Monday, February 9, 2009

My Hoped-For Itinerary at AWP

This is where I hope to be spending my time at the AWP in Chicago this week. It's been tough making the choices because I have friends on several panels that are up against each other and there are other panels I really have strong interest in that are competing with each other. For example, many of the Native American and Latino panels are going head-to-head. And of course, I want them all! I would have gladly traded a few of these for some of the others not listed here that were on at the same time as others I have down.

But as of right now, this is what I plan to do there.


9:00 am The Sister Art(s): Toward A Feminist Ekphrasis. (Grace Bauer, Robin Becker, Leslie Adrienne Miller, Joy Manesiotis, Christine Stewart-Nunez, Rebecca Bednarz) Though some might claim that "writing about art is like dancing about architecture," the past decade has witnessed a growing interest in ekphrastic writing. This panel of poets who have written on "subjects" ranging from the Mona Lisa to Kate Moss, monuments to medical illustrations to movies and dance, will examine ekphrasis through a feminist lens, and explore how for women artists, "seeing with fresh eyes" can become, as Adrienne Rich says, "an act of survival."

10:30 am Revising Modernisms: Innovative Latino Writing in the 21st Century. (J. Michael Martinez, Antonio Viego, John-Michael Rivera, Gabe Gomez, Jennifer Reimer) We will investigate what constitutes innovative U.S. Latino writing through an analysis of the cultural conditions that gave rise to the "innovative." What role does the Latino play in the understanding of "innovative" writing? How is its aim changed by the U.S. Latinos participation in its aesthetic? We will explore these questions through Lacanian theory, an analysis of Modernism and its heirs (NY School, Langpo, etc.) that includes the U.S. Latino, and the methods employed by publishers of innovative U.S. Latino writing.

Noon Diverging Lines: Understanding the Evolution of Contemporary Latino Poetry. (Blas Falconer, Rosa Alcalá, Gina Franco, Peter Ramos, Rodrigo Toscano, Robert Tejada) Although Latino poetry has a strong foundation in American literature, emerging writers are complicating the aesthetics of the canon by drawing on movements (i.e., Language Poetry, New Formalism) and communities (i.e., Gay and Lesbian, African American) outside their own. The panelists will explore the intersection between aesthetics and ethnicity, helping to define the foundation and the evolution of Latino poetry.

1:30 pm Building, Breaking, Rebuilding: Six Chicago Literary Landscapers. (Ellen Placey Wadey, Erin Teegarden, Krista Franklin, Joel Craig, Jennifer Karmin, Irasema Gonzalez) We are the bold sluggers who run Chicago's independent reading series. Set vividly against the established grid, we build literary communities in neighborhoods from the ground up. How are we thriving in the face of our challenges? Less like a panel and more like a virtual show-and-tell, organizers from a diverse group of popular, D-I-Y reading serieses discuss building, breaking from, and rebuilding Chicago's literary landscape.

3:00 pm Writing Class / Writing Gender. (Teresa Carmody, Selah Saterstrom, Corrina Wycoff, Ali Liebegott, Veronica Gonzalez) The stories of poor women have been traditionally written realistically, in order to faithfully depict the grind and grit of poverty to readers often presumed to be not-poor. What happens to the reality of poor women when rendered in non-realist, non-naturalist writing? Is realism actually more artificial than the sometimes surreal state of being a have-not? This panel presents five women writers whose work addresses the realities of social class and gender in a not-strictly realist style.

4:00 pm Las Mocosas Gritan: A Reading by Macondista Snot-noses. (Lorraine Lopez, Gabriela Jauregui, Angie Chau, Daisy Hernandez, Erin Badhand, Laura Negrete) This cross-genre reading will present poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by a group of emerging women writers, all members of the Macondo Workshop established by Sandra Cisneros in San Antonio, Texas. These authors, who come from around the country and abroad—brought together through creativity and community activism—will share a variety of original works inspired by and in tribute to this extraordinary homeland for writers of color and other creative spirits at the margins.

6:30PM Con Tinta Celebration
Location: COCO Restaurant, 2723 W. Division St, CHICAGO 60622
Cost: Free Buffet / Cash Bar
Fourth Annual Pachanga for the Chicano/Latino Literary community and its allies. Event will include special recognition of Patti Hartmann, presentation of Achievement Award to Carlos Cortez, and readings/tributes by Carlos Cumpian, Lisa Alvarado, and Ray Gonzalez. For more information, contact Richard Yañez (


9:00 am Sibling Rivalries: Spoken & Written Word Poetry and the Literary Tug-of-War. (Valerie Martinez, Jon Davis, Danny Solis, Jill Battson, Michelle Holland, Jasmine Cuffee) The lines between the slam/spoken word and literary poetry communities have often been drawn and defined by issues of quality, accessibility, inclusiveness, elitism, and entertainment. These lines (and the resulting estrangements) impact both young poets and writing programs. This panel brings together so-called "spoken word," "slam," and "literary" poets to discuss the tensions between communities, the (un)necessary distance, and the (im)possibility of bridging the divide.

