Posts Tagged ‘AWP’

Figuring Out How To *Do* AWP

March 13, 2014

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VIDA put out its now-annual The Count a strategic two days before the start of AWP when a butt load of writers, and teachers, academics, students, editors, agents, publishers were in conference prep mode and travel toward Seattle, WA. The Count is a collection of data about the proportion of female writers represented in individual literary publications, reviews, etc. from the entire previous year. Find it here.

Clever timing, VIDA; I salute you as always.

The results are better this year than last year, but still inappropriately non-balanced, and this annual study is one of the artifacts that convinces me it’s worthwhile to be a feminist.

When I was a young warthog

I took the train to Baltimore for AWP in 2003 as a 22-year-old Undergraduate Literary Journal Editor. Like most 22-year-olds, I had no idea what the hell I was doing.

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I was still saying dumb shit like, “I don’t call myself a feminist because… [fill in the blank with nonsense].” I had green hair.

I lost my cell phone, new to me, in the lobby of the conference hotel. The space was so big it felt like I was being actually swallowed by it and the swarm of writers and neurotics. I had a sense of nebulous non-selfness and of belonging at once.

The experience was insane and overwhelming. I read (an awful story full of heavy-handed symbolism, badly) at an open mic reading. I went to some panels full of writers I was reading at the time. I heard Darcy Steinke and Dave Davies speak.

I spent some time at the book fair, but it was with the no-future spirit of a person who can lose herself in a crowd, of a person who only knows one sure thing about herself: she is a writer. I ran around giving out copies of our journal, trading with other undergrad lit mags.

As a wise old grasshopper

For AWP 2013, I drove to Massachusetts, stayed with friends in Gloucester, and commuted to Boston. I volunteered at the Wilkes/Etruscan booth.

I was ready to be overwhelmed and worn out in the same way as I’d been ten years before, but it was different. Because there was only one train to Gloucester and it only ran till five, I only did AWP during the day. I went to a wonderful panel about what I was working on: nonfiction essay collections + how to order them. I herd Cheryl Strayed talk. I learned the word twee.

I bought a Rumpus mug that would remind me in the coming months to “write like a motherfucker.”20140227_112750

The difference between conference experiences was clear: I could go take it in without letting it take me over. I was older and better at life. I took myself and my work seriously (not to say that people with green hair don’t take themselves seriously, just that I didn’t: I still believed excellence was not my birthright; sensed I was only worth my ovaries).

The book fair was useful. I was neck deep in drafting at the time. I subscribed to Creative Nonfiction. I was thinking future, sort of. As well as I could. I knew more things about myself and the world: I knew I was a feminist and a writer. I knew I no longer needed green hair to be distinct. I knew that having girl parts didn’t disqualify me from entering and thriving in this world, even if it would be harder than if I had boy parts.

Third time’s the charm

In 2014, I got myself to Washington with laser focus and agenda. 1) have a fucking vacation  and 2) learn about presses and journals that might dig my work.

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I skipped Thursday and my partner and I did Seattle (space needle, museums, etc), I showed up early on Friday, picked up my registration materials, and slowly, deliberately visited every booth in half of the book fair. I discovered PM Press, Third Place Books, and talked with (and bought books from) their people.

I introduced myself to the representatives from Bitch Magazine, in case you don’t know, the subtitle is, “feminist response to pop culture.” I picked up their food issue and subscribed.

I talked to Foreword Reviews, about becoming a reviewer. I grabbed guidelines for The Review Review whose newsletter is INSANELY valuable.

I looked for books like my MS: books by women about woman stuff that may have a broader appeal. I talked to people. I seized every opportunity to write something on a post-it for a chance to win, for another chance that someone might recognize my name when it lands in their submission manager.

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Saturday, I met Jennifer Basye Sander, a former Big Six/five editor, book writer and packager, and feminist who said, “Henry Miller’s a fucking misogynist.” She apologized, but I don’t. It’s true. I couldn’t read past one chapter of Tropic of Cancer or forgive his insane depictions of vaginae.

Jennifer throws writing retreats in Washington and Northern Cali just for women writers. I’m going to try to get to one.

Then we spent a couple more days doing Seattle, ate so much good food, walked dozens of miles uphill. It wasn’t part of my plan, but the cool-down days gave me time to process and plan for next year.

And that’s just the highlights. I spent less time and got more out of AWP 14 than ever before. Next year, I’m going to spend two days going to panels and readings and presentations, and one day strategically hitting the book fair (like with the map and a highlighter).

Thanks, Wilkes, for the opportunity to get there.

