So, AWP’s a-comin’. AWP is a monster of a beast (does that even make sense?), and lately, I’ve been thinking/churning/chewing on the systematic and institutionalization of writing within this capitalistic, business-oriented framework, within a society that views art-making as production, art-making as consumerism, art-makers as clogs in a machine.
Anyways, that was pretty vague and whatnot (what you might call “bad writing”), but my mind’s fried. The Michael Dunn verdict yesterday fatigued and broke me, and the conversation I had with my husband on the institutionalization of the military, of its way of breaking down its enlisted active duty members, well, it just all-around depressed me.
So, I did today what I did best: I taught a writing workshop at the SF Public Library, shared an in-progress piece that got at the heart of telling our narratives, of getting it right and wrong but striking at the emotive truth of it all, and I feel like I got to one of the students (she cried when we shared our written pieces–it was really moving to experience this). Then, I went home, and I worked. I read papers. I tried to read: I couldn’t, I was broken. My husband called: tears came. This released some things, but only a little. Then I worked some more, and even wrote out my schedule for AWP next week. I’m excited to see Seattle, to see old friends, to have a reunion of sorts. I’m grateful that, strangely, I have friends from different places now, and I sincerely am excited to see them.
Without further ado, here’s my AWP schedule (in regards to paneling. I’m really excited to sit-in Jessica Hagedorn’s panel). Most of the time, you can find me at the AWP Book Fair at Table K16. ❤
AWP Book Fair: set-up
580 Split & Mills College’s MFA Program
7:00pm to 9:00pm
Race & Ethnicity: Four Poets Expand the Dialogue Garden House
2336 15th Ave South Seattle, WA 98144
Please join us for a poetry reading focusing on the topic of ethnicity and face featuring Patricia Smith, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Martha Collins, & Lee Sharkey. The venue is located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle on the Link lightrail line (south).
10:30 am to 11:45 am
R136. How Far, Imagination: Writing Characters of Another Race in Fiction
Room 3A, Washington State Convention Center, Level 3
(Christine Zilka, Mat Johnson, Patricia Engel, Randa Jarrar, Susan Ito)
Five writers discuss the politics behind the decisions they make about writing race and their thoughts on writing beyond one’s own ethnicity. Is writing characters of another race a matter of imagination, as some writers claim, or verboten? The diverse panel of published and award-winning novelists, essayists, and short story writers will explore topics of social responsibility, appropriation, artistic integrity, and even cultural or ethnic loyalties around the process and research of doing so.
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
R177. Literary Politics: White Guys and Everyone Else
Room 612, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Lorraine Berry, Roxane Gay, Amy Hoffman, Aimee Phan, Mat Johnson)
Even when women writers lean in, they’re rarely afforded equal respect. This we know, post-VIDA counts and other depressing statistics. But race and sexual orientation can also brand you as an identity author constrained to talk about your people rather than the big questions of literature. Rather than the usual one-note focus on gender discrimination, this moderated panel of diverse writers discusses the challenges they’ve faced and why it’s still mostly a straight white men’s club.
R181. The Challenges and Rewards of Cross-Genre Teaching in an MFA Program
Room LL4, Western New England MFA Annex, Lower Level
(Kermit Frazier, Catherine Chung, Jessica Hagedorn, Cassandra Medley, Jacqueline LaMon)
What of that developing poet with an interest in playwriting, that burgeoning fiction writer in love with exploring sonnets and sestinas, and that talented playwright moved to write a memoir? What about those students in your genre specific workshops whose thesis projects clearly won’t be of that genre? Writers who both write in and teach more than one genre will discuss not only strategies for successfully teaching cross-genre but also why such teaching is, in fact, important and necessary.
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
R195. Reading Virginia’s Mail: Letters and Journals as Creative Nonfiction
Room 2B, Washington State Convention Center, Level 2
(S.L. (Sandi) Wisenberg, Faith Adiele, Donald Morrill, Kenny Kruse)
What makes a letter a work of art? When does a diary become literature? How did the letter lead to the essay, and how do the two differ? We seek to expand the territory of creative nonfiction as we present and discuss the letters and journals of authors such as Michel de Montaigne, Virginia Woolf, Anais Nin, Charlotte Forten, Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Jacobs, Samuel Pepys, Mark Twain, Ned Rorem, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. This is a celebration and exploration.
