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Rita Bullwinkel’s Top Ten AWP 2016 Panels

The annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference is less than a month away, and we’re getting amped up for the obligatory tote bags. Our staff and contributors will be sharing their favorite AWP happenings on our blog over the coming weeks, and we hope to see you at the conference (stop by table #1238 and say “hello” to The Conium Review staff).

First up, Rita Bullwinkel (Vol. 4 contributor) shares her top ten panels.


“The Violence of the Page”

Thursday, March 31, 2016, 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Room 403 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(Lucy Corin, Maggie Nelson , Brian Evenson, Ben Weissman, Fred D’Aguiar)

This panel explores the various tones, reasons, genealogies, and methodologies writers might choose to employ when representing violence, cruelty, and bodies on the page. The writers on this panel have explored these issues in a variety of genres (fiction, scholarship, and poetry) and in a variety of registers (comedic, elegiac, outrageous, conceptual, documentary, and more), and are uniquely capable of discussing the aesthetic, political, and metabolic effects of such writing.

“It Ain’t What They Call You, It’s What You Answer To: Peeling Off Genre Labels”

Thursday, March 31, 2016, 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Room 502 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(Daniel Orozco, Doug Dorst, Maureen McHugh, Kelly Luce, Manuel Gonzales)

How does fantasy fiction (or sci-fi, or detective or horror fiction) become literary fiction? Who decides how/when the genre label gets affixed, or peeled off? Why is the move from genre to literary always somehow a narrative of progress, implying a lesser realm left behind? Hear firsthand as writers with varying affinities to genre fiction reflect on how they negotiate with (wrestle, embrace, sidestep) genre conventions in the creation of their work.

“Translation as Animation: New Poetry from Japan”

Friday, April 1, 2016, 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Room 402 AB, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(Kyoko Yoshida , Forrest Gander , Sawako Nakayasu, Goro Takano, James Shea)

Beginning with a short reading, this panel of translators and writers explores the formal problems, aesthetic choices, and political implications of translating contemporary Japanese poetry. Panelists discuss the diversity of Japanese poetry and consider how the pleasures and challenges of translation animate their own writing. Poets under discussion include Takashi Hiraide, Sayumi Kamakura, Shirō Murano, Kiwao Nomura, and Gozo Yoshimasu.

“Korean Feminist Poetics and Translation”

Friday, April 1, 2016, 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Gold Salon 3, JW Marriott LA, 1st Floor

(Eunsong Kim, Johannes Goransson, Ji Yoon Lee, Don Mee Choi, Joyelle McSweeney)

South Korea’s contemporary history has been deeply impacted by US imperial policies. Yet its history remains relatively unknown: its war, dictatorships, and 47 Free Trade Agreements. We poets and translators discuss feminist Korean poets and propose poetry-as-activism and translation-as-resistance to colonizing power.

“What the Heck Does Innovative Fiction Actually Mean?: Authors Cut Through the Jargon”

Friday, April 1, 2016, 3:00 pm to 4:15 pm

Scott James Bookfair Stage, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

(James R. Gapinski, Ashley Farmer, Manuel Gonzales, Matt Bell, Carmiel Banasky) Innovative fiction is fast becoming a literary buzzword. It’s often a placeholder term for experimental or avant-garde, but what does it really mean? It’s time for a down-to-earth chat that eschews all the labels and jargon. In this panel, presented by The Conium Review, several authors cut through the marketing ploys and hype for a candid talk on the strange, weird, and new in contemporary fiction.

“Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau”

Friday, April 1, 2016, 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Concourse Hall, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

(Emily St. John Mandel, Ruth Ozeki, Kelly Link)

This event brings together three brilliant contemporary female writers—Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki—to read and discuss their craft and experiences as genre-bending authors. Kelly Link is the recipient of an NEA grant and is the author of Get in Trouble. Emily St. John Mandel is the author of Station Eleven, a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award. Ruth Ozeki is the author of A Tale for the Time Being, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

“In the Realms of the Real and the Unreal”

Saturday, April 2, 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

AWP Bookfair Stage, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

(Katharine Beutner, Sofia Samatar, Carmen Machado, Alice Sola Kim, Kelly Link)

This panel explores genres of fiction that juxtapose the real and the unreal in experimental ways: historical fiction, literary fantasy/science fiction, weird fiction, and satire. Where do we draw the line between a secondary world and a distorted reflection of our own world’s beauty, violence, and diversity? Can we discern a poetics of the unreal in contemporary fiction? How have the continual debates over generic boundaries—and/or their irrelevance—affected the ways contemporary writers work?

