2013 AWP GUIDE

by Salvatore Pane

I’ve been blogging about AWP for the last four years. You can check the previous guides here (2012, 2011, 2010). So I’m not going to ramble on too much with advice. You know how I feel about AWP. For me, it works best when I plan less. There’s too much to do, and every year it seems like I have more obligations and more friends and writers to meet. I’m never able to do even a fourth of what I’d like to, and often, my favorite moments of the conference have nothing to do with writing. Some of my favorite moments from last year were catching up with old classmates over a tray of deep dish pizza, or the time Kevin Tassini and I dragged Katie Coyle all over Chicago to look for video games. Just go and have fun. Be productive, but don’t overstress.

If you want to see me at AWP, there’s a few options. I’m doing a book signing at the Braddock Avenue Books table from 10:30 to 11:45 on Thursday. Come on down. Buy my book. Hug me? I’ll probably do a few more, and I’ll keep you posted here or via Twitter. I’m also participating in a panel on Thursday from 9-10:15am in Room 108 of the Plaza Level:

R109. Landing the Tenure-Track Job without a Book: What to Expect in the Job Market. (Kevin McKelvey, Salvatore Pane, Keya Mitra, Robert Long Foreman) In a competitive academic job market, how do you make yourself stand out without a book? Writers will discuss their diverse paths to tenure-track jobs and how to develop pedagogy for newer fields such as graphic novels and established fields like professional writing, screenwriting, composition, editing, and publishing. Panelists will discuss publications and teaching loads, how a visiting or contract position can turn into a permanent job, and whether or not you need a PhD.

If you want to see me read, come to this:

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So let’s party. Let’s hang out. Let’s be cool. Below is my list of all the panels I’m interested in attending. Remember, these aren’t the “best” panels–I don’t even know what that would mean exactly. These are just the ones I’m going to try and make. Just relax and be cool. I’ll have an off-site guide posted soon.

THURSDAY

12:00-1:15

Room 200, Level 2

R167. Only Half as Crazy as We Seem: Exploring Unconventional Strategies for Indie Lit Startups. (Steve Westbrook, Matty Byloos, Carrie Seitzinger, J.A. Tyler, Skyler Schulze) At present, the notion of developing an independent literary startup tends to be perceived as a naïve dream or a bad business idea. Defying conventional wisdom, contributors to this panel discuss their recent experience of founding successful new journals, presses, and a reading series. As they examine how their efforts toward sustainability intersect or contradict industry lore, they offer strategies for developing alternative funding structures, distribution models, and marketing techniques.

Room 206, Level 2

R172. Literary Writers Writing Popular Fiction: What’s Up With That? (Ed Falco, Julianna Baggott, Lise Haines, Benjamin Percy) What exactly are we saying when we refer to a novel as literary or serious fiction, as opposed to popular or commercial fiction? Can clear distinctions be made? What do these commonly used terms—literary, serious versus commercial, popular—mean to writers? Is it possible to write a commercial novel that is also literary? Writers who have published literary works as well as novels that might be considered popular fiction explore these and other relevant questions.

Room 313, Level 3

R185. Too Much or Not Enough? Expectations in the Introductory Multi-Genre Creative Writing Classroom. (Carrie Shipers, Laurel Gilbert, Heather Kirn Lanier, Casey Thayer) Five teachers from two-year colleges will discuss best practices for teaching introductory-level multi-genre creative writing classes. What are the unique challenges of teaching creative writing in this setting, and how do we respond to them? Panelists will address how much (and what kind) of writing students should do; the appropriate role of reading student and published texts; expectations for revision; and the efficacy of full-class workshop.

1:30-2:45

Room 102, Plaza Level

R187. Party Down: Effective Fundraising Events on the Cheap. (Steph Opitz, Maribeth Batcha, Paul Morris, Eric Lorberer) Fundraising events don’t need to be fancy dinners and formal wear—learn from folks from One Story, PEN America, and Rain Taxi about producing effective and novel small fundraising events and strategies on a budget.