April Line

April Line

BIO: April Line is working toward her MFA at Wilkes University. Her work has appeared in Sou’Wester and in several north-central PA regional news and lifestyle publications. She blogs at www.AprilLineWriting.com, hasn’t read a book by a man in more than a year, and lives in Williamsport with her partner and daughter.

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AWP: An Opportunity to Exercise Literary Citizenship

January 22, 2014

AWP: An Opportunity to Exercise Literary Citizenship

by Lori A. May

The annual AWP Conference & Bookfair is just around the corner. This year, writers from across the country and beyond will gather in Seattle during Feb 26-Mar 1, 2014. AWP is by far my favorite literary gathering of the year. It is the one event I bookmark in my calendar years in advance and for which I schedule everything else around; it’s a must-attend event in my books. Just last year I wrote a brief introduction to AWP on my blog where I also shared an excerpt, “Chapter 12: AWP Membership and Services,” from The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students.

I often speak about what opportunities writers may find during AWP. Yet in addition to the socializing, schmoozing, and general knowledge intake, there are also countless ways in which to exercise literary citizenship. That is, AWP presents an open door for writers to help others during this whirlwind week of events.

But what is literary citizenship? And why, of all places, would an emerging writer elect to spend time doing activities seemingly unrelated to his or her own writing path?

Simply put, literary citizenship is a topical term for engaging in the community with the intent of giving as much as, if not more so, than we take. Our literary world is a social ecosystem that relies on others: readers, writers, editors, reviewers, publishers, booksellers, and so on. The writing and publishing world is one made of relationships. Writing itself may be a somewhat solitary activity, but once the story or poem is ‘done’ we rely on others to read, share, and publish our work. Yet there are so many levels of participation from others in this community. We turn to others for support after rejection; we hope others celebrate alongside our successes. We hope to develop positive connections with readers and editors; we long to feel a part of this community that has called us in some way to participate.

Yes, there is much to personally gain in becoming active members of the arts and at-large community, but literary citizenship calls on our acts of giving, of giving back to the ecosystem so that we may actively ensure its sustainability. The beautiful thing is that it needn’t take much time or skill to offer something of ourselves, of our passions, to others.

Simple acts of literary citizenship can include reviewing another’s book, helping set up a reading event, proofreading a peer’s draft, or simply showing up at an event and being mindfully present. These acts of kindness needn’t cost us a thing; the best ‘gifts,’ as in other aspects of life, come from an authentic place within. We know that giving, indeed, is better than receiving.

It is through my activity in the writing community-at-large that I feel more like a writer, like an engaged participant in this network of dedicated creatives. It is through my involvement with small presses and literary journals that I feel a part of something bigger than myself, better than my own small presence. Contributing to, and impacting, the literary world is something outside of our own selves, and yet it benefits our personal goals and ambitions as we can’t help but grow as writers, as people, when we step outside of our writing dens and into the buzz of literary culture.

AWP-logoHow, then, might a writer participate as a literary citizen during AWP? The organization itself has a number of volunteer opportunities to assist with the conference, but there are simple activities anyone, from any walk of literary life, can take under her wing during those few fast-paced days:

  • help a bookfair exhibitor hand out materials and attract passers-by for an hour
  • or, merely cover a coffee or lunch break for a bookfair exhibitor
  • offer your time to an off-site reading and help set up chairs or hand out programs
  • approach exhibitors you don’t know to introduce yourself to something new
  • ask a literary journal how you can volunteer as a book reviewer or marketing assistant
  • seek out publishers and writers from your region that you can help in some way when you both return home
  • introduce people you know to others you just met; help make connections for others
  • introduce yourself to the person behind you in the coffee line-up and ask what he’s writing/editing/publishing
  • take photos of panels and speakers and then send them to those speakers
  • when you meet a representative from a journal or publisher that doesn’t work with your genre, consider who you know that would find them a perfect fit and make that introduction
  • most of all, engage: attend panels and approach the speakers after their sessions; be helpful to newbies who need directions in and outside of the conference; and make it a goal to come away from the conference having met at least three or four new people—and then make a point of contacting these folks after the conference winds down

AWP hosts a world of opportunities—for your own writing life and for engaging with others throughout the year. Yes, it’s a somewhat hectic place with too much to do and too many people to meet, and yet that’s precisely why it’s a goldmine for making things happen, for meeting new people and jumpstarting relationships that can extend throughout the year, throughout your life as a writer.

