Assay@AWP15: Call for Saturday Bloggers!

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to report on Thursday and Friday panels at AWP! We’re really excited to hear your perspectives! Here’s the call for Saturday panels: if you’ve already signed up for a Thursday or Friday spot, feel free to sign up for another!

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.

Make sure you’ve liked our page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter–that way, we can tag you when your post goes live!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

9:00 am- 10:15 am

S106. Experiments in Educations: Nontraditional MFA Programs . (Arielle Greenberg,  Emily Carr,  Anna Moschovakis,  Claudia Keelan,  Rachel Levitsky) The MFA in creative writing is a known quantity, and new programs spring up every day: the time is right for radical takes on the traditional model. Faculty from four of our most innovative MFAs—at Pratt Institute; Bard College; the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and Oregon State University-Cascades—talk about what it means to build holistic alternatives in graduate education. From democratic processes to field work to global travel, these MFAs are pioneering new frontiers in literary community, social engagement, and programmatic sustainability.

S109. Beyond Lake Wobegon: Minnesota Writers of Color. (David Mura,  Marie Lee,  Ed Bok Lee,  Alexs Pate,  Susan Power) This reading/panel addresses the question: How does a culture change its portrait of itself? Minnesota writers of color explore a very different cultural landscape than the common clichéd images of the state. These writers of color examine the lives not only of their own communities but the complex interactions between communities of color. Stemming from the struggles of our communities, a strong activism also characterizes writers of color here.

S114. Writers Hit the Streets: Teaching Creative Writing in the Community. (Rachel Moritz,  Jonathan Lurie,  Yuko Taniguchi,  Zoë Bird,  Jennifer Bowen Hicks) What are the possibilities of bringing creative writing classes to nontraditional students: prison inmates, cancer patients, older adults in assisted living, or teens in rehab? This panel reflects the teaching and organizing of four innovative Minnesota programs that function outside of academic institutional support. Panelists will discuss how to start a community-based program, find funding, and develop curriculum, as well as the rewards and challenges of this work.

S115. Morphing from 2D to 3D: Teaching Multimodal Creative Writing. (Silas Hansen,  Tessa Mellas,  Sarah Myers,  Ruth Williams,  Matt Hart) Text in lines on a page: a singular mode. Lines become ruts, the page a rectilinear bore. Composition studies busted beyond the 2D text. They compose in sound and sculpture, memes, and vlogs. We’re following them into the third dimension. Panelists share extra-textual CW assignments. Students photograph their fiction, push plays off-stage, bake literary analyses into cakes, cross CNF with social media, take to the streets with guerrilla poems. Students embody texts and texts expand off-page.

S117. Who Are We in the Creative Writing Classroom? Interventions in the Craft vs. Context Fight. (Julie Babcock,  Megan Levad,  Mairead Byrne,  Lizzie Hutton,  Francine Harris) College students come to the classroom individually situated in complex environments and ideologies that affect how and what they write, yet many creative writing courses ignore this messy (and invigorating) reality. In this panel, five writers and teachers of creative writing, discuss the troubling ramifications of ignoring personal context and provide diverse options for merging craft-based creative writing instruction with contextual exploration.

S118. Re: Searching, Or: Don’t Write What You Know. (Josh Bernstein,  Jill Essbaum,  Ben Stroud,  Stephan Eirik Clark,  Nicole Mary Kelby) With the exception of Show Don’t Tell, Write What You Know may be the most common writing advice. But this advice doesn’t need to result in autobiographical fiction. It should be a call to research, so that you can know more and fill your writing with what you’ve learned. The panelists will explore ways that research has enhanced their short stories and novels, including writing that is based on historical events, connected to their own life experiences, or entirely remade in their imagination.

S119. The Bump-and-Grind of Meaning: Intuition and Formal Play in Hybrid Nonfiction.(William Stobb,  Jenny Boully,  Matthew Frank,  Elena Passarello,  Caleb Curtiss) A thoroughly exploratory creative nonfiction tests the parameters of form and fact, talks back to narrative swagger, and bumps-and-grinds with logic. In hybrid essays, flashes of intuition and textual play brighten the corners of conventional meaning. Instead of defending claims, hybrid essays invite readers to an interpretive funhouse where they may be delighted, dismayed, refreshed. Recent contributors to Passages North discuss innovative works with the magazine’s hybrid category editor.