“In Whose Image: Trans and Genderqueer Writers on Magic, Spirituality, and (the Bodies of) G-d”

Saturday, April 2, 2016, 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

Room 402 AB, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(CA Conrad, Joy Ladin, Ryka Aoki, Ian Ellasante, TC Tolbert)

Spirituality, like writing, hinges on transformation. Similarly, trans and genderqueer writers have unique experiences with transformation on and off the page. This dynamic panel explored the intersections between ritual, myth, magic, magical realism, and even end-rhyme as they shape our various embodiments and faiths. We don’t want to save you, but we hope you are ready to be changed.

“New Directions in Contemporary War Fiction”

Saturday, April 2, 2016, 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Room 510, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

(Peter Molin, Matt Gallagher, Andria Williams, Jesse Goolsby, Elliot Ackerman)

This panel features short readings and commentary by four first-time novelists in the burgeoning field of contemporary war literature. The authors’ novels, each published in either 2015 or 2016, highlight new possibilities for representing combat, war, and military culture in fiction. Building on recent critically acclaimed fiction depicting conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, the panel authors refine our understanding of the human dimensions of war overseas and on the home front.

“Fables, Fibs, and Flat-Out Lies: The Material of Making, Sponsored by Copper Canyon Press”

Saturday, April 2, 2016, 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Concourse Hall, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

(Michael Wiegers, Richard Siken, Laura Kasischke, Roger Reeves)

Whatever the chosen form, making is a dominant force in any artist’s life. For writers, the creative material—language—is simultaneously precise and slippery, irreducible and expansive; metaphor is a lie that tells the truth, and image a construct made from the sound and meaning of language. This reading features three writers who practice various literary and artistic forms—fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and painting—and will be followed by a conversation moderated by their editor.


Rita Bullwinkel is a Conium Review Vol. 4 contributor. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee where she is a fiction MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University and the Fiction Editor of the Nashville Review. Her writing has appeared in several publications including VICENOONSpork anHayden’s Ferry Review. She is a graduate of Brown University, a Vanderbilt Commons Writer in Residence, a Sewanee Writers’ Conference Tennessee Williams Scholarship Award winner, and a Helene Wurlitzer Foundation grantee. Her story “In the South the Sand Winds are Our Greatest Enemy” was selected by Joyland Magazine as one of their top five favorite stories published in 2015. The Nashville Review will be exhibiting at AWP at booth #1500.

Manuel Gonzales and Matt Bell join our AWP 2016 panel!

The Conium Review is presenting a panel at the 2016 AWP Conference in Los Angeles: “What the Heck Does Innovative Fiction Actually Mean?: Authors Cut Through the Jargon,” scheduled for Friday, April 1st at 3:00pm on the Scott James Bookfair Stage.

Unfortunately, two of the original panelists—Stephen Graham Jones and Lindsay Hunter—are no longer able to attend the conference in LA.

But we’ve arranged and confirmed some fantastic alternate panelists! Manuel Gonzales and Matt Bell will be joining the rest of the panelists in a lively discussion of innovative fiction, and we’re super duper excited to welcome them aboard.

Manuel Gonzales is the author of the collection, The Miniature Wife and Other Stories, and the forthcoming novel, The Regional Office Is Under Attack! He teaches creative writing at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and at the low-residency MFA program at IAIA.

Matt Bell is the author of the novels Scrapper and In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient. He teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Arizona State University.

We’re excited to have Manuel and Matt on-board, and looking forward to seeing many of our readers and contributors at the panel. Come loaded with questions for the Q&A portion (but let’s avoid trying to covertly pitch your novel in the form of a panelist question—it doesn’t actually work).