Room 104, Plaza Level

R189. Nothing but the Truth: Perspectives on Creative Nonfiction in the Classroom and Beyond. (Catherine Cortese, Michael Martone, Diane Roberts, Robin Hemley, Debra Monroe) Creative nonfiction continues to grow in popularity among readers and students of writing. The genre, however, lacks a standard definition. Some believe the slippery nature of perception affords writers infinite liberties, while others see the genre as one that artfully deploys stable facts. This disparity makes the genre tricky to write and trickier to teach. The writers on this panel will discuss the freedoms and constraints of the genre in their classrooms, as well as in their own work.

Room 200, Level 2

R196. From Parts to a Whole: Turning a Bunch of Essays into a Unified Book. (David Giffels, Chuck Klosterman, Sean Manning, Chuck Klosterman, Meghan Daum) Why do some books of essays feel like collections of B-sides, outtakes and orphans, while others carry the thematic and narrative satisfaction of a good concept album? Drawing from their own experiences, this panel of successful authors discusses vital techniques for conceiving, organizing, developing, and enhancing a collection of creative nonfiction essays into a unified whole. We will address how to balance recurring themes, maintain voice and tone, how to build bridges, and other topics.

3:00-4:15

Room 103, Plaza Level

R218. Does Place Still Matter? The Relevance of Regional Fiction in the 21st Century. (Brett Boham, Stewart O’Nan, Susan Straight, Alex Espinoza, Michael Jaime-Becerra) Attempts to categorize American literature often begin and end with region. Southern fiction. New England poetry. Midwestern novel. But to what extent is regionalism a useful lens through which to understand contemporary American literature? How do so-called regional writers conceptualize place? And has the expansion of the American counterculture and social media forever changed the landscape of regional fiction? Panelists will discuss the advantages and limitations of thinking regionally.

Room 105, Plaza Level

R220. All the Young Dudes: A Reading from Four Debut Collections. (Jared Yates Sexton, Eugene Cross, Andrew Scott, Jensen Beach) It’s said that everyone has stories, but publishing those stories, particularly a book-length collection of them, is proving more confounding a process than ever. Join four emerging writers with debut collections for a short reading from their work, followed by a Q&A session detailing how they got their first book deals, their experiences in attracting presses and navigating contracts, and an array of advice for aspiring scribes.

Room 200, Level 2

R226. Second Sex, Second Shelf? Women, Writing, and the Literary Marketplace. (Christine Gelineau, Erin Belieu, Bobbie Ann Mason, Lydia Diamond, Meg Wolitzer) Statistics suggest a gap still exists. But is there a problem, and if there is, what is its nature? What changes/remedies/metamorphoses can/should be imagined? Do you think about this issue differently in terms of your writing and in terms of your career? Accomplished writers, who happen to be women, theorize and report out of their own experiences and analysis of the current literary scene.

Room 206, Level 2

R231. The New Kids in the Class—Teachers Under 35. (Michael Croley, Laura van den Berg, Erica Dawson, David James Poissant, Holly Goddard Jones) Five professors discuss their transition from graduate student to faculty member and the advantages and difficulties their age has posed in negotiating—and finding—their teaching styles with undergraduate and MFA students as well as what role(s) they take on in their courses and departments. The session offers insights and best practices regarding the first few years on the job in and out of the classroom, while also discussing how gender may affect the perception of a young teacher.

Room 305, Level 3

R238. Oh, Grow Up: Writing Kids’ Voices in Literary Fiction. (Alexi Zentner, Alison Espach, Aryn Kyle, Haley Tanner) A lot of literary writers are writing young adult novels, but what about writing the voices of young adults and children in literary fiction? Five novelists talk about how to create believable young voices in adult fiction, how to avoid the imitative fallacy, the power of narrative distance, and how to balance grown-up needs while having kids in the story.

Alice Hoffman Bookfair Stage, Exhibit Hall D, Level 2

BF16. Major Jackson’s Ploughshares Issue Reading. (Ladette Randolph, Major Jackson, Maggie Dietz, Emily Bernard, David Huddle) Ploughshares literary magazine editor-in-chief Ladette Randolph will host a reading to celebrate Major Jackson’s guest-edited issue. Jackson will read from his work and speak briefly about his experience selecting work for the magazine. He will be joined by contributors from his issue, including Maggie Dietz, Emily Bernard, and David Huddle.