S124. Moving into the Future, One Step at a Time: Serial Literature in the Digital Age.(Drew Arnold,  Yael Goldstein Love,  Henriette Power,  Michelle Miller) Serial literature, the staple of working writers like Charles Dickens, has been revived by advances in technology. Editors of e-publishing outfits discuss the revival of the serial, how it affects the reading experience, and what this emerging market means for writers. Discussion includes analyses of technological advances that make serial publishing feasible for a publisher, how/if writers are adapting style to fit the form, and how serials reach untraditional audiences.

S127. Can You Learn from This? Merging Creative Writing and Composition . (Daniel Biegelson,  Richard Meier,  Kaethe Schwehn,  Luke Rolfes,  Diana Joseph) Why do we make a distinction between creative and expository writing? How do we come to terms with ideas such as audience awareness, main idea, defense of choices, truth in fiction, ethics, and writerly intention? If we teach a memoir in a comp class and a creative writing class, are we doing something different? Why don’t we write poems in a comp class? Panelists will discuss these real and blurred boundaries, as well as the benefits, drawbacks, and social implications of these distinctions.

S128. The Challenge and Attraction of the Young Essayist. (Lucas Mann,  Brian Oliu,  Kristen Radtke,  David LeGault) In Phillip Lopate’s introduction to The Art of the Personal Essay, he writes it is hard to think of anyone who made a mark on the personal essay form in his or her youth. There are numerous arguments against the young essayist: can one write about life without first experiencing it? Can one write with authority from a place of uncertainty? Panelists will consider these questions and provide their own perspectives concerning successful nonfiction from the young writer’s perspective.

10:30am- 11:45 am

S139. Writing Atrocity: The Novel and Memoir of Political Witness. (Jocelyn Bartkevicius,  Patricia Hampl,  Glen Retief,  Dan Reiter) It’s been said that Americans can’t write political fiction and that all memoir is navel grazing. Yet recent political turmoil (that echoes WWII) inspires some prose writers to bear witness to a world largely ignored in the news. Novelists and memoirists discuss the rewards and challenges of writing about atrocity—war, assassination, and other brutalities. How can we balance art and politics, research, and imagination, to create compelling narratives and multidimensional characters?

S144. This Is Not a Blog: Crafting Serial Creative Nonfiction for the Web. (Jim Warner,  Matt Sailor,  Tabitha Blankenbiller,  Marlon James,  Mary Breaden) Online lit mags have carved a new space for serialized creative nonfiction. More literary than a blog, more personal than a column, the essay series allows writers to explore complex subjects at length, from pop culture, to personal struggles, to identity politics. Five writers of ongoing creative nonfiction series for online outlets will discuss the challenges of crafting such projects. Topics will include developing a topic, balancing variation between installments, and maintaining momentum.

S164. An Arts Degree for Journalists?: The Nonfiction MFA as an Incubator for Reportage.(Lucas Mann,  Kerry Howley,  Jen Percy,  Inara Verzemnieks,  Jose Orduna) While “to-MFA-or-not-to-MFA” is a constant conversation among novelists, the divide between graduate school and the working world may be even starker for nonfiction writers. Journalists are often seen as outside the academy, where memoirs rule. But is it time for a shift in how we see the nonfiction MFA? Panelists will discuss the multifaceted potential of the nonfiction MFA, and how writers can use the funding, time, and intellectual support found in graduate school to hone longform reportage.

12:00 pm- 1:15 pm

S166. U & I: Incorporating Famous Folks as Metaphor in Memoir. (Dinty W Moore,  Sue William Silverman,  Elena Passarello,  Michael Martone) Four memoirists discuss the possibilities, pitfalls, giddy pleasures, and pesky legal problems that can arise from using celebrities as context and metaphor in creative nonfiction. Though the idea goes back to The Divine Comedy, and Dante’s version of Virgil, the negotiation between truth and fantasy can be much trickier in nonfiction. The panelists will discuss incorporating figures such as Pat Boone, Richard Nixon, Dan Quayle, and (the artist formerly known as) Prince as “characters” in their nonfiction books and essays.

