AWP Guest Bloggers Sought (Saturday’s Panels)

February 6, 2014 § 17 Comments


pikeOkay, if you’ve read the prior two posts, you know what’s up, and it involves fish being tossed back and forth at Pike Place Market. Also, AWP nonfiction panels.

Below you will find Saturday’s panels focusing on nonfiction.  If you want to claim one, feel free to do so in the comments section.  (Sometimes two people blog report on the same panel, and that’s okay too.  Three is probably too many, though.)

We are looking for two things: (1) gleaned information that might be useful or interesting to folks who can’t make the Seattle conference, and (2) Just fun times.  You can blog about the drunk poet in the elevator if you want to and can make it interesting.  Or go kiss a baby seal.  Reports from the Bookfair are good too.

[Those who volunteer; When your blog post is ready, e-mail to to brevitymag@gmail.comAbout 500 words is best.  If you want a reminder, you can send an e-mail now to the same address as well as posting below and we’ll remind you in two weeks, but if you want to just keep track yourself, that’s fine too.  Please include a two or three sentence bio note when you submit.]

chum_colorsSo here is Saturday’s schedule:

Saturday, March First.

Ten-thirty a.m. to Eleven-forty-five a.m.

S136. Resisting Rise, Fall, Resolve: Strategies for the Anti-Memoir.
(Elizabeth Kadetsky, Robin Romm, David MacLean, Joanna Smth Rakoff, Liz Scarboro) Redwood Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor.
Traditional memoir suggests a journey from tragedy to redemption with a sane narrator who provides a handrail through chaos. This panel discusses possibilities for disrupting the classic rise-fall arc of the confession, exploring ways to rough up the memoir genre. Authors can create danger through form: 2nd and 3rd person, graphics and text/image hybrid, novelization, fractured narrative, scrambled chronology, meta-textual deconstruction, or, simply, falling deeper and deeper as narrative arc.

S158. “Doubt is my Revelation”: Creative Nonfiction On Religion.
(Jeff Sharlet, Nathan Schneider, Kaya Oakes, Brook Wilensky-Lanford)
Room LL5, Western New England MFA Annex, Lower Level.
Philip Lopate has written that the essay as a form is all about doubt. But what if you’re an essayist obsessed with religion? How does a skeptic engage with devout subjects? Or alternately, how does a writer of faith reach across the divide to unbelievers? Editors of and contributors to Killing the Buddha, an online literary magazine specializing in “first person dispatches from the margins of faith,” share their experiences and discuss the essential role of doubt in writing about faith.

S185. Telling it All: Boundaries in Creative Nonfiction.
(Allen Gee, Ann McCutchan, Peter Selgin, Margaret Macinnis, Emily Fox Gordon)
Room 613/614, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6.
Five writers will read brief excerpts and explain why this published work contains their most personally revealing material. What will follow is a discussion about what each writer won’t write about and why. Our panel will attempt to answer these questions: While we often seek to maintain or nurture a sense of privacy for ourselves, what are the writer’s obligations? Does one’s art trump any and all ethical considerations? Should we be mindful of secrets, or is nothing sacred anymore?

One-thirty p.m. to Two-forty-five p.m.

S207. What about God? Memoirists Discuss Faith and Writing.
(Krista Bremer, Cheryl Strayed, Sara Miles, Emily Rapp, G. Willow Wilson)
Room 602/603, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6.
Faith is understood to be the opposite of the intellect, and religion to be at odds with literature, which thrives on ambiguity. But if life is a journey, then memoir is travel writing. The author is no tourist seeking souvenirs; she’s a pilgrim who wanders the wilderness of memory in search of meaning. How do an author’s beliefs shape her quest, both her process and her finished work? Five memoirists will discuss spirituality and writing and explore how their beliefs shape their work.

S225. The Naked I: Nonfiction’s Exposed Voice.
(Barrie Jean Borich, Ira Sukrungruang, Margot Singer, Dinah Lenney, Judith Kitchen)
Room 304, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 3.
Authentic voice. Inner voice. Essayistic voice. Unmasked voice. However we describe the sound and texture of that slip-slide between our actual lives and the versions of ourselves we create for the page, this palpable human presence is what distinguishes creative nonfiction from the genres. This panel of nonfiction writers will discuss the intimacy, intellect, and identity of this naked I—part actuality, part construction, always individual, and wholly what the genre is all about.

