The annual AWP Conference includes over 550 readings, lectures, and panels from more than 2,000 presenters; a bookfair with over 800 presses, journals, and other organizations; and several of off-site events and shindigs each night. The gigantic scale of the AWP Conference can be a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, Caitlin Scarano has some suggestions that can get your itinerary offer to a good start. She highlights a few of her top choices for panels, off-site events, and bookfair tables/booths.
Thursday 10:30-11:45AM: There and Back Again: Writing from the Road (R150) – Room 410, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level. (Erika Krouse, Kai Carlson-Wee, Kim Barnes, Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum, Maggie Shipstead).
Thursday 1:30-2:45PM: The Violence of the Page (R210) – Room 403 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level. (Lucy Corin, Maggie Nelson, Brian Evenson, Ben Weissman, Fred D’Aguiar).
Friday 10:30-11:45AM: Black Bodies Matter (F162) – Room 515 A, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level. (Patricia Smith, Justin Phillip Reed, Susan Somers-Willett, Adriana Ramirez, Jonah Mixon-Webster).
Friday at 12-1:15PM: Beyond Confession: Women’s Writing and a Radical Poetics of the Personal (F171) – AWP Bookfair Stage, Exhibit Hall Level One. (Dorothea Lasky, Amber Rose Tamblyn, Rachel McKibbens, Deborah Landau, Ada Limón).
Saturday at 1:30-2:45PM: The Unbearable Too-Whiteness of Workshop (S231) – Room 515 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level. (Joshua Robbins, V.V. (Sugi) Ganeshananthan, F. Douglas Brown, Laura McCullough).
ELJ and OMP Literary Showcase: Thursday, March 31st 5 PM – 7 PM at Ham & Eggs Tavern. Join us for a night of poetry and prose by authors from ELJ Publications and Orange Monkey Publishing. Readers include: Steve Westbrook, S. Marie Clay, Aaron Reeder, Ruben Rodriguez, Cindy Rinne, Michael Cooper, Zack Bean, Katie Cortese, E. Kristin Anderson, Allie Marini, Lawrence Eby and Jessica Walsh. This one is free and open to the public!
Breakfast Club: AWP off-site Reading w/ ccr, Devils Lake, and Meridian: Thursday, March 31st 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM at Ham and Eggs Tavern. Right after the ELJ and OMP Literary Showcase, so just stick around! Presented by Writ Large Press. Readings include, for cream city review: Matthew Olzmann, Sueyeun Juliette Lee; for Devils Lake: Vievee Francis, Tahnee Salkey; and for Meridian: Michael Schmeltzer, Aimee Mepham. No door charge/cover. Rumor has it there might be free drinks, so get there early!
Button Poetry + YesYes Books Reading: Saturday, April 2nd 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM at Art Share-LA. YesYes Bøøks & Button Poetry are teaming up at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles to showcase some of our amazing authors! The show will feature performances by: Danez Smith Aziza, Barnes, Ocean Vuong, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, Tanya Olson, J. Scott Brownlee, Jamie Mortara, Cam Awkward-Rich, andJonterri Gadson. Doors 6:30. Show 7:00. $5 at the door (50% of proceeds go to the Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN)). The venue will have beer & wine available for purchase. Two of my favorite presses — not to be missed!
Tables and Booths
Artsmith – Table # 1610
Bellingham Review – Table # 1606
The Conium Review – Table # 1238. Stop by on Thursday from 3:00 PM – 4:00PM to pick up a free copy of my flash fiction micro-chap and have it signed!
Indiana Review – Table # 1625
University of Alaska Press and Permafrost Magazine – # 1221
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 VICE, NOON, Spork and Hayden’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.
Two of our editors share some panels they’re excited for. Naturally, we’ll be spending a lot of time at The Conium Review table (#2025). But there will be three of us at AWP (Chelsea, James, and Uma), so hopefully we’ll all get to attend our panel/presentation wishlists.
Chelsea Werner-Jatzke’s top
five eight panels (because lists of five or ten are just too neat and tidy for a badass like Chelsea):
- Thursday, 9:00am to 10:15am. History, Speculation, and Invention in Long Form Fiction. (Christopher Robinson, Jan Elizabeth Watson, Jaquira Diaz, Melissa Falcon Field, Sebastian Stockman). Room 200 D&E, Level 2.
- Thursday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. The Hybrid Book: Publishing Poetry and Art Together. (Allison Campbell, Henry Israeli, Bianca Stone, Ben Fama, Elizabeth Clark Wessel). Room M100 B&C, Mezzanine Level.
- Friday, 9:00am to 10:15am. The Ethics of Book Reviewing. (Eric Lorberer, Stephen Burt, Carolyn Kellogg, Brian Evenson, Rusty Morrison). Auditorium Room 1, Level 1.
- Friday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Word Meets Image: The Video Essay. (Ned Stuckey-French, Eula Biss, Kristen Radtke, John Bresland). Room 101 F&G, Level 1.
- Friday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm (competing against the previous panel for attention). Music in Prose: Crafting the Lyric Sentence. (Pearl Abraham, Hanna Pylväinen, V.V. Ganeshananthan, Stephanie Grant, Will Byrne). Room 200 H&I, Level 2.
- Friday, 3:00pm to 4:15pm. Where We Begin to Revise the Poem. (Keetje Kuipers, Erica Dawson, James Harms, John Hoppenthaler, Peter Campion). Auditorium Room 1, Level 1.
