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


From Verse to Stage and Screen, Veterans Adapt



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From Verse to Stage and Screen, Veterans Adapt. (Brian Turner, Benjamin Busch, Maurice Decaul, Jenny Pacanowski, Peter Molin)

This panel features four war writers who are adapting verse and memoir into more public modes of expression: stage, screen, opera, and performance. The panelists will discuss the challenge of moving beyond the word to theatrically present the events and emotions inherent to combat and military life. Offering insight into issues of craft and collaboration, the panel explores how private modes of literary representation can be transformed into dramatic artworks produced and experienced socially.


From Writing Student to Editor: Preparing Yourself for the Editorial Job Market. (Aaron Alford, Ariel Lewiton, Ashley Strosnider, Kyle Lucia Wu)

Not all graduate students in creative writing seek teaching jobs after graduation. How might you prepare for the editorial job market while earning your creative writing degree? The editors on this panel share how they landed editorial positions soon after (or even during) their graduate studies.


Girlhood, Womanhood, Coming of Age. (Laura Donnelly, Janine Joseph, Monica Hand, Janet McNally, Jordan Rice)

Poets discuss writing coming of age poems for the 21st century, disrupting traditional narratives of girlhood and womanhood and exploring intersections of gender, race, class and sexual identity. Along with adolescence, we consider how the genre might include the thresholds of immigration, motherhood, trans experience, and divorce (among other topics). Poets read from their collections, share influences and craft advice, and offer suggestions for confronting challenges faced along the way.


Girls Who Run the World: Readings of Women in the Apocalypse. (Alexander Lumans, Claire Vaye Watkins, Lucy Corin, Manuel Gonzales, Sandra Newman)

Imperator Furiosa, Michonne, Alice Abernathy. To ignore the role of women in apocalyptic literature is to deny over half the world’s population their opportunity to survive, let alone thrive. In this panel, five established and emerging fiction writers give voice to female protagonists in dystopian landscapes ranging from a giant sand dune to a regional office. Through individual readings of their apocalyptic visions, these writers challenge outdated versions of women at the end of the world.


Global Narratives as U.S. Literature. (Carolina De Robertis, Elmaz Abinader, Laleh Khadivi, Achy Obejas, Meron Hadero)

In a world where cultures transcend borders, what defines U.S. literature? How is a writer's experience, aesthetic, and vision shaped by carrying more than one country in her skin? What particular challenges and opportunities exist for writers whose work springs from a global, multicultural source? Four authors of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction from Iran, Lebanon, Cuba, and Nigeria discuss their experiences in creating and publishing work as global voices working within the United States.


Going for Broke: Poor and Working Class Writers Talk about Choosing Careers in the Arts. (Kaitlyn Greenidge, Tiphanie Yanique, Melissa Chadburn, Tennessee Jones, Courttia Newland)

How do you navigate life as a working artist when you come from poverty? Five writers from racially diverse working class backgrounds in the Caribbean,US and Western Europe will discuss what it means to plot a career in the arts without a safety net. Topics will include: finding relevant career advice for those from low income backgrounds; making career choices or compromises based on your class; class and race; sustaining a career and the strengths and limits of poverty PTSD.


Going There: Writing the Complicated Truth in the World’s Hot Spots. (Joanna Eleftheriou, Kimberly Meyer, Beth Peterson, Brittany Bennett, Natalie Bakopoulos)

In the age of the 30-second news clip, too often places of crisis beyond our borders become oversimplified and stereotyped. In this roundtable panel, four writers practicing in a variety of genres and writing about diverse hot spots—Norway’s collapsing glaciers, bankrupt Greece, the Sinai Desert with ISIS in the north, the US with its racial injustice—will examine ways to harness the energy bred by news clips while navigating the preconceptions readers bring to our work.


Gwendolyn Brooks 100th Anniversary Tribute. (Mike Puican, Nora Brooks Blakely, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Reginald Gibbons)

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gwendolyn Brooks, the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. Despite her accomplishments and immense influence on 20th-century writing, her place in the canon does not sufficiently reflect her work as a poet, member of the Black Arts movement, and agent for social change. Five people who knew her, including her daughter, Nora Brooks Blakely, will read her work and share observations of her enduring artistic, social, and personal impact.


