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


Carolina African American Writers Collective: After Over 20 Years, a Visioning of What’s to Come



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Carolina African American Writers Collective: After Over 20 Years, a Visioning of What’s to Come. (Raina Leon, Lenard Moore, L. Teresa Church, Lauri Ramey, Cedric Tillman)

In this session, representative writers offer insights as to the importance of the Collective in their work and how the organization's influence continues despite geographic distance. In addition, noted literary scholar, Dr. Lauri Ramey, who has written extensively about the Collective, joins the group to offer her insights. These are writers who challenge boundaries of form, language, and content. This session will explore the history of CAAWC, its resonance now, and its vision for the future.


Cat Painters: Contemporary Serbian Poetry in Translation. (Zvonko Karanović Karanović, Dubravka Djurić, Snežana Žabić, Nenad Jovanović, Biljana Obradović)

The panelists, among seventy contemporary Serbian poets, appear in the anthology, Cat Painters, which was co-edited by Biljana D. Obradović (who is one of its major translators) and Dubravka Djurić, and prefaced by Charles Bernstein. These accomplished Serbian and Serbian-American poets will give a reading from the anthology and also from their recently published books translated into English.These west-oriented poets look to the future, and are not preoccupied with the past.


Celebrating 35 Years of Kaleidoscope. (Michael Northen, Elizabeth Tova Bailey, Ana Garza G'z, Barbara Crooker, Jenny Patton)

First published in 1982, Kaleidoscope is the country’s oldest literary journal dedicated to the work of writers with disabilities and disability-related writing and art. After a brief introduction about Kaleidoscope’s background, four readers who have been published in the journal will read from their work as well as selections from Larry Eigner, Vassar Miller, John Hockenberry and other pioneering writers whose work appeared in Kaleidoscope.


Celebrating the Hurston/Wright Foundation: Twenty-Seven Years of Literary Legacy. (Laurie Jean Cannady, Yona Harvey, Darlene Taylor, A. Van Jordan)

Before articles decrying limited opportunities for writers of color in publishing, there was Hurston/Wright, discovering, mentoring, and honoring African American writers. For more than a quarter of a century, Hurston/Wright has fostered a rigorous, nurturing space for writers at varying stages. This celebratory panel will include Hurston/Wright award winners, former workshop participants and faculty, and the current board chair, as they honor the legacy of this essential D.C. organization.


Citizen-Soldier-Poet: Using Poetry to Bridge the Civil-Military Gap. (Randy Brown, Tessa Poppe, Frances Richey, Susanne Aspley, Eric Chandler)

With a boot on each side of the civil-military divide, America's citizen-soldiers and their families are uniquely positioned to bridge the gaps between our armed forces, and the society they serve. Five civilian and military-veteran writers of poetry, memoir, and fiction read from their works, and discuss how they have specifically used poetry in published, practical ways to promote peace, respect, understanding, and empathy.


Clap Back: Women of Color Discuss Emily Dickinson's Influence Over Their Poetic Landscapes. (Yesenia Montilla, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Christina Olivares, Leesah Velasquez)

Not knowing when the dawn will come / I open every door -- Emily Dickinson


Emily Dickinson's work has themes that resonate with those that occupy the space between the margins. This panel will discuss the theme of place in Emily Dickinson's work. Spaces such as home, church, psychological states of being & solitude will all be explored in relation to how women of color explore & navigate & even occupy these places in our own lives & writing.
Coffee House Press Poetry Reading. (Erika Stevens, Anna Moschovakis, Anne Waldman, Bao Phi, Allison Adele Hedge Coke)

Since its founding in 1984, Coffee House Press has published poets whose work falls outside mainstream publishing's tastes, bringing poetry by authors of diverse backgrounds and styles into print. These works have gone on both to win awards and to contribute to larger cultural discourses. This reading, by long-term and newer Coffee House Press poets, explores the development of the CHP's poetry list over time, highlighting and showcasing its diversity of voices and styles.


Come Firewalk With Me: The Black Mind. (Morowa Yejide, Jeffrey Renard Allen, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Jason Reynolds)

Black storytelling is a trip down the rabbit hole of the American experience, a complex odyssey of myth and reality. The psychological landscape of African American literature is one of mental captivity, boundless genius, and reinventions of the self. How can the labyrinths of this inner world be brought to the page with authenticity and depth? Panelists examine the black mind in story as both sojourn through darkness and flight of the phoenix.


