Thank you to everyone who has already volunteered to blog about a panel or two, and if you haven’t claimed one yet, now is 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 multiple events.
Check out Friday’s schedule below of panels and if you’d like to claim a panel to write about, let us know in the comments (and we’ll cross it off our list here). While these are not the only panels you could report on, remember that Assay is most interested in nonfiction, craft, and pedagogy. We’ll let others cover the fiction and poetry. We’re looking for summary of the panel/panelists, poignant quotes, and personal reactions–aim for 500-700 words. The goal is to give those who aren’t there a good idea of what went on. These reports are also a way that we include writers, teachers, and readers who may not be able to attend the conference. It’s a wonderful act of literary citizenship, and in advance, we’re grateful for your time.
Once your blog post is ready, use Submittable to send it to us, along with a one or two line bio and we’ll post them ASAP. Be sure to include the original panel information, so we can include that with your post. We want to post these on a rolling basis as the conference is going on. You can find the Thursday call here. You can find the Saturday call here. Please finish up your panel submissions no later than a week following the conference. Deadline for conference reports: Feb. 19.
Friday, February 10, 2017
9:00 am to 10:15 am
F107. Can You Go Home Again?. (Alice Eve Cohen, Gayle Brandeis, Caroline Leavitt, Julie Metz, Christa Parravani) Acclaimed memoirists and fiction writers will read excerpts from their recent work and discuss the challenges and rewards of writing about where they grew up. Discussion will include an exploration of techniques writers can use to reenter the emotionally charged territory of childhood and re-create the sensory memories and experiences of time and place in an authentic voice. Panelists will also address the ethical questions and conflicts in presenting one’s family and neighborhood of origin. [RSZ]
F109. Old Journals, New Writing: Editors on History and Discovery. (Jody Bolz, Kwame Dawes, Ethelbert Miller, Jeremy Schraffenberger, Don Share) As editors of four of the nation’s oldest literary journals, the panelists are mindful of tradition but eager to break new ground in the contemporary literary landscape. The discussion focuses on how and why these publications—North American Review (since 1815), Poet Lore (since 1889), Poetry (since 1912), and Prairie Schooner (since 1926)—may be well positioned to recognize and welcome new writers because of what their archives reveal about literary history.
F110. The Middle Americans: How Flyover Country Responds to War. (Randy Brown, M.L. Doyle, Kayla Williams, Matthew Hefti, Angela Ricketts) By various measures, rural Americans are more likely to enlist in the US armed forces. Despite isolation from traditional centers of publishing and military power, voices with Midwestern roots have sprung forth like dragon’s teeth to deliver clear-eyed, plainspoken views of war, service, and sacrifice. The civilians and veterans of this stereotype-busting panel of published writers offer their insights regarding themes, trends, and markets in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
F114. On the Care and Feeding of Interns, the Lifeblood of Lit Mags. (Julie Wakeman-Linn, Mark Drew, Erin Hoover, Ryan Ridge) Literary publications often depend on the contributions, support, and assistance provided by undergraduate interns. Managing this relationship can be a tricky process, often without specific, tangible rewards or payment. In this panel, editors from a wide range of literary journals reflect on their experience working with interns—how to establish a fruitful relationship, how to train them, how to help them develop editing and publishing careers, as well as the joys and trials of the process.
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. [EA] F119. Home: A Four-Letter Word. (Kelly McMasters, Rachel DeWoskin, Hasanthika Sirisena, Sonya Chung, Elissa Washuta) Home is a loaded word, a complex idea: it’s a place that’s safe, sentimental, difficult, nourishing, war-torn, and political. It’s a place we escape and a place we create. This panel of women writers discuss the ways in which they confront home in their work, including writing within and rebelling against the idea of home as a woman’s place. What choices do we make to reveal, deconstruct, and imagine homes for our characters? In what ways do our homes inform our real and imagined selves? [Kristine L.M.]
F120. The Vein of Jade: What a Single Detail can Reveal in Nonfiction. (Angie Chuang, Michael Steinberg, Marion Winik, Michael Downs, Joe Mackall) “When the vein of jade/is revealed in the rock,” Lu Chi writes in his classic The Art of Writing, “the whole mountain glistens.” Likewise, a single detail can reveal the meaning and mystery of a scene, an essay, or a book. Practitioners of various nonfiction forms, from journalism to hybrid, each choose a particular detail from a well-regarded nonfiction and show how it becomes—by its context, its imagery, its power to—the vein of jade that allows the whole to glisten.