Half of Literature Lost: Women's Writing and the Politics of Erasure. (Rene Steinke, Cherene Sherrard, Terese Svoboda, Elizabeth Spires)

Why does the work of so many incredibly accomplished women writers regularly praised by the American literary establishment fall into relative obscurity on their death, and their legacy seemingly vanish? Ageism, gender bias, racism, the scattering of work, difficult executors and bad timing? Panelists will discuss the writing of Josephine Jacobsen, Lola Ridge, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, and Dorothy West.


Halo-halo: The Ingredients of the Global Conference. (Tim Tomlinson, Jane Camens, Fan Dai, Alvin Pang, Sarah Tooth)

Halo-halo is a Filipino dessert of many ingredients. It translates, roughly, as "mixed together," or (mistakenly) "mixed up." Both translations might apply to the global workshop/conference. What goes into the creation and execution of the successful global conference? How does the conference ensure a little energy, a little synergy, a little craft, a little theory, while at the same time providing flavorful measures of local experience? What's the balance between education and recreation?


Hands, a Flurry of Words: A Reading by Deaf Writers. (Raymond Luczak, Tonya Stremlau, Christopher Jon Heuer, Pamela Wright Moers, Kristen Ringman)

How many Deaf writers do you know? One, two? No? How about five? These five Deaf published writers will welcome you with their poems and stories on communicating and treated differently. Having this many Deaf writers together for a single reading and perform their work in American Sign Language (ASL) is an extraordinarily rare event anywhere. Come treat your eyes and ears for a bit of literary history!


Hmong American Writers' Circle. (Anthony Cody, Khaty Xiong, Ying Thao, Andre Yang, Soul Vang)

Over 40 years have passed since the end of the Vietnam War, and the Hmong American literary voice has started to emerge on a national landscape. First and second generation Hmong American writers read their works and discuss the ways in which literary citizenship has helped them navigate writing in an adopted tongue, process the trauma of exile and war, and insert themselves into publishing and editing to create their own spaces for growth and voice.


Home: A Four-Letter Word. (Kelly McMasters, Rachel DeWoskin, Hasanthika Sirisena, Naomi Jackson, Sonya Chung)

Home is a loaded word, a complex idea: it's a place that's safe, sentimental, difficult, nourishing, war-torn and political. It's a place we escape and a place we create. This panel of women writers will discuss the ways in which they confront home in their work, including writing within and rebelling against the idea of home as a woman's place. What choices do we make to reveal, deconstruct, and imagine homes for our characters? In what ways do our homes inform our real and imagined selves?


I Sing the Body Queer and Crip. (Kathi Wolfe, Meg Day, Raymond Luczak, Lydia X. Z. Brown)

Due to ableism, homophobia and transphobia, the voices of LGBTQIA and disabled poets have rarely been heard. The panel I Sing the Body Queer and Crip will focus on the intersectionality of disability and queer poetics. Each panelist will read their poetry for 5 to 7 minutes; then talk from 5 to 7 minutes about their work. The remainder of the panel will be Q&A with the audience.


I’ve never heard of that country: Sri Lankan American writers on shaping an emerging literary identity. (SJ Sindu, Nayomi Munaweera, Vyshali Manivannan, Sunil Yapa)

Sri Lankan American fiction as a category is relatively new in the literary landscape. On this panel, SLA writers who have grown up in the U.S. will talk about their relationship with Sri Lanka, how they view their writing in relation to SLA lit, what they see as the contours of emerging SLA fiction (specifically in relation to violence and war, which SLA writers have inherited in blood-memory and familial trauma), and where they hope to see SLA fiction grow.


If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say: How to Write Stories People Don't Want Told. (Garrard Conley, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Michael Twitty, Kristen Green)

We all know not to talk politics, religion or money at the dinner table, but should these subjects be off limits for storytelling? Some of the best writing comes from tackling topics people would rather not discuss. These journalists and memoirists have written about gay "conversion" therapy, segregation in school, shameful family secrets, and tracing slave lineage. The panelists will explain how to report stories when sources don’t want to talk and will share the price they paid for doing so.