Committing to Inclusion: What Does It *Really* Mean? (Sonya Larson, Jonathan Escoffery, Deborah Plummer, Eson Kim)

So your writing organization believes that race, gender, sexual orientation, and other dimensions of diversity are integral to artistic excellence. But what does that really mean? What vision and work does it entail? Since 2012, GrubStreet has been reckoning with its own shortcomings in this area, and working toward real and meaningful change. Come hear from board members, staff, and instructors about our ongoing structural efforts to ensure that our community is fully inclusive to all.


Contemporary Translation and Performance in the Americas. (Kristin Dykstra, T. Urayoán Noel, Achy Obejas, Rosa Alcalá, Jacqueline Loss)

Contemporary writers in every nation explore eclectic forms. How can performance impact strategies and contexts for translation in our hemisphere? Along with altering words, translation complicates factors central to performance: the identity of the performer, communities/sites associated with meaning, ephemerality. Examples reference translation as script, use of digital technologies, musical and theatrical influences, translation in/as archive, the manifesto as a performative form, and more.


Contested Histories: Portraying the Complexity of the Past for Teen Readers. (Ann Angel, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Anne Westrick)

Historical fiction and nonfiction takes readers of young adult literature beyond the superficial consensus of textbooks. In doing so, these books delve into the messy truths of the past and puncture comfortable myths. How do authors portray past conflicts still being fought today such as sexual mores, post-Civil War race relations, and Cold War authoritarianism? How do books preserve rebellious individual memory in the face of conventional accounts that depict history that has become myth?


Crafty: Four City University of New York MFA Graduates Read from Their Work. (Walter Mosley, Philip Klay, Helen Philips, Kimiko Hahn, Rajiv Mohabir)

The playful, disruptive side of the imagination is embodied in the trickster figure and City University of New York MFA students and alumni take the trickster’s lead, intent on shaking things up. They also continue the university’s legacy of diversity, from class and national origin to cultural background to subject matter. MFA Program Graduates from Brooklyn, City, Hunter, and Queens Colleges display their craftiness--after all, the mischief is in the telling.


Creating Space for Marginalized Voices: How to Create a Diverse Programming Lineup. (Jael Richardson, Léonicka Valcius, Camille Rankine, Kathleen Fraser, Nailah King)

What does it take to execute a literary event that reflects diversity? What does it take to be truly inclusive as a festival organizer, literary event programmer, or publishing professional? Join the organizers of Canada's inaugural Festival of Literary Diversity in discussion with publishing professionals on how to promote and support a diverse lineup of authors. Discover how targeted initiatives and intentional approaches can effectively address the diversity gaps in the publishing industry.


Creative Writing and Social Justice. (Terry Ann Thaxton, Terry Ann Thaxton, Debra Brenegan, Lee Gulyas, Joanna Eleftheriou)

How might creative writing instructors empower students and advocate social change while maintaining a focus on the artistic integrity of their literary craft? Panelists will discuss their experiences with gender-based violence survivors, prison inmates, study-abroad students, and underserved community groups to explore the challenges and strategies of working with writers who write not only for literary expression, but to create social change. A detailed reading list will also be provided.


Criticism or Chronicle? Poetry Reviewing Today. (Andrew Ciotola, Kyle Dargan, Shara Lessley, Kaveh Akbar, Kelly Forsythe)

Sometimes it is hard to criticize, one wants only to chronicle, wrote the mid-century poetry critic Randall Jarrell. What is the function of poetry reviewing today? This panel proposes to examine the culture and politics of poetry reviewing, addressing such matters as the responsibilities of the poetry reviewer, how poetry reviewing intersects with issues of race and gender, its role as community-builder, and the ways in which new media are transforming evaluative commentary on poetry.


Crossing the Line: Writing as a Healing Practice. (Joan Baranow, Alicia Ostriker, Veneta Masson, Dawn McGuire, David St. John)

Neurologist Dr. Michael Okun says, “People always talk about, ‘Are you going to step over the line or not step over the line?’ Everybody’s over the line.” In this panel poets speak from both sides of the medical experience, from a patient confronting breast cancer to a neurologist exploring her treatment of war veterans. Caregivers, patients, and loved ones are crossing the line, taking their stories back from the medical charts, using poetry to explore the meanings wrested from illness.