Going into the conference with the mindset to give back, to assist where your help is welcome, and to connect with others in meaningful ways can help fine-tune your social map for the week. While there are countless ways to participate as a literary citizen and you should definitely customize what works for you, I hope you’ll have a look at a few additional resources I’m pleased to share:

  • In the May 2010 issue of The Writer (pg 8-9), I interviewed author Matt Bell, agent Andrea Hurst, editor Leah Maines, and author/editor Kate Gale about how to play an active part in the writing community (online link)
  • In November 2013, I shared a round-up of resources and discussions about literary citizenship on my blog (online link)

And, lastly, a personal offering; if you’d like to ask more specific questions about AWP or literary citizenship, feel free to contact me personally at lori@loriamay.com. I’ll do my best to give helpful responses—and I’d love to shake your hand in Seattle.

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lori-a-mayLori A. May writes across the genres, road-trips half the year, and drinks copious amounts of coffee. Her books include Square Feet and The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students. Her writing has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, Writer’s Digest, Brevity, Midwestern Gothic, and The Writer. Her editorial roles have included working with Kaylie Jones Books, Creative Nonfiction, and other independent presses. She is also the founding editor of Poets’ Quarterly. Lori is a graduate of the Wilkes University MFA program, where she was awarded the Norris Church Mailer Fellowship. She is a frequent guest speaker at writing conferences and residencies across North America. For more info, visit her website at www.loriamay.com.

Wilkes panels, readings, and more at AWP

March 6, 2013

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It’s conference time!

If you plan on attending the annual AWP Conference and Bookfair, taking place in Boston MA, March 6-9, 2013, you’ll find ample Wilkes representation. Also, Jim Warner, alum and former assistant program director, will once again host the All-Collegiate Poetry Slam and Open Mic every night of the Boston conference.

Bonnie Culver, program director, is on the AWP national Board of Trustees and was a member of the Boston Conference committee. She noted, “There are more presentations this year than any other year in AWP history. It promises to be another fantastic conference.”

The following panel discussions include members from the Wilkes community:

“The Ten-Minute Play: the Essential Ingredients”
Panelists: Gregory Fletcher, Jean Klein, and L. Elizabeth Powers

For both playwrights and non-playwrights who may want to try their hand at a shorter genre, the ingredients of the ten-minute play will be compared and contrasted to the full-length play and sketch writing. Also, exploration will be given to finding the right size of a story and cast, as well as to the art of economy, how it looks on paper, and the production and publishing opportunities that could follow.

“Second Sex, Second Shelf? Women, Writing, and the Literary Marketplace”
Panelists: Christine Gelineau, Erin Belieu, Julia Glass, Tayari Jones, and Meg Wolitzer

Statistics suggest a gap still exits but is there a problem and if there is, what is its nature? What changes/ remedies/ metamorphoses can/ should be imagined? Do you think about this issue differently in terms of your writing vs. in terms of your career? Accomplished writers, who happen to be women, theorize and report out of their own experiences and analysis of the current literary scene.

“International Women’s Day Reading from Becoming: What Makes a Woman”
Panelists: Jill McCabe Johnson, Dinah Lenney, Nancy McKinley, Bibi Wein, Nadine Pinede

Authors read from what Dinty W. Moore describes as an astonishing array of gifted writers who explore intimacy, doubt, love, joy, and sorrow to form this exhilarating anthology. Edited by Jill McCabe Johnson, Becoming: What Makes a Woman (University of Nebraska Gender Programs, 2012) features essays of pivotal life experience.

For more information about AWP and the conference schedule, visit www.awpwriter.org. And, don’t forget to stop by Wilkes/ Etruscan Press booth in the Bookfair!

 

AWP: WC&C Scholarship Competition

January 30, 2013

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AWP offers two annual scholarships of $500 each to emerging writers who wish to attend a writers’ conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency. The scholarships are applied to fees for winners who attend one of the member programs in AWP’s Directory of Conferences & Centers. Winners and four finalists also receive a one-year individual membership in AWP.

Submissions must be postmarked between December 1 and March 30 of each year. Download full guidelines here.

2013 Judge: Michelle Seaton

Michelle Seaton’s essays and short stories have appeared in Harvard Review, The Pinch, Sycamore Review, Lake Effect, Quiddity International Journal, and in the 2009 edition of Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her magazine journalism has appeared in many magazines, including Worth, Robb Report, and Bostonia. She is the co-author of The Way of Boys (WilliamMorrow, 2009) and The Cardiac Recovery Handbook (Hatherleigh Press, 2004). For more than 12 years, she has been an instructor at Grub Street, Boston’s largest nonprofit writing center. She is also the lead instructor for Grub Street’s Memoir Project, a program that offers free memoir classes to senior citizens in Boston neighborhoods. The project has visited twelve Boston neighborhoods and produced three anthologies.