Immigration: Cultural Binding, Creative Chaos & The Survival of International Writers. (Kalpna Singh-Chitnis, Octavio Quintanilla, Deema Shehabi, Alexander Cigale, Hedy Habra)

How does immigration affect a writer's creative pursuit in another country? There are many success stories of immigrant writers, but there is yet another side of their stories to tell their challenges after migrating to another country, either by choice or in an event that forces a migration. Immigration results in binding of cultures, but also leads to a creative chaos in want of proper opportunities, recognition and an environment one needs to be creative and productive; a much needed debate!


In Praise of Junot Diaz and Claudia Rankine: Furthering the MFA VS. POC and AWP 2016 Keynote Conversations. (Allen Gee, David Mura, Faith Adiele, Christine Hyung-Lee, Kiese Laymon)

This panel will address what Diaz calls “the oppressive biases of mainstream workshops,” and Rankine’s statement that “Unintentionally discriminating is as bad as intentionally discriminating.” We’ll speak to how MFA programs can best present writing traditions that all students need, including how to facilitate conflict and move beyond white fragility. We’ll offer strategies for students and faculty of color to thrive; we wish to set new priorities and define an MFA landscape for the future.


In the Box / Out of the Box: Writing With/Against Your Gender/Race/Ethnicity/Etc. (Bich Minh Nguyen Nguyen, Luis Alberto Urrea, Kelly Luce, Rob Spillman, Christian Kiefer)

As fiction writers, we often feel pressure to write inside the confines our own experience, as defined by our ethnic identity, gender, sexual orientation, economic class, and so on. This panel explores the edges and interstices of that pressure. In what contexts is it acceptable to write outside such confines? In what contexts is it not? What does "diversity" mean when creating a fictional world? As writers, who has cultural permission to press past the confines of one's own identity?


Inclusive Anthologies: The Challenge of Building Books That Reflect Our World. (James Engelhardt, Holly Hughes, Nancy Lord, Jill Johnson, Tina Schumann)

Five anthology editors will discuss the choices they’ve made in soliciting writers of varied backgrounds and experiences to reach a broader, more diverse audience. How best to solicit diverse contributors? Should submissions be read “blind” or with knowledge of and attention to writer background? Each panelist will share what (s)he’s learned from creating anthologies that reflect our world, including strategies for making the experience both broadening and meaningful.


Indigenous-Aboriginal American Writers Caucus. (Shauna Osborn, Mary Kathryn Nagle, Karenne Wood, Edgar Gabriel Silex, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhran)

Indigenous writers & scholars participate fluidly in AWP, teaching & directing affiliated programs, or working as independent writers/scholars, &/or in language revitalization & community programming. Annually imparting field-related craft, pedagogy, celebrations and concerns as understood by Indigenous-Native writers from the Americas and surrounding island nations is necessary. AWP Conferences began representative caucus discussions 2010-2016. Essential program development continues in 2017.


Invisible Illness, Tangible Language: How Disability Influences Craft. (Emily Corwin, D Allen, CL Black, Nicole Oquendo, Aubrie Cox)

If writing is a physical act, how does craft adapt when the body fails you? And what of the stigma attached to the label "disabled writer"? Five writers and editors will discuss how living with conditions such as fibromyalgia, Crohn's Disease, and PTSD influence writing practices and routines, form and content, and working with a publisher.


Iranian Diaspora Writers As Cultural Ambassadors: Engaging Iran After the Nuclear Agreement. (Persis Karim, Sholeh Wolpe, Anita Amirrezvani, Jasmin Darznik, Soraya Shalforoosh)

This dynamic panel features writers/translators who engage Iran and Iranian culture through poetry, fiction, nonfiction and translation. By sharing their work, these Iranian-American writers offer a literary window at a time when we need cultural ambassadors to shape a powerful dialogue about US-Iran relations. Panelists read from their work, discuss the challenges and opportunities for publishing, translating, and participating in a cultural shift as diaspora writers in both the US and Iran.


It's None of Your Business--Or Is It?: When Students Resist Their Own Compelling Stories. (David Hernandez, Lisa Glatt, Emily Rapp Black, Suzanne Greenberg)

How do we encourage students to recognize their unique experiences as potential writing material and to bring those narratives to the page? And where should we, as instructors, draw the line? Can encouragement become prescriptive? Is it fair, for example, to suggest to a student with cerebral palsy that omitting his wheelchair from his work may do a disservice to his writing? This panel examines the limits and rewards of teaching creative writing in truly diverse classrooms.


