2017 awp conference & Bookfair February 8–11, 2017 • Washington, dc



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2017 AWP Conference & Bookfair

February 8–11, 2017 • Washington, DC

Washington Convention Center & Washington Marriott Marquis

Celebrating AWP’s 50th Anniversary!



Communities of the 2017 AWP Conference & Bookfair

The information below compiles demographics for presenters of accepted events, as well as information on the extent to which various communities are participating in the 2017 AWP Conference & Bookfair. A list of all the accepted events can be found on the Schedule page of our website.


While the gender data for presenters is consistent with data we have made public over the past several years, the data on the race representation of the presenters is new. This is the first year that the majority of our presenters (78%) responded to requests for racial demographics, providing a representative sample of all events. This was not the case in previous years.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide this information. Over the next couple of months, we expect the gender and race data to change slightly, because some panelists must step off events if they are overcommitted to other accepted events. Event organizers will select replacements. AWP limits the number of events in which any one presenter may participate in order to increase participation and inclusivity of the conference.
When applicable, comparable data is taken from the 2015 US Census.
macintosh hd:users:christian:desktop:gender pie.png

[Alt Text: This pie graph shows the number of AWP presenters who identified their gender. The graph shows that 1,145 presenters identify as female, 611 as male, 16 as gender fluid, 0 as intersex, 11 as transgender, 3 as transsexual, 2 as agender, 4 as androgynous, 1 as bigender, and 8 as cisgender. 17 identified as “a gender not identified here.”]


*Statistics reflect a 91.6% response rate among 2017 presenters.
macintosh hd:users:christian:desktop:gender bar.png

[Alt Text: This bar chart compares the percentage of AWP presenters identifying as male and female with the percentage of the US population identifying as male and female as determined by the 2015 US Census. 57.7% of AWP presenters identify as female compared to 50.8% on the US Census. 30.8% of AWP presenters identify as male compared to 49.2% on the US Census.]


*Unfortunately, the US Census only defines gender in terms of female and male, and there is no comparable data for AWP’s presenters who are Agender, Androgynous, Bigender, Cisgender, Intersex, Genderfluid, Transgender, Transsexual, and “a gender not identified here.”
macintosh hd:users:christian:desktop:race pie.png

[Alt Text: This pie chart shows the number of AWP presenters who identified themselves by race. The graph shows that 30 identify as American Indian or Alaskan Native, 130 as Asian, 173 as Black or African American, 111 as Latino, 3 as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, 882 as White, and 72 as “a race not identified here.”]


*Statistics reflect a 78.1% response rate among 2017 presenters.
macintosh hd:users:christian:desktop:race bar.png

[Alt Text: This image is a bar graph that compares the percentage of AWP presenters identifying themselves by race beside data collected about the US population by the 2015 Census. The graph shows that 1.5% of AWP presenters and 1.2% of the US population identifies as American Indian or Alaskan Native, 6.6% of AWP presenters and 5.6% of the US population as Asian, 8.7% of AWP presenters and 13.3% of the US population as Black or African American, 5.6% of AWP presenters and 17.6% of the US population as Latino, 7.5% of AWP presenters and 2.6% of the US population as Mixed Race,.2% of AWP presenters and.2% of the US population as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and 44.5% of AWP presenters and 61.6% of the US population as White. Please note that the US Census does not allow respondents to select “A race not identified here”. 3.6% of AWP presenters identified as “A race not identified here.]


*AWP statistics reflect a 78.1% response rate among 2017 presenters.
**The US Census does not have any comparable data that corresponds to “a race not identified here.”
250 accepted events identified themselves as addressed to a particular affinity group. A full list of these events is below. AWP accepted a total of 522 events out of 1,465 proposals. Only 35% of the proposed events were accepted overall. The events referenced below self-identified themselves, in their titles or descriptions, as events dedicated to the representation of specific literary communities, as follows:


  • 23 African-American events (42% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 21 Asian-American events (49% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 20 disabilities event (42% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 51 feminist and women’s issues events (34% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 12 graduate students and adjunct faculty events (71% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 10 Indigenous events (42% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 33 international and translation events (66% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 4 K-12 events (21% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 18 Latino events (51% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 27 LGBTQ events (47% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 5 religion events (21% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 116 social justice and multicultural events (48% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

  • 6 veterans events (55% acceptance rate among self-identifying proposals)

Many of these 250 events host discussions about more than one of these communities, and so they are counted as part of each community with which they engage. Many members of these communities also participate in other events that are not listed here, as this account quantifies topics, not individuals. This tally of self-identifying events lists only those events that, in their titles or descriptions, declare affiliations with these communities. For instance, graduate students and adjunct faculty participate in many other events that are not labeled by the terms “students” or “adjuncts.” Many readings inclusive of people of color or the LGBTQ community are simply billed as readings and are therefore not counted here, though they are represented in the other demographic data. The diversity of the conference extends far beyond this tally of 250 self-identifying events addressed to the concerns of one or more affinity groups.