4:30-5:45

Hynes Ballroom, Level 3

R244. Alice Hoffman & Tom Perrotta: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Grub Street. (Christopher Castellani, Alice Hoffman, Tom Perrotta) Internationally best-selling writers Alice Hoffman and Tom Perrotta, authors of over thirty books between them, read from their recent fiction. After the reading, Grub Street artistic director and novelist Christopher Castellani moderates a discussion that focuses on how these authors continually appeal to wide audiences with novels and stories of great depth, subtlety, and cultural relevance. The discussion will also touch on how these authors use humor and magic in their work, the creative roles they’ve played in their film adaptations, and other topics related to the craft of fiction.

Room 104, Plaza Level

R248. Eros in the Classroom. (Heather McNaugher, Michele Morano, BK Loren, Eileen Myles, Barrie Jean Borich) More than a few academic careers in literature and writing were ignited by a crush on a teacher. But desire in the classroom is constructed, often for good reason, as threatening and inappropriate; we therefore don’t acknowledge or talk about it. This panel, inspired by Michele Morano’s recent Ninth Letter essay, “Crush,” speaks plainly and honestly about the overlap of desire and pedagogy, and how the writer-teacher has constructively channeled it into her/his creative work.

Room 200, Level 3

R255. Thoreau’s Granddaughters: Women Writing the Wild. (Suzanne Roberts, Cheryl Strayed, Pam Houston, Gretchen Legler, Li Miao Lovett) Do women approach writing both the wildness of the land and the wilderness of their own bodies differently from men? Do women have a uniquely feminine vision of what it means to be wild? Are they judged by a different set of aesthetics? These five women panelists, including memoirists, novelists, and poets, will discuss their literary influences, the joys and challenges, and the internal doubts and external criticism they face in writing the wild.

Room 208, Level 2

R262. What to Do Before You Debut. (Randy Susan Meyers, Nichole Bernier, Jane Roper, Carleen Brice) Authors are often naïve about their role in finding readers, and they are rarely taught the iterative steps involved in the process of a book launch. Panelists will share specific methodologies, from best practices for websites, publicity, marketing decisions, and working with publishing houses, to assessing the line between awkward hawking and reasonable audience building. Timelines, methods, and tools offered will be balanced with discussion of the art of finding comfortable promotional voices.

Room 309, Level 3

R270A. Southern Writers in Exile. (Michael Croley, Richard Bausch, Michael Griffith, Steve Yarbrough, Brad Watson) Writers who identify as southern don’t often stray far from home, but as some have moved into teaching positions, they find themselves now living all over the country, out of their comfort zones. This panel explores how that distance has affected each writer’s approach to their craft and teaching, as well as what it means to be a southern writer no longer living in the South, and what role regionalism plays in the landscape of American literature.

FRIDAY

10:30-11:15

Room 103, Plaza Level

F134. Courage, Craft, and Cunning: From MFA Thesis to Published Book. (Jayne Anne Phillips, Will Schutt, Christa Parravani, Ryan McIlvain, Akhil Sharma) This panel features poets and fiction writers whose manuscripts began in their MFA thesis and progressed through revision and invention to first books published by respected presses. Each will read for four minutes, discuss mentorship in their MFA programs, and compare notes on structuring first books, publishers, and the cunning (as in artful, resourceful) required of writers whose lives embrace far more than writing. Audience Q&A will follow.

Room 109, Plaza Level

F139. The Geek in Me: Writing from the Cultural Fringe. (Ethan Gilsdorf, Lizzie Stark, Peter Bebergal) Geek and fringe subcultures such as Dungeons & Dragons, Larping, psychedelia, punk rock, and comic books can be ideal portals through which to examine the self, construct narratives, and comment on the culture at large. In this session, three panelists whose books mix memoir, pop culture, and ethnography discuss best practices for breaking into subcultures conducting fringe culture reportage and using that research to tell powerful and poignant stories about the human condition.

12:00-1:15

Room 101, Plaza Level

F161. Experimental Fiction Today. (John Parras, Daniel Green, Alissa Nutting, Ted Pelton, M. Bartley Seigel) Editors, writers, critics, and teachers discuss recent trends in experimental fiction and how such work enriches the publishing landscape, the creative writing workshop, and the direction and function of literature itself. What are some of the more exciting trends in innovative fiction? What are the special challenges and rewards for writers testing fiction’s limits? How does fabulist work work? If all literature is innovative, what distinguishes the experimental from other types of fiction?

