q: Has public funding for the arts made a difference in your life and career as a writer?
Absolutely. The NEA Big Read program has been an extraordinary experience for me over these last few years. The opportunity to meet all kinds of readers, in all kinds of communities, all over the country would not have happened without public funding for the arts.

Q: If you could run into any author, contemporary or historical, at #AWP19, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Mark Twain. I would just keep buying the drinks and listen to whatever he wanted to talk about.

Q: If you’ve been to Portland before, what places do you recommend that our attendees should visit?
I don't even need to mention Powell's because I know the pilgrimage is required. The Rose Garden. Blue Star Donuts. For Dr. Who fans, The Tardis Room (a bar that is bigger on the inside).


Luis Alberto UrreaLuis Alberto Urrea, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his landmark work of nonfiction The Devil's Highway, is also the bestselling author of the novels The Hummingbird's DaughterInto the Beautiful North, and Queen of America, as well as the story collection The Water Museum, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist. He has won the Lannan Literary Award, an Edgar Award, and a 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, among many other honors. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and an American mother, he lives outside of Chicago and teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
(Photo Credit: Joe Mazza)

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