AWP Friday Panels: Be a Guest Blogger!

EssaysLast week we received so many great offers to blog about the Thursday panels at AWP in Minneapolis (can you believe it’s in less than two weeks?), so we’d like to keep the excitement going and open up the call now for covering the Friday panels (Saturday’s call to come next week). Thank you to everyone who has already volunteered to blog about a panel or two, and if you haven’t claimed one yet, now’s the time!

Let us know in the comments if you’d be willing to write a blog post about a panel/event/bookfair. If you signed up for a Thursday post, feel free to sign up for multiples!

It should be around 500-700 words and can be a summary, personal thoughts, quotes, or anything memorable that our nonfiction community would love to know about since we can’t all be at everything. Once your post is ready, send it in the text of an email to assayjournal (at) along with a one or two line bio and we’ll post them to our blog ASAP.

Friday, April 10, 2015

9:00 am- 10:15 am

F104. The Ethics of Book Reviewing. (Eric Lorberer,  Stephen Burt,  Carolyn Kellogg,  Brian Evenson,  Rusty Morrison) The ethical boundaries of book reviewing in an age when everyone has “friended” everyone else can be fuzzy. How do we define, avoid, or accept “conflict of interest” as methodologies and technologies change? This panel, made up of authors, reviewers, and small press publishers, will grapple with the dilemmas of the current world of book reviewing, discuss ways out of the coterie vs. “objective” binary, and hash out some ideas to make reviewing more transparent, honest, and useful in the future.

F109. Documenting Disaster Across Genres. (Julia Spicher Kasdorf,  Nicole Cooley,  Diane Glancy,  Carter Sickels) Emerging and established writers who work in poetry, fiction, and drama discuss projects that investigate industrial disasters, environmental crises, and assaults on human communities. We explore the role of literature to challenge official histories and represent marginalized experience. We probe the tension between aesthetic values and political and social commitment as we share our research and writing methods and describe our experiences in the field and literary studio.

F114. Ekphrasis Goes Prose. (J’Lyn Chapman,  Danielle Dutton,  Lucy Ives,  Amina Cain) While ekphrasis often seems the province of poetry, interest in W.G. Sebald’s use of photographs in his fiction—inspiring novelists such as Aleksandar Hemon and Teju Cole—points to a growing recognition of ekphrastic strategies that open possibilities in prose narratives. Four panelists will discuss wide-ranging prose ekphrastic projects, from fiction that enlivens paintings to illustrated novels to the appropriation of visual art techniques.

F116. Writing is Rewriting: Teaching Revision in the Creative Writing Workshop. (Charlotte Gullick,  Doug Dorst,  Joe Hoppe,  Mary Helen Specht,   Jen McClanaghan ) Creative writing students love to write; so why, then, is it often like pulling teeth to get them to revise? Drawing on their experiences teaching graduate, undergraduate, and nontraditional students, the writer-professors on this panel will discuss why students are resistant to revision and offer classroom-tested strategies and assignments that can help students revise everything from structure to language, fiction to poetry.

F117. Narrative Expectations in the Personal Essay. (Bruce Ballenger,  Jennifer Sinor,  Lad Tobin,  David Giffels) All writers of narrative—fiction or nonfiction—begin with two decisions: What to put in and what to leave out, and how to order the material that stays. Typically, in nonfiction we discuss narrative structure much like fiction writers do, invoking some variation of the “narrative arc.” But this is an inadequate model, especially for the personal essay, because the “tension” that drives reader expectations is different. How, then, should we talk about the structure of personal essays?

F119. Do You Believe In Magic? Truth and Illusion in Creative Nonfiction. (Krista Bremer,  Sy Safransky,  Stephen Elliott,  Patricia Foster,  Lee Martin) Editors and writers discuss how tempting it is to wave a magic wand and substitute truthiness for truth, or alter disagreeable facts for the sake of a narrative arc, or conjure up dialogue spoken years earlier, or turn up the emotional volume on an event that wasn’t that dramatic. Do facts get in the way of a good story or do they make it more honest and complicated—more like this mysterious life, which is bigger than any of our stories?

F124. The Stepmother Tongue: Crossing Languages in CNF. (Julija Sukys,  Ruth Behar,  Stephanie Elizondo Griest,  Jennifer Zoble,  Joanna Eleftheriou) This panel convenes writers who work in and out of languages. All writing is, in some sense, a process of translation, but what happens when a writer literally moves between languages and cultures? What does it mean, for example, to write in English about an experience lived in Spanish, Russian, or Greek? Does it matter if a language is inherited or learned? How does the language change a writer’s insider/outsider status when s/he goes abroad or returns home both literally and figuratively?