S172. Literature On Air. (Marianne Kunkel,  Jeff Brown,  Don Share,  Michael Nye,  Anna Schachner) The panel will explore innovative ways in which the literary arts have achieved renewed life through various broadcast media, including video, vimeos, and the exciting rise in literary podcasts. Editors of Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, the Missouri Review, and PBS NewsHour will discuss strategies, challenges, and opportunities that come with creating on-air media platforms for the literary arts and what these productions mean for their vision for their pages.

S175. From the Thickets of Translation: How and Why We Should Teach Contemporary World Literature in the Creative Writing Classroom. (Jia Oak Baker,  Ravi Shankar,  Forrest Gander,  Wayne Miller,  Carolyne Wright) In the 21st century, any conversation about literature must expand beyond the Western tradition, reflecting the globalization intensifying around us. But the MFA classroom is often limited to the same few canonical examples of international writers. Join editors from highly acclaimed anthologies of contemporary world literature as they discuss pedagogical strategies and the necessity for enlarging the perspective used in classrooms today by infusing new voices into the conversation.

S191. Let the Body Speak: Sex in Literary Nonfiction. (Devin Latham,  Peter Selgin,  Barrie Jean Borich,  Sean Ironman) What happens when nonfiction writers bare their bodies on the page, unveil their naked truths, and write their sexual experiences? Can sex narrate the human body, speak the body’s language? Can nonfiction writers craft sex to achieve intimacy? The distinct nonfiction relationship between author, narrator, and reader can raise and purify the body’s voice. This panel will discuss the role sex plays in nonfiction and the effect sex has on the narrator/reader relationship.

S193. Writing into the World: Memoir, History, and Private Life. (Honor Moore,  Carolyn Forche,  Catina Bacote,  Alysia Abbott,  Garth Greenwell) Memory drives memoir, but it can take writing to realize that while we thought we were just living, history was unfolding. Contemporary memoir has been ridiculed as MEmoir, but where would history be without the testimony of individuals, whose memories of “how it was” bring into focus, add nuance, even contradict received accounts? Even what seems private is subject to the dynamics of political, economic, and cultural change. How do we bring the larger world into our autobiographical writing while retaining the intimacy of the personal voice and affirming the uniqueness of each life?

1:30 pm- 2:45 pm

S199. The Meridel Le Sueur Essay: Sixteen Years of Water~Stone Review. (Mary Rockcastle,  Cheryl Strayed,  Lidia Yuknavitch,  Honor Moore,  Susanne Paola Antonetta) Fall 2014 marks the 16th anniversary of the annual Meridel Le Sueur Essay in Water~Stone Review. A Minnesota journalist, fiction writer, essayist, and poet, Meridel Le Sueur’s work paid witness to the central economic, political, ecological, and social realities of the century. She wrote that the writer must go “all the way, with full belief, into the darkness.” Four award-winning writers will read from their essays.

S211. 50 Shades of Chinese: Writing Into and Out of Stereotypes. (Catherine Liu,  Brandon Som,  Dorothy Wang) Recent interest in Chinese writers often fails to recognize the unique ways in which they have chosen to perform Chinese-ness beyond ethnic identification. How, in a society preoccupied with geo-political posturing, do you invent an anti-nationalistic identity as a complex set of representations that resist exoticization? Join four writers of Chinese descent as they discuss the ways in which their writings answer back to cultural presumptions about identity and what one can articulate about it.

S215. Telling Our New War Stories: Witness and Imagination across Literary Genres..(Benjamin Busch,  Phil Klay,  Siobhan Fallon,  Brian Turner,  Katey Schultz) It has been argued that credibility requires direct witness, that true war stories can only be told by those who have been there. The fact is that stories from Iraq and Afghanistan are arriving in all literary genres and from multiple perspectives, some using imagination to create equal truths. These five authors, writing through short fiction, essay, poetry, memoir, and nonfiction, will discuss how the fragmentary nature of the war narrative can be written from inside or outside the uniform.

S223. King Kong vs. Godzilla: The Art of Revision in Fiction and Nonfiction. (Michele Morano,  John Griswold,  LeAnne Howe,  Sarah Dohrmann,  Philip Graham) What differing techniques of revision are used by writers of fiction or nonfiction, and what artistic boundaries are crossed by writers who work in both genres? What borders can be found between memory and imagination in the writing process, and how are those decisions influenced by a publishing climate that sometimes blurs the differences between the two genres? Five writers, three who write in both genres, discuss the varying approaches they employ when revising, remembering, and inventing.