Room 200, Level 2

F171. Does the World Need Another Literary Magazine? (Tom Bligh, Catherine Dent, Dave Essinger, Karolina Gajdeczka, E. Ethelbert Miller) Undergraduate literary journals encourage students to take responsibility for the shape and form of their work and to learn about publishing through firsthand exposure to the process. Panelists share unconventional wisdom on ways to help print and online journals survive and thrive while sustaining enthusiasm and maintaining high standards. Editors discuss the advantages to joining the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) and explain how to start your own FUSE chapter.

Room 202, Level 2

F173. How to Build a Successful Kickstarter Campaign for Your Publishing Project. (Meaghan O’Connell, Benjamin Samuel, Mat Honan, Joshua Mandelbaum, Laurie Ochoa) Kickstarter moderates a panel of editors from Electric Literature, Words Without Borders, Slake, Longshot, and Tomorrow Magazine for an instructional and informational session on developing a successful Kickstarter campaign for your periodical or publishing project. We’ll walk you through the process step by step and discuss how to best represent your brand, set a fundraising goal, shoot a video, create rewards, engage backers, and promote your campaign.

Room 210, Level 2

F180. The Urge Toward Memoir. (Elisabeth Schmitz, Jill Kneerim, Michael Thomas, Jeanette Winterson, Lily King) Novelists Jeanette Winterson, Emily Raboteau, Michael Thomas, agent Jill Kneerim, and editor Elisabeth Schmitz discuss the writer’s urge toward memoir. What defines memoir and is it any more “true” or less creative a process than fiction? Panelists will talk about a favorite memoir and the forms they invented for their own.

1:30-2:45

Room 206, Level 2

F205. A Point of View on A Point of View. (Daniel Menaker, Amy Hempel, Bret Anthony Johnston) Point of view is the lens through which a writer conveys the vision of a story. But what is it about point of view that makes an editor pick an unknown writer out of a pile of unsolicited submissions? And what is it about point of view that makes a series of short stories cohere into an original and memorable collection? In A Point of View on A Point of View, distinguished editor Daniel Menaker and much-anthologized writers Amy Hempel and Bret Anthony Johnston turn a lens on the lens itself.

3:00-4:15

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

F219. Don DeLillo & Dana Spiotta: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by The Center for Fiction. (Noreen Tomassi, Don DeLillo, Dana Spiotta) Celebrated novelists Don DeLillo, author of Underworld, Libra, and White Noise, and Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia, present readings, to be followed by a discussion moderated by Noreen Tomassi, Executive Director of the Center for Fiction.

Room 108, Plaza Level

F227. Write Short, Think Long: Exploring the Craft of Writing Flash Nonfiction. (Kathleen Rooney, Sue William Silverman, Peggy Shumaker, Judith Kitchen, Ira Sukrungruang) In celebration of this popular emerging genre, as well as the publication of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors, and Teachers, edited by Dinty W. Moore, five of the book’s twenty-six diverse contributors gather to discuss what makes good flash nonfiction memorable and unique, and to offer up ideas and techniques for writing, publishing, and reading the brief essay form well.

Room 202, Level 2

F233. Women on the Road: Exploration, Inspiration, and Imagination in Fiction. (Tara L. Masih, Mary Akers, Jessica Anthony, Midge Raymond, Laura van den Berg) An exploration of crafting stories and novels that place characters in distant regions and countries, and how travel abroad helped shape the countries of the panelists’ imaginations. Panelists will share travel experiences and photos, inspirations, readings, and the process of creative observation. Tips will be offered on using research to fill in travel gaps, both in contemporary and historical contexts, and on negotiating the complexities of writing about cultures different from one’s own.

4:30-5:45

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

F250. Alison Bechdel & Jeanette Winterson: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Emerson College MFA. (Alison Bechdel, Jeanette Winterson, Elisabeth Schmitz) Alison Bechdel, author of the graphic memoir Fun Home and the ground-breaking comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, and Jeannette Winterson, author of Written on the Body and the memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, present readings from their work followed by a discussion moderated by Elisabeth Schmitz, Executive Editor at Grove/Atlantic, Inc. The events will be introduced by Emerson College’s Steve Yarborough, author of the novels Safe from the Neighbors and The End of California.

