AWP, A Day in the Conference (Thursday)

For those of you who have never experienced the awesomeness that is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference, below is how I’ve tentatively planned my first full day at the conference. I haven’t concocted this plan because I’m obsessive/compulsive or an extremely rigid and planned individual. I’ve done it out of sheer necessity. You see, going to AWP without some sort of plan already in place is like deciding to go to the Smithsonian without a some sort of plan. You get there and realize that, whoa! This thing is a hell of a lot bigger than I thought! And then you spend the day wandering around, unfocused, seeing – granted – some really cool shit, but what you don’t realize until after you get home and look through the information you had on hand before you left is that the Smithsonian has dinosaurs.


It’s sort of like that.


So, to avoid missing the dinosaurs, I’m planning my conference. My tentative schedule should give you an idea of the madness, mayhem, and magnificence that calls together thousands of writers from across the globe every year. Look me up if you’re going to be there. I’ll be the harried and haggard one walking around with a silly smile plastered all over my face.


7:00-9:00 a.m.
  • Breakfast & Travel in to the conference
  • R114. Tearing Your Heart Off Your Sleeve: The Problem of Pathos in Creative Nonfiction. (B.J. Hollars, Re’Lynn Hansen, Marcia Aldrich, Marion Wrenn, Katie Jean Shinkle) How can nonfiction writers avoid the pitfalls of sentimentality and nostalgia while directly addressing them in the work? Join editors from Black Warrior Review, Fourth Genre, South Loop, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Versal as they discuss the problem of pathos in nonfiction while offering concrete strategies for how best to approach emotionally driven topics. Panelists will also explore how traditional and experimental forms lend themselves to packing an emotive punch within the genre.


  • R131. What They Didn’t Tell Us, We Will Tell You: Four First-Time Authors Discuss the Nitty Gritty of Publishing. (Michael David Lukas, Siobhan Fallon, Nomi Stone, Kevin Haworth, Rebecca Rasmussen, Alan Heathcock) This panel will feature four first-time authors discussing the publishing process, from submission to publication and beyond. Drawing from a wide range of personal experience —working with large houses and university presses on poetry collections, novels, and collections of short stories—the panelists will address and attempt to demystify the publishing process, from phoners to author questionnaires, book jackets to blurbs, and the elusive book tour.


  • R155. Curating Literature: Five Editors of Literary Anthologies Discuss their Process. (Ravi Shankar, Cole Swensen, Pireeni Sundaralingam, Jeffrey Thomson, Jen Hofer) Anthologizing, derived from the Greek word for flower-gathering, has become a verb of great import in literary communities. Whether in an attempt to create a canon, to shape a pedagogical tool, or to form a compendium that preserves something essential while opening new space for critical inquiry, the reasons behind anthologizing are manifold. Join five editors of important anthologies, from the international in scope to ones that include audio and translation, as they discuss their processes.


  • R169. Prize Winners Choose Prize Winners: A Reading with Cave Canem Poetry Prize Winners and Judges, 1999 and 2009. (Alison Meyers, Rita Dove, Gary Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Natasha Trethewey) This reading celebrates the significance of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a catalyst for over a decade for the careers of deserving African American poets. Natasha Trethewey, inaugural winner in 1999, is book-ended with Gary Jackson, the most recently published winner. They are joined by Rita Dove and Yusef Komunyakaa, the distinguished judges who chose their manuscripts.


  • R208. What Women DON’T Write About When We Write About Sex. (Xu Xi, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Honor Moore, Victoria Redel, Ellen Bass, Sue William Silverman) In a post-feminist age, the memoir has blown the lid off sexual secrets, and in all genres, women have written increasingly frankly about sexuality over the last fifty years. It almost seems that nothing is off limits. But what’s the art and craft of this sexual “anything goes”? Six women discuss the treatment of sex in their writing and ask: do we write Passion? Do we write Lust? Do we write Love? And what don’t we write about when we write about sex?


  • Try to gobble down something to eat while walking through the book room, meeting editors and writers, and spending a crazy amount of money on books, books, books!


  • Dinner/drinks with other writerly types. Get some sleep. Tomorrow we do it all over again.

5 thoughts on “AWP, A Day in the Conference (Thursday)

    • I’ll try to blog about all the good ones – there are TONS of CNF panels this year – so many that I have to actually choose between them because they’re offered at the same time! Sigh. Not a bad problem to have, mind you… 😉

  1. When are you going to eat, lady?!? I wish we were going; we briefly toyed with the idea last year, but it got away from us. Maybe next year?
    I think the *sex* panel sounds good; I always avoided writing about sex b/c it always sounded so cliche to me. I hope it’s interesting. Have fun! Stay hydrated!

    • Wish you were going too! Next year, for sure. I’ll be posting about the conference, will let you know how the sex panel turns out 😉

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