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


The Power of Picture Books-- What Picture Books Can Teach Middle Grade and YA Writers About Inclusivity and Craft



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The Power of Picture Books-- What Picture Books Can Teach Middle Grade and YA Writers About Inclusivity and Craft. (Judi Marcin, Donna Koppelman, J. J. Austrian, Dori Graham, Pat McCaw)

As writers of children’s literature, inclusivity is necessary in order to reflect the world around us. Complex topic discussions on mental health, gender expression, feminism, racial equality and social justice are critical to young people. The modern picture book is a leader in the exploration of these concepts. This expert panel will share successful picture book texts and the fundamental craft elements all writers can use to better address the needs of their diverse contemporary readers.


The Resuscitation of Childhood: A WITS Reading. (Ellen Hagan, Nina Swamidoss McConigley, Peter Mountford, Glenn Shaheen, Renee Watson)

For many writers, childhood is an invention, an imaginative construction of the past. For writers who teach in Writers in the Schools programs, the students remind us on a daily basis what childhood truly entails. Students and writers inspire one another in a symbiotic style. This panel celebrates childhood and the ways in which teaching young children can enhance your writing. Writers who have taught in WITS programs share work by a student and then read some of their own.


The Short Story as Laboratory. (Lesley Nneka Arimah, Carmen Maria Machado, Kendra Fortmeyer, Sofia Samatar, Juan Martinez)

What does short fiction allow? The form is beloved by science fiction writers, who use it to test out hypothetical futures; what does it offer writers who are doing other kinds of testing, related to emotional transitions, marginality, and migration? Is the short story an inherently border form? This panel considers these questions, as well as the challenge of putting a set of experiments into a collection, and the tension between the laboratory and the completed book.


The Ten Year Novel. (Tova Mirvis, Rachel Cantor, Rachel Kadish, Joanna Rakoff, Sari Wilson)

Why do some novels take so long to write, and what can writers do to sustain themselves while writing a 10-year novel? This panel of female novelists will discuss why their published novels took (at least) a decade to write. Do some novels require this length of time, or was it the writer herself? How does a book change when it’s written over a decade? Are the realities of women writers’ lives a factor? What strategies did panelists use to develop the persistence and fortitude to continue?


The Thin Place: A Tribute to Kathryn Davis. (Anton DiSclafani, Michael Taeckens, Alice Kim, Kate Bernheimer, Kathryn Davis)

Kathryn Davis is widely considered by critics to be one of the most important women writers of the 20th and 21st centuries; across seven stylistically breathtaking novels she has challenged and inspired a generation of readers, and ignited a movement of diverse, fabulist, posthuman, feminist authors.

Her books constantly and electrifyingly ask the question of what is possible on the page. Students and colleagues of Davis will speak about her work, ending in a reading from Davis herself.
The Village of Your Novel. (Rebecca Smith, Carole Burns, Robin Black, Margot Livesey)

Jane Austen advised that three or four families in a country village was the very thing to work on. 200 years since the publication of Emma, the idea of the village of your novel can help you manage a cast of characters, build tension and create a sense of place. This international panel looks at ways writers create villages (inner-city or rural) and demonstrates practical methods and exercises for leading readers into a convincing world, utilizing its spaces and playing with its rules.


The World as Refuge. (Andrea Rexilius, Adrianne Kalfopoulou, Natalia Sylvester, J. Michael Martinez, Helen Thorpe)

We will discuss the various ways in which writing creates refuge, and will consider how to adopt spaces and cartographies of imagination over the familiar or native. Panelists discuss what it means to write outside of one’s native language or native land, how narratives set outside of the US are reshaping how we define American literature, what it’s like for monolingual English speakers to work with familial languages, and how undocumented students born in the U.S. navigate being American.


The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East. (Diane Glancy, Kimberly Blaeser, Kim Shuck, Linda Rodriguez, Allison Adele Hedge Coke)

How can Native American poets' historical perspectives open a new way to see today's Middle East? How can poetry create the possibility for empathy among these peoples, who have all confronted displacement, often-irreconcilable conflict between tradition and modernity, and undying hope for survival and renewal against overwhelming odds? This panel celebrates the anthology The World Is One Place, whose contributors confirm the depth of universal bonds that link humanity.