Room 202, Level 2

F263. Blue-collar College Students and the Creative Writing Degree. (Jerry Wemple, Lawrence Coates, Claire Lawrence) Faculty from creative writing programs in rust belt regions that traditionally serve students from blue-collar backgrounds ponder what, exactly, they are preparing their students for, since most undergraduates will not become “professional” writers. The panelists discuss what they are trying to accomplish in their programs, what their graduates feel they’ve learned and how they are using that knowledge, and potential revisions to a program after re-assessment at the ten-year mark.

Room 206, Level 2

F266. Bring Out Your Dead: Writing Ghosts (and Zombies) in Literary Fiction. (Rebecca Makkai, Tea Obreht, Lauren Groff, Dan Chaon, Alexi Zentner) The ghost story thrives in literary fiction as well as the oral tradition, defying genre. How do we keep these compelling tales fresh? How do we frighten without resorting to cheap tricks? How do we navigate the borders between spirituality, science, doubt, and a reliable narrative voice? And why are we drawn to these themes again and again? Five writers introduce you to their ghosts and tell you how they summoned them.

Room 207, Level 2

F267. What We Write About When We Write About Music. (Laurie Lindeen, Rick Moody, Will Hermes, Jen Trynin, Jacob Slichter) All art aspires to music because it touches our hearts, souls, senses, and imaginations This panel of writers, musicians, and writing instructors loves, appreciates, knows, and plays music. They have written passionately about music in memoirs, essays, novels, songs, poetry, and blogs. Each individual on this panel would like to share his or her unique path with prose and music, and share their collective beliefs in the emotional, rhythmic importance of musicality when writing and when teaching writing.

Room 102, Plaza Level

F269. The Literary Legacy of Andre Dubus. (Matthew Batt, Andre Dubus III, Melanie Rae Thon, Nancy Zafris, Bruce Machart) Andre Dubus (1936-1999), author of nine volumes of fiction and two collections of essays, including Meditations from a Moveable Chair and Dancing After Hours, was a long-time resident of Haverhill, Massachussets, and is widely recognized as one of the greatest practitioners and teachers of the contemporary short story. Panelists, including Dubus’s son, a former student, a close friend, and a lifelong fan, will discuss their relationship with Dubus and what they learned from his work and life.

6:00-7:15

Room 110, Hynes Convention Center, Plaza Level

F283. Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) Caucus. (Catherine Dent, Michael Cocchiarale, Esme Franklin, Andrew Baker, Sarah Gzemski) Are you an undergraduate interested in editing and publishing or a faculty member working with undergraduate students on a literary journal or small press? Come join FUSE for its annual meeting, which includes national elections and FUSE chapter updates, followed by a roundtable discussion. This year’s topic is the interdisciplinary nature of undergraduate publishing, i.e. how and why to forge good relationships among departments. Bring ideas and journals to exchange.

8:30-10:15

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

F284. Amy Bloom & Richard Russo: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Lesley University. (Leah Hager Cohen, Amy Bloom, Richard Russo) Amy Bloom is author of the New York Times best-selling Away: A Novel, and Where the God of Love Hangs Out, a collection of short fiction. Richard Russo is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls, Straight Man, and Nobody’s Fool. The reading will begin with an introduction by poet Steven Cramer, director of the Lesley University Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing, and will be followed by a discussion moderated by novelist and critic Leah Hager Cohen, author of The Grief of Others and House Lights.

Hynes Ballroom, Hynes Convention Center, Level 3

F285. Language at the Breaking Point, Sponsored by Blue Flower Arts. (Kwame Dawes, Jorie Graham, Terrance Hayes) Pulitzer Prize-winner Jorie Graham and National Book Award-winner Terrance Hayes stretch language past the barriers of mind and limitations of personal experience to reinstate a kind of dignity to the world. Their creative tensions puncture the commonplace allowing the familiar to dislocate, laying bare our tenuous connection to life. Yet grace and a vivid, wakeful presence abide. Their poems demonstrate how the excavation of language itself can shape new possibilities for imagination to evolve.

SATURDAY

9:00-10:15

Room 303, Level 3

S123. Puritan Scar, Scarlet Letter: Contemporary Writers on Hawthorne’s Masterwork. (John Domini, Amy Wright, Heidi Julavits, Jennifer Haigh) No novel so established Boston as a literary center as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850), and few have left such an indelible trace across the American project since. Hester Prynne’s struggle raises core issues of outsider and community in all their moral contrariness. As art, too, the novel sets a rare challenge, working cross-gender and cross-genre, at once romance and realism, transcendental and ambiguous. Panelists assess the impact the book had both locally and worldwide.

