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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.

Editors & Contributors at “Lit Crawl Seattle”

Lit Crawl Seattle is a couple days away (Oct. 22nd). Ahead of the event, the Lit Crawl organizers are promoting the #whatsyourcrawl hashtag. If you’re going to Lit Crawl, remember to Tweet, post on Facebook, e-mail, post creepy notes around your apartment building, whatever. A contributor and a couple of our editors share their Lit Crawl schedules below:

Chelsea Werner-Jatzke’s crawl (editorial director of The Conium Review):

  • 6:00pm, “A Salty Reading” presented by the awesome folks of of APRIL at Hugo House.
  • 7:00pm, “Good Sports” at Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar, where I’m reading with Matt Kelsey and Jay McAleer.
  • 8:00pm, back to Hugo House for “Jacks-of-All-Trades,” where Gary Lilley performs with his band, Norf Cackalack, Adam Boehmer reads some poems, and closing the set, Freeway Park will rock it out. Then off to the after party at Fred Wildlife Refuge.

James R. Gapinski’s crawl (managing editor of The Conium Review):

  • Probably going to The James Franco Review reading at 6:00pm (though I might do “A Salty Reading” at Hugo House too; still debating on the 6:00pm time slot).
  • Then I’m going to the Future Tense Books event, “Welcome to the Instant Future” at 7:00pm at the Raygun Lounge.
  • I’m one of the readers at “Lit Level Up,” 8:00pm at the Pine Box. And naturally, closing out the night with the Fred Wildlife Refuge after party.

John Englehardt’s crawl (contributor with his story “This Is Great But You Don’t Need It“):

  • I’m going to City Arts’ “Use Yr Words” at 6pm (Quenton Baker!).
  • “Flashers” at the Sorrento Hotel at 7pm (Mattilda Sycamore!).
  • “Lit Level Up” at the Pine Box at 8pm (James Gapinski!).
  • Then to the dance party at Fred’s Wildlife Refuge.

If you’re out-and-about on October 22nd, say “hi,” Tweet at us, share your crawl, and purchase a copy of The Conium Review: Vol. 3 during the after party. Find the entire Lit Crawl Seattle schedule here.

Contributor Update: Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb published at Gival Press

Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb has two poems published on the Gival Press website. Read “Little Girls and Tea Parties” and “Noise” here.

Yvette’s flash fiction, “Unbecoming Canine,” appeared on our website late last year. Her work has also appeared in Dark Matter: A Journal of Speculative Writing, The Broken Plate, Epiphany Magazine, Blue Lyra Review, and  elsewhere.

Congrats on this latest publication, Yvette!

Contributor Update: Darren C. Demaree’s “The Pony Governor” to be released this July

Darren C. Demaree’s poetry collection, The Pony Governor, will be published this July by After the Pause. If you want a brief taste of The Pony Governor, hear Darren reading from the book’s opening sequence on YouTube. Hannah Stephenson, author of In the Kettle, The Shriek, says “The Pony Governor overflows with music and intelligence.” All proceeds from The Pony Governor go toward the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.

Darren was a contributor to our Fall 2013 issue (Vol. 2, No. 2). He’s is the founding editor of AltOhio and Ovenbird Poetry, and he’s managing editor of the Best of the Net Anthology.

Pony Governor cover

“The Pony Governor,” by Darren C. Demaree

Contributor Conversations: Hillary Leftwich interviews Jan LaPerle

Hillary Leftwich interviews The Conium Review contributor Jan LaPerle. Her work appeared in Vol. 3 and on our Online Compendium.


[Hillary Leftwich]: Your flash story “Murmuration” appears on our online website and “Laden” was just published in the print version of Volume 3 Collector’s Edition. I found both flash stories to have a similar theme about the relationships between mother and child as well as life and death, but in dramatically different ways. Was this similar theme intentional? Which story do you feel has the strongest portrayal of this theme?

