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


Second Blooming: Women authors debuting after 50



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Second Blooming: Women authors debuting after 50. (Ellen Meeropol, Paulette Boudreaux, Jeanne Gassman, Sandra Gail Lambert, Cynthia Bond)

The publishing playing field for women is not level, especially when compounded by age, disability, sexual orientation, race, or thorny material. On this 50th AWP anniversary, five second-career authors who published first novels after age 50 share their circuitous paths to publication and discuss how to navigate, survive, and flourish as literary late bloomers.


Social Justice and Poetic Communites. (David Welch, Jaswinder Bolina, Reuben Jackson, Dora Malech, Erika Sanchez)

How do poets approach social justice in their practice? How can teachers empower their students & compassionately engage with various communities & experiences? What's the responsibility of the poet-critic to bear witness? How can journalists promote social change in the arts? The poets on this panel will discuss their creative work & how it both supports & is enriched by their journalism, criticism, & community leadership, as well as how they consider the role of activism throughout their work.


Social Media: Breaking Barriers for the Marginalized, the Remote, and the Academic Outsider. (Kelly Thompson, Sandra Gail Lambert, Vanessa Martir, Michele Filgate, Alice Anderson)

Five authors who write from the edges will present ways, both practical and emotional, that Social Media has advanced their careers and craft. Class, disability, gender, education, and race are among the barriers to accessing a writing community. But Social Media can connect those of us who exist at the margins or outside of the academic literary world to editors, publishers, journals, conference leaders, and other writers. It can even serve as an education in itself.


Socially Conscious Fiction: Writing That Can Change the World. (Allison Wright, Anna March, Jabari Asim, Naomi Jackson, Garth Greenwell)

This inclusive panel explores socially conscious fiction and its ability to lift us in today’s socio-political climate. Panelists are at the forefront of such writing and will discuss their own fiction and a larger literary landscape. We will consider race, gender/sexuality, religion, class, ethnicity and disability. Examples from relevant work will be offered and we will examine writing stories that are both beautiful and concerned with elevating social ideals. Handouts: craft and bibliography.


Solo en Español: An All-Spanish Reading and Craft Discussion. (Jose Faus, German Perilla, Norma Cantu, Maria Diaz)

This reading and craft discussion celebrates work from the Spanish-language anthology, Antologia Literaria. The multi-genre anthology features work by the Latino Writers Collective members living in the Midwest who have roots across the Americas and Spain.


Esta lectura y discusión celebra el trabajo de la antología en Español, Antologia Literaria. La antología de múltiples géneros, presenta la letra de miembros del Colectivo de Escritores Latinos con raíces a través de las Américas y Espana.
Spaceships and Detectives: Native American Fiction and the Literary Genre Novel. (Erika Wurth, Toni Jensen, David Weiden, Daniel Wilson, Blake Hausman)

This panel will address the ways in which genre fiction, especially when it is innovative in form and content, uniquely addresses the concerns of Native people in fiction. In most fiction and art media, Natives are relegated to tiny, boring spaces. Literary realism by Native writers moves us out of these spaces, but what about beyond? This panel represents a diverse aesthetic and conceptual selection of Native genre writing today.


Stakes is High: The Urgency of Intersectional Poetics. (Aziza Barnes, Nate Marshall, Mahogany Browne, Lauren Whitehead, Adam Falkner)

The Dialogue Arts Project (DAP) is a pioneering new diversity consulting initiative that utilizes the literary and performing arts to generate difficult dialogue across lines of identity and difference. This dynamic chorus of facilitators from the project–award-winning writers, professors and performers—will present new work that highlights DAP’s mission, prioritizing vulnerable personal narratives around socialization connected to race, gender, sexual orientation, social class, and more.


Stars to Steer By: Rethinking Creative Writing Curriculum for the 21st Century. (Cathy Day, Porter Shreve, Mary Biddinger, Terry Kennedy, Ashley Mack-Jackson)

For 50 years, we’ve resisted becoming a pre-professional discipline. We don’t map our curriculum with career outcomes, but because of this, many undergraduate and graduate creative writing students finish their degrees with no idea what to do next except get an MFA and apply for a dwindling number of tenure-track positions. How can we rethink our curriculum for the 21st century to give our students more “stars to steer by” professionally without sacrificing our historic emphasis on craft?