For more info about the WC&C Scholarship Competition, visit https://www.awpwriter.org/contests/wcc_scholarships_overview

Visit Wilkes at Boston’s AWP Conference

January 16, 2013

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If you plan on attending the annual AWP Conference and Bookfair, taking place in Boston MA, March 6-9, 2013, you’ll find ample Wilkes representation.

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Faculty Gregory Fletcher and Jean Klein, and alum Laurie Powers are on the panel “The Ten-Minute Play: the Essential Ingredients.”

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Nancy McKinley is presenting on the panel “International Women’s Day Reading from Becoming: What Makes a Woman.”

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Christine Gelineau will present on the panel “Second Sex, Second Shelf? Women, Writing, and the Literary Marketplace.”

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Jim Warner, alum and former assistant program director, will once again host the All-Collegiate Poetry Slam and Open Mic every night of the conference.

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Bonnie Culver, program director, is on the AWP national Board of Trustees and was a member of the Boston Conference committee. She noted, “There are more presentations this year than any other year in AWP history. It promises to be another fantastic conference.”

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For more information about AWP and the conference schedule, visit www.awpwriter.org.

Don’t forget to stop by Wilkes/ Etruscan Press booth in the Bookfair!

Wilkes Alum in latest issue of AWP Chronicle

November 21, 2012

Writer’s Chronicle
December 2012

Congratulations to Wilkes alum Tara Caimi for the publication of her craft essay, “Privileged Perspective in Memoir: Building the Bridge of Trust by Trusting the Reader.” This essay appears in the current print edition of AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle (December 2012). AWP members may also access the article online here.

Here’s a preview:

“Establishing and maintaining credibility in the content and for the narrator helps to win the reader’s trust and enhance the overall believability of the memoir, but trust is never a one-way street.”

Tara Caimi holds an MFA in creative writing from Wilkes University. Excerpts from her memoir, Mush, have been published in the MacGuffin, Oh Comely magazine, and by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Her fiction has appeared in Fire & Knives. Tara is a communications specialist at Penn State, and a freelance writer in central Pennsylvania.

Congrats, Tara!

2013 AWP Opportunities for Students & Faculty

September 26, 2012

The M.A./M.F.A. Wilkes programs are once again sponsors for AWP’s (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) national conference to be held in Boston, March 6-9, 2013! That means Wilkes will have 45 FREE registrations for students and faculty wishing to attend the conference.

As in years past, Wilkes will have a booth shared with Etruscan Press in the Book Fair. We need a handful of student volunteers to work the booth during the conference; please call Dawn Leas to register and/or volunteer no later than October 1!

The 2013 AWP Conference & Bookfair takes place March 6-9, 2013 in Boston. This year’s conference Keynote Speakers are Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. See a full list of accepted 2013 readings and panels here.

Psst. Keep your eyes out for the return of the highly acclaimed All Collegiate Slam, hosted by Misterjim and the Wilkes writing programs!

free AWP registration for students/faculty

November 2, 2011

The creative writing M.A./M.F.A. Wilkes programs are once again sponsors for AWP’s (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) national conference to be held in Chicago, IL February 29-March 3, 2012! If you are a Wilkes creative writing student or faculty member there are still a few conferences passes available to you. Hotel and travel is on your own, but the pass will allow you to attend all of the conference panels and readings, as well as the conference bookfair.

Students and faculty must reach Assistant Director Jim Warner via LIVE by Monday, November 11 to claim a pass.

The 2012 AWP Conference & Bookfair takes place February 29-March 3, 2012 in Chicago. This year’s conference Keynote Speaker is Margaret Atwood. See a full list of accepted 2012 readings and panels here

As in years past, Wilkes will have a booth shared with Etruscan Press in the Book Fair. Also, keep your eyes out for the return of the highly acclaimed All Collegiate Slam, hosted by Misterjim and the Wilkes writing programs!

AWP Opportunities for Students & Faculty

September 14, 2011

The M.A./M.F.A. Wilkes programs are once again sponsors for AWP’s (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) national conference to be held in Chicago, IL February 29-March 3, 2012! That means Wilkes will have 45 FREE registrations for students and faculty wishing to attend the conference.  

As in years past, Wilkes will have a booth shared with Etruscan Press in the Book Fair.  We need a handful of student volunteers to work the booth during the conference; those students attending will receive transportation, a shared room, and registration. Please call Dr. Culver to volunteer no later than October 1! 

The 2012 AWP Conference & Bookfair takes place February 29-March 3, 2012 in Chicago. This year’s conference Keynote Speaker is Margaret Atwood. See a full list of accepted 2012 readings and panels here

Psst. Keep your eyes out for the return of the highly acclaimed All Collegiate Slam, hosted by Misterjim and the Wilkes writing programs!