F122B. The Lyric Invitation: Readers as Collaborators.(Julija Sukys, Travis Scholl , Patrick Madden, Beth Peterson, Desirae Matherly) To call a text a lyric essay is not to define its form or structure: like authors, lyric essays come in all shapes and sizes. Instead, the term lyric essay is a means of identifying a series of writerly moves: fragments, as in Maggie Nelson’s Bluets; silences, as in Jenny Boully’s The Body; and juxtapositions, as in Anne Carson’s Nox; that invite a reader to make sense of a text. This panel asks if calling an essay lyric is a way of accepting a writer’s invitation to collaborate.
F124. Digital Pedagogy for Beginners. (Aubrey Hirsch, Faith Adiele, Brian Oliu, Adriana E. Ramírez , Erin Anderson) From podcasts to Twitter essays to .gif novels, digital storytelling is on the rise. This panel is aimed at instructors interested in experimenting with this fascinating and challenging material, but unsure of how to begin. Panelists work to demystify the world of digital pedagogy by offering their experiences integrating new media into writing classes. Panelists also suggest examples, assignments and discussion topics appropriate for literature, creative writing and composition courses. [Kimma]
F130. No One Thinks They’re Racist: Conscious and Unconscious Bias and Racism in MFA Programs. (David Weiden, Sarah Rafael Garcia, Ruby Hansen Murray, Misty Ellingburg, Alexandria Delcourt) This panel will address the conscious and unconscious racial biases that often exist in MFA programs. Students of color frequently experience obstacles in workshop as well as faculty mentors unable or unwilling to effectively critique diverse work. Panelists will discuss these challenges as well as potential solutions for faculty members, program administrators, and workshop participants.
F131. Shape-Shifting and Writers’ Centers. (Heidi Stalla, Marion Wrenn, Amy Becker, Kristin Dombek, Laurel Fantauzzo) What are the visible and invisible effects of bringing creative writing and academic writing into the same physical space, thus emphasizing that writing practice is by no means a second-tier academic discipline? With growing interest in crossing boundaries—both inside and outside of the academy—university administrators, writers, and writing teachers would do well to rethink the way writing centers and writing programs are framed and situated within institutions.
F136. Translation: Out of Context, Into the Wild. (Amalia Gladhart, Karen Emmerich, Brandon Rigby, Tze-Yin Teo, Kelly Lenox) Translators translate context, Edith Grossman has written. Yet translation also rests on the belief that a work can be meaningfully understood in the absence of its original context, since translating literature typically involves shifts across geography, culture, and even time. These panelists, all translators from different language families and genres, discuss how they define context, how they determine which contexts to carry forward, and whether some may be let go.
10:30 am to 11:45 am
F140. Greater than the Sum: Collaborations Between Publishers. (Wayne Miller, Brigid Hughes, Kathryn Nuernberger, Martin Rock, Daniel Slager) Now that small and independent presses do more of the heavy lifting in the literary world than was once the case, a number of presses and literary journals have sought out innovative collaborations to enhance visibility, production, and reach. The editors of Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, Milkweed Editions, Pleiades Press, and A Public Space discuss the goals, methods, and benefits of collaborative publishing projects, paying particular attention to their own collaborations currently underway.
F151. The Craft of Empathy . (Kate Hopper, Ana Maria Spagna, Adriana Paramo, Kim Stafford) Writing with empathy in mind, especially in nonfiction, can create texture in our work and be transformative for both writer and reader. On this panel we explore various angles of perspective: scenes where narrators show empathy toward other characters—especially ones who are unlikeable—and vice versa, reflections that suggest empathy of a memoirist for a younger self, as well as techniques for showing empathy, as a writer, for the reader, and from both reader and writer for the nonhuman world. [HFP]
F152. Writing in the Internet Age. (Mark Neely, Esmé Weijun Wang, Sandra Simonds, Ashley C. Ford) The internet is the most significant advance in writing and publishing since Gutenberg, and it’s also one of the defining subjects of contemporary literature. It can be a powerful tool and a supreme distraction, an interruption or inspiration. Writers of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction talk about how the web has influenced their work and working lives, and discuss the internet as a subject, compositional instrument, publishing platform, and (sometimes troubling) extension of the writer’s brain.
F156. When Is It Defamation? Legal Issues for Nonfiction Authors. (Susan Cheever, David Cay Johnston, Ellis Levine, Laura Handman, Mary Rasenberger) Writing about real people, living or dead, creates special risks that can result in costly damages and legal fees. It’s essential for nonfiction authors to take the proper steps to protect themselves. This panel, composed of legal and publishing industry experts, will explore the basics of defamation, public disclosure of private facts, and misappropriation. The panelists will then address risk mitigation, releases, liability insurance, and other methods authors can use to avoid legal exposure.