Submission as Action. (Desiree Zamorano, Xochit-Julisa Bermejo, Ashaki M. Jackson, Cathy Linh Che, Melissa Chadburn)

Once VIDA published statistical evidence illustrating the underrepresentation of women writers in top journals, editors were quick to say women don’t submit as often. Our panelists challenge this fallacy by relentlessly submitting work to competitive journals and awards and encouraging other writers from marginalized communities to do the same. They will share submission strategies and how to create support, programs, and publication opportunities for writers who historically have gone ignored.


Success, Failure and the Green-Eyed Monster: Thriving in a Competitive Environment. (Jean Kwok, Rebecca Makkai, Mitchell S. Jackson, Mira Jacob, Jami Attenberg)

This diverse panel of writers at different stages of their careers talks openly about issues all writers face: rejection, success and envy. They share strategies for overcoming these challenges and discuss how they manage to persevere in the extremely competitive world of publishing without losing their humanity or their sense of humor. The panelists also explore how their own ethnic identities, gender and backgrounds have helped or hindered their success.


Such Mean Stories: Women Writers Get Gritty. (Luanne Smith, Jayne Anne Phillips, Ann Pancake, Vicki Hendricks, Stephanie Powell Watts)

Violence, hungry children, booze, sex, drugs, hand-to-mouth living; the hardscrabble life has affected just as many women as white men. But the male writers get far more attention than the females. Who are the women writers of the rough south, grit lit or blue collar world? Why are their stories marginalized, their graphic details criticized? The diverse group of women writers on this panel aren’t afraid to get dirty, write close to the bone, and tear down literary walls. Time to get mean.


Sympathy for All Devils. (Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Sarah Viren, Kerry Howley, Patricia Foster, Kristen Radtke)

Though unsympathetic narrators are common in fiction, there’s still an expectation that the essayist, and in particular the woman essayist, tread lightly and not only be sympathetic, but also avoid the unsympathetic. Panelist will discuss the genre history and gender bias underlining these expectation, our experiences being unsympathetic essayist and empathizing with unsympathetic characters—from combatants to murderers—and what we stand to gain from sympathizing with the devil.


Take Me To The Water: How Poets of Color Migrated South and Built an Inclusive and Growing Community. (L. Lamar Wilson, John S. Blake, DaMaris Hill, Monifa Lemons, Grace Shuyi Liew)

In the tradition of Jean Toomer, poets of color migrate south to the mossy backwoods of Santee, SC on the lake each winter to study, generate, and refine poetics of the body, mind, stage and page in a safe, inclusive space; led by an award-winning faculty. Hear stories about the evolution from its grassroots beginnings into a vibrant non-profit and social media-based community that offers affordable retreats, online workshops and other events—physical and virtual, including its work with STEAM.


Teaching the Literature of Another. (Christina Marrocco, Rabi'a Hakima, Tony Ardizzone, Daniel Shank Cruz, Carl Fuerst)

As teachers of writing we offer our students a diverse literature, not just the literature that matches our own identity (or theirs), but how can we be most effective? How does the Chinese-American teacher teach African American writers? How does the African American teacher bring in Latino writers? How does the Straight, Latino teacher teach LGBT writers? What are the boundaries? This panel of teachers working regularly and thoroughly at such intersections shares their challenges and insight.


That's My Mami We're Writing About: A Reading by Latino Male Authors. (Jose B. Gonzalez, Rich Villar, Gerardo Mena, Noah Warren, Carlos Parada Ayala)

This reading challenges the notion that writing by Latino male authors is paternalistic and that Latino cultures and families are predominantly and primarily influenced by male figures. Representing diverse voices with roots in Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador, and parts of the U.S, including Puerto Rico, this reading by authors who have published books about lives in inner-cities, war-torn countries, and nature, reestablishes the roles of mothers in society and in the Latino male poetic imagination.