Visit the page on How Events Are Selected for details about how the 2017 Washington, DC Subcommittee made their selections. AWP is grateful to the subcommittee for their hard work in providing a balanced and inclusive schedule for the 2017 conference.
The 2017 conference builds upon the success of previous conferences. A survey of attendees of our 2016 conference in Los Angeles provided many useful indicators. The results of the survey of Los Angeles attendees demonstrated a high overall satisfaction with the conference. 95% of the respondents rated the conference at least “Satisfactory,” and 77% rated it “Very Good” or “Excellent.” Likewise, 93% of the bookfair respondents rated the bookfair at least “Satisfactory,” and 73% rated it “Very Good” or “Excellent.” 
Many 2016 survey respondents applauded the inclusiveness of the roster of presenters, the variety of presses at the bookfair, and the diversity of subjects. Many attendees called for a broader range of discussions, apart from politics, pertaining to the craft of writing. Many opinions about what the conference should be were in opposition to one another, and the opinions reflected the pluralistic, generational, and changing concerns of contemporary authors, teachers, publishers, and readers. AWP strives to balance these concerns and the concerns of our membership. The conference provides the most inclusive literary event in North America, and AWP remains committed to programming that reflects the interests of the many communities of literature. Thank you for your support. The writer’s place is in the public arena, and together we have built a bigger town square.


A 25th Anniversary Reading by CGU's Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award Winners. (Lori Anne Ferrell, Susan Mitchell, Carl Phillips, Marianne Boruch, Ross Gay)

Claremont Graduate University’s Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award is one of the most prestigious prizes a contemporary poet can receive. The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award was created in 1993 to both honor a poet and provide resources to allow literary artists to continue honing their craft. These past recipients of the Kingsley Tufts Awards showcase the breadth and depth, as well as geographic and aesthetic diversity, of the poetry that CGU’s Tufts Awards supports and celebrates.


A Celebration of the Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation. (Aliki Barnstone, Dennis Maloney, James Kates, Carolyn Tipton)

Cliff Becker (1964-2005) was the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Director. Believing "translation is the medium through which American readers gain greater access to the world,” he expanded NEA support for translation. His widow, Leila, and daughter, Sahara, established the Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation, now administered through ALTA. The series editors will discuss how this unique publication prize fulfills Becker’s vision and the translators will read from their books.


A Tribute to Edmund White. (Tom Cardamone, Alden Jones, Alexander Chee, Alysia Abbott, Patrick Ryan)

This panel celebrates the enduring and groundbreaking career of Edmund White, one of the most influential living gay writers. His provocative works of fiction, biography, memoir and criticism have sparked dialogues on the nature of the self in society for decades. Five writers—peers, colleagues, and those he has mentored—come together to discuss his work, life, and his influence on American letters. Edmund White will speak following the tribute.


African Diaspora Caucus. (Alyss Dixson, Jacqueline Jones LaMon, Sanderia Faye)

Uniting attendees from across disciplines, the African Diaspora Caucus will provide a forum for discussions of careers, best practices for teaching creative writing and obtaining the MFA/PhD. We will work with AWP’s affinity caucuses to develop national diversity benchmarks for creative writing programs, and will collaborate with board and staff to ensure that AWP programs meet the needs of diaspora writers. This Caucus will be an inclusive space that reflects the pluralities in our community.


Agents of Change: Social Justice and Activism in the Literary Community. (Ashaki Jackson, Elmaz Abinader, Tony Valenzuela, Leigh Stein, Nicole Sealey)

How do we, as writers and literary arts organizers, bring about change in the greater literary community? And how do we move from intention and discussion about race, gender, and inequality to action? This panel brings together literary organizations to discuss their roles as social justice activists in the writing community. These prominent members of national literary organizations examine the current issues and challenges facing the community and the steps necessary to move forward.


All I Have Is A Voice: Strategies for Inclusion in the Workshop. (Laura Minor, Adrian Matejka, Daniel Jose Older, Jillian Weise, Erin Belieu)

Workshops still remain a problematic landscape for the marginalized. This panel seeks to discuss how the workshop has changed in the last 25 years, and consequently, remained the same. The following year has been a hotbed of online take-downs and intersectionality controversies. What this panel seeks to uncover is how "the other" is still treated within the confines of the contemporary collegiate workshop.This panel will discuss strategies towards pedagogical inclusion.