The Written Orality of Hip Hop Lyricism. (Victorio Reyes, Derik Smith, Tracie Morris, Tara Betts, Jonah Mixon-Webster)

From the early rap record liner notes to the annotation explosion of Genius.com, Hip Hop artists and audiences have always engaged the written as well as the oral textuality of rap lyrics. However, treating Hip Hop lyricism as written literature is a fraught proposition. Locating rap at the crossroads of written and oral traditions of African American culture, the panel evaluates rap as a written art that is symbiotically wedded to oral culture.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Translation: Polish Poetry and Beyond. (Ewa Chrusciel, Robin Davidson, Piotr Florczyk, Karen Kovacik, Iza Wojciechowska)

Our panel will focus on translating, publishing, and marketing contemporary Polish poetry. It will address such topics as collaborating with an author over several books, the delicate negotiations of self- or co-translation, strategies for contextualizing translated work, ways to support other translators, and tips for compiling an anthology. Panelists will discuss their processes for bringing poems into English, read examples of their translations, and welcome questions from the audience.


Tipping the Scales: Addressing Gender Imbalance in Literature in Translation. (Karen Phillips, Hillary Gulley, Sholeh Wolpe, Marguerite Feitlowitz, Alta Price)

The VIDA Count statistics, among other initiatives, have spotlighted the underrepresentation of women writers as authors, critics, and review subjects in the mainstream media. How does gender parity play out in the world of literary translation? Translators specializing in languages of Asia, Latin America, South America, and Europe read from their work and discuss strategies for finding, translating, and publishing international women writers. (458 w/spaces)


Tough Stuff: Workshopping Depression and Grief. (Susan Scarf Merrell, Lou Ann Walker, KD Williams, Odette Heideman Baker)

Roger Rosenblatt once counseled not to “write from your knees.” Workshop leaders need to be nimble when presented with works about depression and grief so that writers don’t feel shut down. In an Eeyore sort of way, writers can find themselves in a slump, not understanding the role of hyperbole, satire, and humor in writing about the most difficult subjects. The key is to avoid the dour and the sentimental, to keep characters from becoming caricatures.


Trans & Gender Nonconforming Author Reading. (Everett Maroon, Imogen Binnie, Trace Peterson, Kelli Dunham, Carter Sickels)

Award-winning transgender and gender nonconforming writers and poets bring you their newest and best work in this reading that jettisons tropes around queer and trans people to reveal an exciting and nuanced nascent trans literature. Pushing against convention, form, and your MFA workshop leader's advice, these authors represent some of the best work across the country in a variety of genres including poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. A salon of transgender, trans-genre work!


Translating Contemporary African Poetry. (Todd Fredson, John Keene, Janis A. Mayes, Kazim Ali, Hodna Nuernberg)

Ivorian poet Tanella Boni identifies fringe literature as work marginalized by dominant literary economies because it is written in a language with limited market potential, or because the work represents a social world that seems unimaginable for non-local readers. Five translators discuss their experiences accounting for the plurality of social worlds in African poetry—the convergence of languages, the nuances of ethnic and cultural difference—and read from their translations.


Translating Iraq. (Alana Levinson-LaBrosse, Neil Shea, Heather Raffo, Andrew Slater)

Since before the Iraq War began in 2003, Americans have worked to understand Iraq: a country incomprehensible to many of its own citizens. The major and minute divisions, the competing desires can overwhelm even the most conscientious observer. The participating American writers of this panel have lived and worked in Iraq. Bringing home Iraq's realities, whether through poetry, fiction, documentaries, Instagram, plays or operas, is an act of delicate artistic and cultural translation.


