AWP 2017 in Washington D.C.

Another year has swooped around, and AWP looms on the horizon like a mountain of book fair swag dusted with the heavy snow of networking anxiety. If anyone has discovered how to be in two (or three or four) places at once, please tell us. We undoubtedly contain multitudes, but unfortunately can’t send them to different places at one time. There are so many important panels this year and, as always, we’re already regretting the ones we miss. We’ve scoured the schedule to look for the panels that engage intersectional feminist thinking. Below, find our 2017 AWP panel picks.

In addition, we’d like to highlight our offsite reading at the Potter’s House, 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 12th co-hosted by the Trans Woman of Color Collective. Poets Oliver Baez Bendorf, Aaron Coleman, and Zeina Hashem Beck will be joined by artists sponsored by the collective at this benefit reading raising funding for the TWOCC. A recommended donation of $5 at the door, but donations of any amount appreciated.

And don’t forget to come visit us at the So to Speak table!

Panel Picks:


Thursday, February 9th:

9 am to 10:15 am

Marquis Salon 1 & 2, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two: R107. 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.


Marquis Salon 7 & 8, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two R111. Revolutionary Mothering: Radical Caretaking as Essential to Creating Revolutionary Communities. (Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, Lisa Factora-Borchers, TK Karakashian Tunchez, Autumn Brown) Inspired by the legacy of radical and queer Black feminists of the 1970s and ’80s, Revolutionary Mothering places marginalized mothers of color at the center of movements working toward racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice, as well as anti-violence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation. Join the co-editors and contributors to discuss powerful visions and futures of collective liberation.


Supreme Court, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four R114. 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.


10:30 am to 11:45 am


Marquis Salon 1 & 2, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two R137. The Politics of Queering Characters. (Samantha Tetangco, Marisa P. Clark, Lisa D. Chavez, Lori Ostlund, Jervon Perkins) For queer writers, creating a queer character is a political act that 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.


Liberty Salon N, O, & P, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four R149. Four Indigenous Writers, Not Just Simple Indian Stereotypes: A Reading . (Susan Deer Cloud, Monty Campbell, Jr., Mary Carroll-Hackett, Meta Commerse) This reading, given by writers of complex Indigenous lineage, defies the usual stereotypes of not only Native people but of those with their deepest roots in rural regions such as Appalachia and the Catskills. They read work that makes a stand for their and other people’s lives still bound to the old medicine ways, defying being hurt into silence. These nonvanishing Indians will affirm how writing for anyone can be ceremony preserving vision, brave beauty, gentleness, and an enduring light.


12:00 pm to 1:15 pm


Liberty Salon M, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four R180. Facing Trauma: POC Leveraging Their Experience in the Academy to Initiate Community Healing. (Kenyatta Rogers, Maya Marshall, Keith Wilson, Cristina Correa, Jean Ho) It is increasingly difficult for those in privileged positions (politicians, the academy, the media) to ignore the violence in America’s public sphere. Often, the responses to these structures of power are confined to exposure (media coverage, statistics, etc.) or punishment of offending parties. This panel discusses how POC leverage their MFAs in nontraditional ways to foster healing in communities with trauma via new media/video games, community workshops, and other modes of cultural healing.


Room 102B, Washington Convention Center, Level One R186. Stakes Is High: The Urgency of Intersectional Poetics . (Aziza Barnes, Nate Marshall, 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.


Room 208AB, Washington Convention Center, Level Two R199. Black Magic Women: Black Women Examine Creativity in Digital Spaces . ( Renée Alexander Craft, Jacqueline Bishop, Michele Simms Burton, Rochelle Spencer, Audrey T. Williams) Five black women examine different forms of creative expression—poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and film—in digital spaces. The presentation, which will feature both sounds and images, will explore the different ways that artists can navigate digital spaces and push their vision forward. It will also address some of the challenges women and people of color may face in garnering an audience for their work and offer strategies for overcoming these challenges.


3:00 pm to 4:15 pm


Room 102A, Washington Convention Center, Level One R251. Ensuring/Enduring Presence: Transgender People of Color—Artists, Editors, and Publishers. (Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Ryka Aoki, Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko, A.J. Alana Ka’imi Bryce, Max Wolf Valerio) Trans artists/editors/publishers of color shepherd daily into the world innovative work that is highly crafted. Immersed in our present material conditions, decolonially reimagining our pasts and futures, temporally/geographically refiguring the wheres and whens of our storied bodies, responding to calls issued by our communities as we issue our own, this panel posits the possibilities of our presence, our generative genealogies, and the care with which we consider our compositional/communal praxis.