It’s the End of the World As She Knows It: Apocalypse Poetry by Women. (Maggie Smith, Dena Rash Guzman, Meghan Privitello, Leah Umansky)

Four poets discuss and read from recent, timely collections of poems focused on doomsday and depictions of disaster in American culture. How are these popular, hyper-masculinized narratives and tropes treated--and twisted--by women? How do feminist, futuristic, and dystopian themes intersect? Employing varied formal and conceptual approaches, these poets engage with the environment, religion, politics, and popular culture.


Judith Ortiz Cofer--Woman In Front of the Sun. (Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés, Kathryn Locey, Rafael Ocasio, Lauren Cobb, Judith Ortiz Cofer)

Author of 17 books of fiction, poetry and nonfiction, Judith Ortiz Cofer mines the terrain of the immigrant, vulnerable and most marginalized in society. Her writing, particular and universal in scope, expound upon the lives of both island and stateside Puerto Ricans. A groundbreaking author of multi-genre works, Cofer has also served as a nurturing model for emerging writers under her tutelage. Former students/colleagues praise her artistry as well as pay tribute her caring teaching/mentoring.


Just Don't Read the Comments: On the Joys and Risks of Publishing Personal Essays Online. (William Bradley, Laura Bogart, Penny Guisinger, Sarah Kilch Gaffney)

Technological innovation has brought many opportunities to essayists. The rise of online magazines and websites that specialize in personal writing allow us to reach a large and diverse audience. However, these opportunities also come with problems, from mean-spirited trolls casting aspersions in comments sections all the way up to serious harassment and even physical threats. These panelists will discuss their own triumphs and frustrations with publishing personal essays online.


Latina Memoir: Writing a New Chapter of the American Experience. (Reyna Grande, Daisy Hernandez, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Joy Castro, Norma Elia Cantu)

Memoir begins with memory but is more than a collection of memories. Since memoir captures just a slice of the writer’s life, where to start and where to end, what to put in and what to leave out are crucial elements in its crafting. This panel of Latina memoirists discuss their unique approaches to writing, their fears of exposing themselves on the page, and their sense of responsibility to gender, family, community and culture. What power does memoir have to transform the writer, the reader?


Latino Caucus. (Ruben Quesada, Fred Arroyo, Suzi Garcia, Alexandra Regalado, Dan Vera)

The visibility of Latinos & Latin Americans is growing in the literary community. However a discussion surrounding systematic, institutional, & aesthetic challenges is needed. Latinos need a space to come together, to address inequalities in access, to meet with writers of varied Latino & Latin American identities, to discuss the obstacles to publishing (e.g. cultural expectations, stereotypes, & marginalization), & to discuss event planning to increase our participation at AWP.


Latinx Literary Activism: A CantoMundo Roundtable. (Celeste Guzmán Mendoza, Javier Zamora, Millicent Borges Accardi, Valerie Martinez, Denice Frohman)

How are Latinx poets occupying and transforming the roles and responsibilities of literary activists? This panel convenes fellows and faculty from CantoMundo, a national organization for Latinx poets, to discuss their literary activism as organizers, publishers, editors, performers, and directors of organizations that serve Latinx writers. Our roundtable conversation explores the particular challenges, visions, and contributions of Latinx literary activism.


Legacies of the Badass: Black Feminist Writing in the Millennium. (Ruth Ellen Kocher, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Dawn Lundy Martin, Duriel Harris, Khadija Queen)

This reading features five black women writers who represent the legacies of innovation, experimentation, and political conscience characteristic of such pioneering poets as Jayne Cortez and June Jordan. The increasing visibility of a poetic practice that is bold, brave, radical, subversive, progressive, and very much black and female indicates a cultural continuum that embraces the fearless social interrogations and influence of black feminist writers of the past, present, and future.


LGBTQ Caucus. (Tiffany Ferentini, Miguel M. Morales, Todd Summar, Samantha Tetangco, Sean Patrick Mulroy)

The LGBTQ Caucus provides a space for writers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer to network and discuss common issues and challenges, such as representation and visibility on and off the literary page; and incorporating one’s personal identity into their professional and academic lives. The Caucus also strives to discuss, develop, and increase queer representation for future AWP conferences, and serve as a supportive community and resource for its members.