Translating Parts Unknown: Transforming American Landscapes by Recovering Neglected Poets. (Linwood Rumney, John Balaban, Wayne Miller, Rebecca Lindenberg, A'Dora Phillips)

Translation offers unique opportunities to recover and discover neglected poets who push against the boundaries of convention, enriching American traditions. Writers who translate previously under-appreciated Albanian, Vietnamese, Russian, Spanish, and French poets will discuss the challenges and joys associated with such work. To encourage more writers to translate as an act of creative discovery, they’ll explore professional opportunities and offer insights into craft and criticism.


Translation — Out of Context, Into the Wild. (Amalia Gladhart, Karen Emmerich, Brandon Rigby, Tze-Yin Teo, Kelly Lenox)

Translators translate context, Edith Grossman has written. Yet translation also rests on the belief that a work can be meaningfully understood in the absence of its original context, since translating literature typically involves shifts across geography, culture, and even time. These panelists, all translators from different language families and genres, will discuss how they define context, how they determine which contexts to carry forward, and whether some may be let go.


Translation and Power. (Jen Hofer, John Keene, Lucas de Lima, Erica Mena, Eunsong Kim)

Translators will discuss the power dynamics between translator and author, original and derivative, dominant language and non-dominant language, exploring questions of appropriation, exploitation, representation, and ethics. Thinking about how systems of exploitation and oppression are reproduced by cultural creation along lines of linguistic power, these practicing translators will consider the ethics at stake in acts of literary translation.


Translation as a Political Act. (Jennifer Kronovet, Aditi Machado, Pierre Joris, James Shea, Jen Hofer)

Translators often consider how their work influences the cultural landscape into which they translate, but equally important is how the translator creates political ripple effects, welcome or not, in the author’s home country. Panelists translating from Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish discuss their experiences navigating cultural politics, censorship, and nationalism, as they explore the political consequences and ethical burdens of serving as a medium between cultures.


Translation as/and Advocacy. (Antonio Aiello, Canaan Morse, Alta Price, Eric M.B. Becker, Jamie Burns)

Literary translation provides a unique and valuable window into the histories and narratives of other cultures. At PEN we believe that the act of literary translation can be a form of international advocacy, allowing readers to explore the literary and narrative trends of some of the world’s least translated territories. Translators and editors discuss the importance translation plays in cultural exchange and grapple with the question of what is lost when so many stories go untranslated.


Translation: Bringing Pakistani Writer Intizar Husain to the West. (Asif Farrukhi, Nishat Zaidi, Frank Stewart, Alok Bhalla)

Though acclaimed Pakistani writer Intizar Husain wrote primarily in Urdu, he was mourned by readers all over the world when he passed away in February 2016. An English translation of his novel Basti was published as a New York Review of Books Classics Original, and he was short-listed in 2013 for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize, given for lifetime achievement. Three of Husain's translators will discuss his significance and their efforts to bring his timeless writing to the West.


Triggered Writing/Creative Warnings: Trauma and Trigger Warnings in Creative Writing Classroom and Communies. (Lee Ann Roripaugh, Karen Salyer McElmurray, Natanya Pulley, Lori Horvitz)

This session will explore the complexities of working with volatile/triggering material—both as writers and as teachers of creative writing—and will attempt to examine and deepen the discussion of trigger warnings: the pedagogical paradox of using trigger warnings while attempting to encourage courageous work in memoir, confessional poetry, and other genres; trigger warnings as potential othering/literary ghettoization; trauma theory and creative writing; and neurochemistry and trauma.


Troubling Objects and Bodies: Experimental Women Writers Redefine The Archive. (Nicole Cooley, Amaranth Borsuk, Tisa Bryant, Rosa Alcala, Tracie Morris)

Our cross-genre panel looks at the archive, the library, and the collection through the work of five women writers and asks how we can rethink the way we write about history in this fraught moment where we are deeply aware of the ways it has been constructed. A diverse group of women panelists--poets and fiction and non-fiction writers from all over the country--will discuss how they redefine archival work, integrating new approaches involving digital images, photographs,and found text.


Two Year College Caucus. (Kris Bigalk, Denise Hill, Simone Zelitch, Marianne Botos, Mary Lannon)

Are you teaching at a two-year college, or interested in learning about two-year college teaching? Come to our annual caucus meeting, where we discuss the issues you want to talk about: diversity, job opportunities, creative writing programs, pedagogy, literary magazines, and more.