The 2015 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is Caitlin Scarano!

Caitlin Scarano‘s piece, “Pitcher of Cream,” is the winner of The Conium Review‘s 2015 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Laura Ellen Joyce! This year’s finalists were Ashley HutsonGary Joshua GarrisonEmily KiernanAri LaurelMarsha McSpadden, and Jan Stinchcomb. An honorable mention goes to Kitsune Hirano.

Laura said that Caitlin’s story “was haunting and beautiful and every word was chosen with care.” She went on to say “The story felt complete: a whole world in a few hundred words. The chilling ambiguity of the missing children and the unreliability of the narrator made this a perfect flash fiction.”

Caitlin Scarano

Caitlin Scarano

Caitlin Scarano is a poet in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee PhD creative writing program. She was a finalist for the 2014 Best of the Net Anthology and the winner of the 2015 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, judged by Eduardo Corral. She has two poetry chapbooks. This winter, she will be an artist in residence at the Hinge Arts Residency program in Fergus Falls and the Artsmith’s 2016 Artist Residency on Orcas Island.

Caitlin will receive a $300 honorarium for her winning piece and a copy of the judge’s latest book, The Luminol Reels. You’ll get to read Caitlin’s winning flash fiction piece on Saturday, December 19th when it goes “live” on The Conium Review Online Compendium. The story will also be made into a broadside or micro-chapbook for distribution at the 2016 AWP Conference in Los Angeles. Caitlin will be on-site to sign copies for AWP attendees.

2016 AWP Panel: “What the Heck Does Innovative Fiction Actually Mean?”

The 2016 AWP Conference schedule is now available. The Conium Review is pleased to be presenting an informal talk on innovative fiction. The panel is called “What the Heck Does Innovative Fiction Actually Mean?: Authors Cut Through the Jargon.” It’s scheduled for Friday, April 1st at 3:00pm on the Scott James Bookfair Stage.

Panelists include Carmiel Banasky, Ashley Farmer, Lindsay Hunter, and Stephen Graham Jones. James R. Gapinski moderates.

Carmiel Banasky is a writer and teacher from Portland, OR. Her debut novel, The Suicide of Claire Bishop, confronts the portrayals of mental illness in art. After earning her MFA from Hunter College, Carmiel spent four years on the road at writing residencies. She now teaches creative writing in LA.

Ashley Farmer is the author of the short fiction collection Beside Myself and two forthcoming poetry collections: The Women and The Farmacist. A former editor forAtomica, Salt Hill, and other publications, she currently coedits Juked.

Lindsay Hunter is the author of the novel Ugly Girls, which the Huffington Post called “a story that hits a note that’s been missing from the chorus of existing feminist literature.” She is also the author of the flash fiction story collections Don’t Kiss Me and Daddy’s.

Stephen Graham Jones is the author of fifteen novels, five collections, and more than two hundred short stories. More forthcoming.

James R. Gapinski is managing editor of The Conium Review. His fiction has appeared in Lunch Ticket, NANO Fiction, Cheap Pop, Word Riot, and elsewhere.

Be sure to stop by The Conium Review‘s table during the 2016 AWP Conference too. We’ll have discounted books for sale, a free micro-chapbook, and other swag. We’re at table #1238. The full map and list of exhibitors is available here.

“Transplant,” by Megan Magers

woman with the suitcases sketch

I am just a suitcase. The kind with two wheels that has to be pulled. Packed with blood and ribs. A liver. Heavy, impossible for one person to zip closed. There will be an extra fee at the airport.

The least essential organs are the ones that come in pairs. Kidneys and lungs. We think we need each other.

It’s easy to discard the weight of wanting. That vestigial feeling. Let it atrophy. Without it I am fifty pounds exactly. No additional charge.

They say you won’t even notice I’m gone.

Megan Magers is a creative writer in the Los Angeles area working on her debut novel. Her fiction has won The Lesley Johnstone Memorial Award twice and has been published by Monkeybicycle and Cleaver Magazine. Find her on Twitter @megmagers.

Image Credit: © asmakar / Dollar Photo Club