Amplifying Unheard Voices: Dave Eggers, Mimi Lok, Vini Bhansali, Jennifer Lentfer. (Dave Eggers, Jennifer Lentfer, Rajasvini Bhansali, Mimi Lok)

In a world of 24-hour news cycles and soundbites, whose stories get heard, and whose don't? How can we challenge the single story portrayal of human rights issues, and of marginalized communities? A lively conversation about the power of the story in human rights, and the roles of two organizations (Voice of Witness, a literary and human rights nonprofit, and Idex, an international development organization) in amplifying unheard voices in the United States and around the world.


An Unfinished Conversation: Gender and Creative Writing. (Lisa Lewis, Aimee Parkison, Lisa Lee, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs)

This panel brings together women writers across generations to explore how gender continues to shape women's experiences of creative writing today from learning in or teaching the workshop to publishing work to administering a creative writing program. In relation to race, class, and sexuality, how has the position of women writers changed over time and where are we today with regard to our access to publication and positions of power within our communities or academic institutions?


Arsenic Icing: Sentiment as Threat in Contemporary American Women's Poetry. (Cate Marvin, Jennifer Knox, Erin Belieu, Brenda Shaughnessy, Vievee Francis)

Five contemporary female American poets explore how sentimentality is

deployed in 21st century women’s poetry, with regard to both

content and rhetoric, as a means to counter traditional assumptions

regarding female desire and identity. What personal and political

alchemies occur when the affectionate address verges on acerbic? What

transformations are sought when a female speaker, once familiar as

mother, daughter, sister, wife, or lover, employs sentiment to reveal

herself as Other?
Asian American Caucus. (Ken Chen, Cathy Linh Che, Lawrence-Minh Davis, Sunyoung Lee)

What literary resources are available for Asian American writers? What does it mean to be an Asian writer in the 21st century? This 2nd Asian American caucus is not a panel or a reading, but an open town-hall-style hang out and community space. Come meet other Asian American writers and discuss fellowships, publication opportunities, and resources available for Asian American writers. Organized by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Kaya, Asian American Literary Review, and Kundiman.


Asian American Generations at Coffee House Press. (Karen Yamashita, Bao Phi, Vi Khi Nao, Sun Yung Shin, Evelina Galang)

Since its founding, Coffee House has strived to make its publishing list as diverse as America. This has meant publishing many authors from "underrepresented" groups, but in particular it's become known for publishing some of the most exciting Asian American writers in the country. Younger generations have been drawn to the press because they have been inspired by those mentors that came before them. These writers will talk about influence and what it means to share a publisher and a community.


Asian-American Poetics and Politics in the South: Self-Articulation and Solidarity. (Shamala Gallagher, Ching-In Chen, Sarah Gambito, Vidhu Aggarwal, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello)

Perhaps more than any other American region, the South is constituted by its racial history, a harrowing black-and-white tale of subjugation—one in which Asian-American stories go largely untold. In this formally hybrid panel—half performance, half critical dialogue—five multi-genre writers from diverse Asian-American backgrounds, each of us tied to a Southern locale, insert ourselves as rogue elements into this dominant story, asking: what might it mean to be Asian American writing the South?


Being the Change You Want to See: The New Literary Leadership. (Lisa Lucas, Ken Chen, Jennifer Benka, Britt Udesen, Andrew Proctor)

What will a new generation of literary leadership look like? While many literaryinstitutions have a reputation for being stodgy or slow-moving with regards to change, here are five directors who bring unique experience and fresh perspective to literary non-profits, national and local. We will discuss how youth, technology, and diversity can bring traditional literary institutions into the modern landscape and create a bold, more inclusive future for readers.


Believe It Or Not: On Portraying Religious Faith in Young Adult Literature. (Francisco X. Stork, Phoebe North, Kaye M., Christine Heppermann, Megan Atwood)

Religion and spirituality play a vital role in the lives of many teenagers, but few young adult novels meaningfully explore what that role is. Representing a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, panelists will speak to the unique challenges of examining religious belief in books aimed at teens, give a detailed picture of how faith is currently depicted in young adult fiction and poetry, and suggest ways in which different types of religious expression can be more fully represented.


Best Behavior: Writers Negotiating Cultural Differences. (Gretchen Legler, Nancy Lord, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Matteo Pistono)

Writers who experience cultures “foreign” to them face many challenges in portraying with both truth and sensitivity the places and lives they learn about. This is especially true when they’re welcomed into homes and intimate settings, and where realities may not match up to what has been mythologized or romanticized.

Nonfiction writers who’ve lived in or traveled among diverse cultures will discuss how they’ve balanced honesty with respect and served both readers and hosts with their writing.
Beyond Accommodation: Supporting Disabled Writers at Conferences and Residencies. (Leigh Stein, Camisha Jones, Ryan Walsh, Sheila Black)

While people with disabilities are the largest minority group in America (20% of the population), writers with disabilities are vastly underrepresented at conferences and residencies that are so often essential to career advancement. Join the founders and directors of Zoeglossia, BinderCon, Vermont Studio Center, and Split This Rock, for a discussion on best practices for ensuring an event or residency is not only accessible (financially and logistically), but also inclusive.