The Baby Penalty: The Complex Dynamics Surrounding Motherhood and a Literary Career. (Danielle Herzog, Jody Keisner, Ann Przyzycki, Vandana Khanna, Elizabeth Enslin)

Mary Ann Mason wrote, “For men, having children is a career advantage; for women, it is a career killer.” How can women who dare to pursue both avoid the Baby Penalty? This diverse, all-genre panel discusses the unforeseen ways that motherhood complicates their work as editors, writers, and college professors; they discuss how they adjusted and where they refused. Offering perspectives from varying stages of career and motherhood, panelists seek to inspire greater progress within the discipline.


The Body in Words: Teaching Creative Techniques in Sound Symbolism, Sexuality, Silences, and the Feminist Working Class. (Michelle C. Wright, Laurel Perez, Jillian Merrifield)

How do sounds, sexes, silences, and class structures play out in creative making? This multimedia presentation probes into the embodied dynamics that inform not only workshop practices, but also how students take up multiple genres and make sense of creative processes. Questions about race, gender, class, and language and how the body is constructed make for persuasive techniques, asking participants to engage in craft as contributing to social meaning making and alternative knowledges.


The Elegy Endures: 30 Years of Community Witness to HIV/AIDS. (Terry Wolverton, David Groff, Irene Borger, Reginald Harris, Michael Broder)

In the 30th anniversary year of the first public display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in Washington, D.C., LGBTQ writers who have continually addressed the pandemic of HIV/AIDS in their own work, on websites, in the editing of anthologies, and in conducting community workshops, reflect on the power and agency of the written word in confronting, interpreting, even transforming, the loss, the politics, and the legacy of this devastating plague that persists into our own time.


The Elusive Lyric: Approaches to Translation. (Sarah Stickney, Curtis Bauer, Mira Rosenthal, Russell Valentino, Sawako Nakayasu)

Lyric poetry demands a keen ear and great skill to translate. Lyrics often proceed by leaps and innuendos; the sense of the line lies in its music, and its power in an ability to bend time. How can a translation capture the immediacy, pulse, and energy of this ancient form? Five translators will discuss how to transport a lyric from one language into another. We will explore possibilities and solutions that range from conservative to radical in a celebration of translation's juiciest challenge.


The Fifty-First Minute: Beyond the Therapist's Office and Onto the Page. (Ainsley McWha, Camille Chidsey, Heather Kresge, Christopher P. Collins, Elissa Washuta)

Some say that to write good Creative Nonfiction the transformative therapy must come well before the writing. But, what if we write about a subject dealt with in an ongoing therapy setting? Writers whose work has addressed mental illness argue the validity of the therapy first/writing second belief, discuss challenges encountered while writing about this often stigmatized topic, and explore the difference between therapy, catharsis, and the inevitable insights brought on by the writing process.


The Four Directions: A Tribute to Francisco X. Alarcón. (Francisco Aragón, Odilia Galván Rodriguez, Maria Kelson, Eduardo C. Corral, Laurie Ann Guerrero)

“TA...hui!” “TA…hui!” The late Chicano poet and activist Francisco X. Alarcón (1954–2016) mesmerized audiences, who repeated after him, as Aztec invocation, this proclamation ("TA…hui!") to the “four directions”—at the start of his memorable performances. This panel gathers five poets who were deeply touched by his life and work and who will share their connection to him—through his trailblazing work, his person, or both. The author of the seminal Snake Poems is sure to be present, in spirit.


The G Word: Writing and Teaching Genre in a Changing Literary Landscape. (Katie Cortese, Art Taylor, Idra Novey, Matt Bell, Porochista Khakpour)

Historically, creative writing workshops shunned so-called genre fiction in favor of literary realism. Today’s college- and graduate-level writing students, though, were raised on graphic literature, flash fiction, hybridity, and novelistic television shows featuring stellar dialogue and world-building, and often want to challenge the constraints of conventional, realistic fiction. The writers and teachers on this panel will discuss how they treat genre in the classroom, and in their own work.


The House of RedBone: A 20th Anniversary Reading. (Lisa C. Moore, Samiya Bashir, Sharon Bridgforth, Ana-Maurine Lara, G. Winston James)

Founded in 1997, Washington, DC-based RedBone Press publishes award-winning black gay and lesbian literature. RedBone authors are poets, playwrights, essayists and fiction writers, all with some form of performance experience at their root. Come celebrate 20 years of independent publishing with a sampling of literary work from four RedBone Press authors.