Degree of Change: Using Your M.F.A. in Social Justice Nonprofit Work. (Tara Libert, Julia Mascioli, Kathy Crutcher, Emma Snyder)

Three dynamic nonprofits using literature and publishing to elevate unheard voices and to share untold stories of marginalized communities describe the unique collaboration between their organizations' M.F.A. writers to bring about social change.Shout Mouse Press, PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools Program and Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop facilitate writing workshops, publish original works and provide author visits in DC's poorest and most crime stricken neighborhoods.


Derrida on the Rez: Teaching Non-Traditional Texts to Non-Traditional Students. (Charles Hood, Michael Copperman, Jenny Liou, Vernon Ng)

There’s an assumption that teaching theory courses or experimental writing mostly happens in universities. Not true: along the edges and outposts of academia, many of us are bringing Derrida to the rez, Bakhtin to the barrio, language poetry to developmental comp. This panel investigates not just so-called hard (or at least unfamiliar) texts taught in non-traditional settings, but also the stigma attached to the teachers whose careers are centered on serving marginalized students.


Directions in Trans Publishing. (Kay Gabriel, Colette Arrand, SA Smythe, Cat Fitzpatrick, Stephen Ira)

Transgender literature has become increasingly prominent in recent years. This panel addresses the publishing side of this cultural moment, which taken the form of both new trans literary publications and a growing visibility of trans literature in cis-centric journals and presses. Five trans editors and publishers discuss their experiences in curating trans literature and the challenges of making spaces for it where few had existed before.


Disability Caucus. (Jim Ferris, Sheila Black, Ellen Smith, Kelly Davio, Jennifer Bartlett)

The AWP Disability Caucus allows for those who are disabled or living with chronic illness, and their allies, to network and discuss common challenges related to identity, writing, and teaching while professionally leading a literary life. Building on our first meeting at the 2016 convention, we aim to archive our interests, challenges, and concerns in order to increase our visibility and emphasize our importance both to this organization and to the communities where we live, teach, and work.


Divided by a Common Language: Creative Writing in the US, Canada, Australia, China, UK and Europe. (Jen Webb, Joseph Kertes, Stephanie Vanderslice, Fan Dai, Paul Munden)

AWP regularly welcomes members of other national associations to its conference. Such internationalism is important, but the nature of creative writing—as a general pursuit, an academic discipline and focus of research—varies from one context to another, sometimes at the expense of productive exchange. This panel of leading representatives from key organizations will consider some of the differences encountered, and suggest how an increasingly meaningful conversation might proceed.


Does Gender Matter? Wrestling with Identity and Form in the Golden Age of Women’s Essays. (Jocelyn Bartkevicius, Marcia Aldrich, Barrie Jean Borich, Kyoko Mori, Jericho Parms)

In 2014, The New York Times asked if it’s a golden age for women essayists. Cheryl Strayed gave a qualified yes. But while a wave of women’s essays is shaping the literary scene, women are underrepresented in journals and the standard-bearer, Best American Essays. Our panel explores the literary fallout from this paradox, the shape-shifting nature of essays, why it’s tricky to identify as a woman writer, the effects on our work when asked to write as women, and the complications of invisibility.


Don't forget the day job: preparing creative writing graduates for lifelong careers. (Paul Munden, Jen Webb, Randall Albers, Deborah Campbell, Paul Hetherington)

The number of creative writing programs, and the numbers of students in those programs, are expanding significantly. But employment outcomes for creative writing graduates are poor: research shows that they either experience a working life characterized by precarity, low wages, and high volunteerism, or else must find employment in other areas. In this panel we discuss ways in which curriculum content can prepare students for a future that includes creative and professional success.


Double Bind: Women Writers on Ambition. (Robin Romm, Pam Houston, Erika Sanchez, Elisa Albert, Claire Vaye Watkins)

A woman must be ambitious in order to have a meaningful career in the arts. But ambition in women is often seen as un-feminine, egoistic, and aggressive rather than crucial to great work and identity. Until recently, no conversation has taken place to help women navigate this pervasive but unspoken double bind. On this panel, women across diverse backgrounds genres will provide both stories from the trenches and practical strategies for progressing in the arts, academia, and beyond.