F132. The Growth of the Comprehensive Writing Major: A Report from Western Lake Superior. (Jayson Iwen,  Cynthia Belmont,  David Beard,  Jamie White-Farnham) Undergraduate writing majors in three Western Lake Superior institutions pair creativity and professional writing skills in programs that contribute to the growing field of independent writing majors. Representing various stages of program development—from year one to well-established—this panel speaks to program developers in a range of institutional circumstances by offering snapshots of the process, resources, and goals of comprehensive writing majors at three diverse institutions.

10:30-11:45 am

F143. Mapping New Territories: Diasporic Writers from Regions of Conflict. (Kazim Ali,  Hayan Charara,  Jennifer Kwon Dobbs,  Ken Chen,  Mong-Lan ) In last few years, we’ve seen a rise in global conflicts (The protests in Cairo during Arab Spring and self-immolation of Tibetan monks in China). Diasporic writers, such as Asian and Arab American writers, have had a profound and conflicted response to what’s happening in their places of origin. Our panel features four notable writers discussing what “territory” might be, both literally and metaphorically, and what role their work plays in engaging with social and political dynamics across the world.

F155. Revising the Personal Essay. (Penny Guisinger,  Sven Birkerts,  Sarah Einstein,  Alexis Paige) You have written your essay. Maybe a second reader has taken a look. It needs work, but how do you face those pages again? And again? And again after that? How do you know when you are revising toward something good and not away from something terrible? Which darlings do you nurture and which do you kill? When is the piece done? This panel will provide concrete tips, examples from manuscripts, and questions to guide you and your red pen through the daunting steps of revising a personal narrative.

F156. University of Minnesota Press 90th Anniversary. (Sarah Stonich,  Kate Hopper,  Karen Babine,  Erik Anderson) Founded in 1925, the University of Minnesota Press is among the most distinctive American university presses, with an international reputation for publishing boundary-breaking work. Since its inception, the Press has also maintained a commitment to publishing important books on the people, culture, history, and natural environment of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Please join this group of regionally-based fiction and nonfiction writers in celebration of the Press’s ninety years of publishing.

F158. Race, History, and the Body: Social Acts of Writing. (Aimee Suzara,  Debra Busman,  Matthew Shenoda,  Raina Leon,  Faith Adiele) The body has been both metaphor and literal site of contestation: the gazed upon, exhibited, racialized, gendered other. How do writers make social acts of resistance, mapping the histories of our bodies? How do we respond to the epidermalization of inferiority (Fanon) instilled by wars, colonization, and conquest? Diverse writers discuss multi-genre work as documentarians and cartographers, as ceremonial archaeologists digging the bones of our histories, returning them to sacred.

F164. Can Literary Quarterlies Save Travel Writing?. (Evan Balkan,  Pamela Petro,  Sally Shivnan,  Jim Benning,  Thomas Swick) Fine narrative travel writing rarely appears in travel magazines. The stories included annually in The Best American Travel Writinganthology typically come from general interest magazines, literary quarterlies, and online publications. Being less dependent on advertising (particularly the quarterlies), they can run leisurely, contemplative, objective, even critical writing. Panelists will talk about their experiences writing for glossy travel magazines and less commercial publications.

12:00-1:15 pm

F172. The Bildungsroman in Fact and Fiction. (Joe Wilkins,  Emily Danforth,  Kelly Grey Carlisle,  Luis Alberto Urrea,  Nickolas Butler) Generations ago, writers telling their stories of youthful formation most often did so in fiction. The past few decades, however, have witnessed the rise of the coming-of-age memoir. So, a writer seeking to pen a bildungsroman today now has these two choices. Why might one choose fiction over nonfiction? Or vice versa? What are the strengths and limitations of either genre? Five writers—two novelists, two memoirists, and one novelist and memoirist—read and discuss.

F175. Literary Citizenship: Incessant Self-Promo or Virtuous Duty?. (David Griffith,  Richard Nash,  Austin Kleon,  Julie Buntin,  Cathy Day) As publishers keep marketing budgets at historic lows and writers take to social media by the thousands to promote their work and that of others, “literary citizenship” has become a hotly debated and divisive topic. This panel of writers, editors, and publishers will discuss why literary citizenship is crucial not only for the growth of individual careers or organizations, but perhaps more importantly, for promoting literacy and the literary arts in a culture that is increasingly televisual.