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
R230. The Narration of Identity and the Cuban-American Experience
Sponsored by Blue Flower Arts Ballroom E
Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Forrest Gander, Richard Blanco, Cristina Garcia)
Richard Blanco and Cristina Garcia give a rare glimpse into their forbidden country, Cuba, through the literary voice of the American immigrant experience. Reading poetry, fiction, and memoir—and in lively conversation with Forrest Gander—they each illuminate the struggles of living in-between two cultures. Throughout their search for a cultural identity, they explore issues of language, gender, family, exile, and history—and discover what it means to truly become an American.
9:00 am to 10:15 am
F130. The Influence of the International: Four Writers Talk Room 302
Western New England MFA Annex, Level 3
(Edward Gauvin, Maaza Mengiste, Forrest Gander, Willis Barnstone, Susan Harris)
Many writers limit their reading to other English-language authors and as a result are unfamiliar with other literatures. Four writers talk about how reading international literature, in both the original language and translation, has influenced and shaped their writing. Panelists will discuss various works and writers and their respective literary traditions; consider language, style, narrative conventions, and subjects; and reveal how their reading informs their writing.
10:30 am to 11:45 am
F145. Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family
Room 602/603, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Joy Castro, Ralph Savarese, Sue William Silverman, Faith Adiele, Stephanie Elizondo Griest)
Writing and publishing memoir about family members can be a vexed process, rife with concerns about privacy, fairness, and exploitation. The editor of the new collection Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family, together with four of its contributors, will discuss the challenges of writing about family members, share craft strategies, and offer ethical approaches for negotiating this difficult emotional and political terrain.
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
F212. A Reading and Conversation with Chris Abani and Chang-rae Lee
Sponsored by the University of Washington Bothell MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics
Ballroom ABC, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Chris Abani, Chang-rae Lee, Steph Opitz)
Chris Abani, author of numerous works of prose and poetry, and Chang-rae Lee, author of the novels Native Speaker and The Surrendered, will present readings of their award-winning work, followed by a discussion moderated by Steph Opitz.
7:00pm (my reading)
580 Split: An AWP Offsite Reading
Hollow Earth Radio
2018 A E. Union St., Seattle, Washington 98122
A reading hosted by the staff of 580 SPLIT, the graduate journal at Mills College’s MFA Program. Theme: Issue 16 – Mischief (forthcoming May 2014). Readers: Melissa Sipin, Jennifer Williams, Ava Rosen, Margaret Miller & Rebecca Woolston. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/210904932433939/
10:30 to 11:45 am
Room 615/616/617, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Hyphenated Poets: Ethnic American Writing Against Type.
(Kaveh Bassiri, Barbara Jane Reyes, Cathy Park Hong, Farid Matuk, Solmaz Sharif)
While immigrant poets have long sought to recover and celebrate their ethnic identity, a new generation is problematizing the notion of identity and what it means to be American. These poets respond to socially constructed types that marginalize them to fulfill diversity quotas, and they seize the English language to interrogate the myth of American essentialism. In this reading and discussion, we will hear four writers respond to these challenges with poetry.
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
S180. A Memorial Reading for Kofi Awoonor, Hosted by The African Poetry Book Fund and Blue
Flower Artsoom 607, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Matthew Shenoda, Chris Abani, Gabeba Baderoon, TJ Dema, Warsan Shire)
A reading in celebration of the life and work of Ghanaian poet and novelist, Kofi Awoonor, who was killed in the September 2013 terrorists attacks in Nairobi, Kenya. The reading features five writers from across the African continent and diaspora who have come to admire Awoonor’s work as one of the leading poets of Africa. Poets will read works by Kofi Awoonor as well as poems written in honor of him.
S192. Intense/Beautiful/Devoted: Poems of Provocation & Witness
Room 301, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 3
(Sarah Browning, Natalie Diaz, Danez Smith, Patricia Smith, Wang Ping)
Leonard Bernstein wrote, “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” Poets today are looking without flinching at our world of drones, evictions, gun shows, and violence to the earth, as they tell the many stories of our lives. Happily, too, they are imagining alternatives and provoking change. A reading of intense and striking music, in the spirit of Split This Rock, with Patricia Smith providing opening remarks.
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
S231. Social Action Writing: Our Words in the World
Room 2A, Washington State Convention Center, Level 2
(Aimee Suzara, Debra Busman, Elmaz Abinader, David Mura, Lee Herrick)
“The writer cannot be a mere storyteller… He or she must be actively involved shaping its present and its future,” said Ken Saro-Wiwa. What is the role of the writer in naming and shattering silences? How does the writer make change? Writers from diverse identities and genres, from poetry, memoir, drama, and performance, discuss their work as writers engaged with the world and the responsibility of the artist as seer, as critical voice, as witnesses to the past and shapers of the future.