S226. Wild v. Into the Wild: X and Y Chromosomes in Travel Writing. (Kelly Kathleen Ferguson,  Brian Kevin,  Frank Bures,  Eva Holland) Why don’t more women appear inBest American Travel Writing? Why don’t more men write best-selling narratives about their transformative personal experience? How does gender affect expectations in travel writing? A co-ed panel of immersion memoirists and travel writers consider how gender affects their ability to publish and reader expectations of their work.

3:00 pm- 4:15 am

S233. Alternative Fuel Sources: Powering the Non-narrative Essay. (Lia Purpura,  Brenda Miller,  Juliet Patterson,  Kimberly Meyer) When story is not the main concern, what keeps us reading? How can voice, structure, or research provide a pressurizing frame—and a pleasing shape—for nonfiction material? We will explore these questions through readings that rely on elements other than narrative for forward momentum, in the tradition of the idea-driven essays of Montaigne, Shonagon, and others. Essayists who have published nonfiction that depends on something other than narrative will read from and discuss their work.

S235. Revisiting Highway 61 . (Mark Conway,  Olena Kalytiak Davis,  Dessa ,  James Allen Hall ) Fifty-five years after Minnesota’s native son Bob Dylan came down from the Iron Range on Highway 61, four poets will respond to his pervasive influence. They will read their own work and explore how it reflects and deflects powerful elements in Dylan including Blake, the blues, the Bible and the North Country.

S236. Narrative, Lyric, Hybrid: Crafting Essay Collections into Books. (Renee D’Aoust,  Rebecca McClanahan,  Patrick Madden,  Phillip Lopate,  Peter Grandbois) Lately, we’ve seen a resurgence in essay collections ranging from traditional to experimental. Whatever form—narrative, lyric, hybrid—the challenge is to organize separately written essays into a well-crafted book. Choices vary: collect essays individually, link them thematically, and/or frame them within a historical tradition. Citing their own and others’ work, five writer-teachers will explain the influences and decisions that helped them find the right shape for their collections.

S241. Byte by Byte: Teaching Creative Writing Online. (Cass Dalglish,  Wendy Call,  Athena Kildegaard,  Kate Kysar,  LouAnn Muhm) Five writers—who teach online in a public university, a community college AFA, an arts nonprofit, and in private BFA and MFA low-residency programs—offer a candid and guided tour of the online creative writing classroom. Stops on the circuit: cleaning out the correspondence course feel; using technology for web-based fine arts studios and readers’ salons; maintaining trust, establishing community, setting boundaries; and nourishing creativity and improvisation. Ample audience engagement.

S251. Taking On Reality: Memoir, Current Events, and Bringing the Self to a Broader World. (W. Scott Olsen,  Melanie Hoffert,  Alan Bjerga,  Cathy McMullen) Three award-winning nonfiction writers talk about how they use personal experience and personal voice in their reporting and storytelling to connect with readers and forward social change. From issues of gender and sexuality to international food distribution to issues of imprisonment and freedom in Iran, these writers will engage in a discussion about how they use personal narrative as an integral part of their craft to make a connection between readers and social issues.

4:30 pm- 5:45 pm

S263. How to Teach Literary Magazines in the Classroom and Why. (Rachel May,  Jenn Scheck-Kahn,  Christina Thompson,  Michael Nye,  Rebecca Morgan Frank) For new writers, the rich community of literary magazines is an invaluable resource of inspiration, education, and publication, and yet such writers know very little about this vast and varied living literature that’s dependent on their readership for survival. From our teacher panelists, learn three ways to integrate literary magazines into university writing and publishing classes and take our applicable tips and tricks home to your classroom.

S269. The Literary City: Cultivating a Place for Literature in Communities . (Michael Henry,  Andrea Dupree,  Eve Bridburg,  Chris Jones) Major literary cities like Boston, Minneapolis, and Denver have been making a case that independent literary centers are as vital to a community as museums, theatres, symphonies, and ballets. How do they make the case, and what are the benefits to towns and cities? Directors from the Loft, Grub Street, and Lighthouse Writers Workshop will talk about how their centers started, how they improve communities, and what others can do to cultivate their own literary towns and spaces.