F182. Other People’s Privacy: Secondary Characters in Nonfiction. (Debra Monroe,  Bob Shacochis,  Emily Fox Gordon,  Robin Hemley,  Marcia Aldrich) We volunteer to tell our secrets in public, but our secondary characters do not. In fact, our secondary characters likely think of themselves as people, not characters, not secondary either. Discussion will include how to depict these characters who populate our essays and memoirs–how to reveal their circumstances in a way that’s candid yet fair; how to depict their flaws and complicity while also making these characters morally nuanced. Panelists will explore ethical dilemmas and craft issues at the same time.

F184. The Sentence and the Line: A Journey Meaning Makes. (Donald Morrill,  Jenny Factor,  Arielle Greenberg,  Joe Jimenez) This panel on craft examines how the rhetorical potency of the prose sentence intersects with the breathed-through measures of the poetic line, inscribing, as William Gass suggests, the “journey meaning makes.” Using examples from multiple genres, each panelist will elucidate a different take on the line in contemporary literature (i.e., epigrammatic structures, turns, absence, uncertainty, authority, enjambment; how the line, says Mark Halliday, “carve[s]…into the page”). Handouts given.

F186. The Research Behind the Writing. (Allen Gee,  Laura Long,  Mark O’Connor,  Peter Selgin,  Sue Eisenfeld) Five writers describe the extent of their research and the work of incorporating their findings into creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. This panel will illuminate how far methods of research can vary, from spending time at the Smithsonian Archives, the Ransom Center at UT Austin, or the Records Center at the Diocese of Pittsburgh, to hiring a professional genealogist, conducting interviews, examining ship manifestos, perusing old photographs, or sifting through dusty boxes in a basement.

F192. YA Meets the Real: Young Adult Fiction and Nonfiction that Takes on the World.(Marina Budhos,  Kekla Magoon,  Marc Aronson,  Elizabeth Partridge) Most think the current boom in young adult is fantasy/dystopian series. Yet there’s a flourishing world of YA fiction and nonfiction that grapples with the real—social issues, biography, history. Hear from YA authors about how they create compelling fiction and nonfiction on serious themes: How to invite the young reader into a subject they may not care about? What’s the role of narrative literary techniques in nonfiction? How to illuminate issues in fiction without sounding didactic?

F194. The Past is a Place: Former Minnesotans Remember. (Maria Damon,  Cheryl Strayed,  Barrie Jean Borich,  Amitava Kumar) The writers on this panel have all lived in, loved, and left Minnesota. If Faulkner’s premise that the past is not dead means anything it is that our memories both make us and find form in what we write in the present. Remembering is difficult; so is forgetting. Each panelist will write from a visit to a Minnesota site fraught with memories. These experimental nonfiction reports will launch the panel’s broader considerations of nonfiction and the challenge of evoking the past as a place.

F195. Doing Time and Writing Time: Teaching Writing Behind Prison Walls. (Rachel Simon,  Gretchen Primack,  Kamilah Aisha Moon,  Kyes Stevens) “Do you feel safe teaching in prison?” Teaching this marginalized population rewards those willing to be subjected to the aggressive oversight and invasive searches required. Professors of writing in jails and prisons (from minimum to maximum security) will advise how to gain entry into this type of teaching and discuss classroom strategies for encouraging writing students in the dehumanizing, intellectually harsh environment of incarceration.

1:30-2:45 pm

F198. I Know This is You: What Happens When Student Writing Reveals Too Much . (Luke Rolfes,  Christie Hodgen,  Bronson Lemer,  Diana Joseph,  Richard Sonnenmoser) Teachers often receive nonfiction thinly disguised as stories or poems. Sometimes the skeleton closet swings open, and words and paragraphs spill out—a cathartic overflowing, a painful regret, an admission of guilt, a secret that has never seen the light of day. How do instructors handle these sudden outbursts of truth without jeopardizing the dignity of the writer or the workshop’s integrity? What obligation do teachers have when the workshop ends and the revelation still sits on the table?