F161. Body of Work: Exploring Disability, Creativity, and Inclusivity. (Sheila Black, Eileen Cronin, TK (Tim) Dalton, Anne Finger, Laurie Lindeen) What is the physical body’s relationship to the creative mind? Four writers with disabilities will discuss their writing lives, and how social progress and technology are transforming representations of the human body. What effect has this had on literature? Where do we read ourselves in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry? Our panelists will discuss whether or not literature is representing the current climate and how they have represented their own bodies in writing over time.
F163. The Civics of Literature. (Eve Bridburg, Andrew Proctor, Marjan Kamali) The narrative arts have a unique and powerful role to play in bringing people together, deepening empathy and creating shared experiences locally, nationally and globaIly. Leaders of GrubStreet, Literary Arts, and Narrative 4 will talk about the groundbreaking work they are doing to engage nontraditional audiences, widen participation in the literary arts, and partner with civic organizations to bring the power of narrative to unexpected places in unusual ways.
F164. 25 Years of Soft Skull: Nonfiction from the Next Generation . (Steven Church, Joe Bonomo, Jill Talbot, Dan Smetanka) Four writers representing a wide range of styles, interests, and subjects, while still embodying the Soft Skull spirit, will read from their latest nonfiction books and discuss their experiences writing, editing, and publishing their work with one of the country’s more unique and influential small presses. Their subjects include music and pop culture, savagery, love, loss, and family dynamics; and their forms vary from collections of essays to memoir to the book-length essay.
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
F169. Peace Corps Writers: Crossing Borders, Spanning Genres. (Joanna Luloff, Peter Chilson, Susan Rich, Sandra Meek, Tyler McMahon) Poets, journalists, and novelists share their experiences as Peace Corps volunteers. The panelists discuss how their service affected their writing, their relationship to literature, and their careers. They address the challenges of writing about other nations and other cultures, as well as the assumptions and misconceptions many readers and editors hold about the Peace Corps. They hope to present international aid work as a valid option for a writer’s growth and education.
F175. It’s None of Your Business—Or Is It? When Students Resist Their Own Compelling Stories. (David Hernandez, Lisa Glatt, Emily Rapp Black, Suzanne Greenberg) How do we encourage students to recognize their unique experiences as potential writing material and to bring those narratives to the page? And where should we, as instructors, draw the line? Can encouragement become prescriptive? Is it fair, for example, to suggest to a student with cerebral palsy that omits his wheelchair from his work may do a disservice to his writing? This panel examines the limits and rewards of teaching creative writing in truly diverse classrooms.
F176. Divided by a Common Language: Creative Writing in the US, Canada, Australia, China, the UK, and Europe.(Jen Webb, Stephanie Vanderslice, Fan Dai, Paul Munden, Robert Budde) AWP regularly welcomes members of other national associations to its conference. Such internationalism is important, but the nature of creative writing—as a general pursuit, an academic discipline and focus of research—varies from one context to another, sometimes at the expense of productive exchange. This panel of leading representatives from key organizations will consider some of the differences encountered and suggest how an increasingly meaningful conversation might proceed.
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
F203. Looking Outward: Avoiding the Conventional Memoir. (Steve Woodward, Paul Lisicky, Belle Boggs, Angela Palm) All too often, memoir falls into a familiar, conventional pattern of confession and redemption. But how do you tell a personal story when life doesn’t conform to that shape? And how can a writer with a variety of interests incorporate those subjects into a personal narrative? Three Graywolf Press nonfiction authors discuss their approaches to writing about life—and subjects as disparate as infertility, nature, friendship, science, grief, and art—in personal and intimate detail. [SKGiles]
F205. The Fifty-First Minute: Beyond the Therapist’s Office and onto the Page. (Ainsley McWha, Camille Chidsey, Heather Kresge, Christopher P. Collins, Elissa Washuta) Some say that to write good creative nonfiction the transformative therapy must come well before the writing. But, what if we write about a subject dealt with in an ongoing therapy setting? Writers whose work has addressed mental illness argue the validity of the therapy first/writing second belief, discuss challenges encountered while writing about this often stigmatized topic, and explore the difference between therapy, catharsis, and the inevitable insights brought on by the writing process.