Dreaming the World Through Translation: International Perspectives on Creative Process. (Helene Cardona, Martha Collins, Ming Di, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Ani Gjika)

Does the language we speak shape the way we think, our reality, our world, our dreams?

Do more words mean more thoughts? Can we think about things we don’t have words for? Working with Albanian, Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese, this panel’s poets, translators, and scholars discuss their roles as intermediaries, technicians, magicians, and alchemists working between languages to create inspired texts spanning cultural differences, geographic distances, and time.
Eastern Woodlands Natives Reading from When Spirits Visit and I Was Indian (Before Being Indian Was Cool). (Susan Deer Cloud, Monty Campbell, Jr., James Stevens, Denise Low)

Four Eastern Woodlands Indigenous writers read poetry and prose from MariJo Moore’s When Spirits Visit and Deer Cloud’s I Was Indian (Before Being Indian Was Cool) anthologies, evoking the 19th century ghost dance Native people once did to make a stand for their lives and defy vanishing forever. These 21st century word warriors read work that embodies how the ghost dance prevails in their poems and stories that shine on in affirmation of Mother Earth, the spirits and the ancient beauty ways.


Eco-Writing: Plotting a Way Forward in Three Genres. (Clinton Crockett Peters, Toni Jensen, Megan Kaminski, Roger Reeves, Kurt Caswell)

“Nature writing" has sometimes had a storied history as a privileged pursuit, occasionally ignorant of social justice. “Eco-writing” is a new brand, one that acknowledges ecological and social embeddedness. This panel will feature a cross-genre reading of essays, poems, and stories interested in the entwinement of human with the more-than-human world. The featured work incorporates social justice and escapes, as much as possible, the baggage of privileged outdoor pursuits.


Ensuring/Enduring Presence: Transgender People of Color Artists, Editors, and Publishers. (Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Ryka Aoki, Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko, Trish Salah, A.J. Alana Ka'imi Bryce)

Trans artists/editors/publishers of color shepherd daily into the world innovative work that is highly crafted. Immersed in our present material conditions, decolonially reimagining our pasts and futures, temporally/geographically refiguring the wheres and whens of our storied bodies, responding to calls issued by our communities as we issue our own, this panel posits the possibilities of our presence, our generative genealogies, the care with which we consider our compositional/communal praxis.


Essaying the Body Electric: A Reading & Conversation. (Kim Dana Kupperman, Therése Halscheid, Sheryl St. Germain, Thomas Gibbs, Colin Hosten)

A project of Welcome Table Press, Essaying the Body Electric is an online space showcasing nonfiction narratives and art that offer frank, arresting, meaningful portrayals and interpretations of the body. This reading features work that sings various electricities in fresh ways, essaying anew anorexia and memory, love and atrophy, motherhood and violence. After the reading, participants will address the fears, challenges, and triumphs of writing the body in the age of privacy gone public.


Expanding the Literary Community: Writing Workshops For Underserved Populationss. (Bonnie Rose Marcus, Naomi Ayala, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Regie Cabico, Emily Rubin)

Writers with extensive experience teaching workshops reaching diverse and underserved populations, including seniors, teens, cancer survivors, and LGBT and multilingual individuals will discuss why they've chosen to do this work. Panelists will consider the rewards and challenges of teaching these workshops and their role in expanding the literary community.


Facing Trauma: POC leveraging their experience in the academy to initiate community healing. (Kenyatta Rogers, Maya Marshall, Keith Wilson, Cristina Correa)

It is increasingly difficult for those in privileged positions (politicians, the academy, the media) to ignore the violence in America’s public sphere. Often, the responses to these structures of power are confined to exposure (media coverage, statistics, etc.) or punishment of offending parties. This panel discusses how POC leverage their MFAs in non-traditional ways to foster healing in communities with trauma via new media/video games, community workshops, and other modes of cultural healing.