F200. The Child’s Got Her Own: The Girl Narrator Comes of Age. (Debra Busman,  Elmaz Abinader,  M. Evelina Galang,  Ruth Foreman,  Faith Adiele) Brown girl superhero, queer white L.A. street kid, Nigerian-Nordic mini-Obama, Filipina Angel de la Luna, Arab girl in all-white Appalachia… What happens when girls take charge and narrate their own worlds? In this diverse, cross-genre panel, novelists, poets, memoirists, and playwrights share from their work, discuss craft and context, and explore the gifts and challenges inherent in voice, agency, and narration when authors decide to ‘write like a girl.’

F204. Word Meets Image: The Video Essay. (Ned Stuckey-French,  Eula Biss,  Kristen Radtke,  John Bresland) New technologies (iPhones, editing software, YouTube, etc.) have made possible a new literary form—the video essay. This panel will investigate the video essay, including its relationship to other genres (e.g., print essays, graphic memoirs, film, documentaries, etc.), the relationship of text to image, video essays in the classroom, collaboration, curating essays for online magazines, developing scripts, editing, and the use of animation, sound, found footage, titles, and other techniques.

F212. The City and the Writer: In Focus Minneapolis and Palestine. (Najwan Darwish,  Kareem James Abu-Zeid,  Gretchen Marquette,  Dr. Leslie Adrienne Miller,  Nathalie Handal) The City and the Writer is a vibrant, wide-ranging forum that explores cities through the writing of local authors. The series has featured writers from around the globe. Join Palestinian and Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press writers for the first cross-city exchange, where they will be having a cross-disciplinary conversation on how urban life creates imaginative spaces, architecture and literature consider human scale and interaction, and how they have translated their cities and words create cities.

F217. The Pedagogy of Publishing: The Unique Benefits of Editing and Publishing with Undergraduate Writers. (Lucas Southworth,  Andrew Farkas,  Elizabeth Wade,  David Welch) Undergraduate writers must hone their critical eyes, practice care with language, and learn to enter larger writing communities. Engaging them in editing and publishing teaches all three within a rewarding framework of real-world experience. This panel offers the pedagogical benefits of working with students on a range of publications: campus and national, web and print, professional and DIY. It also introduces pitfalls instructors might face and poses advice on how to anticipate and solve them.

F228. Bravery and Bearing Witness: The Power of Vulnerability in Nonfiction. (Sarah Wells,  Bonnie Rough,  Kate Hopper,  Marilyn Bousquin,  Brenda Miller) Reader response to scenarios where a writer has made herself vulnerable on the page often manifests itself as “Wow, you’re brave!” The writer, however, may not feel anything close to brave. Is it bravery we’re feeling when we tell our stories? Do we need courage to bear witness? Is it enough to share a personal story, or is there more at stake in the writing process? Panelists will speak to the power of vulnerability and necessity of craft in writing to transform the self and the culture.

3:00-4:15 pm

F242. Computers in My Classes: A Pedagogy Roundtable on Workshopping (with) the Digital. (Julie Lein,  Amaranth Borsuk,  Robert Glick,  Matthew Kirkpatrick,  Nick Montfort) From entire courses devoted to building collaborative, computational, and interactive literature to traditional workshops that incorporate apps, tools, or games only briefly, computers offer writer-teachers many opportunities beyond Internet research and social media. How might we make the most of the Digital in our classes? In this exploratory session with an extended Q&A, panelists will share approaches and discuss challenges, including questions about evaluation and varying technical expertise.

F247. A Reading Celebrating Ascent Magazine’s 40th Anniversary. (Peter Chilson,  Benjamin Hollars,  Katharine Coles,  Lawrence Coates) Founded by Dan Curley in 1975 at the University of Illinois, Ascent magazine moved to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota in 1996. Lauded as “simply and unobtrusively one of the best,” described as one of the roots of American literature, Ascent continues to find and publish the best writing from new as well as established writers. Five writers who represent the breadth ofAscent’s vision read from their fiction, poetry, and essays.

F250. Breaking the Body: Women Writers Reconfiguring Creative Nonfiction Forms .(Melissa Febos,  Elissa Washuta,  Lidia Yuknavitch,  Joy Harjo,  Sarah Dohrmann) Within the evolution of creative nonfiction lie specific challenges for women writers breaking traditional forms—through the writing process, publication, and reception. Craft is often overlooked when a woman’s writing includes personal elements, especially of body and sexuality. Four writers with distinctly varied styles discuss scrupulously crafting innovative work, and then navigating its reception in a culture with still rigid conceptions of form, its limits, and who can break them.