Uneasy Alliances: Poets Laureate & Government Agencies. (Patricia Clark, Fleda Brown, Jeff Knorr, Joyce Sutphen, L.S. Klatt)

Poets laureate of U.S. cities, a county, and two states will share projects and successful agendas as well as challenges. Are these roles merely official spokespersons for city, county or state? Or are there ways to be a subversive force for art, youth, and culture? Hear ideas of how these positions may be used as platforms for civic change. Panelists (various ages and geography) share plans for keeping poetry in the public eye--as diverse and inclusive platforms for the literary arts.


United Artists: Creative Writers in the Trenches of the American Education System. (Paula Whyman, Ellen Hagan, Luis Rodriguez, David Mura)

How is creative writing taught and celebrated in the American school system? Before MFAs and undergraduate literature programs analyzing the likes of Chaucer and Baldwin, how does the K-12 community incorporate creative writing and its literary giants in the curriculum and beyond? Four award-winning writers and teaching artists, from East to West Coasts, discuss the triumphs and challenges of keeping creativity in education and the artistic cultivate of America’s youth.


University of Arkansas MFA 50th Anniversary Reading. (Brian Spears, Elizabeth Harris, Lucinda Roy, Tom Franklin, Beth Ann Fennelly)

Consistently listed in the top forty MFA programs by Poets & Writers Magazine, named one of the "Top Five Most Innovative Creative Writing Programs" in the nation by The Atlantic Monthly, the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas celebrates 50 years of poetry, prose and literary translation. Five representative graduates, distinguished and diverse, come together to read from their work.


US/Pacific Poets Confronting US Empire. (Collier Nogues, Brenda Shaughnessy, Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, Lehua Taitano, Lyz Soto)

US military infrastructure in the Pacific enables both global US imperialism and the militarization of local communities there and throughout the US. Join five poets with ties to Okinawa, Guåhan (Guam), Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hawai‘i to explore how writers can resist the linguistic and cultural violence of military imperialism. In modes ranging from spoken word to erasure, from community collaboration to editing and curatorial work, these poets refuse US empire’s rationalizing narratives.


Us&Them: A Writer/Translator Reading. (Todd Portnowitz, Peter Cole, Jennifer Grotz, Geoffrey Brock, Susan Bernofsky)

This Brooklyn-based reading series comes to AWP. Four authors celebrated for their translations and original writing read from both sides of their work.


VIDA Voices & Views: Exclusive Interview with Joan Naviyuk Kane, Ada Limón & Alicia Ostriker. (Sheila McMullin, Melissa Studdard, Joan Naviyuk Kane, Ada Limón, Alica Ostriker)

Calling attention to a plurality of voices by interviewing writers and dedicated members of the literary community about their work, vision, concerns, and topics at the forefront of literary activism, this panel contributes to a better understanding of craft, the literary landscape, and issues facing artists. Panelists seek to foster nuanced conversation about gender parity, race, and other crucial issues impacting writers today as well as speak to how their work expands this conversation.


Voices & Visions from Vermont Studio Center. (Paige Buffington, A. H. Jerriod Avant, Christian Campbell, Meng Jin, Ángel García)

For 32 years Vermont Studio Center (VSC) has committed to providing opportunities for artists & writers from underserved segments of the arts community. VSC will host a reading to celebrate fellowships sponsored by a collaborative alliance of organizations that have led the way in this much-needed work: Cave Canem, Callaloo, CantoMundo, Kundiman and the Institute of American Indian Arts. Five recent VSC Fellows will share a brief excerpt from works created during their month-long residencies.


Wayfaring Stranger--Writing Away from our Experience. (Michael Croley, Richard Bausch, Brad Watson, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Anne Valente)

Fiction that goes beyond the self--the kind that strays from one's own gender, ethnicity, class, and personal experience--may be the truest form of storytelling and our greatest act of empathy as artists. Five writers will discuss and share the challenges posed both in writing and publishing wayfaring stories and the process they used to allow themselves the courage to write about what they don't know.


