#AWP20 Featured Presenter Q&A with Carrie Fountain
AWP | February 2020
Event Title: The Path to Rad Empowerment: YA Lit Today, Sponsored by Blue Flower Arts
Description: Literary revolutionaries Elizabeth Acevedo, Mahogany L. Browne, Carrie Fountain, and Marilyn Nelson are breaking into the new ground of representation and empowerment in YA lit. Illuminating anew the coming-of-age experience, they bring to life real-world youth awakening to activism: from the streets of NYC to the Dominican Republic, from first loves to freedom fighting, they show young people of color for whom defiance holds the key to decoding the complexities of our present and shared histories.
Participants: Elizabeth Acevedo, Mahogany L. Browne, Carrie Fountain, Marilyn Nelson
Location: Hemisfair Ballroom C3, Henry B. González Convention Center, Ballroom Level
Date & Time: Thursday, March 5, 1:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Q: What are some of the conference events or Bookfair exhibitors you look forward to seeing at AWP?
AWP is always so exciting and overwhelming. A few things that have me marking my schedule: “Talking Loud, Talking Soft” (Tim Seibles, Dagoberto Gilb, Laurie Cannady, Laurie Ann Guerrero), “New Poetry from Graywolf Press” (Natalie Diaz, Nick Flynn, Carmen Giménez Smith, Sally Wen Mao, Danez Smith), “Difficult Women: Writers on Rage and Action in a Polarizing Election Year” (Amber Tamblyn, Roxane Gay, Lidia Yuknavitch).
Q: What do you remember most about your first AWP? What advice would you give to an AWP first-timer?
I think my first AWP was in Austin, where I live. I remember being overwhelmed by the Bookfair. I started at one corner and covered the whole thing.
Q: What is your favorite AWP conference memory?
I don't know that I have a favorite, but I do remember seeing the poet Erika Meitner in person for the first time at an AWP Bookfair. We'd been a part of an online community for moms for a couple years and knew intimate details about our babies' sleeping and eating and pooping habits, but had never actually met each other. I think we threw our arms around each other.
Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
Oh gosh. I really loved All My Puny Sorrows, Normal People. I re-read Song of Solomon. That was great. I loved Jericho Brown's collection The Tradition and Carmen Giménez Smith's Be Recorder. I have many more to mention, but I should stop there.
Q: If you’ve been to San Antonio before, what places do you recommend that our attendees should visit?
The McNay. The Hotel Havana is truly one of my favorite places on earth, and the little bar and restaurant there, Ocho, is great. San Anto (as my father-in-law calls it—my husband is from San Antonio) also has a truly spectacular public library. The area around the library—the Southwest School of the Arts, etc.—is just lovely.
Carrie Fountain is a poet and novelist and serves as the 2019 Texas poet laureate. She is the author of two poetry collections, Instant Winner and Burn Lake, winner of the 2009 National Poetry Series Award, and the YA novel I’m Not Missing. Her first children’s book, The Poem Forest, tells the story of American poet W.S. Merwin and the palm forest he grew from scratch on the island of Maui. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, Poetry, and the New Yorker, among many others. She is the host of KUT’s This Is Just to Say, a radio show and podcast where she has intimate conversations on the writing life with other poets and writers. Fountain is writer-in-residence at St. Edward’s University.