Jan LaPerle[Jan LaPerle]: A few minutes ago I was reading over an Artist Statement I wrote last year.  I wrote, “When I write, I write of fear.  Fear like ivy climbing the trunk of the pecan tree that shades our house; it has wrapped itself around me.  Every day I fear losing this little girl – every day when I send her off to school with her backpack and little pink shoes, I feel it; every night when I tuck her in bed I fear she may not wake in the morning.”  The thread that runs between my characters and myself is fear: fear of losing my child, fear of losing my freedom, my life, my control (so many fears and too many to list).  Instead of intentional, I’d say it’s a theme in all my work – something I just try to get at and something I look at from every angle and every distance.

There’s something simpler, cleaner about the fear in “Murmuration.”  The fear of not being able to fulfill a desire, in the story, for both characters is tragic, and most tragic in the living than the dying.  In “Laden,” there are so many complicated fears – fear of becoming a parent, fear of losing a loved one, the fears of the neighbors recognizing their own fears, and the fear of an adult looking at a fearless child.  I believe “Murmuration” travels deeper into one fear and “Laden” is a somewhat messy look at a lot of fears coming together in an image – that strange image at the end of the family frozen in the ice.  So, perhaps the strength here is in the potency, the deeper look, the murmurations.  Though I’m not exactly sure.

[HL]: It has been said that poetry lends itself to flash fiction. As a poet and a fiction writer, do you find this to be true? Are you drawn more towards one or the other in your own writing?

[JLP]: I wrote poetry first.  I completed my MFA in poetry and never once wrote fiction, but when I moved to Oklahoma and began a PhD, I took several classes in fiction.  I felt drawn to write stories, but I was never very good or very drawn to the short story.  In my last fiction class, we all ended with a 5-minute reading (we were to read a short segment of a longer piece).  But, for the reading, I decided to write a complete piece to be read under 5 minutes, and that is when I, rather organically, wrote my first flash fiction piece.  I fell in love with the form.

The crafting of a flash fiction piece is much like crafting a poem, but what I love about writing fiction is the characters, the magic between characters in setting, etc.  Sometimes writing a poem seems a little self-indulgent, and not because poetry is necessarily, but mine is.  I know I need to push my poetry, to find a way to write a new type of poem.  I’ve tried all sorts of things but maybe not hard enough.  I feel right writing flash fiction in a way I haven’t with poetry in a long time.

[HL]: In your flash story “Laden” there is a description that gives me goose bumps: “And then the trees pulled, a response to the pain they found there.  The frozen pond stood suspended in the air, held by the surrounding branches.  The slowing winds rocked the pond like a cradle.”  What is one story or poem you have read where a line or paragraph has stayed with you over the years?

[JLP]: My first love as a writer was Plath, and this line from “Tulips” has never left me: “The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble/ They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps/ Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another/ So it is impossible to tell how many there are.”

Even in that poem, there are better lines, but the image here is frightening and I’ve thought of it often for many years.

[HL]: There is a saying, “If a writer falls in love with you, you will never die.” Have any of the stories or poems you have written held true to this saying? If someone did make it into one of your writings, why did you choose them, even if it was inadvertently?

[JLP]: It is often the faces of strangers that are most haunting to me – they are the ones I write about (though there are pieces of me and the ones I love floating on their surfaces).  For example, when we were living in this little town, Bluff City, I was driving to work early one morning and I met a couple driving in a car – both of them were very tall, skinny, and very pale.  The car windows were large and I could see them well.  I imagined they had been working all night and were on their way home.  They seemed very sad to me, though I knew it wasn’t fair of me to think so.  Or, maybe, there was something about them that reflected my own sadness.  I wrote then a story about them, “Swing Shift,” and in it they find happiness and light.  If I hadn’t written their story, I wouldn’t have remembered their faces, but it’s been years since I saw them on the road, and I can see them as clearly as the tree outside my window.

[HL]: Your poem, “She Rings Like a Bell in the Night” was published in Rattle and also nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The title is also taken from the Stevie Nick’s song “Rhiannon.” If you could pick one song to describe your writing overall, what would be your theme song be?

[JLP]: “After the Storm,” Shovels & Rope.