10:30-11:45

Room 111, Plaza Level

S137. The Art and Craft of Short-Form Nonfiction. (Sarah Einstein, Joni Tevis, Brian Oliu, Chelsea Biondolillo) Can you write an essay in 140 characters? In 750 words or fewer? And can you get it published once you have? Join the managing editor of Brevity, two authors of short-form collections, and a graduate student working in this exciting new form as they share techniques and strategies for writing and marketing short-form nonfiction—from the lyric to the expository.

Room 200, Level 2

S138. The Lake Effect: A Celebration of Fifty Years of Creative Writing at Syracuse University. (Sarah Harwell, George Saunders, Arthur Flowers, Brooks Haxton, Christopher Kennedy) Syracuse University’s creative writing program celebrates its fifty-year anniversary with a reading by current faculty. The faculty will read from their own work as well as highlight work from a diverse and celebrated group of alumni and past faculty. Readers will include poets Brooks Haxton, Christopher Kennedy, and Sarah Harwell and fiction writers Arthur Flowers and George Saunders.

Room 207, Level 2

S144. Agents, Editors, and the State of Publishing. (Mary Gannon, Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Jennifer Joel, Chuck Adams) Agents and editors share behind-the-scenes perspective about what authors need to know about the changing industry of publishing. How have e-books, e-readers, and self-publishing affected the industry? With the closing of Borders and the growing influence of Amazon, how have changes to distribution channels affected the way publishers market books, and what does this mean for authors? How have the best practices for submitting work to agents and editors changed?

Room 302/304, Level 3

S148. Breaking the Jaws of Silence. (Sholeh Wolpe, Kim Addonizio, Tom Sleigh, Quincy Troupe, Yusef Komunyakaa) Poets are a threat to despotic regimes as light is a threat to darkness. In a project to benefit PEN USA’s Freedom to Write program, prominent American poets raise their voices and call on poets to bear witness, to collectively engage, to activate, to call, to give texture, to demand, to caress, to shatter, to build, and to never let the world forget.

Room 306, Level 3

S150. If These Walls Could Talk… Oh Wait, They Do! (Eleanor Henderson, Stewart O’Nan, Tea Obreht) The whole world is a stage, but as fiction writers we get to choose where and when to set a story. That decision can influence everything else in the novel, for better or worse. Four novelists talk about the pressures that settings, both urban and rural, can place on our fiction, and how and why to make choices about landscape.

12:00-1:15

Room 209, Level 2

S172. From the University of Nebraska Press: Readings from The Prairie Schooner Book Prize Anniversary Reader. (Hilda Raz, Shane Book, Brock Clarke, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Susan Blackwell Ramsey) A perfect time capsule of the diverse, experimental trends in American poetry and short fiction over the last ten years, The Prairie Schooner Book Prize Anniversary Reader pulls together excerpts from all twenty winning books of Prairie Schooner’s Book Prize Series. The Press will launch this anthology at AWP 2013; come listen to four of the most successful winners read and hear Hilda Raz, legend and influential founder of the Book Prize Series, discuss finding work that speaks to our living moment.

Room 302/304, Level 3

S174. Write Where You Know: When Setting Serves as a Main Character in a Novel. (John Roche, Jennifer Haigh, Thomas Kelly, Richard Russo) Richard Russo’s bestselling novels, including Pulitzer-winner Empire Falls, uniquely capture a sense of place, whether it’s dying blue-collar towns in upstate New York or New England enclaves. Thomas Kelly, the author of three novels praised for their authentic depiction of New York City, and Jennifer Haigh, whose four novels include Faith, set in Boston, will join Russo in discussing the importance of setting in their fiction, at times to the point where place itself becomes a main character.

Room 306, Level 3

S177. Reading by Grand Central Authors. (Benjamin Percy, Julianna Baggott, Ed Falco) Discover three of the strongest voices in contemporary fiction at a reading by Grand Central’s finest. Julianna Baggott is the author of Pure, the first book in a postapocalypic series which was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Ed Falco’s most recent novel, a prequel to The Godfather titled The Family Corleone, is based on material excerpted from screenplays by Mario Puzo. Benjamin Percy’s new novel, Red Moon, is an epic and terrifying story of lycans set in the American West. Prepare for a thrilling night—and take the cannoli.