Marquis Salon 9 & 10, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two R272. Who Runs the World? Women with Power and Purpose, Sponsored by WITS. (Jen Benka, Amy King, Mahogany Browne) Despite longstanding inequity and gender gaps, women are succeeding as nonprofit literary leaders. Panelists will share the political and theoretical stories that propel them with purpose, as well as the personal journey toward their visions. Additionally, they will provide insight on how women can attain leadership roles, find and become mentors, and be successful agents of change.


Room 207A, Washington Convention Center, Level Two R294. Fractured Selves: Fabulism as a Platform for Minorities, Women, and the LGBT Community. (Sequoia Nagamatsu, Aubrey Hirsch , Brenda Peynado , Zach Doss, Ramona Ausubel ) Fabulist writers and editors define Fabulism (often used with other terms like magical realism and slipstream), illuminate individual approaches to the genre alongside brief readings, and discuss how fabulism can be a rich territory for expression, exploration, and power for minorities, women, and the LGBT community. What does it mean to write about the other from other worlds or hybrid spaces?


Friday, February 10th :

9:00 am to 10:15 am


Liberty Salon I, J, & K, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four F116. Writing as Refugees: Collective Trauma & Impossible Return. (Fatimah Asghar, Monica Sok, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Safia Elhillo, Kenzie Allen) This dialogue is among indigenous, African, Latino, and Asian writers whose work draws upon their experiences of being refugees, relocated, and stateless. While writers communicate their ancestors’ grief through words, they may face repercussions for breaking the silence. Considering the current refugee crisis, this panel broadens the conversation by discussing when geographical return is impossible, people become undocumented, and war and genocide obliterates a notion of home.


Salon F, Washington Convention Center, Level One F125. 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!


10:30 am to 11:45 am


Room 202A, Washington Convention Center, Level Two F159. Zora’s Legacy: Black Women Writing Fiction About the South. (Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Tayari Jones, Bernice McFadden, Crystal Wilkinson, Stephanie Powell Watts) During the Great Migration, many African Americans relocated to the US North. Yet southern culture survives in ancestral memories and in black women’s writing in particular. Why do so many black women writers remain fascinated by the South? This panel features five African American women authors who discuss why they set their work in the South and how they confront specific craft issues when writing fiction about this region of profound cultural resonance.


Room 208AB, Washington Convention Center, Level Two F167. Written on a Woman’s Body: A Cross-Genre Reading of Bold Writings about Women and Their Bodies. (Elizabeth Searle, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Melissa Pritchard, Shara McCallum, Lee Hope Betcher) Birth, breast cancer, Botox, body art, and what goes on behind bedroom doors: women’s bodies and all they experience are being written about more frankly than ever before. DC is a fitting place for bold, politically charged readings. Writing in fiction, nonfiction, scripts, and poetry, the female authors in this reading and Q&A offer samples of their most visceral works. Then, in the same bold spirit, they discuss the unique challenges and rewards of writing about the female body, head on.


12:00 pm to 1:15 pm


Virginia Barber Middleton Stage, Sponsored by USC, Exhibit Halls D & E, Convention Center, Level Two F190. A World of Our Own: Women’s Voices from Three Continents in Cultural Exchange. (Tess Barry, Jan Beatty, Eleanor Hooker, Zeina Hashem Beck, Clodagh Beresford Dunne) Five women poets from Lebanon, Ireland, and the US discuss the cross-cultural intersections in the work of women writing and publishing in the global age. At different stages of recognition and publication, with some publishing outside of their countries, these poets also read excerpts from their work as they examine issues of aesthetics, gender, and ethnicity.


(Shoutout) Room 206, Washington Convention Center, Level Two F196. George Mason Poetry Faculty Reading. (Eric Pankey, Jennifer Atkinson, Sally Keith, Susan Tichy, Peter Streckfus) The five poets on the permanent faculty of George Mason University’s BFA and MFA programs are an eclectic group, with interests in hybrid, documentary, eco-poetic, spiritual, political, research-based, visual, and conceptual poetries. These poets reflect part of the range of aesthetics practiced in the lively metro DC poetry scene.


Room 208AB, Washington Convention Center, Level Two F199. Bringing LGBTQ Folk Forms into Our Literature. (Tom Cho, Derrick Austin, Juliana Delgado Lopera, Michelle Tea, Sassafras Lowrey) Zines, drag performance, oral history, feminist spoken word, and even 1950s and 1960s men’s physique magazines are among the folk forms that infuse LGBTQ writing. How can we reappraise these less celebrated forms and draw on them to energize the words we write today? This panel’s writers—invigorated by engagements around race, immigration, DIY, and queer punk ideologies, gender nonconformity, and other considerations—show how we can re-imagine and recast these vital forms in our own work.