- Friday, 4:30 to 5:45pm. Let Us (Not) Teach You a Lesson: A Pleiades Writers’ Symposium on Moral Fiction.(Phong Nguyen, Bayard Godsave, Christine Sneed, Seth Brady Tucker, Michael Kardos). Room L100 D&E, Lower Level.
- Saturday, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Rock and Prose: Musician/Fiction Writers Reflect at the Crossroads. (Steven Ostrowski, Steve Yarbrough, Lynne Barrett, Joe Clifford). Room 208 A&B, Level 2.
James R. Gapinski’s top five panels:
- Thursday, April 9th, 3:00pm to 4:15pm. How I Taught Then, How I Teach Now. (Joseph Scapellato, Derek Palacio, Cathy Day, Matt Bell, Jennine Capó Crucet). Auditorium Room 1, Level 1.
- Friday, April 10th, 9:00am to 10:15am. Four Writers of Experimental Fiction Disagree. (Jeff Jackson, Kate Bernheimer, Susan Steinberg, Alan Michael Parker). Room 211 C&D, Level 2.
- Friday, April 10th, 3:00pm to 4:15pm. The Uncanny Reader: the Art of Unease in the Short Story Form. (Marjorie Sandor, Karen Russell, Kate Bernheimer, Steve Stern, Kelly Link). Room 101 H&I, Level 1.
- Friday, April 10th, 4:30pm to 5:45pm. Fail Better: Successful Writers Talk About Failure. (M. Molly Backes, Roxane Gay, Megan Stielstra, Dean Bakopoulos, Rebecca Makkai). Auditorium Room 2, Level 1.
- Saturday, April 11th, 1:30pm to 2:45pm. Weird Science: Strategies to Encourage Innovative Writing in the Workshop (Andrew Altschul, Lucy Corin, Eric Puchner, Melanie Rae Thon, Deb Olin Unferth). Room 200 B&C, Level 2.
A few months ago, I was talking about the VIDA “count” with a friend-and-fellow-writer. The count has been at the forefront of our editorial discussions this year—The Conium Review journal has a large gender gap, but we’re trying to change that this year and beyond.
In the middle of the conversation, my friend-and-fellow-writer said something like “I feel like, as a woman author, I should care about VIDA, but I don’t. It doesn’t matter to me.”
“Doesn’t matter?” I couldn’t believe it. But over the past few months, I’ve dug deeper. I’ve explored some critiques of VIDA, and I’ve discovered how some writers, editors, and readers consciously or unconsciously determine that underrepresentation and misrepresentation isn’t a ‘big deal.’
I can’t speak for my friend-and-fellow-writer, but I can speak for myself and why VIDA matters to me (and by extension, why the VIDA count is on The Conium Review’s radar).
Part I, Men Only Tell Half the Story
I’m getting tired of hearing the same half of the story on a continuous loop. Certainly, there are good male authors (I hope I’m one of them), but the literary world is publishing way too many of them while simultaneously ignoring way too many women. Sure, men are capable of writing new, innovative fiction. However, that fiction is invariably filtered through the same gendered lens. We can pretend that gender doesn’t matter, but we secretly know that it does. Right? A man, for example, could not write Elissa Schappell’s Blueprints for Building Better Girls. A woman, for example, could not write Junot Díaz’s Drown.
It’s tough to consider “a man could not write” or “a woman could not write” arguments in isolation, because gender is just one part of who a person is. You can easily imagine all sorts of differences between authors. And you can imagine how every iota of difference creates a different experience and a different story and a different lens. But on a fundamental, broad-stroke level, gender matters. The underrepresentation of women matters. VIDA matters. Because if the publishing industry continues to discriminate against women, we’re ignoring half of the conversation. We’re missing out on a huge chunk of the human experience. We’re hearing the same monotone voice over and over, ignoring the women who have entirely unique stories to tell. Stories that we need to hear.
The male narrative has been shoved down our throats so often that it’s all many readers know. This brings us back to The Conium Review. We’re guilty of having a shitty count (VIDA doesn’t officially count us, but we’ve ran our own numbers). However, we’re hitting the reset button, learning from our first four issues, and making changes at the journal. We’re not going to get truly innovative fiction while only publishing a single worldview.
In a 2011 interview (reprinted in the anthology Paper Dreams), Cate Marvin of VIDA recalls her reaction to the first “count” in 2010; she mentions reading male-dominated literary journals, noting “The fact is, I often felt bored when reading these publications. (And I felt guilty for being bored!) Now I know why (whereas before, I felt I ought to be interested).” Frankly, male authors are starting to bore me too. It’s not that these authors don’t resonate with my experience. Some of my favorite authors are men: Etgar Keret and George Saunders, specifically. But other men on my list o’ faves have been replaced by Aimee Bender, Amelia Gray (super excited that she agreed to judge our Innovative Short Fiction Contest), Lucy Corin, Karen Russell, Karin Tidbeck, and other women. They tell the other half of the story. Women turn the literary monologue into a dialogue, and that’s pretty damn exciting.
Even if somebody overlooks the obvious social justice issues, the low publication rates of women matters because it negatively impacts the literary narrative. We keep getting that tired monologue. Personally, I want to read a variety of voices. I don’t want the same ol’ same ol’. I want to be challenged by what I read (and what I write), and that doesn’t happen when the literary community recycles the same half of the conversation in slightly different packages. That’s why VIDA matters. It impacts anybody who loves reading and writing—female and male alike.
About the Author:
James R. Gapinski is The Conium Review‘s Managing Editor. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. His work has appeared in theNewerYork, Line Zero, Heavy Feather Review, and elsewhere. James lives in the Boston area with his partner, two cats, and a collection of 8-bit video games.