S226. Writing Feminism in Creative Nonfiction.
(Sarah Lenz, Marcia Aldrich, Kristen Iversen, Sonja Livingston, Mary Kay McBrayer)
Room 305, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 3.
Five women writers speak about how feminism influences their CNF writing. In our post-feminism era how do women memoirists and journalists fit in? What effect does feminism have on the MFA program from the professors’ and students’ viewpoint? Who are the feminists CNF writers can look to these days? Are Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan still relevant? Where does feminism intersect with publishing? How helpful is the VIDA count in raising awareness to these issues?

Three o’clock p.m. to Four-fifteen p.m.

S230. Lightening Up the Dark: The Role of Humor in Memoir.
(Mimi Schwartz, Joe Mackall, Phillip Lopate, Suzanne Greenberg, Daniel Stolar)
Willow Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor.
Too often we see our lives as simply funny or sad and write in that single mode, limiting the emotional complexity of our narratives. Humor is a powerful tool for changing that—and no need to be Jon Stewart to use it effectively. Our panel of five explores how humor works for them as writers and teachers of memoir and essay. We address how humor deepens perspective, how it seduces readers to our side, and how, by marrying dark material with humor, we create a powerful tension between the two.

S240. Planning for Surprise: Teaching the Unexpected in Personal Narrative.
(Patrick Madden, Michael Steinberg, Renee D’Aoust, Thomas Larson, Desirae Matherly)
Room 606, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6.
This panel focuses on the vital role that surprise, serendipity, and experimentation play in writing and teaching personal narratives. We’ll explore how we and writers utilize the surprises that arise while drafting and, in turn, how we teach these strategies to graduates and undergraduates. In place of relying on preset stories and structures, we’ll offer examples designed to help nonfiction writers learn to trust their instincts and intuitions as they compose their personal narratives.

S247. Modernism and the Lyric Essay.
(Joey Franklin, Dinty W. Moore, Mary Cappello, David Shields, Lia Purpura)
Room 615/616/617, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6.
What can Joyce, Woolf, Pound, Eliot, and modernists teach us about the poetics of the lyric essay? And can answering such a question help the lyric essay find its aesthetic roots? Join us as we discuss how modernist preoccupations with impressionism, self-consciousness, fragmentation, and free association (among things) can not only inform the way we read, write, and teach lyric essays, but can also help us place this popular genre in the larger tradition of western poetics.

Four-thirty p.m. to Five-forty-five p.m.

S264. The Power of Perspective: Teaching Memoir and Creating Community Among Older Writers.
(Michelle Seaton, Judah Leblang, Kerrie Kemperman, Kathryn Kay)
Room 3B, Washington State Convention Center, Level 3.
Many of the tens of millions of older Baby Boomers in this country yearn for quality creative writing instruction. In Boston, Grub Street has created a program to teach memoir to retirees and has published four anthologies of their work. In this panel, instructors and administrators will discuss how the program evolved, its teaching and workshop philosophy, and how it handles the publishing process, so that communities can reach this vital but underserved population.

S270. Risking More Than Your Own Story: The Challenges of Researching and Writing Others’ Lives.
(Gregory Martin, Debra Gwartney, Mark Sundeen, Jennifer Sinor)
Room 606, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6.
Panelists consider the ethical questions that arise when we bring others—both living and dead—into our literary nonfiction. What is a writer’s responsibility to his or her subject? What are the possibilities for harm, inaccuracy, or success? In addition, the apparent ease of gathering information through modern technology can make it difficult to know where and how to begin. These writers will give both practical advice and critical reflection on the challenges of writing about others.

S280. Beyond the Gild: Lyric Imperatives in the Personal Essay.
(Robert Root, Kathryn Winograd, Laura Julier, Steve Harvey, Jocelyn Bartkevicius)
Room LL5, Western New England MFA Annex, Lower Level.
Personal and lyric essays are sometimes perceived as antithetical by novice writers in creative nonfiction, the personal essay conscripted to linear narrative and the lyric essay to experimental poetics. The personal essayist may embrace poetic language, yet leave untapped elements such as metaphor, symbol, deep image, and associative logic. Writers, mentors, and editors discuss how to discover these “doorways” to broaden and deepen the revelatory journey into self and world.

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