F260. Who Can’t Handle The Truth? Memoirs by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. (Ron Capps,  Kayla Williams,  Colin D. Halloran,  Peter Molin) In the aftermath of two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, returning veterans have begun to produce memoirs documenting and illuminating the wartime experience and its aftermath. This panel places three combat veterans and their memoirs front and center. The authors will read excerpts from the works and discuss the challenge of creating and publishing the works. Audience questions and comments on these and other memoirs from this period are welcomed.

4:30-5:45 pm

F275. Grass, Water, and the Mythic Quest for America. (Virginia Gilbert,  Judith Sornberger,  Mary Stillwell,  Barbara Robins) From the 1830s through 1869, 400,000 pioneers followed the Oregon Trail to new homes and adventures in the West and Midwest, enduring hardships along the way, and causing hardships for the native peoples already living there. What impact did this vast migration have on the land, the peoples and their ancestral roots, on their writings, and on their hopes and dreams? Panelists representing a broad spectrum of views will present works discussing both the settling and the unsettling of this land.

F277B. Remixing Creative Nonfiction. (Ana Holguin,  Amy Schleunes,  Jonathan Ritz) As nonfiction writers and editors, we are interested in translating essays into alternative forms—videos, podcasts, performances, zines. Four essayists associated with Fourth Genre will read and display examples of creative nonfiction remixes, considering how and why we re-mediate our nonfiction work. What are our writing and editing processes like? How do the technologies we choose change our purposes and audiences?

F283. Racing Creative Writing: Pedagogy and Practice . (Metta Sama,  Rae Paris,  Tracie Morris,  Raquel Goodison) This panel of four Black women will address our concerns in teaching race and ethnicity in creative writing workshops. We will consider the ways we navigate (hyper)visibility and erasure, honor our aesthetics, encourage students to identify their own poetics/aesthetics, and support students in examining the ways their racial identity(ies) impact their writing. We will delve into our responsibilities and challenges as teachers, writers, and artists in remixing/dismantling the White gaze.

F285. Teaching Experimentation: The Freedom in Constraints. (Ryan Clark,  Virginia Bell,  Shailen Mishra,  Michelle Naka Pierce) Creative writing teachers often advise students to experiment with their drafts to discover new narrative and lyric possibilities. But how might students engage in this experimentation? Writing constraints posed by Oulipo, cut-up, erasure, same-language translation, and bricolage not only act as generative devices, but make the writing process more deliberate and open-ended. This in turn facilitates a heightened understanding of craft, ethical sensibility, and critical awareness in the writer.

F293. But seriously… Is it time for more humor in environmental writing? . (Ana Maria Spagna,  Melissa Hart,  Jennifer Sahn,  David Gessner) What’s so funny about nature? Plenty. Picture the banana slug’s undulating trail of neurotoxic slime or the sage grouse’s spiky-tailed mating dance. Too often environmental writing is considered humorless, but whether you write about hiking in a pink plastic tiara, risking Cuban jail time in pursuit of an osprey, or protesting Keystone XL from your coal-heated home, there is room for irony, surprise, even slapstick comedy. Who knows? Laughter may just help save the planet.


  1. I am interested in covering/summarizing the presentation on Thursday at 9:00-10:15. I am bilingual and bicultural, and therefore the interest. Please advise if you would like me to proceed.
    F124. The Stepmother Tongue: Crossing Languages in CNF. (Julija Sukys, Ruth Behar, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Jennifer Zoble, Joanna Eleftheriou) This panel convenes writers who work in and out of languages. All writing is, in some sense, a process of translation, but what happens when a writer literally moves between languages and cultures? What does it mean, for example, to write in English about an experience lived in Spanish, Russian, or Greek? Does it matter if a language is inherited or learned? How does the language change a writer’s insider/outsider status when s/he goes abroad or returns home both literally and figuratively?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d love to cover F250:Breaking the Body: Women Writers Reconfiguring Creative Nonfiction Forms or F228:Bravery and Bearing Witness: The Power of Vulnerability in Nonfiction.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. This isn’t on the list, but there’s a panel on Friday (F265) with Leslie Jamison and Eula Biss about new nonfiction, the use of first person, lyric innovation, etc. Any interest in having a blog on that panel? I’d love to write one!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll be attending F114 Ekphrasis Goes Prose, on Friday. If you’d like a blog post on that one I’m happy to write one!


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