Come Write With Us At AWP! Call for Guest Bloggers – Friday, March 6

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Going to the 2020 AWP conference in San Antonio?

We’re looking for guest bloggers to write up panel reports, because, as always, we expect our cloning abilities to malfunction.

Check out Friday’s schedule 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).

What to Write: We’re looking for a 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.

Submission Timeline: Bloggers will submit their panel reports within 24-48 hours after the panel is concluded. This gives our readers a sense of participating in the conference in real-time. Plus, you’ll get all of the juicy tidbits out while they’re fresh in your mind.

Submit! 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 happening.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so we can tag you when it’s published!

Friday, March 6

9:00 am to 10:15 am

F113. Extreme Motherhood: Writing Motherhood When Circumstances Are Out of the Ordinary. (Alice Eve CohenMarie Myung-Ok LeeDoreen OliverJulie Metz) Parenting is easy, said no one ever! But some parenting challenges are extraordinary. What are the complexities of writing stories of extreme motherhood? Why is it important to share, and what are special concerns? How might it benefit individual readers and the larger community? What are the ethics of telling your child’s story? The essayists, memoirists, and solo theatre artists on the panel will discuss the artistic and personal complexities of writing about their children and themselves.Download event outline and supplemental documents.

F116. What if the Unlikable Narrator Is You?: On “Likability” in Nonfiction. (Lucas MannAngela PelsterSarah VirenZaina ArafatJose Orduna) There’s so much conversation surrounding “likability” in fiction—does the reader have the right to expect or desire only likable characters to root for? Who decides what type of character or narrator is sympathetic? Less discussed, but perhaps even more contentious, is the way nonfiction writers navigate that same idea, when the person being judged on the page is themselves. In this panel, five essayists discuss the ways they view “likability” in the genre, and how it shapes their work. Download event outline and supplemental documents. (Assigned: Alicia Ezekiel-Pipkin)

F134. Writing and Teaching Toward a New Radical Liberation. (Loyce GayoMonica SokPaul TranAdrienne PerryMonica Prince) How do we as instructors create a space that allows for the critical and personal reflection, writing, and sharing of our traumas while honoring the writer? How do we encourage, especially within marginalized communities, the envisioning of new and radical liberatory imaginaries? Five writers and teachers will share experiences and lessons that highlight the often difficult negotiation of the personal in the classroom. Download event outline and supplemental documents.  (Assigned: Robin LeeAnn)

10:35 am to 11:50 am

F148. Pushing Past Page 70: Reaching Creative Nonfiction Readers. (Anjoli RoyLeslie PortelaMichelle ChikaondaJen SoongAthena Dixon) With the advent of e-readers, we now know that many readers stop engaging with books at page 70. Five emerging and established creative nonfiction writers who write from African American, sub-Saharan African, Chinese American, Boricua, & mixed-race Indian American ethnic and cultural backgrounds share insights about challenging racism, colorism, and class marginalization through publishing in the US. This reading addresses head on the challenge of getting readers to push past page 70.

F152. When Confession Isn’t Enough: Adversity, Art, and Remembering Mike Steinberg. (Joan FrankSandi WisenbergMimi SchwartzMichael SteinbergTom Larson) Writers frequently choose to write about personal tragedies such as debilitating illness and loss. The result is often a direct confessional that bemoans or simply describes those difficulties. Our panel of veteran teacher/writers will offer examples and strategies to help writers transform traumatic experiences into artfully crafted, fully dimensional, personal narratives. We face a sad and strange dilemma: panelist Michael Steinberg died a few months ago. We will discuss our topic and honor him by using examples of his work and advice. Download event outline and supplemental documents.