Foremothers: Southern Women Writers. (Charlotte Holmes, Cary Holladay, Lisa Parker, Lisa Roney, Adrienne Su)

Harriet Arnow, Carson McCullers, Katherine Ann Porter, Lee Smith, Alice Walker, and Eudora Welty form a powerful coalition of influences for five Southern writers of later generations. We will discuss how the work of our literary foremothers helped us write our way into an understanding of the complex fabric woven from social, familial, and emotional relationships, and how the voices of the South’s different geographic regions—Deep, Middle, and Upper—continue to inform and shape our work.


Fourscore Feminist Fabulous Years: A Tribute to Alicia Ostriker. (Aliki Barnstone, Afaa M. Weaver, Monica Hand, Cynthia Hogue, Frances Payne Adler)

This tribute is in celebration of the 80th year of the great feminist poet, activist, critic, teacher, Jewish theologian, and mystic Alicia Ostriker. Four writers spanning the country, generations, and ethnicities will discuss Ostriker’s multifaceted contributions to American letters since she came to prominence during the era of Second Wave Feminism. The tribute capped by a brief reading by Alicia Ostriker.


Fractured Selves: Fabulism as a Platform for Minorities, Women, and the LGBT Community. (Sequoia Nagamatsu, Aubrey Hirsch, Brenda Peyando, Zach Doss, Ramona Ausubel)

Fabulist writers and editors define Fabulism (often used with other terms like magical realism and slipstream), illuminate individual approaches to the genre alongside brief readings, and discuss how fabulism can be a rich territory for expression, exploration, and power for minorities, women, and the LGBT community. What does it mean to write about the other from other worlds or hybrid spaces?


Fracturing Memory, Crossing Borders: Transnational Memoir Writers Discuss Hybrid Necessities. (Minal Hajratwala, QM Zhang, Amarnath Ravva, Abeer Hoque, Tania De Rozario)

For transnational writers who spend their lives constantly negotiating borders—geographic and personal—hybridity no longer becomes a choice. This panel features diverse writers whose experimental memoirs include non-linearity, multiple genres, photographs, and other multimedia. We will discuss how these hybrid strategies succeed or fail when trying to reconstruct family histories or address personal trauma, and how this can be especially challenging when moving between nations and identities.


From Margin to Center: Developing Diverse Leaders. (Michele Kotler, Ramiza Koya, Lauren Bullock, James Kass, Brandie MacDonald)

Most organizations and university departments seek a more diverse faculty and staff, but the path to diversity goes far beyond placing a classified ad. Despite challenges in creating meaningful change, how can we build opportunities and systems that fuel those most often marginalized? Panelists will discuss how their organizations are investing in leadership development models that nurture a new generation of diverse leaders.


From The Bottom To The Top: Building, Rebuilding and Embracing an Inclusive Creative Writing Program. (Tonya Hegamin, Rachel Haley Himmelheber, Anjail Ahmad, Alexandra Chasin)

This panel will explore best practices of Creative Writing administrators and faculty committed to inclusive student engagement and recruitment.Panelists discuss curriculum to support diverse students in homogenous communities, as well as challenges in building intercultural competency and communication skills that transcend essentialist and myopic writing. Social Justice based integrative strategies to address student interests for teaching within and writing for non-traditional communities.


From the Fishouse: A Bilingual Reading of Poets from Around the World. (Matthew O'Donnell, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Piotr Gwiazda, Katherine Young, Ani Gjika)

Since 2004, From the Fishouse has provided the public greater access to the poems & voices of emerging US poets by using online audio archives, simulcast readings, & other media to bring poetry into the home & classroom. Our revised website now features emerging international poets & translators. This bilingual reading will showcase poets writing in Russian, Polish, Spanish, Albanian & Filipino, as well as a translator discussion about process & the joys & challenges of this important work.


From the Margins to the Mainstream: Mixed Writers on Representation. (Emily Perez, Sun Yung Shin, Nina McConigley, Ammon Medina, Glenn Shaheen)

Writers who straddle multiple identities (Arab American, Ecuadorian/White, Indian/Irish, Mexican/White, Transnational Korean Adoptee) examine how race and culture translate into their work and writing communities. How do mixed identities compete and cooperate: for airtime, authority, and claims to authenticity? In what ways might mixed writers pass or pander? How might editors and publishers include mixed voices without either exoticizing or erasing minoritized positions?



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