Another Writing Party

February 26, 2009 § 4 Comments

Well, AWP has come and gone. Chicago was kindly in its weather (more so than New York was, at least), but the hotel conference rooms seemed as small as ever. Why is it that the best-sounding panels are always in the smallest rooms?

There’s been a lot of talk about the conference since the conference (J. S. Tunotre shares some snark at AGNI online, and Robert Gray gives an optimistic outsider’s take on the event at Fresh Eyes Now; google “AWP recap” or some such phrase to find more), but here at Brevity we’re wondering what the nonfictioning world has to say.

So how ’bout it? What does AWP do for you as a nonfiction writer? What do you wish it would do?

I’ll go first, so as to set the tone and break the ice. I, David Grover, would like a little more “celebration” and a little less “conference” at the conference. Don’t get me wrong—I love thoughtful panels and readings, but why not do a little more word-partying? I don’t know what this would entail exactly—index cards and sharpies? dictionaries and catchers’ mitts?—but I’m sure it could be done. I’m positive that a group as clever and fun as us could do some very good celebrating of both brevity and the pick-up line (that rascal of the genre [or are pick-up lines poetry?]), could honor our forebears with a Hazlitt quiz, could toast our craft with…a toast!

I saw a panel at the last NonfictioNow that had five or six writers presenting odd short essays they’d written in homage to Montaigne’s “Of Thumbs,” each one having to follow set of strictures dictated by the rolling of dice. It was a riot. I’d be open to more of that.

So that’s what I want; what do you want?

—  David Grover, M.E.

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§ 4 Responses to Another Writing Party

  • I want an end to these “receptions” where it’s a bunch of people standing around in a low-lit room, trading generic tickets for small glasses of bebibles, trading recent success stories, raising eyebrows at old acquaintances across the room, wondering if this means I’m obligated to go over there and talk to him what was his name anyway why doesn’t he come over here why do I have the be the guy going over there when can I leave this is so lame…

    C’mon, people! Let’s have some kind of activity going on at these things. I nominate Grover to run the Ohio U. reception next year.

  • Brenda Miller says:

    I second the call for more writing at the writing conference! Also would love to see more panels/discussions of substance around creative nonfiction, rather than the same ol’ same ol’ like,what is creative nonfiction anyway, what are the lines between fiction/nonfiction, etc., etc. Let’s look in depth at Joan Didion or E.B.White. Let’s ogle some great sentences. Let’s see what our peers are up to in the classroom!

  • Bill Milligan says:

    It seems all academic writing conferences are set up the same: sessions where a writer, or writers, simply read a position statement. This linear mode of communication is antiquated…at least those of us teaching in 2-year settings don’t spend all our time lecturing at students. I’d like to see more vigorous interactions, less time reading the position statement and more time having presenters interacting with the audience. But, as I said, it’s a structural issue that almost all conferences suffer from (and a reason I don’t attend CCCC anymore).

  • My favorite sessions are always those that introduce me to new writers or new ideas about writing. I found out about Paul Gruchow at AWP (thanks, Karen Babine), for instance. Like Grover, I thought Dinty’s “Of Thumbs” panel at NontictioNow was a beautiful idea, as was “You Gotta Teach This Essay!” at AWP a few years ago. So, Dinty: with you on the AWP Board, can we get more panels like the ones you’ve proposed?

    Also: let’s get more people with interactive media to jazz up their talks. Who didn’t love Art Spiegelman’s presentation, largely because of the graphics?

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