F212. Latina Memoir: Writing a New Chapter of the American Experience. (Reyna Grande, Daisy Hernandez, Joy Castro, Norma Elia Cantu) Memoir begins with memory but is more than a collection of memories. Since memoir captures just a slice of the writer’s life, where to start and where to end, what to put in and what to leave out are crucial elements in its crafting. This panel of Latina memoirists discuss their unique approaches to writing, their fears of exposing themselves on the page, and their sense of responsibility to gender, family, community, and culture. What power does memoir have to transform the writer, the reader?
F215. The Body Electric in the Ether: Creative Writing Pedagogy Goes Online. (Ryan Sobeck, Belle Gironda, Joseph Rein, Belinda Kremer) Schools are pushing into the digital era, rapidly expanding their offerings of online and hybrid classes in every subject. But what does it mean to teach creative writing beyond the classroom? What are the affordances and constraints of the online environment? How are traditional practices, like the writing workshop, adapting? Experienced writers, educators, and instructional designers discuss the obstacles, approaches, and developments of online and hybrid creative writing education.
F231. Surviving the End Times: Finishing a First, Second, or Fifth Book. (Michele Morano, Philip Graham, Kathleen Rooney, James Canon, Sarah Dohrmann) Most writers understand the warp of space and time by the way distance grows the closer we get to the end of a book manuscript. These five panelists, who have authored novels, memoirs, volumes of poetry, and essay and story collections, offer a variety of perspectives and practical tips for crossing the finish line. Panelists also draw on their experience with trade publishers, university presses, foreign rights, and movie options to discuss where and how to publish. [EA]
F232. Town and Gown: Building Connection Through Community Reading Programs. (Gwen Gray Schwartz, Elizabeth Bleicher, Paul Gaffney, Maria Judd, Kirsten Parkinson) Academic institutions can forge valuable bonds with their surrounding communities by sponsoring or collaborating on reading programs focused on a single book. This panel, which includes representatives from both colleges and community partners, discusses the opportunities and potential pitfalls of such endeavors, including the challenges of book selection, the logistics of event planning, the availability of funding options, and the pleasures and mutual benefits of partnership building.
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
F239. Susan Sontag and the Authority of Authorship.(Sven Birkerts, Eula Biss, Mara Naselli, Lynne Sharon Schwartz) Susan Sontag was a celebrity intellectual, a writer of essays and fiction. Her searing mind and irrepressible appetite to understand the world shaped Sontag’s authorial persona in ways that drew both admirers and critics. As an essayist she feared neither aphorism nor provocation, and freely argued with herself over the course of her career. The panelists discuss Sontag’s authorial strategies in the context of her time and her legacy for contemporary writers and essayists.
F248. Following the Thread of Thought. (Steven Harvey, Phillip Lopate, Ana Maria Spagna, Sarah Einstein) How do writers follow the thread of a thought through the maze of events in an essay or memoir? What is the art of reflection? Writers of nonfiction may have more latitude than poets or fiction writers to tell as well as show in their work, but the challenge is to keep these ruminations from becoming dull, simplistic, or moralistic. Panelists examine the way writers keep ideas lively and offer techniques for effectively weaving the thread of thought into the fabric of nonfiction. [Teri]
F250. Community Crafting: Reaching Beyond the Classroom to Empower Local Communities. (Sean Lovelace, BJ Hollars, Sarah Blackman, Jennifer Franklin) How do we convince students of the power of integrating classroom experiences within their communities, of the importance of touching lives beyond the page? From senior centers to humane shelters to museums, service learning provides vast opportunities for writers to contribute meaningfully to their communities. But what are the challenges of doing so, and which projects yield the best results? Join panelists as they explore innovative opportunities for writers to impact the world with words.
F253. The National Book Critics Circle on the Art of Criticism . (Margo Jefferson , Ron Charles , Maureen Corrigan , Carlos Lozada , Tom Beer ) Four leading literary critics—Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Margo Jefferson, whose new book Negroland won an NBCC award in 2016; NPR critic Maureen Corrigan, winner of an Edgar Award for Criticism; Ron Charles and Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post, both winners of the NBCC’s Balakian Award for criticism—discuss the fresh ways critics are writing about books today, including the new hybridity. All represent criticism as a provocative activity, all are always in search of something new to say. [BDC]
F255. The Reporter and the Story: How Journalism Can Inform, and Fund a Literary Career. (Jessica Langlois, Jeneé Darden, Lisa Brunette, Elizabeth Flock, Jenny J. Chen) Hemingway, Orwell, Dickens—all worked as journalists before becoming celebrated novelists. In addition to building your platform and paying the bills, working as a reporter can make you a better poet, novelist, or memoirist. Five journalists talk about how reporting on others drives them to create better fictional characters, how radio reporting has helped them develop their authorial voice, and how daily deadline gigs can lead to a career as a narrative nonfiction author.