F153. Seize the Day: Capturing the Present Tense in Memoir. (Eleanor HendersonClaire DedererTova MirvisAlysia AbbottElissa Altman) When we think of memoir—literally, “a memory”—we often think of stories that take place in the distant past, that are concerned with what Sven Birkerts calls “getting hold of vanished experience.” But what happens when we’re trying to get hold of experience that isn’t vanished, but all too present? What about memoir that chronicles a more recent history, or that follows a writer through a moment in real time? How do we stay ahead of the story? And how do we separate life from art? Download event outline and supplemental documents. (Assigned: Meg Mahoney)

F239. Beyond How-To: The Art of the Craft Essay. (K. L. CookJoan SilberMargot LiveseySven BirkertsChistopher Castellani) Five award-winning writers, editors, and professors in MFA programs—who have published books on the craft of fiction and nonfiction—will discuss the rich tradition of the craft essay and their approaches, as practitioners, to investigating and artfully writing about issues of aesthetics, technique, process, close reading, and literary and nonliterary influence. Download event outline and supplemental documents. (Assigned: Ted Anton)

F241. American Harvest and White Flights: Marie Mockett and Jess Row in Conversation, Sponsored by Graywolf Press. (Fiona McCraeMarie Mutsuki MockettJess Row) Join acclaimed authors Marie Mutsuki Mockett (American Harvest: God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland) and Jess Row (White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination) as they read from and discuss their latest works of nonfiction. Engaging with race, religion, agriculture, and contemporary fiction, these two authors are at the center of ongoing conversations of vital importance to us all. Introduced and moderated by Graywolf Press director and publisher Fiona McCrae. Download event outline and supplemental documents.

3:20 pm to 4:35 pm

F250. The Safe Space of the Essay: Navigating Student Pain on the Page. (Jeremy JonesCassandra KircherCatina BacoteLina Ferreira Cabeza-VanegasNicole Walker) In nonfiction classes every day, students make themselves vulnerable, writing about suicide, gender and sexual violence, debilitating anxiety, and more. As teachers, what is our role for these students? Do we respond only to the work or offer something more? Where is the line between caring instructor and mental health professional? And what of legal obligations—navigating mandatory reporting while maintaining trust? Panelists discuss approaches to these issues of the essay’s safe space. (Assigned: Diana English)

F259. And Then They Clearly Flew Instead of Fell: Poets Writing Creative Nonfiction. (James Allen HallJennifer S. ChengDanielle Cadena DeulenJehanne DubrowLia Purpura) In his poem, “Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose and Poetry,” Howard Nemerov asserts that poems soar while prose remains earthbound. In this reading, poets who make the lyrical leap show that nonfiction is also capable of flight. These writers infuse their nonfiction (including memoir, essay, and the fragment) with poetic technique. The panel evinces a diversity of backgrounds, subjects, and aesthetic viewpoints to invite questions about form and what (and who) constitutes the lyric. Download event outline and supplemental documents. (Assigned: Ted Anton)


  1. I would like to summarize: F239. Beyond How-To: The Art of the Craft Essay. (K. L. Cook, Joan Silber, Margot Livesey, Sven Birkerts, Chistopher Castellani)


  2. I would also be willing to report on F259. And Then They Clearly Flew Instead of Fell: Poets Writing Creative Nonfiction. (James Allen Hall, Jennifer S. Cheng, Danielle Cadena Deulen, Jehanne Dubrow, Lia Purpura) s


      • So, I checked the AWP app, and it said that the “Writing and Teaching Toward a New Radical Liberation” panel was cancelled. I can double check in the morning.

        Some panels have been cancelled because of the big virus going around. However, I can write a blog about another panel that I have been to where a group of volunteers randomly in-proved a panel instead of just letting it be cancelled/go to waste. Or about another panel that you’d like. Either is fine with me.


      • Thanks for letting us know, Robin. If there are any other nonfiction panels you’d like to write about (even if they’re not on our “wish list”) feel free to submit a panel report. Thanks again for being in touch!


  3. I would like to cover F153: Seize the Day: Capturing the Present Tense in Memoir. (Eleanor Henderson, Claire Dederer, Tova Mirvis, Alysia Abbott, Elissa Altman) on Friday at 10:35 if it’s not already assigned.


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