Beyond Diversity: How to Run the Truly Inclusive Creating Writing Workshop. (Sonya Larson, Jonathan Escoffery, Matthew Salesses, Eson Kim, Alison Murphy)

How do we move beyond the vague concept of diversity to create truly inclusive workshops? In focusing on craft and ignoring the larger cultural context of our writing, we often sideline POC, queer, and other voices marginalized by the literary establishment. Speakers from GrubStreet, Warren Wilson, and the University of Houston will interrogate traditional pedagogy for inherent bias and offer strategies on navigating issues of identity, to take workshops from simply diverse to truly inclusive.


Beyond Rags to Riches: New Approaches to Writing about Class. (Michael Noll, Tristan Ahtone, Kelli Jo Ford, Rene S. Perez II, Natalia Sylvester)

Narratives about class often resort to familiar storylines: getting rich, dying trying, and becoming sanctified by poverty. The truth is more complex. Wealth and the lack of it shape lives, but those lives are also larger than their bank accounts and the assumptions that we make based upon them. Covering a range of genres, including fiction, literary criticism, and journalism, this panel will explore strategies for writing stories that reveal aspects of class that may be hidden in plain sight.


Beyond the Hospital: The Memoirist on Writing about Health, Illness and Injury. (Elizabeth L. Silver, Porochista Khakpour, Christine Hyung-Oak Lee)

"Beyond the Hospital" will explore the tragedies, pitfalls, miracles, and realities of living in a world of evolving medicine, as panelists contribute varying perspectives on how their journeys in and out of the medical establishment have impacted their work. What makes us embrace or reject modern medicine? What terrifies us about it? It is through the symbiotic relationship between memoir and medicine that we can begin to understand how to interact in this transforming world.


Bite Hard: a tribute to Justin Chin. (Jeffrey McDaniel, Timothy Liu, Beth Lisick, David Daniels, Adrienne Su)

Bite Hard: A Tribute to Justin Chin

Five poets/teachers engage Chin’s work from a wide range of angles, including

his association with Performance Art and Slam Poetry, his tangling with issues of Asian identity and sexuality through his poetry and hybrid prose, his tactical use of humor to disarm the reader as he explored illness and living with AIDS, his zeroing in on where the personal becomes political, and his Baudelaire-like blending of the elegant and profane.


Black Girl Magic, Blues, Beauty in Young Adult Literature. (Dhonielle Clayton, Ibi Zoboi, Renee Watson, Tiffany Jackson)

Four Young Adult authors will discuss the importance of the recent hashtag movement Black Girl Magic and its connection to Young Adult literature featuring black girls. From stories that tackle gentrification, magical realism, and pregnancy, black girls are at the center of these narratives that provide both mirrors and windows into their inner lives. Authors will also discuss the aesthetic power of black girls featured on YA covers, and the significance of black women telling their own stories.


Black Magic Women: Black Women Examine Creativity in Digital Spaces. ( Renée Alexander Craft, Jacqueline Bishop, Michele Simms Burton, Rochelle Spencer, Audrey T. Williams)

Five black women examine different forms of creative expression--poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and film--in digital spaces. The presentation, which will feature both sounds and images, will explore the different ways that artists can navigate digital spaces and push their vision forward. It will also discuss some of the challenges women and people of color may face in garnering an audience for their work and offer strategies for overcoming these challenges.


Body of Work: Exploring Disability, Creativity, and Inclusivity. (Sheila Black, Eileen Cronin, TK (Tim) Dalton, Anne Finger, Laurie Lindeen)

What is the physical body’s relationship to the creative mind? Four writers with disabilities will discuss their writing lives, and how social progress and technology are transforming representations of the human body. What effect has this had on literature? Where do we read ourselves in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry? Our panelists will discuss whether or not literature is representing the current climate and how they have represented their own bodies in writing over time.


Bringing LGBTQ Folk Forms into Our Literature. (Tom Cho, Derrick Austin, Juliana Delgado Lopera, Michelle Tea, Sassafras Lowrey)

Zines, drag performance, oral history, feminist spoken word, and even 1950s and 1960s men's physique magazines are among the "folk forms" that infuse LGBTQ writing. How can we reappraise these uncelebrated forms and draw on them to energize the words we write today? This panel’s writers – invigorated by engagements around race, immigration, DIY and queer punk ideologies, gender nonconformity, and other considerations – show how we can reimagine and recast these vital forms in our own work.



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