1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


Marquis Salon 9 & 10, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two F206. Clap Back: Women of Color Discuss Emily Dickinson’s Influence over Their Poetic Landscapes. (Yesenia Montilla, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie, Christina Olivares, Leesah Velasquez) “Not knowing when the dawn will come / I open every door.” Emily Dickinson’s work has themes that resonate with those that occupy the space between the margins. This panel will discuss the theme of place in Emily Dickinson’s work. Spaces such as home, church, psychological states of being, and solitude will all be explored in relation to how women of color explore and navigate and even occupy these places in our own lives and writing.


Room 208AB, Washington Convention Center, Level Two F233. Reckon and Revise: Feminist Practices for Re-Envisioning the Poetry Workshop. (Sasha Steensen, Lisa Olstein, Hoa Nguyen, Metta Sama, Camille Dungy ) Too often, inherited practices, power dynamics, and other assumptions embedded in the traditional workshop are perpetuated without examination, limiting and even harming the possibilities for poets and poems. Feminist poet-teachers will explore ways to counter the monolithic workshop model’s enactments of patriarchal, white, and hetero-normative privilege while redistributing power and shifting modes of engagement in pursuit of more just, dynamic, and transformative conversations and poems.


3:00 pm to 4:15 pm


Room 102B, Washington Convention Center, Level One F256. Troubling Objects and Bodies: Experimental Women Writers Redefine the Archive. (Nicole Cooley, Amaranth Borsuk, Tisa Bryant, 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 nonfiction writers from all over the country—will discuss how they redefine archival work, integrating new approaches involving digital images, photographs, and found text.


Room 209ABC, Washington Convention Center, Level Two F270. 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.


4:30 pm to 5:45 pm


Marquis Salon 5, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two F273. We’re Recruiting: Teaching & 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.


Ballroom A, Washington Convention Center, Level Three F286. A Reading and Conversation with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sponsored by the Authors Guild. (E. Ethelbert Miller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ta-Nehisi Coates) Join us for this featured event with two of the most critically acclaimed thinkers of our time, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Adichie has received numerous awards and distinctions including the Orange Prize for Half of a Yellow Sun, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Americanah, and a Macarthur Fellowship. Coates, also a MacArthur Fellowship recipient, is the National Correspondent for The Atlantic, and he won the 2015 National Book Award for Between the World and Me. Both will read from their latest work, and will participate in a discussion moderated by writer and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller.


Saturday, February 11th:

9:00 am to 10:15 am


Monument, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four S115. Search and Recover: A Reading from Queer Children of Vietnamese Immigrants. (Paul Tran, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Lauren Bullock, Alex-Quan Pham, Chrysanthemum Tran) Forty-two years later, the Vietnam War continues to haunt all aspects of American life. This is especially true for children of Vietnamese immigrants growing up between cultures, between homelands, between the colliding past and present. Five poets who identify as LGBTQIA will perform recently published and nationally award-winning work, and discuss how their families’ inability to talk about the war informs not only their desire to exhume the past but their important craft decisions as well.


Liberty Salon I, J, & K, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four S116. Murder She Wrote: Women Writers on Writing Violence. (Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Robin Wasserman, R. O. Kwon, Nancy Rommelmann , Chinelo Okparanta) From the deaths of the Clutter family in In Cold Blood to Sethe’s murder of her daughter in Beloved, brutal violence figures prominently in some of our most loved books. But how much blood on the page is vivid, arresting writing—and how much crosses over into sensationalism or exploitation? Five writers whose books grapple with violence—both real and imagined–talk about the choices, ethics, and strategies of rendering moments of high crime.


10:30 am to 11:45 am


Marquis Salon 1 & 2, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two S137. Does Gender Matter? Wrestling with Identity and Form in the Golden Age of Women’s Essays. (Jocelyn Bartkevicius, Marcia Aldrich, Barrie Jean Borich, Kyoko Mori, Jericho Parms) In 2014, The New York Times asked if it’s a golden age for women essayists. Cheryl Strayed gave a qualified yes. But while a wave of women’s essays is shaping the literary scene, women are underrepresented in journals and the standard-bearer, Best American Essays. Our panel explores the literary fallout from this paradox, the shape-shifting nature of essays, why it’s tricky to identify as a woman writer, the effects on our work when asked to write as women, and the complications of invisibility.