S273. The Art of Fact: Writing Nonfiction for Children and Teens. (Carrie Pomeroy,  Joyce Sidman,  Tracy Nelson Maurer,  Mary Losure,  Ann Matzke) Juvenile nonfiction writers are increasingly breaking free from convention and exploring new ways to convey facts and true stories. They are experimenting with poetry and character-driven narrative. They are creating innovative back matter to enhance their books’ educational value. So how does a writer craft a nonfiction book that’s informative and a joy for kids to read? In this panel, five writers share their approaches to sparking young readers’ curiosity and keeping readers engaged.

S274. The Midwest as an Imaginary Landscape. (Eric Goodman,  Jim Heynen,  Christopher Coake,  Bates Jody,  Margaret Luongo) What does it mean imaginatively to writer and reader if a work of fiction is set in the Midwest as opposed to say, NY or LA? Do readers bring different expectations? Is Midwestern fiction dissed by NY publishers and reviewers? If so, is there anything to be done? Finally, is there a single Midwestern trope, a locus to escape, or has it also become a setting to escape to? Five writers, natives and immigrants, who feature the Midwest in their wide-ranging fictions, will deliver the regional goods.

S276. Undergraduate Literary Magazines: Who Needs ‘Em?. (Carrie Shipers,  emily m. danforth,  Audrey Colombe,  Steven Wingate) Given the widespread decrease in support for the arts, the undergraduate literary magazine may seem expendable. This panel will discuss how to defend them as a valuable site of student learning, how to garner financial and other support for them, and how to make the case that advising them is a valuable form of institutional service. Panelists also will present various models for how undergraduate magazines might exist on a campus, ranging from as a club to as a two-semester for-credit course.

S284. Creative Writing in the Digital Age. (Joseph Rein,  Douglas Dechow,  Janelle Adsit,  Trent Hergenrader,  Michael Clark) Digital technology has a profound and ever-increasing impact on creative writing; however, this impact is often overlooked in the traditional creative writing classroom. This panel addresses creative solutions to utilizing technology in traditional and hybrid genres, from digital poetics to social media to game theory. The panelists discuss traditional, hybrid, and online-only classrooms, and how instructors can integrate digital tools to enhance creativity both in process and product.

S286. The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but Your Speculations: The Use of Speculation and Other Imaginative Techniques in Creative Nonfiction. (Sean Prentiss,  Nancer Ballard,  Robin Hemley,  Judith Kitchen) Judith Kitchen writes about speculation: “I know too much and too little simultaneously. I have the verification without the nuance. [. . .] I have history at my fingertips, but it’s a history without a tangled web of emotion.” This panel wrestles with Kitchen’s dilemma as it examines how and why creative nonfiction authors can use speculation, the fantastical, disparate perspective, and temperal vantage points to plumb the complexities and ambiguities of human experience.

S288. Essaying as Event. (Roxanne Power,  C.S. Giscombe,  Rachel Levitsky,  Elizabeth Robinson,  Kristen Orser) Thoreau said essayists should be like saunterers. “Writing prose that gives up completion for process…never intending to arrive,” in Renee Gladman’s words, helps retain the kinesis of writing-as-event while drafting. How can essaying be an event beyond mere representation of it? Emphasizing digression, play, and genre interventions, five writer-teachers present strategies to resist static forms through recombinant approaches to teaching creative nonfiction and lyric and cross-genre essays.

15 thoughts on “Assay@AWP15: Call for Saturday Bloggers!

  1. I’d love to do this one!
    (apologies for posting to the Thursday section, oy!)

    S233. Alternative Fuel Sources: Powering the Non-narrative Essay. (Lia Purpura, Brenda Miller, Juliet Patterson, Kimberly Meyer) When story is not the main concern, what keeps us reading? How can voice, structure, or research provide a pressurizing frame—and a pleasing shape—for nonfiction material? We will explore these questions through readings that rely on elements other than narrative for forward momentum, in the tradition of the idea-driven essays of Montaigne, Shonagon, and others. Essayists who have published nonfiction that depends on something other than narrative will read from and discuss their work.

    Liked by 1 person

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