Liberate Literature: Creating an Artistic Culture outside of Academia. (Jennifer Fitzgerald, Rodrigo Toscano, Rosalyn Spencer, Ailish Hopper, Rosebud Ben-Oni)

Academic affiliation is not an option for many people of color, economically poor, geographically isolated, or traditionally excluded groups. Panelists will show how systems used for community organizing can be shifted to grassroots artistic organizing in the form of cultural centers, worker centers, readings, & workshops. Community building around art and literature creates a means of access for under-served communities. Attendees will leave with tangible solutions and plans for action.


Lit and the City: Challenges and Advantages of Urban Literary Centers. (Carla Du Pree, Joe Callahan, Reginald Harris, Michael Khandelwal, Gregg Wilhelm)

Literary centers make valuable contributions to a city's cultural tapestry, but running a center in a city has unique challenges. An organization's mission and programs must serve diverse constituencies who inhabit cities. Venue space can be scarce or available at a premium. Funding opportunities might be thin when larger institutions commandeer the lion's share of support. And some cities "roll up the sidewalks" after 5pm. Learn do's and don'ts of sustaining a center in the city.


Literary Fascination: What happens when non-native American writers write about Native Americans? (Kimberly Blaeser, Erin Stalcup, Alexandria Delcourt, Kristiana Kahakauwila)

Why do non-native writers want to write about Native American cultures? Is this a form of colonization? A mixed panel of Native and non-native writers will approach these questions from both a historical and literary lens. The panel will discuss the effect this phenomenon has on contemporary Native writers, and also American fiction and history as a whole, considering how books about Natives are actually written by Natives themselves.


Literary Hybrids: Transgressing the Traditional. (Nickole Brown, Casandra Lopez, Ching-In Chen, Julie Marie Wade, Allison Hedge Coke)

What is it about hybrid writing that lends itself to diversity, that makes way for the work of queer writers and those marked by multiplicity—of mixed culture, race, and class? Through readings and discussion, this panel of four authors will investigate how (and why) the in-between, liminal space offered by cross-genre writing provides various communities the freedom to more adequately express themselves, transgressing the traditional boundaries of discourse and genre.


Magical Realism As an Agent for Social Change. (Tessa Mellas, Gregory Howard, Julia Velasco Espejo, Ron MacLean, Laurie Foos)

Latin American Boom masters assaulted political oppression with Magical Realism. Now, this popular genre is adapted by writers of various subject positions to bolster social justice. This panel of magical realist writer/teachers discusses how to guide student use of the genre to confront inequalities of their time and locale. Topics include differentiating schools of magical realism, talking about subject position, appropriation, influence, and metaphor, designing exercises, and guiding craft.


Making Canons, Losing Friends: On Making, Revising, Critiquing and Reading Anthologies. (Stephen Burt, John Kulka, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Cate Marvin, Sina Queyras)

In theory, collecting new writing should be simple: you pick what you consider best. In practice, the practice involves complex, urgent questions about race, gender, style, privilege, geography, fairness, fame and finances. It's also awkward: when can you pick your friends? Five writers, critics, editors and publishers who have made US and non-US anthologies of poetry, essays and fiction consider their pitfalls, secrets, and rewards.


Making Space - A Hmong American Writers' Circle Reading. (Khaty Xiong, Yia Lee, Anthony Cody, Ying Thao)

4 Members of the Hmong American Writers Circle will share recently published work and lead a discussion on their experiences conducting public creative writing workshops that make space for and foster marginalized voices. The writers will also discuss what it means for them to pioneer Hmong American literature when no known popular writing system existed prior to the 1950’s.


Making Space in Children's Publishing: An Intersectional Feminsit of Color Perspective. (Mathangi Subramanian, Zetta Elliott, Rhoda Belleza, Maya Gonzalez)

Lee & Low’s 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey shows that the publishing industry is dominated by straight, cisgender white women who don’t live with a disability. This homogeneity creates barriers for women of color (WoC) to find community and gain entrance into publishing, a fact support by data gathered annually by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. In this panel, four feminist WoC authors will discuss the ways in which their intersectional identities have influenced their craft and careers.



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