The Iceworker Still Sings: The Poetry of Andrés Montoya. (Francisco Aragón, Daniel Chacón, Maceo Montoya, David Campos, Stephanie Fetta)

Andrés Montoya knew he’d won UC Irvine’s Chicano/Latino Literary Prize for poetry, which included book publication. He didn’t know he would die before its release. He didn’t know he’d win the American Book Award and influence a generation of poets—that a national poetry book prize would be named after him. Years after his death, a second, posthumous book of poems has been released. This panel will talk about that book, his work, his life and the influence he has had on American poetry.


The Immigrant as Translator. (Johannes Goransson, Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Alireza Tahari Areghi, Aron Aji)

Many different paradigms of translation are based on the idea that the translator is someone who ventures out in the world and brings back foreign texts. How is our thinking about translation changed if the translator is an immigrant (or emigrant) who comes from a foreign culture and literary tradition? Are the issues facing an immigrant translator different from a native English-speaker?


The Importance of Prizes in the Promotion of Diverse Literature. (Elizabeth Hodges, Tope Folarin, Parselelo Kantai, Mukoma wa Ngugi, Kadija Sesay)

Since 2000, the Caine Prize for African Writing ($15,000) has highlighted some of the best fiction writers from 10 of Africa’s 55 countries. Tope Folarin (2013 winner and DC resident), Parselelo Kantai (short-listed twice), and Mukoma wa Ngugi (short-listed once) read from their fiction and share what being short-listed or winning the prize has meant to their careers and the promotion of quality African literature. Veteran judge Kadija Sesay adds perspective and Elizabeth Hodges moderates.


The International Writer-Teacher. (Raphael Dagold, Jane Lewty, Patty Paine, Xu Xi, Collier Nogues)

Increasingly, U.S. writers recognize that writing and teaching exist in an international context. This panel of writers teaching in English-language universities in Hong Kong, Singapore, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, and Amsterdam will share insights about a range of issues raised by teaching abroad, including how an international setting affects creative writing pedagogy, institutional and cultural differences in teaching writing outside the U.S., and how one might seek such a job in the first place.


The Killing Fields: Representing State-Driven Slavery, Genocide, The Holocaust and Other Systemic Murders. (Anna March, Kiese Laymon, Benjamin Reed, Jocelyn Bartkevicius, Keith Wilson)

How does literature engage state-driven atrocities like Native-American genocide, war crimes, executions by police and other systemic murders? This inclusive panel will interrogate: representation, mourning, witness, and the impact of such writing. Panel will explore the use of divisive identity markers, texts as political narrative, and balancing political work with good storytelling. The place of literature in times of fear and unrest shall be considered. Handouts: craft and bibliography.


The Librotraficantes: Defying the Censorship of Banned Books. (Gianna Mosser, Martin Espada, Luis Rodriguez, Tony Diaz)

In 2010, Arizona state legislators signed into law HB 2281, a ban on teaching Mexican-American Studies. In Houston, Texas, a group of Chicano writers, poets, artists, and activists hatched an idea: They would bus those banned books into Tucson. “Librotraficantes,” they’d call themselves—book smugglers. Tony Diaz will speak about founding the movement, and Luis Rodriguez and Martín Espada will relate how their works were banned by the Arizona legislation, as well as read from the banned books.


The Literary Startup: From Brainstorming to Launch to Maintaining. (Joanne V. Gabbin, Jennifer Baker, J.P. Howard, Candace Wiley, Mahogany Browne)

The founders, directors, and administrators of four literary organizations share their experiences and varying models for launching and maintaining a successful writing startup that addresses some lack of diversity or inclusion in the industry as a whole. Topics include envisioning a project or organization, strategically meeting needs, encountering the hard choices, and ways to sustain a literary organization.


The Manifesto Project: A Reading and Conversation. (Tyler Mills, Jillian Weise, Vandana Khanna, David Groff, Rebecca Hazelton)

What does a poetic manifesto look like in a time of increased pluralism and relativism? How can a manifesto open a space for new and diverse

voices? Forty-five contributors wrote manifestos and chose their own poems for The Manifesto Project, a new book from the University of Akron Press. Here, four contributors will read their poems and discuss the act—their declarations of aesthetic, literary and political principles.
The Middle Americans: How Flyover Country Responds to War. (Randy Brown, M.L. Doyle, Kayla Williams, Matthew Hefti, Angela Ricketts)

By various measures, rural Americans are more likely to enlist in the U.S. armed forces. Despite isolation from traditional centers of publishing and military power, voices with Midwestern roots have sprung forth like dragon's teeth to deliver clear-eyed, plainspoken views of war, service, and sacrifice. The civilians and veterans of this stereotype-busting panel of published writers offer their insights regarding themes, trends, and markets in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.