We are here because you were there - United States' Military Intrusion and The Shifting Landscape of American Poetry. (Mai Der Vang, Monica Sok, Javier Zamora, Anthony Cody, Andre Yang)

Four emerging poets discuss the impacts of American military intrusion across the globe within their writing. With a history of military involvement, America has left countries and ethnic groups with the burden of piecing together existences across diasporas. Poets will read from their work and examine how, through the act of writing poetry, they reclaim their exiled lands, as well as explore trauma, honor lineage, shift the literary landscape, and resist erasure from United States war history.


We Need Diverse Books: Celebrating Children's Literature. (Emily XR Pan, Heidi Heilig, Dhonielle Clayton, Ellen Oh)

From picture books and middle grade to young adult, these books and their authors deserve the same respect given to books written for adults. Many think writing children's books is easy, when it is as challenging and complex as children themselves. We Need Diverse Books aims to set the record straight in this discussion.


We’re Recruiting: Teaching and Enacting Social Justice in the Writing Classroom. (Melissa Febos, Syreeta McFadden, Colin Beavan, Sreshtha Sen, Rachel Simon)

To teach writing is essentially a political act—we give our students the tools to examine and question their culture and the potential to change it. But how much of our own agenda do we bring into our curriculum? How do we teach our students to think and speak critically from their own experience? Teaching writers and activists in realms of racial justice, feminism, LGBTQI, and environmentalism share their methods, successes and failures to integrate social justice and the pedagogy of writing.


What Women Want: Writing Female Desire. (Chinelo Okparanta, Jane Alison, Rebecca Schiff, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Sarah Gerard)

Five writers discuss the challenges of writing about female desire and reflect on its changing representation in contemporary fiction. Topics include techniques for writing good (and bad) sex; writing love between women; writing lust post-menopause; and capturing the experience of desire under the pressure of the male gaze and cultural standards of beauty. In this lively and honest discussion, writers grapple with how—and why—they chose to investigate female desire and sexuality in their work.


What Writers of Color Want White Editors to Know. (Jennifer Niesslein, Deesha Philyaw, Patrice Gopo, Dennis Norris II, Lisa Factora-Borchers)

In 2017, what message does an all-white masthead send to writers of color? Beyond the content of their work, what issues must these writers contend with in publishing? Four writers of color and one white editor explore real and perceived tokenism, the pressure to change a story or voice to fit an editor’s racialized assumptions, the continued erasure of writers of color in the canon and awards systems, and the highs and lows of working with editors in the face of these and other challenges.


What's Found in Translation. (Jennifer Grotz, Susan Bernofsky, Geoffrey Brock, Bill Johnston, Karen Emmerich)

While many lament what they fear is "lost in translation," this panel considers what is actually discovered in the act of literary translation. Four veteran translators and faculty of the Bread Loaf Translators' Conference reflect on what literary translation has the potential to introduce into a given culture and language while meditating on their own practices as writers and translators.


What's Workshop Got to Do with It: Altering Power Structures in the Creative Writing Classroom. (Dominika Wrozynski, Jennifer Perrine, Jennifer McClanaghan, Susan Finch, Leah Stewart)

Flannery O’Connor wrote that writing workshops are dangerous; student comments are driven by ignorance, flattery, and spite. Even so, the traditional workshop has thrived, and professors often struggle with the balances of power—wanting a democracy while adjusting for all the bad advice. This panel offers concrete ways to honestly share power in creative writing courses, with particular attention to how gender, race, and class affect perceptions of authority.


When Safe Spaces Aren't: (Re-)Imagining for a MultiCultural Creative Space. (Alyss Dixson, Jennifer Baker, Amy Lam, Metta Sama)

The term safe space has become the new buzzword for nurturing or supporting. This panel will describe how structural bias and inequity can mask the architecture of Whiteness by unpacking the term and decoding the cultural ideologies underpinning these spaces. It will seek to help writers of color and allies (re-)imagine multicultural creative spaces. Ample time given for discussion with audience and panelists on how to develop guidelines and best practices.



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