F257. Nope, That Still Ain’t a Story: Developmental Editing in Creative Nonfiction. (Susan Petrie, William Patrick, Amy Ryan, Anthony D’Aries) First-time authors can be ambivalent about the editing process. Will my story be altered? Will I retain my voice? This panel brings together three first-time small press authors with their developmental editor to clarify and explain what developmental nonfiction editing is and what it accomplishes. Participants will discuss how projects become refined, how storytelling skills improve, and talk about the importance of a more compelling, confident voice in a content-saturated environment.
F258. Beyond Rags to Riches: New Approaches to Writing About Class. (Michael Noll, Tristan Ahtone, Kelli Jo Ford, Rene S. Perez II, Natalia Sylvester) Narratives about class often resort to familiar storylines: getting rich, dying trying, and becoming sanctified by poverty. The truth is more complex. Wealth and the lack of it shape lives, but those lives are also larger than their bank accounts and the assumptions that we make based upon them. Covering a range of genres, including fiction, literary criticism, and journalism, this panel will explore strategies for writing stories that reveal aspects of class that may be hidden in plain sight.
F265. Not Invisible: Editors of Literary Journals Speak Out on Disability and Building Inclusive Writing Communities.(Sheila McMullin, Marlena Chertock, Jill Khoury, Mike Northen, Sheryl Rivett) Disability voices are underrepresented in literature; the VIDA Count further points to this. Examining social ramifications of exclusion, this panel explores ableism in the literary world, barriers to accessibility and publishing, and promotion of disability literature. Editors of online magazines actively seeking work from writers routinely excluded from the literary field discuss disability, impairment, and embodiment with the intention of building inclusive and dynamic writing communities.
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
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.
F274. Editors Engage the Digital Age: Transforming the Modern Lit Journal. (Robbie Maakestad, Speer Morgan , Jodee Stanley, Sarah M. Wells, Joel Hans) As readers increasingly turn to the internet for literary content, journals face a serious question: print or digital? For The Missouri Review, River Teeth, Ninth Letter, Cartridge Lit, Fairy Tale Review, and Phoebe, the answer has been a mixture of both mediums. Editors discuss solutions, such as audio/podcast platforms, online issues, digital chapbooks, blogs, and digital archival, which their journals have implemented to fit the evolving literary landscape.
F276. Teaching the Literature of Another. (Christina Marrocco, Rabi’a Hakima, Tony Ardizzone, Daniel Shank Cruz, Carl Fuerst) As teachers of writing we offer our students a diverse literature, not just the literature that matches our own identity (or theirs), but how can we be most effective? How does the Chinese American teacher teach African American writers? How does the African American teacher bring in Latino writers? How does the Straight, Latino teacher teach LGBT writers? What are the boundaries? This panel of teachers working regularly and thoroughly at such intersections shares their challenges and insight.
F279. Beyond the Hospital: The Memoirist on Writing About Health, Illness, and Injury. (Elizabeth L. Silver, Porochista Khakpour, Christine Hyung-Oak Lee) This event explores the tragedies, pitfalls, miracles, and realities of living in a world of evolving medicine, as panelists contribute varying perspectives on how their journeys in and out of the medical establishment have impacted their work. What makes us embrace or reject modern medicine? What terrifies us about it? It is through the symbiotic relationship between memoir and medicine that we can begin to understand how to interact in this transforming world.
F282. Writing Neighborhoods: (Re)Creating the Places We Live. (Kathy Flann, D. Watkins, David Ebenbach, Patrice Hutton, Mary-Sherman Willis) We’re told to write what we know, but it can be daunting to portray the places we know best: our own communities. Where do we find the authority to get it right? This panel explores the challenges, responsibilities, and rewards of writing from the particular home places of Baltimore and Washington, DC. The founder of Writers in Baltimore Schools, which runs workshops for low-income students, joins poets and prose writers to discuss the transformative possibilities for writers and readers alike.
F285. The Last Word on Animals: Creaturely Nonfiction in a Time of Environmental Upheaval . (Kathleen Dean Moore, Michael P. Branch, Jennifer Sahn, Kathryn Miles, Nick Neely) We live amid the “sixth extinction,” in which species are disappearing at the fastest rate since the dinosaurs. Animals thrive in our psyches, but now stories about polar bears treading water and octopuses escaping aquariums show how their reality and our animal knowledge is changing. How do we call attention to creatures while protecting their mystery, autonomy, and very existence? Hear from nonfiction writers and editors devoted to the craft and ethics of the bestiary in this alarming era.