The Multi-Headed Beast: Challenging Genre in Creative Nonfiction. (Dinty W. Moore, Sonya Huber, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Daisy Hernandez, Catina Bacote)

Nonfiction is often divided into categories, but memoir needn’t just be remembered events, essays needn’t focus solely on rumination, and literary journalism isn’t merely about what one observes. Our nonfiction is richer when we braid the sub-genres into a coherent whole, using all the tools available. We'll discuss how we weave research on community policing, queer identity, and rebel teachers in Oaxaca, for instance, into our memoirs and essays, so readers are informed as well as captivated.


The New Normal in Nonfiction: Diverse Voices in Nonfiction from The Normal School: a Literary Magazine. (Steven Church, Jerald Walker, Jericho Parms, Jaclyn Moyer, Sarah Minor)

Four nonfiction writers representing diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives consider questions of race, identity, family, culture, and consciousness. Representing emerging writers, students, farmers, first-book authors, and tenured MFA program faculty, the panel members have all been published recently in the literary magazine, The Normal School. Celebrating a variety nonfiction styles, from the more traditional narrative essay to lyric essays and research-driven work.


The Nurturing Ballbuster: Interrogating Gendered Pedagogies within Creative Writing. (Kristine Ervin, Lisa Lewis, Keya Mitra, Nicole Zaza, Eva Foster)

This wouldn’t happen if I were a male professor: a response many women have when describing their performance reviews, exchanges with students and colleagues, or experiences on the job market. But rather than uphold a system defined by authority, should we instead adopt and value a different approach, one that breaks gendered binaries? A diverse group of women will discuss challenges they have faced as instructors and their strategies for adhering to or disrupting privileged pedagogical methods.


The Personal (Essay) Is Political: Nonfiction as an Agent of Social Change. (Katie Cortese, Jaquira Díaz, Eric Sasson, Gabrielle Bellot, Matthew Salesses)

Online nonfiction venues such as Salon, Slate, and The Atlantic, among others, invite writers to respond to world events through the lens of personal experience while also allowing works to be shared virally via social media. The best of these spur public conversations about issues as pressing as police brutality, rape culture, LGBTQ rights, and more. This panel will explore the various roles of the personal essay in contemporary culture, and discuss how words effect change on the world.


The Poetics of Empire: Five Books. (Christopher Kempf, Becca Klaver, Jen Hofer, Heriberto Yepez, Sam Taylor)

In 1941, TIME publisher Henry Luce announced the American Century, inaugurating an era of American political and economic dominance. This reading features five poets whose recent collections explore the decline of the empire Luce envisioned, reading American hegemony, at home and abroad, through the many ways it inflects lived experiences of race, class, and gender. How, these poets ask, is waning empire registered in poetry that explores USAmerican and transnational cultures and identities?


The Political Woman: historical novelists reimagine and reclaim women's place in politics. (Erin Lindsay McCabe, Gina Mulligan, Karen Joy Fowler, Alex Myers, Mary Volmer)

While rarely central and often discounted, women have always played a role in politics. In this panel, historical novelists discuss how and why they chose to unearth and reimagine the lost and untold stories of women in politics. What are the risks and rewards of using fiction to place women at the center of political narratives? What liberties are novelists compelled, or unwilling, to take with the historical record?


The Politics of Queering Characters. (Samantha Tetangco, Marisa P. Clark, Lisa D. Chavez, Lori Ostlund, Jervon Perkins)

For queer writers, creating a queer character on the page is a political act that often involves conscious decisions and unexpected obstacles. How can we tell when our characters are too queer or not queer enough? What other complications may arise when we try to define our audience and their expectations? How do we choose to out ourselves and our characters in our work? This panel considers the politics of queering characters within fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.



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