Marquis Salon 5, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two S139. Poetry as Invocation. (Marie-Elizabeth Mali , Airea D. Matthews, Ada Limón, Rachel McKibbens) Henry David Thoreau said, “I believe that men are generally still a little afraid of the dark, though the witches are all hung.” On this panel, four poets will read their work and explore the poetic impulses of women as a magical or quasi-magical act. The audience is invited to discuss how poetry lures a reader into its casted spells and illuminates the necessary darkness we carry inside us.


Room 202A, Washington Convention Center, Level Two S159. Arsenic Icing: Sentiment as Threat in Contemporary American Women’s Poetry. (Cate Marvin, Jennifer Knox, Erin Belieu, Brenda Shaughnessy, Vievee Francis) Five contemporary female American poets explore how sentimentality is deployed in 21st-century women’s poetry, with regard to both content and rhetoric, as a means to counter traditional assumptions regarding female desire and identity. What personal and political alchemies occur when the affectionate address verges on acerbic? What transformations are sought when a female speaker, once familiar as mother, daughter, sister, wife, or lover, employs sentiment to reveal herself as Other?


12:00 pm to 1:15 pm


Room 202A, Washington Convention Center, Level Two S191. Such Mean Stories: Women Writers Get Gritty. (Luanne Smith, Jayne Anne Phillips, Vicki Hendricks, Stephanie Powell Watts, Jill McCorkle) 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.


Room 208AB, Washington Convention Center, Level Two S199. Writing With and About Dis/Ability, Dis/Order, and Dis/Ease. (Sarah Einstein, Sandra Lambert, Sonya Huber, Elizabeth Glass, Gina Frangello ) This panel, comprised of disabled, disordered, and diseased writers, examines the ways our lived experiences impact both what and how we write. Panelists discuss the problematic imperative to write overcoming narratives, the contradictions of writing beyond and into the stereotypes of disability, and the lack of access to writing programs, conferences, and literary community. They look at the ways radical “crip” writers are challenging these barriers, both in their work and as activists.


1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


Marquis Salon 7 & 8, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two S205. Girls Who Run the World: Readings of Women in the Apocalypse. (Alexander Lumans, Claire Vaye Watkins, Lucy Corin, Manuel Gonzales, Sandra Newman) 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.


Ballroom C, Washington Convention Center, Level Three S217. A Reading and Conversation with Aracelis Girmay, Tim Seibles, and Danez Smith. Sponsored by BOA Editions and Split This Rock. (Sarah Browning, Aracelis Girmay, Tim Seibles, Danez Smith) Split This Rock and BOA Editions are proud to present three of the most vital poets writing and publishing in the US today. Representing three generations and writing in a stunning variety of poetic styles, the poets presented here take on the big questions with verve, power, and beauty: race and identity, our bloody history and its unrelenting legacy, the erotic as liberation and muse.


Room 207A, Washington Convention Center, Level Two S230. I Sing the Body Queer and Crip. (Kathi Wolfe, Meg Day, Lydia X. Z. Brown, Raymond Luczak, Donna Minkowitz) 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 five to seven minutes; then talk from five to seven minutes about their work. The remainder of the panel will be Q&A with the audience.


3:00 to 4:15 pm


Marquis Salon 12 & 13, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two S239. Women Poets Write What History Silenced: Crafting the Feminist Historical Lyric . (Cynthia Hogue, Monifa Love, Nicole Cooley, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Martha Collins) This panel focuses on women poets who have written historical poems that investigate history’s repressed. These poets—spanning generations and backgrounds, but sharing strong regional roots—discuss the process of excavating stories lost by time, addressing questions of genre, gender, and creative method. How should one bear witness to dangerous and painful subjects? Is it the poet’s responsibility to tell the tale? Is a capacity for empathy necessary? Each poet finishes by reading a poem.


4:30 to 5:45 pm


Room 203AB, Washington Convention Center, Level Two S286. Poets Mothering Otherwise: Race, Disability, Queerness. (Joelle Biele, Amanda Johnston, Hoa Nguyen, Deborah Paredez, Lisa L Moore) What are the ethics and politics of writing about our children when our families are politically vulnerable? Questions of censorship, privacy, and children’s rights resonate differently in poetry of witness or advocacy than in memoir or confessional work. As queer mothers, mothers of color, and mothers of children with disabilities, what do we refuse to write about our families? What may we, must we, share as poets of witness? And how do we tell the difference?


Featured Image: Cherry Blossom by Jeff Kubina, Flickr









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