10:30 am The Next Taboo: Writing about Illness. (Robin Romm, Lee Montgomery, Lisa Glatt, Eric Puchner, Dana Levin, Don Waters) In On Being Ill, Virginia Woolf wrote, "[it's] strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature." Illness is often seen as an inferior subject for great literature, trumped by politics, race, or war. Why is this a subject many literary writers avoid? What are the challenges of writing seriously about illness? Does it necessarily court sentimentality? Does the resistance to it make it the next big taboo in literature?

Noon The Duty of a Writer. (Jackson Taylor, Marie Ponsot, Paul Muldoon, Sapphire, Major Jackson) In America, we legitimize a creative writer by noting commercial success—but what is often left unnoticed is that the creative writer performs a very important job in society—the recording of truth as he or she sees it. With truth, the writer hopes to engage the conscience of people—and perhaps get them to ask their own questions. William Blake weighed out that without contraries there is no progression—and one of the duties a writer performs is to present contraries—questioning authority in order to discern that which is ethical and legitimate. This panel will explore the duty of the writer, particularly from the perspective of a student, discuss the potential for literature to affect social change, ask if literature is an alternative to consumer culture, and explore why so many writers find their way into exile.

1:30 pm Applying for a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship: Helpful Hints for Writers and Translators. (Jon Parrish Peede, Amy Stolls, Catherine Vass) Thinking about applying for an NEA Creative Writing or Translation Fellowship but feel daunted by the process or not sure if you're eligible? Members of the NEA staff are here to help. This panel will review the fellowship guidelines and selection process, offer advice on how to put together the most effective application, and answer your questions. Special attention will be given to navigating, the online government application system.

3:00 pm Writing in Multiple Genres. (Diana Raab, Phillip Lopate, Molly Peacock, David Huddle, Judith Kitchen) In the past, literary writers were encouraged to focus on a single genre, but in recent years, many have experimented more freely with other forms. This panel of poets, fiction and nonfiction writers will explore the challenges and rewards of crossing over to other genres. Some of the topics to be discussed include: What does each writer bring to the enterprise? What do they learn when making this transition? How does writing in more than one genre add depth and complexity to their work?

6:00PM PALABRA PURA: Special Edition
Location: JAZZ SHOWCASE, 47 W. Polk St., Chicago 60605
Cost: Free/Cash Bar
Following up on the multi-voiced reading hosted by ACENTOS in NYC last year during AWP, the Guild Complex, Letras Latinas, and Poetry Magazine will be hosting a "One Poem Festival" featuring an ample roster of Latino and Latina poets from Chicago and out of town, including: Lisa Alvarado, Carlos Cumpian, Silvia Curbelo, Gina Franco, Gabe Gomez, Irasema Gonzalez, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Gabriela Jauregui, Olivia Maciel, Carl Marcum, Valerie Martínez, Orlando Ricardo Menes, Achy Obejas, Daniel A. Olivas, Johanny Vasquez Paz, Paul Martinez Pompa, Linda Rodríguez, Jacob Saenz, Jorge Sánchez,Juan Manuel Sanchez Rich Villar. For more information, contact Ellen Wadey (


9:00 am Waving Adieu, Adieu, Adieu: Poems of Leave-Taking and Farewell. (Alan Soldofsky, Willis Barnstone, David Mura, Marcia Southwick, Daniel Tobin) Farewells are among the hardest, most poignant subjects to write about. Thus, poems of leave taking and farewell appear in a great many guises and forms, sometimes presenting a solemn, sometimes an ironic, sometimes a mixed or angular tone—occasioned as such poems usually are by an assortment of difficult life events. Five distinguished poets will read and discuss poems of leave-taking and farewell from a diversity of traditions and modes as well as read examples from their own work.

10:30 am Speaking Of and To Others: Beyond the Western Apostrophe in Intertribal Poetry. (Molly McGlennen, Simon Ortiz, Kimberly Blaeser, Diane Glancy, Sherwin Bitsui) Do shared commitments of Native American writers to cultural, liguistic, political, and physical survival inform a unique creative process? This panel considers the possibility of an Indigenous Poetics and the embodied consequences of poetry in Native communities. Within what contextual "frame" do Native American poets craft, publish, or perform their work? Is an Indegenous Poetics, discrete from or parallel to the Western tradition, implied in the creative work itself? Panelists incorporate readings to showcase important creative/critical confluences.

Noon Metaphor, Selective Memory, & Misdirection: Poetry as Autobiography by Other Means. (Jordan Smith, Judith Hall, David Rigsbee, Ed Pavlic) A reading with commentary by four poets whose work—with the dramatic monologue, with actual or imagined translations, with language as music and metaphor, fragmentation and revelation—continues the investigation of the place of the poem's speaker and the nature of poetic authority. Rather than assuming the immediacy and centrality of the first person or abandoning it to its own limitations, these poets have made the definition of the "I" in relationship to the poem's subject part of the poem's development of character, topos, and topic.

1:30 pm More Than a Collection: Imagining and Realizing Thematic Poetry Projects. (Jon Tribble, Oliver de la Paz, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Sean Nevin, Alison Townsend, Jake Adam York) A panel discussion featuring five Crab Orchard Series in Poetry authors who have published collections with Southern Illinois University Press that explore extended thematic concerns or ongoing poetic projects on topics including the imaginative interior life of a young boy, silent film, Alzheimer's, the Persephone myth and twenty-first-century America, and the martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement.

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