1:30-2:45

Room 306, Level 3

S204. How to Lose Friends and Alienate Loved Ones: Exploitation vs. Documentation in Creative Nonfiction. (B.J. Hollars, Roxane Gay, Marcia Aldrich, Ryan Van Meter, Bonnie J. Rough) Not every story is flattering, nor is every character. Nevertheless, nonfiction writers continue to document their lives and the lives of others, often at the risk of violating personal relationships. How should writers navigate between revealing the true nature of their subjects without alienating the people themselves? Join four writers as they explore the fine line between documentation and exploitation, among other ethical dilemmas inherent in writing of friends, family, and loved ones.

3:00-4:15

Room 103, Plaza Level

S211. Video Games, Fan Fiction, and Comics: Alternative Genres as Legitimate Literature. (Leslie Salas, Jim Miller, Elaine Phillips, Kirsten Holt) Alternative forms of narrative are often perceived with disdain or suspicion even though they address the same plots, themes, and conditions of respectable literary forms. Comics have begun to break away from this stigma, but what about more mainstream genres, such as fan fiction and video games? How do all three of these alternative forms both threaten and reinforce ideas about originality and narrative? This panel will make the case for alternative genres as creative literature.

Room 200, Level 2

S219. A Reading by Matthew Batt, Jen Percy, and Rob Currie, Jr. (Matthew Batt, Ron Currie, Jr., and Jacob Paul) Matthew Batt, author of Sugarhouse, Ron Currie, Jr., author of God Is Dead, Everything Matters, and Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, and Jacob Paul, author of Sarah/Sara, will read from their recent work, all of which deals with, in the face of catastrophic loss, the sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing ways we try to mend our lives.

Room 210, Level 2

S228. Art vs. Commerce: Writing for Love and Money. (Elizabeth Benedict, Stephen McCauley, Stephen Elliott, Maud Newton, Steve Almond) Grace Paley’s advice to writers: Keep your overhead low. But when teaching doesn’t lead to tenure, how do literary writers cobble together a living and a life while writing work that matters? Panelists who have had unconventional careers largely outside the academy examine their decisions and discuss the role of money, literature, and serendipity in their creative pursuits: editing an online literary magazine, writing soft-core porn, and creating advice columns, TV shows, and yoga books under a pseudonym.

Room 302/304, Level 3

S229. Z.Z. Packer & Meg Wolitzer: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. (Cheryl Strayed, Z.Z. Packer, Meg Wolitzer) Fiction writers will give a reading followed by a conversation about race, literature that happens to be written about women (as Wolitzer puts it in a recent New York Times essay), and the realities of the contemporary publishing landscape, moderated by Cheryl Strayed, VIDA board member and author of Wild. AWP participants are encouraged to join a brief Q&A period to be held afterwards.

4:30-5:45

Room 302/304, Level 3

S256. Smart Girls. (Terry Ann Thaxton, Terese Svoboda, Bobbie Ann Mason, Kelly Cherry, Elissa Schappell) Girl does not denote age but power—no men in it. No ladies-first either. A girl’s got gumption. A pre- and post-feminist name for great girl lit. Different from the chick kind, the just-hatched; we’ve been around, we’re serious. This is for women and men who go for it, featuring readings from our books that qualified us for The Smart Girls club. We represent a diversity of age, region, and genres.

8:30-10:00

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

S263. Augusten Burroughs & Cheryl Strayed: A Reading & Conversation, Sponsored by the Wilkes University Low-Residency MA/MFA Program in Creative Writing. (Bob Morris, Augusten Burroughs, Cheryl Strayed) Augusten Burroughs, author of memoirs Running with Scissors and Dry, and Cheryl Strayed, author of the best-selling memoir Wild and the voice behind the Rumpus’s beloved “Dear Sugar” column, will present readings of their work, followed by a discussion moderated by columnist and commentator Bob Morris, author of the memoir Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad. The authors will be introduced by playwright and novelist Bonnie Culver, director of the Wilkes University Low-Residency MA/MFA Program in Creative Writing.